BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Harry S. Jaffe, why did you call your new book "Dream City"?
HARRY JAFFE, CO-AUTHOR, "DREAM CITY A number of reasons. I think that people often come to Washington, D.C., with some kind of a dream in mind. You know, school kids come here from Cherry Oaks, Ohio, or wherever, and they might dream of becoming president one day. Congresspeople come here with an idea about how they'd like to change the world. And our principal characters were largely civil rights activists who came to Washington, D.C., after the civil rights movement down south had come to a close, with a dream of making Washington, D.C., the first city run by African-Americans, by government, and making it a place that was noteworthy and made the dream of empowerment that was begun down in the south true.
LAMB: Who's your favorite character in the book?
TOM SHERWOOD,CO-AUTHOR, "DREAM CITY Well, I won't lie--Marion Barry is the favorite character. He's obviously the principal character, apart from the city itself. He's just an extraordinary person. He has made so much news nationally, internationally, usually for the wrong things, unfortunately. But he's a complex person, we found in researching his life, his growing up in a family of mother and four sisters, his getting involved into the civil rights movement at the same time he was also studying to have a chemistry degree at Fisk University. There are all kinds of things about Marion Barry that don't come through the national/ international news that he was the mayor caught smoking crack cocaine.
LAMB: Other than Marion Barry, who's another person that you wrote about that is memorable?
JAFFE: Well, I would go for Al Arrington, who is the, in a sense, the hero of the book. He, like Marion Barry, the son of a sharecropper, worked the fields pulling tobacco in North Carolina, came to Washington, D.C., as part of a migration of African-Americans who came from the south to Washington to seek their fortunes; only where Marion Barry took a political path which took him to places where he maybe didn't plan to go, Al Arrington became a police officer, developed a stable relationship with his wife, worked his way up through the ranks of the police department, and wound up being the African- American metropolitan police department sergeant who investigated Marion Barry and was a crucial, I would say, a key element in his, in the investigation that actually led to the Vista setup and arrest of Marion Barry.
SHERWOOD: I think it's important to note that Al Arrington was the officer who had his hand on the doorknob as they were prepared to burst into the Vista hotel room to arrest Marion Barry, and the conflicts in Arrington's mind as a black person going in to arrest yet another black person, the high profile sense of that case, the feelings he had there make for some of the dramatic moments in "Dream City."
JAFFE: Exactly. We asked Al Arrington how he felt when he reached Marion Barry, he was the first police officer to reach Marion Barry, and I said, "how did it feel," he said, "it was like a knife in the heart" because while he had been hunting this man for a full year, when he got him, he realized that "this is, this is my brother," and he had a terrible conflict that I think a lot of African Americans feel in general about, you know, their own brothers, how they deal with a white society, and those are some of the things that we try to bring out in "Dream City."
LAMB: What do you do for a living full-time?
SHERWOOD: I'm a political reporter for WRC-TV, Channel 4 here in Washington, the NBC-owned station here in the District, and that's what I do full-time, too much time.
LAMB: How long have you done that?
SHERWOOD: I've been doing it since 1989. I used to work for the "Washington Post," covering local politics, Marion Barry, and Chuck Robb in Virginia, but in 1989, the TV station. Barry, who was still then the mayor, and the station wanted someone they thought could report on the city and report specifically on Marion Barry. So they waved some additional dollars in my face and said, "come try TV Tom, stop being that newspaper journalist" and I did it. It's been fun for five years.
LAMB: What year did you come to Washington?
SHERWOOD: I moved here in 1974. I worked for John W. Davis, a member of Congress who was defeated that year by Larry McDonald, and so I needed a job, and I got a job at the "Washington Post," as a desk editor in 1974.
LAMB: Where's home originally?
SHERWOOD: Atlanta, Georgia. I must say, though, I was in Washington in 1968 and '69 as a navy reservist at the Washington Navy Yard, which was my first real introduction to the local Washington, but I'm from Atlanta.
LAMB: Larry McDonald was the Congressman who went down on KAL-007?
SHERWOOD: Right, the John Birch Society member from the congressional district right outside of Atlanta.
LAMB: What was John Davis' politics?
SHERWOOD: Former judge, moderate north Georgia congressman, 12 years, had a drinking problem, and he got increasingly distant from his district, and came, got aloof in Washington, and got defeated.
LAMB: Harry Jaffe, what do you do full-time?
JAFFE: I am a national editor at "Washingtonian," magazine, and I write about local politics, local business, whatever comes up; columns, longer articles.
