Barry was a disgrace to his office and the decision to honor him undermines the values of the D.C. government. He was repeatedly criticized for open corruption as well as insulting comments directed against the Asian and Polish communities. He voted against recognizing same sex marriage and was ultimately stripped of all committee authority after years of alleged corruption and conflicts of interest.
Barry was sent to another prison after he was found to have had a prostitute perform oral sex on him in the middle of a visiting room with families of other prisoners. Barry also pleaded guilty in 2005 to tax evasion misdemeanors. When he was subjected to mandatory drug testing, he came up positive for cocaine and marijuana. In 2006, he was again convicted of tax evasion but given a term of probation. Prosecutors later tried to revoke that probation in 2007 for failure to file his 2005 tax return.
In 2009, prosecutors again sought to revoke his probation after his failed to file his 2007 tax returns. The government presented evidence that Barry had not filed his taxes in eight of the prior nine years. In 2011, the IRS hit Barry with a federal tax lien against Barry because of unpaid federal income taxes for 2010. Each time, Barry used his medical condition or other excuses to avoid jail time.
Barry also racked up thousands of dollars of unpaid tickets and had continual driving violations.
He was also arrested for stalking in 2009 after political consultant Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, his ex-girlfriend, filed a complaint. Those charges were also dropped.
He was also accused of a variety of conflicts of interest in using his government positions to benefit himself. A Special Counsel found that Barry personally benefited from a contract that he arranged for Watts-Brighthaupt. It was alleged that his girlfriend then kicked back money that she owed to Barry with the contract money. Moreover, the girlfriend later admitted that her report issued under the contract was plagiarized. Barry refused to cooperate with the Special Counsel who was also looking into dozens of earmarks allegedly benefitting Barry.
On March 2, 2010, the Council of the District of Columbia voted 12–0 to strip Barry of all committee assignments in light of the allegations and his refusal to answer questions. Now the city council committee voted unanimously to honor him.
The District of Columbia was widely ridiculed for returning Barry to office and keeping him in office despite continual scandals. Now the City Council wants a permanent reminder to the world that it considers Barry to be a role model for everyone in Washington.
It would hardly be difficult to come up with a better model than the likes of Marion Barry. Here are a few historical figures born in D.C. bypassed by the city council to honor him in front of city hall: