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June 16, 2008

The bus set him up

This time it was the bus that set him up.

Marion Barry, former Mayor for Life of the District, filed a claim with Metro asserting that a Metrobus sideswiped him last summer. There were no witnesses. As the WaPo story explains:

About a month later, Barry filed a claim against Metro. Metro tracked down the bus operator, who denied hitting any vehicle. There was also no damage to the Metrobus. Unable to confirm Barry's account, a mid-level Metro manager advised against paying the claim.
So, of course, that was the end of the story, you're thinking.

Are you on crack? Are you? Barry sits on the Metro board. Needless to say, Metro took another look at the claim.
"We couldn't prove it one way or the other," [Metro General Manager John] Catoe said in a recent interview. "The reality is, he's a member of the board of directors.

"In my judgment, I did not feel that he would have lied about such a small claim," Catoe said. "I believed he was truthful, and I made the decision to pay him.
So now, it's the end of the story, you're thinking. Wrong again! Metro paid Barry $3,227.40 and sent him a letter saying that, while it was unable to confirm the truth of his story, "in recognition of your public position and your commitment to the public interest, [Metro] has determined that it is appropriate to accept your demand for full settlement."

The $3,227.40 was an estimate of an independent appraiser, but in the meantime, Barry had his car repaired for about $1000 less. The Post raises an interesting question:
So, given Metro's financial difficulties, would Barry consider returning the $1,000 to Metro?

Barry said he couldn't remember the actual repair cost. An aide handled it, he said. "The case is closed where I'm concerned."
All right. Now, it's the end of the story.

UPDATE (6/17): A letter writer to the Post notices something I missed in this story. Barry claims that his parked car was sideswiped on the passenger side: "a Metrobus sideswiped his car on the passenger side." Was it parked in the middle of the street? Was it parked on the wrong side facing traffic? The letter writer seems to take the charitable view that Barry was telling the truth but illegally parked, instead of the reverse.