LAMB: Where are you from originally?
LAMB: Where did you go to school?
JAFFE: I went to school, public schools in Philadelphia, and then I went to college, Dickinson College In Pennsylvania.
LAMB: And when did you first come to Washington?
JAFFE: Well, like Tom, I came to work for somebody on Capitol Hill. I came in 1978 to work for Patrick Leahy as his press secretary. However, I was here in 1971 to protest the Vietnam War, where I was first arrested at Dupont Circle.
SHERWOOD: First arrested? Were you arrested more than once? Could make some news here.
JAFFE: Do you both live in the District?
JAFFE: I live in the District with my wife and three children. I have two daughters who are in the public school, public elementary school. So, yeah. I think that for Tom and I, having a stake in the District of Columbia was part of our motivation for writing this book. I think that while the book, you know, may seem critical, there's a tremendous amount of affection that Tom and I share for the city.
LAMB: Will Marion Barry be the next mayor of Washington, D.C.?
SHERWOOD: Barring an extraordinary event which I can't scope out in my mind, Marion Barry should beat republican Carol Schwartz in November and a couple of lesser-known independent candidates who will also be on the ballot. But his primary win with 47% of the vote was extraordinary. Many people expected him to have a very good chance of winning, but no one -- only one person out of the entire city predicted Barry would get that high of a vote.
LAMB: How did he do it?
JAFFE: Well, he did it, I think, two ways in particular. He exploited what is a tremendous amount of anger and defiance across the board in the black community that we write about and try to explain and get to the roots of in "Dream City." Secondly, his plea on religious grounds that he was a redeemed individual, that he had seen the bottom and worked his way back up, has a tremendous appeal to African-Americans.
And thirdly, and I think most importantly, Marion Barry is a masterful politician. He knows how to get people to the polls to vote for him and the mechanics of that, which is something that, as we point out in "Dream City," he learned in S.N.C.C., Student Non-Violent Coordinating Community, in the deep south during the civil rights movement. He has brought all of those tactics and all those talents to bear in every one of his campaigns. So he brought people to the polls, and he brought people to the polls who hadn't voted before, which is one of the things that I think he deserves quite a lot of credit for.
SHERWOOD: He registered as many as 12,000 new voters, or had some role in registering that many new voters. He also appealed to the middle class black Washingtonians who know that the city government is wasting too much money, is going to have to be cut, either by the city officials or by Congress, and so, in looking to someone to cut the city budget, we're talking in the middle-class black community, often talking about their jobs and their contracts for the city government, who would you best trust to cut the government? Someone who has denounced the government or someone who perhaps built it and knows it best and knows why he must make cuts, will make cuts while doing his best to protect them and their jobs. Those are practical politics. Tip O'Neill once said, you know, "all politics is local," and the fact is that's true here in Washington. For all the people who only know Marion Barry through the nasty headlines and the videotape of the crack cocaine incident, don't know the extraordinary work he did in Washington to open up the doors of government to the black people of Washington who were shut out for years, decades, and people remember that.
LAMB: Give us a profile of Washington, D.C. -- how many people live here, what's the racial make up of the community and where's the power and how much does it cost to make this city work?
JAFFE: Well, let me begin by saying that we've got fewer than 600,000 residents, which is a plummeting number of inhabitants. At its height, the city had 800,000 people, and that was, I think, in the 1950's. So there's been a steady drain of people. The city is divided, I think, by two waterways primarily. The Anacostia River, which is a tributary of the Potomac separates the poorer black population from the rest of the city, and there's often a saying of "across the tracks," or "across the river." "Across the tracks" in a southern town, in Washington, D.C., "across the river" is across the Anacostia.
Then there is the Rock Creek, Rock Creek itself, and Rock Creek Park. The wealthier white population lives west of the park. And in the center of the city and in neighborhoods all across that great area between the park and Anacostia river is a thriving black middle class --fine churches, good schools, people that just want their piece of the American dream. They just want to live well, send their kids to college, and follow the pathway that a lot of black middle-class people have followed in this city.
LAMB: Where's the money come from to operate the community, and how much local power do they have?
SHERWOOD: A lot of the money comes from the very people who live here and work here. It's commonly believed that the city is simply a ward of the federal government. That's not true. The budget's $3.7 billion a year, $3.7 billion. Most of that money is raised through local businesses and local taxpayers, individuals like Harry and I. That's where the money comes from. We have a thriving business community here. The downtown Washington was rebuilt in the 1980's. They pay a great deal in taxes. Many people think they don't pay enough taxes.
