Video: Marion Barry, council chairman tangle over procedure

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry spent much of Tuesday tangling over procedure, marking the second consecutive legislative session the two power brokers have argued in public.

Barry, who on Monday compared Mendelson to Southern segregationists of the 1960s, complained bitterly Tuesday that the chairman was treating him unfairly.

During another sharp dispute over competing bills to grant ex-offenders new protections, Barry said that Mendelson was "railroading" his efforts.

The two have tussled over the measures in recent weeks, a spat that began after Mendelson sought to use his authority as chairman to kill Barry's version of the proposal in committee. The feud intensified when Barry -- without notice -- called a committee vote after Mendelson and other dissenting voices left the room.

Later in Tuesday's marathon session, Barry sparred with Mendelson about when to end debate on several measures. And Barry strongly objected when Mendelson refused to read an amendment aloud, even though the proposed changes were before Barry in writing.

"You can't get the chairman to read the damn amendment," Barry said.

Then, looking toward Mendelson, the former mayor added: "This is obstructionist on your part."

For a time, Barry refused to cast a vote on the measure, though he eventually agreed to participate.

At-large Councilman David Catania, who has fiercely criticized Barry in the past, hammered the Ward 8 lawmaker again Tuesday for his conduct.

Catania labeled Barry a "long bankrupt public servant who has long failed to offer constructive solutions."

Catania later said he and Barry were friendly away from open legislative sessions.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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