Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Defense of Tim Page

Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new -- and typically half-witted -- political grandstanding? . . . . I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest.
In my eyes, Tim Page of the Washington Post is guilty of one thing only: violation of his employer's technology policy. I have myself sent some intemperent letters to city officials and Wahington Post writers from work email addresses. And a plurality of my readers are accessing this blog at 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. using T1 connections. I would have to guess that some of you shouldn't technically be doing personal surfing during the work day. But if we get caught the worst penalties usually fall far short of a public flogging.

Let's review elements of Page's email:

"I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose."
Granted, I can't support wishing anyone dead or implying that their death is of no concern to me. Yet, Barry has served as a council member or mayor for about 23 of the past 32 years; that he gets reelected is the single best reason I can think of for DC public school reform. It does seem like nothing short of death will end his reign -- even permanent incapacitation. In fact, he could be like Tupac and keep up the idiocy from beyond the grave.

But given that Barry is alive, well, and serving perpetually in public office, all Tim Page and I can do is to ignore him. He is going to be embarrassing to our city and ineffective as a leader. And as long as that happens, I will continue to cringe and rant every time I see him get media coverage. So, yes, I do understand why Page would say that nothing Barry could do, up to and including an overdose, is of interest to him; ignoring Barry is a good way for him to keep his blood pressure down.

Crack Addiction
Fact: Barry is a crack addict and has been since at least 1988 when investigations of his drug use began. As early as 1984 he was accused of using coke by his paramour and fellow user who was also DC government employee. In my opinion Barry is the worst type of addict -- the type who not only puts himself through the hell of multiple arrests, incarceration, and financial ruin, but who puts others at risk. Those others are the entire population of DC whom he has represented throughout his two decades of drug problems. Not only does he make bad decisions as a leader, he's ineffective. As well Barry has supported the coke and crack drug trade, one of the largest contributors to violence in DC and a plague on Ward 8. If we look at just his recent transgressions, Barry decided not to pay into the city budget that the council spends; he failed to pay completely his federal and DC taxes from 1999 to 2004. He then violated his plea bargain in that case by failing to file on time in 2005. He also endangered the lives of others by driving under the influence. For these reasons, I am inclined to think that calling him a "crack addict" is almost polite as compared to "crack head," which better connotes his irresponsibility.

Yet Bary believes that he has been unfairly labeled. If you call him a crack head, support the Park Police for booking Barry on a DUI, or think that he should be prosecuted for tax evasion you are, according to Barry, racist. I think that he is the one making the hideous equation of being black with being a drug addicted repeat law violator.

Maybe Barry isn't useless to his family, friends, and political allies. But he's nearly useless as a leader. His illnesses and addiction contributed to Barry missing 35 percent of DC City Council votes from 2005 to 2006. He also failed to author any of the over 200 pieces of legislation passed into law during that same period.

In 1982 DC was in severe budget crises, which wasn't necessarily all Barry's fault, but it was his job to manage that crises well and put the city on better footing in the future. Under Barry's leadership in the 90's budget problems resurfaced. Ineffective leadership and outright mismanagement caused agencies to be placed into receivership throughout 1997 and Congress temporarily suspended home rule in 1998. Given the budget issues and income tax evasion I find it ironic that he serves on the Council Committe on Finance and Revenue.

In his first terms as mayor he repeatedly proved himself corrupt. The ruining of DC's reputation may actually qualify him as worse than useless as a politician. From 1979 to 1986 over 20 DC government officials were convicted (not just indicted, mind you) of crimes related to their official duties. These were high ranking folks including two deputy mayors. If he were CEO of a publicly traded company he might have been accountable for fraud under his watch. In fact, current city CFO Natwar Ghandi is being held responsible for unethical and illegal actions in offices by an agency he oversees.

Wait, there's more . . .
Barry's not just an inept crack addict who clings like a barnacle to DC politics. One could go on for days about conflicts in his public statements, how he's failed to represent the poor he champions, and the way he consistently embarrasses DC.

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