But that's where the money comes from, and the power, unfortunately, belongs to Congress. Under the Constitution, the Congress has full authority over the District Of Columbia, and only since 1974 has there been any kind of local home rule government with an elected mayor and a city council to run the day-to-day affairs of the city. But everything is subject to disapproval by the Congress. It doesn't matter whether you're for or against abortion, Congress and the president have stopped abortions in this city.
And if they don't like the color of taxicabs, they can also change that. So everything, life-and-death matters, Congress controls. Second to that is the essentially white business community, much of which is located outside of the city now, also controls a great deal of the economic wealth of the city. Although there are substantially wealthy people, black people in Washington, the power generally resides in Congress, the white business community, and then the people who have limited powers to affect their local government.
LAMB: Who's Jeff Cohen?
JAFFE: Jeff Cohen is a local Washingtonian who, born and raised here, went to school here, befriended Marion Barry early on, saw Marion Barry as a politician who he could relate to, and became a, I guess, godfather to Marion Barry's son, vacationed with Marion Barry in Nantucket, and used those contacts for his own self-aggrandizement. He is a developer who would use the city government as kind of a banker of last resort to guarantee loans that made him wealthy. At the end of the Barry, first Barry regime, Jeff Cohen went bankrupt, and that's in no small part because he lost his patron, Marion Barry. It shows a fundamental conflict where a businessman will take advantage of his dealings with the city government.
LAMB: You say that when he filed for bankruptcy, he had liabilities of $54 million and assets of $112,000, but yet, right after filing bankruptcy, was found to still have his home and the Sidwell Friends schools and going to the White House or someplace with Bill Clinton, can you explain that?
JAFFE: Well, I would say that bankruptcy in this country is a way to give people a second chance. He did have to pay off some of his loans, but his father is a wealthy man, and I think that he used those kinds of ties to continue living pretty much the lifestyle that he was living when he was on the high.
SHERWOOD: And it's true that the rich go through bankruptcy far different than people of modest or more normal means. There are ways, with lawyers and others, to have bankruptcy, but still take vacations to Alaska. But I think the relationship with Jeffrey Cohen with Marion Barry demonstrates another aspect we try to point out in "Dream City," is that for all the rhetoric about the white business establishment not hiring black people, that Marion Barry is and was and is quite comfortable in the suites of Washington, talking to the powers, the white power structure.
One of his stated goals in this campaign and others, on the positive side, has been that he is a person who's able to talk to the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. A cynic might turn that around and say that he scams the poor and cuddles the rich. Certainly there are problems in the city in terms of, not new taxes, but collecting the taxes that are owed from this major business community, and some people believe that Barry has been so close to that community that the boards and commissions that should be collecting those taxes don't because of Barry's influence with them.
LAMB: Who's Ivanhoe Donaldson?
JAFFE: Ivanhoe Donaldson, a true star and leading light of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, one of the most brilliant political strategists to come out of the southern civil rights movement -- son of a New York police officer; came to Washington shortly after Marion Barry did, and became Marion Barry's alter-ego, his principal political advisor; engineered his first political victories, both in city council and his first mayoral victory.
Unfortunately, for various reasons, some of which we try to reach into, some of which are hard to divine, Ivanhoe Donaldson got into debt when he was a head of the Department of Employment Security, one of the top jobs in the Barry administration, and he began to embezzle money. He was caught, and he admitted to embezzling $190,000 from the city government, and served time in jail for that, and that was a tremendous blow to Barry, because it happened in '86, when Barry was starting to slide down the path that would lead him to personal dissipation. Losing Ivanhoe Donaldson as a rudder at that point was crucial.
SHERWOOD: You asked who was my favorite character. Well, Ivanhoe is the saddest character for all the reasons Harry just stated. He worked for the Department of Employment Services. The job for that agency, of course, is to get jobs for the people in the city. Unemployment in the African- American community hovers, for males is around, close to 50% on a regular basis.
The concept that a fixture of the civil rights movement like Ivanhoe had been corrupted in the process of trying to govern was just really sad. In many ways, Ivanhoe took money and sponsored parties for orphans and did all kinds of good things, but he also started driving mercedes and owning an expensive condominium and buying credit card bills for dinner at Washington's expensive restaurants. So he lost his bearings, much like Marion Barry did. Ivanhoe went to jail for three years, and he's been back in town, working as a consultant, trying to help Marion Barry and others, and so he's also a tragic figure in this, in "Dream City" right now. I hope that we can write maybe a future chapter that he's turned himself around.
