Council Approves Decorum Rules After Catania-Barry Shouting Match

by February 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1,423 0

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT] and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

The Washington Post reported that the DC Council has approved new rules requiring its members to “treat other members with dignity and respect and refrain from using profane, indecent or abusive language” in public meetings. Fittingly, the vote went without debate.

The DC Council is based at the Wilson Building, 14th and Pennsylvania NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Chairman Kwame R. Brown spearheaded the resolution, which was prompted by last week’s heated exchange between Councilmen David Catania and Marion Barry. The new rules allow Brown to remove decorum offenders from future meetings so long as it does not impede their ability to cast a vote.

Speaking of missing votes, Barry skipped Tuesday’s council meeting and did not vote on the proposal.

Although Catania supported the measure, he questioned why the Council, which is endlessly fraught with ethics scandals, would suddenly be concerned about profanity. “This body [is injecting] itself as Emily Post or Miss Manners while last year the majority of members said nothing when a colleague essentially admitted to stealing,” he said, according to The Post. Catania was frustrated by the media’s fixation on the ethics rules rather than on more pressing matters, such as his recent work providing services to at-risk youth.

But Catania’s verbal assault on Barry — including calling him a “despicable human being” — received too much coverage to be ignored, and has many calling for an apology.

“We’re going to take him into the back room and kick his tail,” the Rev. R. Joyce Scott said recently. “And we’re going to do that in public.” Scott did not specify the location of this public back room.

On Tuesday, Catania stood by his heated exchange with Barry, saying he will not apologize.

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