CLEARLY THE swiftest move made on the softball diamond this Labor Day was the Fast Dodge executed by Marion Barry while fielding reporters' questions at the Takoma Recreation Center. Stepping quickly away from any responsibility for incomplete and missing financial records involving the spending of thousands of dollars from the mayor's ceremonial fund, Mr. Barry wheeled around and blamed staff members for the mess. "I don't think the public elected me to go out and keep hotel receipts," he said, dismissing the subject as if he had no reason whatever to monitor this sort of thing. "Don't talk to me at all. Go find Dwight Cropp {acting secretary of the District} or {Press Secretary} John White. Don't bug me."

Hold on for a minute: Just whose ceremonial fund are we talking about here? And whose administration? A federal grand jury that is investigating the ceremonial fund records seems to be operating under the impression that Mayor Barry does have at least an official connection to the fund. And documents obtained by this newspaper do reveal that records of more than $41,000 in ceremonial funds spent from 1984 through 1986 are missing or incomplete, leaving unexplained the expenditure of thousands of dollars for hotels, caterers, flowers, luxuries and cash outlays. In addition, there are no records on ceremonial fund expenditures for the period October 1982 through June 1984, according to a D.C. Superior Court affidavit sworn by George Thomas, comptroller for the mayor.

There may have been nothing at all wrong or illegal about the ways in which these funds were spent. Herbert O. Reid Sr., legal counsel to the mayor, has said the records reflect only sloppy bookkeeping. "We're not asking for an award on how we kept them," he has remarked. But Mayor Barry's response in this instance -- and whenever questions arise concerning financial irregularities, contracting procedures and criminal activities of top members of his administration -- is to move to the side and point to somebody else. What did the public elect Marion Barry to do anyway?