LAMB: Who's Mary Treadwell?
JAFFE: Mary Treadwell. Strong woman, brilliant woman, Marion Barry's second wife.
LAMB: How many wives has he had?
JAFFE: This is, he's on his fourth marriage right now. He was briefly married when he was in school down in Tennessee. And Mary Treadwell, his second marriage, crucial in the early years of Marion Barry's political life here in Washington in developing Pride, Inc., which was a self-help political job bank that operated back in the late 60's, and again, a sad story to be told here. As Ivanhoe did, Mary became a little bit more involved in the trapping’s of the organization she was running, wound up driving a jaguar and living in the Watergate hotel, and she was also, found herself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, was charged with embezzling money. I don't think she was ever, correct me if I'm wrong, she was not ever found guilty of that.
SHERWOOD: Of the lesser charge and just for this very moment, I can't remember it, but it's a much lesser charge than what she had been accused of.
JAFFE: But she is another fallen figure who had to serve time.
LAMB: You, though, have some scenes that you describe in the book in language, in quote marks, of when Marion Barry was out, allegedly philandering with other women, came home one night, and you have Mary Treadwell putting a gun to his head on the pillow, as he hit, as his head hit the pillow?
SHERWOOD: Yes. Suggesting in rather strong language he shouldn't be doing that anymore and that she would like to take care of the situation. Yes, we do have that language in the book. It's a dramatic...
LAMB: Where did you get that?
SHERWOOD: Well we got that information from contemporaneous people who were aware of what happened who she spoke to, and we also told her we were reporting it.
LAMB: And did you speak to her about the book? I mean, did you interview her?
SHERWOOD: Yes. Yes, we interviewed, Harry interviewed her extensively, but also went to her and told her what we were publishing.
LAMB: How did you divide your responsibilities in the book? (laughter)
SHERWOOD: Whoever had the time. I'll answer that because Harry, Harry's name is on the book first, and that's an appropriate place because he was the driving force. He was the person who called after the arrest of Marion Barry in 1990, and we didn't really know each other except being in the same city, and said, "you know, this city and this man is hell of a book, and let's do it," and as a magazine writer, more focused on long-term projects, Harry was in a position to spearhead the research and gather.
We worked in his attic. And as a television reporter, more attuned to the day-to-day types of things that are going on, it was a combination that we did. I had a lot of research from my years, a decade of covering Marion Barry in the city, a lot of files left over from my days at the "Washington Post" so all that went into "Dream City," but Harry was the driving force to get the book done. And we decided that we'd write in his voice, and I would be the editor of it, so we wouldn't be writing two different books and then trying to smash them together like books often do. I think people say about "Dream City" that it reads very well. Whatever the criticisms are, "it reads very well." I think that's because we chose to let Harry write the book with my input. Is that right, Harry? Is that enough credit?
JAFFE: Well, you were so kind to me, Tom, that I... when my agent came to me and said "this is a book that will do well, and I can find someone to--" a publisher, in this case Simon And Schuster-- "to go ahead and publish the book," I frankly didn't think I had enough reporting experience and didn't know the characters and didn't know the story as well as Tom Sherwood, who was then and still is the principal dean of Washington reporters when it comes to local politics. I mean, Tom's a guy who knows Marion Barry. I think they have a relationship, if I'm not mistaken, that kind of goes beyond "hey, I'm a reporter, and he's a politician." There's an understanding there that I never could attain. So I worked well with Tom as a, as the... for providing me with the kind of material and grist and detail that I needed.
LAMB: Would Marion Barry talk to you for the book?
SHERWOOD: No, he didn't talk officially for the book. Of course, he had talked for a decade, so... (laughter) I told him... he said "no." We wrote him letters and said, "will you please talk to us," and he wouldn't talk to us, and he said, "what's in it for me," and I said, "well, the fact is, we know all the bad stuff. I want to talk to you about the good stuff." Well, it turned out we didn't know all the bad stuff there, it surprised us. But he didn't want to do it. And even now he doesn't really like to talk about the book.
He doesn't dispute the book. He doesn't... he just says that I'm a better reporter than I am a writer. I don't know what that means. It's just a way... he just kind of dismisses it. He says, "look the book happened, all these things happened in the past. I'm the new person. I am a new Marion Barry. I acknowledge my problems with women, with drugs, with taking my hand off the tower for the government, and I'm moving on." And so he doesn't want to address the book in that reason. But I wish he had talked to us. It would have been a better book.
