On D.C. Council, No Love Lost Between Barry, Catania

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 29, 2009; 2:13 PM

The tense relationship between Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and David A. Catania (I-At Large) is getting worse.

At yesterday's closed-door budget negotiations, Barry and Catania frequently sparred. When Catania raised concerns about Barry's proposal to divert some of the savings from the Summer Youth Employment Program to job training efforts, the former mayor continually interrupted him.

Barry shouted that Catania was a liar.

"Marion, if you want to say your piece, will you say it now so I can say mine?" Catania said.

"You're not telling the truth," Barry responded.

The root of the hostility stems from Barry's belief that Catania is responsible for the series of news stories about his use of earmarks. Barry has accused Catania of having a "vendetta" because Barry was the lone vote in opposition to recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

As a result of the controversy, the council is considering eliminating all earmarks to help close the budget shortfall.

After yesterday's meeting, Barry summoned the Washington Post to argue that he should not blamed if the earmarks are eliminated. Instead, Barry argued, organizations expecting money should protest to Catania.

"People pointing the finger at me and the council are wrong," Barry said. "They need to point the finger at David Catania for spending time with Sharon Wise and the City Paper."

Wise is the former director of Clean and Sober and the Youth Leadership Council, one of the groups to which Barry directed money. The City Paper has published a series of stories outlining Wise's concerns that Barry has misused the earmark process.

"Every group in town, the arts groups, the nonprofits, they ought to be angry and outraged at David Catania," Barry said. "He gave ammunition to those people already opposed to earmarks."

In an interview today, Catania responded that Barry "is an utter joke." Catania then added he wanted to change the word "utter" to "complete."

"I am responsible for him using his staff to create bogus earmarks. I am responsible for him creating bogus earmarks?" Catania sarcastically asked. "That is ridiculous."

"If Marion wants to blame anyone why earmarks all disappeared, I would remind people we were supporting them until a few weeks ago,' Catania said. "If he wants to blame anyone, he should look in the mirror."

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