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UDC TUITION INCREASE

Barry Still Not Back, Stalling a Bill Reversing UDC Tuition Increase

D.C. Council member Marion Barry speaks to reporters at Howard University Hospital with Kim Dickens, who donated a kidney to him.
D.C. Council member Marion Barry speaks to reporters at Howard University Hospital with Kim Dickens, who donated a kidney to him. (By Susan Biddle For The Washington Post)

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By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

D.C. Council member Marion Barry did not return to work yesterday as expected, leaving in limbo emergency legislation that would have reversed recent controversial decisions of the board of trustees at the University of the District of Columbia.

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Doctors told the former four-term mayor to continue to take it easy after his Feb. 20 kidney transplant, according to his staff. Barry (D-Ward 8) returned home Friday from Howard University Hospital.

Though physically absent, Barry introduced emergency legislation Thursday that would require the UDC trustees to conduct a 45-day review of the impact of almost doubling tuition for most students at the city's only public university. It also would prohibit the university from instituting admission requirements that would end the school's longtime policy of allowing anyone with a high school diploma or general equivalency degree to enroll in the four-year program.

The legislation was withdrawn yesterday, but Drew Hubbard, Barry's committee clerk, said the council member would introduce a permanent measure.

In other business, the council voted 9 to 3 to confirm Lori M. Lee, a family friend of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), to be one of three members on the Public Service Commission.

The mayor recently withdrew Lee from consideration to head the commission after residents, some council members, environmentalists and utility experts questioned whether she was qualified to run the utility watchdog panel.

Fenty decided to nominate her as a member only and picked longtime commission member and former council member Betty Ann Kane to chair the commission. The council also approved Kane's appointment in a voice vote yesterday.

Council members Michael Brown (I-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) were the dissenters on the Lee nomination.

Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said there is nothing in the law requiring a member to be an "expert" in a subject. "If we, as a council, are going to now require new standards not existing in the law, then we have to go beyond the Public Service Commission," he said. "She can learn this."


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