LAMB: Who else did not talk to you or would not agree to talk to you?
JAFFE: Well, surprisingly enough, very few people.
LAMB: Did Effi Barry talk to you?
JAFFE: Effi would not. Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield would...
LAMB: And who was she, by the way? Who is she?
JAFFE: Effi Barry, Marion Barry's third wife, who he married just before running for mayor in 1978, and who, you know, fathered, I'm sorry, mothered his first, his only child, Christopher; who stuck with him all during his travails and during his very public demise in court; came to court every single day and sat there and had to, you know, “painstricken,” listen to the testimony of Marion Barry's various paramours. I sat behind Effi Barry for many of those court dates. She decided not to speak to us. And I think, you know, I try to think why she didn't. I think that she also wanted to leave the episode behind her, and left town shortly after.
SHERWOOD: So, she was something of an enigma. We tried to find out more about her. We needed some biographical material in there about her. But she's moved to Hampton, Virginia, where she's been teaching at the Hampton University there. She had planned to write her own book. Se had talked about writing her own book.
She was portrayed pretty much as the long-suffering wife under Marion Barry, although friends said that she, too, had her own active lifestyle. And they lived apart. She once even admitted that maybe in all the times that they had been married from 1978 until 1991 or whenever it was that they had maybe had had dinner six times together because they led separate lives. It was a arrangement which one friend of Effi Barry said, "she was strong enough to stay, but too weak to leave."
LAMB: Who's Karen Johnson?
JAFFE: Let's see, Karen Johnson -- one of the earliest lovers of Marion Barry to kind of make it into the public spotlight because there was an allegation that she supplied Marion Barry with cocaine. And she...
SHERWOOD: In the early 1980's, we're talking about.
JAFFE: Yeah. This is... if Marion Barry's first term began in 1979, two years later, he began his relationship with Karen Johnson. She served time in jail. And that episode was, I think, the first crack in Marion Barry's public facade that linked him with another woman and drugs.
LAMB: How did he meet her?
SHERWOOD: In a nightclub here in town.
LAMB: As mayor?
SHERWOOD: He was mayor. Marion Barry had a notorious reputation as a womanizer. I hate that word, it's a terrible word, but he was, even when he was on the school board, people who worked there at the time said, you know, as a school board president, he would walk out into the audience and ask people if they were single or not and where do they live and "what's your phone number," and then get a business number and then say, "no, I mean your home number." I mean, he was just unabashed about it. Karen Johnson, again, only because of the drug connection with her boyfriend, who alleged--was alleged to have provided the cocaine for Marion Barry, did that become public at all.
LAMB: How did his relationship with her work? I mean, you've got quite a bit in there of how, you know, he would go to her...
SHERWOOD: Oh, at night, he was a... nocturnal visits. I mean, he was, Barry called himself a night owl after a lot of publicity about his activities. Barry simply would have his limousine drive him to her apartment. It was just, as we found out, one of many apartments he visited over time with various women around town.
LAMB: In the end, what did she... did she testify against him?
JAFFE: Nope, she never did. And there was...
SHERWOOD: Went to jail.
JAFFE: She went to jail, and there were allegations and some quite explicit information that pinned payments to Karen Johnson by Marion Barry's friends.
SHERWOOD: To business friends.
JAFFE: Business friends, people who actually delivered cash to her in order to buy her silence. And for whatever reason, it did buy her silence.
LAMB: Do you name those friends?
JAFFE: Yes we do.
LAMB: Who are they?
JAFFE: Let's see. John Clyburn and Ray Little...
SHERWOOD: Ray Little John.
JAFFE: Yeah, Little John.
LAMB: And where do you get those kind of names?
SHERWOOD: Well, they acknowledged giving money to her. They said it was -- they acknowledged giving the money to Karen Johnson, but they didn't say, they said it wasn't for any payoffs. No one could prove they were payoffs. Karen Johnson refused to testify. She went to jail. I've forgotten how many months she stayed in jail.
She had a small son, and the prosecutors thought that if they sent her to jail, perhaps being separated from her son would make her testify. She chose not to, and to this day she has never told her side of the story. She's had some conversations, one TV interview, but she's really never told the whole story, and of course Marion Barry hasn't either.
LAMB: Who's Charles Lewis?
