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Marion Barry is dead

 
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:44 am    Post subject: Marion Barry is dead Reply with quote

Quote:
Marion S. Barry Jr., a sharecropper’s son and civil rights pioneer who became a flamboyant and polarizing mayor of Washington, went to prison on cocaine charges and then recaptured City Hall in one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of American politics, died early Sunday. He was 78.

His death was confirmed in a statement from his family


Posters from or living in the DC area will likely have more insight into his career than I do. Suffice to say, his personal conduct as mayor was not exactly exemplary. Though as I recall from the police transcripts, he was pretty reluctant to smoke crack in that hotel room, and only did so because the woman promised him sex if he did. (Uh, hello, mayor? She's not smoking herself, but she insists that YOU smoke? That didn't set any alarms?)

Most accounts I've read credit him for having extremely keen political instincts, and a genuine concern for the city he ran. Interesting that he started out his career being in favour of gay and lesbian equality, and then switched sides during the same-sex marriage debate. I'll never forget the council vote where he voted in favour of marriage equality, and then when the vote turned out to be unanimous, asked for the roll to be taken again so he could vote against.

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W.T.Carl



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One less crackhead in DC. This clown used his office to enrich himself and his cronies. If he had been white, he would have been in the slammer long ago. But because he was black, he continued to get re-elected. Then again, so did the Mayor of Toronto!
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But because he was black, he continued to get re-elected. Then again, so did the Mayor of Toronto!


Actually, Rob Ford did NOT continue to get re-eleced mayor of Toronto after the crack allegations broke. He withdrew from the electoral race due to having cancer.

That said, the fact that his brother Doug, running as the annointed heir of the alleged crackhead, was able to come in second with 33% of the vote, beating out a respected former council member, is, in its own way, quite impressive.
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Plain Meaning



Joined: 18 Oct 2014

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He did a lot of good for a lot of blacks in DC. As a result, he was re-elected many times. He also did crack once.

Below is a link to a round-up of articles about Marion Barry.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/mike-debonis/wp/2014/11/24/marion-barry-a-posthumous-readers-guide/
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W.T.Carl



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only once? Lets see.....The Police went to bust a dealer at a hotel. On the way up they encounter the Mayor' security detail. They go inside the room. The cops get a call cancelling the raid. Only once? PLEASE.................. There are many more incidents like this. Like I said; one less corrupt crackhead in DC!
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plain Meaning wrote:
He did a lot of good for a lot of blacks in DC. As a result, he was re-elected many times. He also did crack once.

Below is a link to a round-up of articles about Marion Barry.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/mike-debonis/wp/2014/11/24/marion-barry-a-posthumous-readers-guide/


Once? HA HA HA HA HA. His drug use and drinking was well known throughout DC in the 80s.

The man was crazy smart and did some great things in the late 60s and 70s, but he was a pretty bad mayor, especially after his first term.
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Once? HA HA HA HA HA. His drug use and drinking was well known throughout DC in the 80s.



In fairness to Barry, if you were to somehow create a list of all the politicians in North America who have taken cocaine, including to excess, there would likely be some VERY respectable names on there.

I think Barry got on the radar because he was doing crack cocaine, in a way that was difficult to hide, and at a time when that drug was closely associated with inner-city gangs and violence.
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BB wrote:

Quote:
he was a pretty bad mayor, especially after his first term


What are your specific reasosn for saying he was a bad mayor? I'm not neccessarily doubting you, but I've never really heard much about his legislative record. From what I've heard, he was pretty much your garden-variety liberal, except after his about-face on gay rights.

I do recall reading a piece in the New Republic where the writer, who made clear that he was not a Barry fan, described a town-hall meeting in some neighbourhood, where Barry took questions from the audience and seemed to have a pretty extensive knowledge of the neighborhood and its issues.
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Plain Meaning



Joined: 18 Oct 2014

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not interested in defending Marion Barry. He's a politician.

I'm interested in why a majority African-American public kept returning him to office. It was a reasonable decision on their part, because Barry peddled influence on their behalf.

Why DC loves Marion Barry

Quote:
From the outside, observers could see only Barry’s flaws, his corruptions and addictions. The mystery of Barry’s political survival despite numerous run-ins with the law, mismanagement of the city government, and numerous allegations of sexual assault is easier to solve if you know the history of the city. Barry didn’t bring corruption to D.C. He changed who benefited from it.

...

Rep. John McMillan, the Dixiecrat who chaired the House Committee on the District of Columbia until 1973, sent Washington a truckload of watermelons to “celebrate” his receipt of Washington’s first city budget. McMillan “treated the city as if it were his plantation and turned the District Building into a fiefdom for his own patronage jobs,” applying “applied taxes to construction projects at the behest of the white business community,” Jaffe and Sherwood wrote.

