Finally they reached the end of the agenda yesterday, and it came time for the D.C. City Council to say goodbye.
They said it with words of praise for Sterling Tucker, stepping down after four years as council chairman; with words of pride for Marion Barry, soon to move down the hallway to the mayor's office, and with words of respect for Douglas E. Moore, who tried in vain to win Tucker's old job and now wants Barry's old job instead.
And after the holdover members, one by one, voiced their sentiments at the council's last meeting of the year, the departees got their chances to talk.
Bayy, who beat Tucker in September's Democratic mayoral primary and went on to win the general election, looked at his former adversary. "I'm convinced," Barry said, "that you and I share the same goals, improving life . . . for all the citizens here."
And then, glancing around the dais at other colleagues, Barry promised not to be as remote in the mayor's office as outgoing incumbent Walter E. Washington.
"I'm going to the other end of the hallway, but I won't be very far away," Barry said. "I intend to do things a lot different than they have been done."
Moore, often loud-talking and slashing in his attacks on policies he opposed, spoke in subdued tones, speaking of Tucker and Mayor Washington as "the moons and the stars" of the city's political galaxy. "You have left a legacy," he told Tucker, "a sure path and model in thea rt of statecraft.
The More, who is a Methodist minister, grinned and concluded: "If it is God's will, I will be back."
More has announced his candidacy to fill the remaining two years of Barry's term. The D.C. Democratic State Committee will make an interim appointment in January.
Tucker, who was the last to speak, voiced the phrase made famous by Adlai E. Stevenson in 1956 after his second defeat for the presidency: "It hurts too much to laugh, and I'm too old to cry, Tucker said. "That's the way I feel."
The D.C. Council, he declared, is in reality one of the most powerful such bodies in the nation, since it need not answer to any state legislature and is pretty much ignored by Congress.
"I fear not for the future of the council," he said, turning to Barry, "and under your leadership, Marion, I fear not for the future of this city."
In adjourning, the council voted to erect plaques in the District Building at a cost of about $3,000 honoring Wahsington and Tucker as the first men elected mayor and council chairman under home rule.
And it voted to grant lifetime personalized automobile license tags reading "First Elected Mayor" for Washington, "First Elected Chairman" for Tucker and "First Elected Council" for its own members as those from the original group elected in 1974 leave office. All the recipients must pay normal annual registration fees.
Those memorials quickly became a butt of a joke from Mayor Washington last night when more than 200 business, civic and labor leaders gathered at the Washington Hilton Hotel for a $250-a-person fund-raiser to help Washington and Tucker pay campaign debts.
"I would have thought the council would be much more generous," Washington said. "They voted to put up a little plaque and give us some special tags for which we have to pay.
"I can't understand the council endowing us with a chair for which we have to pay . . . it just seems to me if y'all would have compaigned with compassion, y'all would have shown it today"
Last night's affair was organized by Barry campaign fund-raiser Ann Kinney, who estimated that more than $60,000 would be raised.
The money will be spilt evenly between Washington and Tucker, who finished the Sept. 12 primary with combined campaign debts of more than $111,000.
Last night's event was mostly a time for being sentimental, with both retiring top city officials speaking warmly of their loves for the city and their unselfish efforts to make it better.
Those remarks were similar to statements made by Barry, Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and Council Chairman-elect Arrington Dixon.
It also was a night for the city's Democratic Party, whose regular members were sharply divided in the mayoral primary, to continue their efforts toward solidarity, even though the party soundly reaffirmed its dominance in local politics in the Nov. 7 general election.
Washington will receive another farewell tribute Dec. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Neither he nor Tucker have announced what they will do after leaving office Jan. 2, but both said last night they would remain concerned and somewhat active in city affairs.
In one final act of concern for itself, the concil voted to enact a bill that grants all council members free parking outisde the District Building and forgives about $15,000 in past parking fees. The measures was debated and recieved preliminary approval two weeks ago.
Yesterday the council ignored a new opinion from Acting Corporation Consel Louis P. Robbins that free parking runs counter to federally encouraged efforts to clean up dirty air by discouraging needless driving.