Mayor Marion Barry charged yesterday that some D.C. City Council members are waging a political attack on his proposed fiscal 1987 budget in a campaign year, and he singled out Council Chairman David A. Clarke as "exceptionally aggressive."
In comments made after his monthly news conference, Barry challenged Clarke to enter the race for mayor.
Clarke is believed to be considering a bid to unseat Barry, who said he plans to announce his own campaign this spring.
Referring to tough questions by council members during budget hearings in the last two weeks, Barry said, "During an election year, you expect that. As you know, half of the members of the council want to be mayor."
Barry chided the nine council members, including Clarke, who earlier this week cosponsored a resolution opposing Barry's plan to construct a new prison in the District.
Accusing them of avoiding responsibility for the city's mounting prison problems, he said, "Those standing on the sidelines are part of the problem, not the solution."
Barry also said he was concerned about reports that a massive D.C. police raid was undermined by leaks of information to alleged drug dealers who were targets of the operation.
He said he was awaiting a report on the matter from Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr.
Barry, who said he had been told about Operation Caribbean Cruise on Friday, a day before it took place, appeared miffed when a reporter pointed out that hundreds of police officers, members of the news media and a baker who had been contracted to provide doughnuts for the participating officers knew about the operation before he did.
The mayor suggested that advance knowledge of the raid by the news media could have contributed to leaks that evidently provided warning to targets.
Only $20,000 worth of drugs was confiscated, and none of the 75 suspected major dealers was arrested during the police operation.
"I think the news media is innocent until proven guilty" of allowing the information to leak out, he said, adding that information about future operations of that scale will be more closely guarded.
Barry's comments regarding the council followed criticism by Clarke and other members of several aspects of the mayor's proposed budget.
Clarke accused the D.C. budget office of providing erroneous spending and revenue figures in the past and questioned why Barry had provided no money in his budget proposal for retirement of the accumulated general fund deficit.
Barry appeared eager to draw Clarke into the mayoral race, repeating a challenge to him that was first issued in an interview last month.
The chairman, however, has kept his plans to himself, saying only that others have suggested a mayoral challenge to him and that he has considered it.
The mayor said he would make his announcement in three months and then would plunge into the race.
"Philosophically, I believe in going to the public to ask for their votes," he said. "I am not an office politician."