This is the kind of person who was managing Washington’s affairs until the 1970s.

...

Barry’s ability to play — no, be the radical when it suited him and compromise with the powers that be when it was in his interest to do so is a key reason why he was able to maintain power and defy political defeat. You could call this pragmatism; Barry had another word for it. “I’m a situationist,” he told the Washington Post in 1978. “I do what is necessary for the situation.”

Despite his reputation for daishiki-clad raised-fist radicalism, Jaffe and Sherwood wrote that the true beneficiaries of Barry’s terms in office were wealthy business interests, particularly in real estate. “No matter how many millions of dollars in city contracts flowed to Barry’s friends, it was chump change compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that enriched the white community during the real estate boom,” they wrote.
Nevertheless, for the first time, black residents of the District were receiving some of the spoils. Barry’s administration was the first time blacks took leadership of a city in which they had been a majority for years.

For thousands of people in the District, Marion Barry was the reason they had a job, which meant he was the reason they could keep their home, feed their children, or keep their lights on. Poor and working-class kids in the city have been getting their first jobs from Barry’s summer jobs program for thirty-five years. His administration increased assistance to the elderly and the poor. If you didn’t personally benefit from the way Barry ran the city, you probably knew someone who did. People in D.C. loved Marion Barry because they felt like he made their lives better.
This should sound familiar, because the tricklings of New Deal initiatives that reached the black community in the 1930s and ’40s were the reason black voters suddenly invested in a party that, up until then, had been defined largely by its implacable devotion to white supremacy. If people believe a politician has materially improved their lives, it establishes a loyalty that is hard to break.

To outsiders, Barry’s political patronage was corruption — and it was. But it also seemed as if the same people who had tried to disenfranchise the city’s black population, who never wanted black people to have any influence on the way the city was governed, were suddenly behaving as if Barry had invented ethnic patronage, as if it hadn’t been a way of life for whites in ethnic enclaves in big cities from New York to Illinois to California. As if the white segregationists who ran the city “like a plantation” were not corrupt.

...

[B]y the time the feds closed in on Barry smoking crack in the Vista hotel room in 1990, following years of federal surveillance, District residents already had the feeling that the authorities had it in not just for Barry, but for the city itself. As Barry once put it defending Harlem Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, “Regardless of whether Adam Clayton Powell is good or bad … regardless of whether he is flamboyant or not, regardless of whether he goes to Bermuda or not, we should all support him in this issue because he is being attacked by racists.”

Barry’s administration was corrupt, he had mismanaged the city, and it was suffering greatly from the the violence of the crack era. But the more he was attacked, the more his most loyal constituents rallied to his side. So it’s no wonder that in 1994, just a few short years after his arrest, Barry ran for mayor again, successfully, and he represented the residents of D.C.’s Ward 8, among the most impoverished in the city, until his death.
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the other hand wrote:
BB wrote:

Quote:
he was a pretty bad mayor, especially after his first term


What are your specific reasosn for saying he was a bad mayor? I'm not neccessarily doubting you, but I've never really heard much about his legislative record. From what I've heard, he was pretty much your garden-variety liberal, except after his about-face on gay rights.

I do recall reading a piece in the New Republic where the writer, who made clear that he was not a Barry fan, described a town-hall meeting in some neighbourhood, where Barry took questions from the audience and seemed to have a pretty extensive knowledge of the neighborhood and its issues.


A number of reasons.

1. As Plain Meaning highlighted, he gave positions to those who benefited him. More so politically than financially.
2. While yes, his policies and governance helped bring African Americans into local power and influence, only a small handful financially benefited from his mayoral rule. In contrast, white owners of construction companies here in the DC area made tens of millions of dollars due to their connections to Barry. The earnings African Americans made paled in comparison.
3. His relationship with the police was abysmal. While the crack epidemic can be blamed for a lot of the violence the District experienced, it didn't help matters that Barry underfunded the police and put his buddies in charge of police departments instead of those most capable. Consequently the DC police had the combo of a lack of resources and a huge loss of quality police.
4. He wasted tax payer money on trips to the Super Bowl and the Virgin Islands.
5. He played the race card time and again just to win votes. The funny thing is he became mayor due to the white vote and a sliver of the black vote. The next 3 elections it was the reverse.

That's just a few items. I highly recommend reading "Dream City", which is a pretty solid book about Marion Barry. It was written in the mid-90s, but it recently was updated by the two authors (two journalists here in DC).
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks PM and BB. That buzzfeed article is interesting, I'm making my way through it right now.
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