IVANHOE DONALDSON himself has said there is no excusing what he did to this city, its government, its people and his closest friends. Yesterday the court agreed. U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell minced no words in characterizing the severity of Mr. Donaldson's crimes. He sentenced the former D.C. deputy mayor to jail, fined him and ordered repayment to the local government, whose trust he had systematically betrayed. The judge turned down Mr. Donaldson's request to perform extended community service work instead of serving a prison term. Given the nature of the crimes, the attempted cover-up and the manipulation of friends and subordinates, this was the right decision.

This sorry end to what was once a brilliant career does not close the books on this affair, however. Investigations are continuing into allegations of wrongdoing that grew out of the Donaldson case. There are questions for the prosecutor, for Mayor Barry and for the public: How willingly did subordinates do Mr. Donaldson's illegal bidding? Did anyone in or out of the local government knowingly profit from these crimes? Is there other evidence of corruption? And -- of critical importance -- what is Mayor Barry's responsibility and his view of what should happen now?

Mayor Barry has stated repeatedly that he was betrayed by a friend and that when findings of possible crimes did arise he directed internal investigations and left referral for prosecution up to his independent inspector general. "I want it absolutely clear," the mayor told us yesterday, "that I abhor this kind of conduct. I don't tolerate it, I won't tolerate it."

Mr. Barry said he will underscore his concern by continuing his own investigation of any management and procedural violations that might have occurred and by taking whaever disciplinary or other administrative action may be necessary. "Ever since I came into office I've been trying to clean up a financial mess -- not add to it," he commented, noting that he already is concerned about connections between current and past city government employees and private-sector developers. "No private company should hire a former D.C. employee for lobbying on projects he had worked on in government," Mr. Barry said.

Mayor Barry so far has acted responsibly in not simply choosing to walk away from this case. The depth of his concern will be further tested by the degree to which he reviews what others in the city government did or did not do -- and by what he then does about it.