News & Politics

Times are Changing for Marion Barry

What’s happened to Marion Barry?

The man we knew from his days as a civil-rights leader through four terms as mayor and now as a council member had one reliable trait: He was never on time for anything.

Community meetings would start and end before Barry strolled in.

Press conferences would have to be pushed back two hours to fit his schedule.

Audiences waiting to hear his State of the District speeches often would sweat and chat for an hour past the scheduled start before he sashayed through the doors.

Regulars would adjust their schedules and their expectations according what they called MB Time.

But who was the first member of the DC council to greet Mayor Adrian Fenty when he showed up Tuesday to testify in the final hearing on his school-takeover plan?

Marion Barry. Time was 12:35. The hearing was called for 12:30.

“Where are the rest of the council members?” a reporter asked Barry.

“The mayor doesn’t understand how things work up here,” Barry shot back. He knows, of course, that Fenty was a council member for six years before becoming mayor.

Fenty was no Barry today. He arrived in the hallway outside council chambers at 12:25, chatted up reporters and activists, walked into the chamber, and sat down on the first row promptly at 12:30.

Barry sauntered in. In an image that bridged decades of DC politics, the pol we once  called “Mayor for Life” kibitzed with the triathlete who now holds his old job.

The rest of the council members slowly assembled and took their chairs. Jack Evans was first; Phil Mendelson was last.

Chairman Vince Gray gaveled the meeting to order at about 12:55, 25 minutes late.

Perhaps everyone was so relaxed and so late because their votes on the Fenty takeover plan are well known: it is expected pass 9 to 2.

Barry will vote for Fenty’s proposal, and he might even be on time to do so.

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