A Marion Barry administration scorecard update:
Deputy Mayor Alphonse G. Hill is in, but the subject of intense discussions among top Barry aides trying to grapple with reports last week that Hill accepted $2,000 to $3,000 from a city auditing contractor in return for business referrals.
Cash management analyst Alvin Frost is out, fired for insubordination but planning to appeal. In the meantime, he's getting ready to reward the winners of his Guess-the-Password contest with a luncheon and tour of Washington (more later).
Deputy Press Secretary Kathy Williams is out, a newlywed who is resigning her post in favor of life near Las Vegas with her country-and-western songwriting husband (also more later).
For the mayor, any change in his roster means problems, replacements and interim difficulties.
But after seven years of governing the District, Barry has demonstrated an impressive resilience that gets him through the difficult times, whether they are created by the routine turnover of government or by the extraordinary turnover that grows out of scandal. "It's not easy being mayor," he told supporters at his 50th birthday party last weekend. "But I'm up to the task. I have a PhD in survival skills."
That resilience -- combined with the passage of time in a year in which he is expected to run for a third term -- spells nothing but more Barry. Four more years of Barry. The mayor seems so confident of it that he has been letting slip apparently candid observations about how he will conduct himself and the campaign.
Although his aides have been saying this week that the reports about Hill, deputy mayor for finance, are "devastating" and may have undercut Hill's ability to manage the city's financial apparatus, Barry said last week that he plans to "batten down the hatches" of his administration and that he will not jettison anybody unless pressed to the wall.
The mayor also suggested that he will milk his jobs program, particularly the Summer Youth Employment program, for political advantage. Jobs, he told a gaggle of reporters last week, is where votes are won. Pouring money into housing programs, the mayor said by way of contrast, was like pouring money down a "sinkhole."
The mayor's candor may be a reflection of his self-confidence. City Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) observed last week that any candidate who has not gotten into the race by now will face great difficulty raising funds. The mayor, officially a noncandidate still, has already raised almost $150,000.
Meanwhile, there are just two longshot challengers: former school board member Mattie Taylor and sex-publisher Dennis Sobin. Two or three potential challengers from the D.C. City Council have been so busy testing the waters for a mayoral bid that they are starting to attract mildew.
Alvin Frost, a Barry critic who was fired when he refused to tell his superiors the new password to a city computer, revealed this week that 15 youngsters from eight states, the District and Nuremberg, West Germany, had correctly guessed the password: "Freedom." Frost says he will treat those winners who can get here to an Ides of March tour on Saturday of the city's sights, along with lunch.
Kathy Williams, a city government employe for more than 15 years, has decided to pack her bags and head for Nevada. Married Jan. 15 to Steve Rose, a minister, author and songwriter, Williams will set up housekeeping with him in Boulder City, Nev., on the shores of Lake Mead outside Las Vegas.
Williams, a Chicago native and onetime New Yorker, admits that the change from big city to desert will be radical but avers, "I am ready for a change." She adds, "I am going to miss the District government. I feel like it's family after all these years."
Williams has lined up a job as a fundraiser for the KNPR, a Las Vegas National Public Radio station. Raising funds in the nation's gambling capital ought to be a very interesting job, and Williams' numerous supporters wish her well.