Marion Barry sharply criticizes fellow D.C. lawmakers

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

Ward 8 Councilman D.C. Marion Barry slammed his colleagues Friday for voting down the latest incarnation of his effort to protect ex-offenders from employment discrimination.

"I'm appalled at those of you who voted against the bill and think the business community will voluntarily hire returning citizens. It just isn't happening," Barry wrote. "If they were going to do it voluntarily, they would have already done it. The only way to get them to hire returning citizens and end this form of discrimination is to pass this legislation."

Barry, recycling an argument from his public remarks earlier this week, also reminded lawmakers that legislation had been required in the past to "force society to do what is right." He cited marriage equality -- which he voted against in 2009 -- and voting rights as examples.

Barry's bill would have barred companies from asking about a job applicant's criminal history before extending a job offer. If employers were to choose to rescind job offers after learning about a person's record, they would have to prove a "relevant relationship" between the job involved and the applicant's criminal history.

Complaints about discrimination would have gone to the District's Office of Human Rights.

Barry's missive to his colleagues came two days after he hammered D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson for his efforts to kill Barry's proposal.

"As the chair of the council, you are in a position of leadership and with this responsibility, you need to be a leader and not a blocker when comes to legislation that comes before the council," Barry wrote Mendelson.

Mendelson, angered by Barry's management of a vote in the bill in committee, ruled the measure out of order when it came before the full council on Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, the council had rejected Barry's effort to attach his proposal to another bill designed to help ex-offenders.

Barry is planning to introduce his bill again when the council reconvenes in 2013.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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