The former manager of Marion Barry's D.C. Council campaign denied yesterday that he was fired and instead said he resigned because the former mayor is not physically or mentally strong enough to mount a political comeback.

On Thursday, Barry released a letter dated June 29 stating that he was firing Dion Jordan as his campaign manager because of poor performance. Yesterday, Jordan released his own letter, which he said was written before Barry's, that stated he intended to resign because "you are not physically and mentally healthy enough to represent" Ward 8.

Jordan also said that Barry owes him more than $3,000 in pay.

"He tends to be forgetful about verbal and written agreements," said Jordan, explaining his evaluation of Barry's health.

Until he gets the money from Barry's campaign, Jordan said that he will hold onto campaign T-shirts and 200 to 300 nominating petition signatures. Barry needs to collect at least 250 valid signatures from registered Ward 8 voters by Wednesday to secure a place on the ballot in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

"I have something that belongs to him," said Jordan, whose troubles with Barry were first reported Thursday by the Washington City Paper, "and he has something that belongs to me."

Barry -- who described Jordan as "going off the deep end" -- said he is confident that he will collect more than enough signatures even without Jordan's withheld petitions. He characterized Jordan's withholding signatures as one of several attempts to sabotage his campaign. Yesterday, Jordan directed the campaign's telephone company to discontinue service, a setback that Barry said he was working to fix yesterday afternoon.

Jordan acknowledged that he canceled phone service, but he said he had the right to do so because the line was in his name.

Barry said he hired the 34-year-old Jordan, who was Mayor Anthony A. Williams's Ward 8 coordinator in 1998, because he wanted to include more young people in his campaign against incumbent Sandy Allen (D).

"My heart got in the way of my head," Barry said.

About his health, Barry said his physician told him that his diabetes and high blood pressure are improving.

"And my mental health is excellent," he added.

Jordan painted a picture of disarray within Barry's campaign, which he said as of yesterday had $116.97 on hand. He said he suspected Barry of willfully failing to pay his debts and of using campaign money for personal expenses.

Barry said that he explained to Jordan and other staff members that their salaries might be delayed until the campaign built up enough donations. "You always run out of money for staff," Barry said.

The campaign has not hired a new manager, but spokeswoman Linda Greene said one will be appointed soon. In the meantime, Barry said he will take care of many campaign decisions himself -- something he said he likes to do even when he has a campaign manager.

"I'm an expert at campaigning," he said. "God has given me that gift."