The Future Once Happened Here

A narrative written by Fred Seigel begins with Mayor Tom McEnery’s strange meeting with the National Conference of Mayors and the strange entrance of soon to be disgraced mayor, Marion Barry of Washington D.C.


Former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery attended a meeting of the preeminent urban policy organization, the United States Conference of Mayors. The organization’s Washington headquarters  is adorned with a large picture of President Franklin Roosevelt and with framed correspondence describing his close relationship with the mayors of the great cities:

Late in the day, “As yet another speaker droned on about the pressing need for increased federal assistance to cities,” says McEnery, the host, Mayor Marion Barry, finally showed up.  Barry, dressed in the “red warm-up suit he must have slept in, slumped into the chair next to (McEnery) and closed his eyes”.  McEnery goes on: “Suddenly, Marion Barry came alive, interrupting the speaker (to) blurt out a few non sequiturs.”  Jaws dropped tot he sound of nervous laughter, and the conferees gazed in disbelief as Barry rambled on.  Finally, he slumped back into his chair beside McEnery, apparently satisfied he had made his point. “Politely, we all acted as if nothing happened,” says McEnery.  The speaker responded with, “Excellent point, Marion.  now back on the subject of grants.” McEnery concludes, “I have never shuffled my papers as intently as i did the rest of the meeting.”


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