Barry Ends Bid to Override Veto
Byline: Gary Emerling, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
D.C. Council member Marion Barry yesterday withdrew his effort to override a mayoral veto of his bill prohibiting discrimination against residents with criminal records, saying new council members need to study the measure further.
Mr. Barry wants to amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to "prohibit employment, housing and educational discrimination based upon conviction record."
The council passed the bill Dec. 19 on a 10-2 vote, but former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, saying it could result in increased litigation against employers and compromise public safety.
Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, called Mr. Williams' reasons for rejecting the bill "idiocy" and defended his proposal.
"How is public safety compromised or jeopardized by this bill?" said Mr. Barry, who noted that 60,000 people in the District have been convicted of crimes. "These persons are already in the community."
Mr. Barry, who served four terms as mayor of the District, was arrested during his third term in 1990 after being videotaped smoking crack. He also was sentenced in March to three years of probation on tax charges, and he pleaded not guilty to a recent charge of driving under the influence. That charge is pending.
Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, was one of two council members who opposed Mr. Barry's bill last month. Mr. Barry needed the support of eight of the council members to override the veto. Mr. Mendelson said that the votes for Mr. Barry's measure have "vanished" since the veto, but that he might support a better-written bill.
"Discrimination should never be permitted," Mr. Mendelson said. "But it's reasonable that when a person is perceived as being a threat to a job, you would not hire them. …