With Allegories, Barry Shows He's Changing
Washington, Adrienne T., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Moving is such an onerous task. Most would rather not deal with it at all. Stagnant, scared or just plain stubborn, most opt to stay where they are - comfortable or not. Sooner or later you must move on or be moved on, left trampled in the mud or decomposing in a cocoon.
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry spoke in similar allegories last week when he presented his no-nonsense prescriptions for "critical retooling" of the District government, a bureaucratic boondoggle primarily of his own making.
The Mayor-for-Life waxed on wistfully Wednesday about transformation and reformation and caterpillars and butterflies.
A transformation is "like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly." A reformation is "like pulling the leg off a caterpillar," according to Hizzoner.
The difference between Mr. Barry's reformation plan of the '80s with his transformation plan of the '90s, he explains, is the difference between caterpillars and butterflies. Neither has a long life span, I'd submit.
What all this has to do with moving forward, is anybody's guess. It's the same puzzling feeling you get when trying to juxtapose the policies in the mayor's "historic" transformation plan with the numbers in his "historic" fiscal 1997 budget and multiyear financial plan.
What all this esoteric stuff has to do with bottom-line budgets and hard, cold numbers seems far-fetched. Wherein lies the hidden meaning? It's not in the numbers; it's in the words being used in "A Vision for America's First City."
Indeed, parts of the mayor's new mantra reads like the Serenity Prayer. "God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference," the petitioner asks.
Mr. Barry, a recovering alcoholic and substance abuser, now states, "We must accept responsibility for acting where and when we can." Further, he and his administrators will be "focused on the things we can control" and not dwell on "the frustration of circumstances and events beyond our control."
Budgets are nothing more than numerical promises with guesstimates as vulnerable as insects. Besides, numbers are ever-changing, always being picked apart. Who can keep up?
Language and policy are much easier to grasp. Mr. Barry begins a new phase with an expanded vocabulary. "Facing the problem squarely," and with "a renewed dedication to self-sufficiency," he admits that the city government cannot be all things to all people. …