Who's calling who what? Barry's posturing: Washington woes won't be solved by rhetorical excesses of its mayor.

June 20, 1996

MAYOR MARION BARRY has lowered his profile for the time being. But count on it. He will be back. It is ironic that when he compared the District of Columbia financial control board to a Nazi dictatorship the other day, he brought to mind another despicable episode from history. Alabama Gov. George Wallace had already made a deal with federal authorities to step aside when he "stood in the schoolhouse door" to block integration of the University of Alabama in 1963.

One can't help but conclude that Mr. Barry similarly had no intention of fighting to the bitter end to save the job of inept Human Services Director Vernon E. Hawkins. The mayor's insult of the financial control board incurred the wrath of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who threatened to revoke self-government in the district. But Mr. Barry's later decision to relent was simply his acceptance of the inevitable.

By now district residents should have become quite accustomed to Mr. Barry's demagogy. His opposition to control board decisions always wilts in the burning realization that its members are genuinely trying to save the nation's financially crippled capital city. His pleas to keep Mr. Hawkins employed despite his record of incompetence was an insult to the hundreds of capable municipal workers who are being laid off during this fiscal crisis.

Mr. Barry has gotten the D.C. Council to approve his proposed $5.1 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. For now the budget must undergo the scrutiny of the financial control board and ultimately Congress. Rather than engaging in rhetorical excess, Mr. Barry would better serve district residents by working with those entities, not against them. The object is to return some semblance of responsible city government to Washington.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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