Barry Jr., Marion


1981 TLS by Washington DC’s scandal-ridden, colorful, popular “Mayor For Life”


Autograph ID: 7149
Condition: Very good, small crease at lower right of 1st page
Description: “(1936-2014) Washington DC Mayor 1979-91, 1995 -99, served 3 terms on the DC City Council 1975-79, 1993-95, 2005-14. In the 60s he was 1st chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and led the Free D.C. Movement supporting home rule, as Congress largely ruled DC affairs. In 1967, he co-founded Pride, Inc., giving job training to unemployed black men, hiring hundreds of teens to clean streets and alleys. After the 1968 DC riots over Dr. King’s assassination, he began a program of distributing free food for poor black residents whose neighborhoods were destroyed, and on the city’s Economic Development Committee, routed US funds and venture capital to aid recovering black-owned businesses. Elected to the DC School Board and its presidency, he reorganized school system finances. When DC Home Rule began in 1974, he was elected an at-large member of the 1st elected City Council, re-elected 1976. He was shot March 9, 1977, by Hanafi Muslims who overran the District Building during the 1977 Hanafi Siege. An activist, legislator, and “hero”, he was elected Mayor in 1978. His term saw a more efficient city administration and services, esp. in sanitation. He began a summer jobs program for all school-age residents, fixed chaotic finances, and attacked the deficit thru spending controls and laying off 10% of the workforce. But unemployment rose as did crime, as many layoffs were in the police department. City debt, graft and embezzlement among appointees was rampant. His 2nd term was more troublesome. Government spending skyrocketed, a 5th straight budget surplus was posted, but the next year saw a $110M deficit caused by combatting unemployment by creating government jobs; by 1986, nobody knew how many employees DC had. Wasteful contract spending was a problem: in his 1st term he insisted all seeking DC business have minority partners, and 35% of all contracts went to minority-owned firms; in his 2nd term, $856M in contracts went to political connections and donors. Associates were indicted for malfeasance, and rumors and press reports of womanizing, alcohol and drug abuse began. In his 2nd term, he nominated Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic Convention. A cocaine and alcohol addict, he sought a 3rd term in 1986; with his inattention, DC declined badly. He was videotaped during a Jan. 1990 sting operation smoking crack cocaine and arrested by the FBI on drug charges; he served 6 months in prison then was elected to the Council in 1992, re-elected Mayor in 1994, serving 1995-99. After a financial crisis hit, Congress created the District of Columbia Financial Control Board to run day-to-day spending and finances, incl. overruling his fiscal decisions. In 1997 he lost all authority over 9 DC agencies, controlling only Parks and Recreation, public libraries, the Board of Tourism, and ceremonial functions. In 2004, he was elected to the Council from Ward 8. In late 2005, he pleaded guilty to IRS charges; drug testing showed him positive for cocaine and marijuana. He was sentenced to 3 years’ probation in 2006 for tax evasion, and died of cardiac arrest in 2014.

TLS as Mayor, 1-1/4 pps (separate 11 x 8 ½ sheets), Washington DC, June 18 1981 (midway thru his 1st mayoral term), to Senator Lowell Weicker (R-CT), sending (not present) printed copies of his 1981 legislative programs forwarded in February to the Congress and the DC Council. Noting that the past January marked the 6th anniversary of locally elected government in DC with the passage of the Home rule Act, he praises the “strong partnership” with Congress and the District of Columbia and appreciates Weicker’s and his staff’s cooperation.”
Type: Letter

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