Is This Trip Needed?

It's early to be submitting nominations for Boondoggle of the Year. But Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry is already a contender.

After being arrested, returned to office by voters, and then administratively sidelined in a deal to rescue America's capital city from waste, corruption, and decline, the mayor might be expected to work hard to improve his city's reputation (and his).

But, no, he's considering going off on another trip abroad. At first, it appeared the mayor would be using taxpayer's money for the trip. But a wealthy friend, lawyer Jack Olender, has pledged the air fare. True, $1,900 to attend a conference in Jerusalem wouldn't make or break D.C.'s recovery. But the mayor's readiness to put it on the public tab, and to take the time away from his job, are worrisome in themselves.

This would be the mayor's fifth trip abroad since he returned to office in 1994. One, to Asia, was paid for by taxpayers. On others, a paid multipoliceman security detail was involved.

After municipal services are repaired, cronyism is wiped out, and the city has some business and civic advantages to sell the world, perhaps a case can be made for overseas trips.

Not now.

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