JAFFE: Charles Lewis. A son of very wealthy Virgin Islands family who had difficulty with drugs of his own before he met Marion Barry--came to Washington, D.C., worked in the city government--met Marion Barry in the mid-1980's. And then, when Barry started to kind of go downhill, he would often go to the islands for entertainment, and one of the first times that he went down to the Virgin Islands with Rasheeda Moore, who was the paramour who actually led to his downfall, it was with Charles Lewis, on a boat where they, according to testimony by both of those folks, there was quite a bit of drugs and marijuana and cocaine consumed on the boat in the Virgin Islands with Charles Lewis and Rasheeda Moore. Present at the time, Charles Lewis became a principal accuser of Marion Barry in court testimony.
SHERWOOD: I think it's important to know that Charles Lewis had been here in the 70's, then went back to the islands, but then was couriering something-- we don't, we cannot say it was drugs-- but he had a lot of murky jobs, let's just call it that. But he was the catalyst that really started the specific downfall of Marion Barry, because in 1988, in December of 1988, that's when Marion Barry went to the Ramada Inn here in Washington, downtown, to visit Chuck Lewis.
As it turned out, it was in fact to get drugs. At the time, Barry said it was just somebody he knew and that Chuck Lewis was down and out and needed a job, and he tried to give all these various explanations, but it was clear at that time that something was up, and that prompted the prosecutor, Jay Stephens, to pretty much reopen an investigation into Marion Barry's activities, and they pursued both Chuck Lewis and Barry at the same time.
LAMB: When was the decision made by Jay Stephens, the former U.S. Attorney in the District, to pursue Marion Barry? What was the date?
JAFFE: Well, interestingly enough, just going back a little bit, Joe diGenova, who proceeded Jay Stephens, had a number of investigations that were terminated by Jay Stephens when Jay Stephens got into office. He said, "you haven't gotten the guy-- why don't you just drop everything."
SHERWOOD: I think it's important to note, Jay Stephens is a white, conservative republican, former white house aide, who was appointed by... Bush?
JAFFE: By Reagan.
JAFFE: And when the Ramada Inn episode came about--which means that when it became clear that Marion Barry had visited Chuck Lewis and that there was cocaine in the room and that Chuck Lewis had apparently tried to give some cocaine to one of the chambermaids at the Ramada Inn, when that happened, there were police officers involved, there was enough going on that, and Al Arrington became involved; he's the M.P.D. police sergeant who got involved, there was enough at that point, and that would have been December 1988.
SHERWOOD: Right. Well, yeah, it was late December. So the decision actually to do a full-scale investigation came only after the D.C. police department, which largely had been under the thumb of Marion Barry, Ike Fulwood and then Chief Turner, refused to try to cover up this incident. It was just too messy. And the police chief, the police chief and his principal assistant, Ike Fulwood, pretty much washed their hands and said, "we're not getting involved in this" and as they, within the coming weeks... January of '89 is really when the decision was made to do a full investigation of this, a grand jury investigation.
LAMB: How many times has Marion Barry been elected mayor of the city of Washington?
JAFFE: So far, three times. I'd say three and a half because he's so close to being elected the fourth time, which is an interesting point that few Americans really quite understand, is that how young the local political system is here. Marion Barry, when he was elected his first three times, was only the second mayor to be elected, you know, by the citizenry of Washington, D.C., since the 1800's.
LAMB: Who was the first?
SHERWOOD: Dr. Washington in 1974. When Congress passed home rule for the city in 1973, and Walter Washington, who had been first the appointed mayor by Lyndon Johnson in the 60's, ran and won the first term as an elected mayor, and then ran again in 1978, but lost out to Barry in a three-way race that's remarkably similar in many respects to the race we just had. But now Walter Washington is retired.
JAFFE: So then the city has had, in effect, as mayors, Walter Washington, Marion Barry, Sharon Pratt Kelly, and if Marion Barry is elected again, in 20 years it will have had three mayors, and Marion Barry for most of that time.
LAMB: What happened to Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly?
SHERWOOD: She was a -- well, politically, she was a disaster. She used to say that she was, that she's still in office until January 2, 1995. She would say that "I'm not a politician." She came out of the -- she was the hometown Washingtonian who had worked as a lawyer and who has worked for the power company. And she ran on a reform platform in 1990 as Sharon Pratt Dixon, saying that she would fix all the problems that Marion Barry had created, and that she was embarrassed for her hometown, that she was not a politician.
Well, she was a politician; she just turned out to be a bad one on so many different levels. She had been the national treasurer of the Democratic National Committee; she had been a member of the Democratic National Committee as a national committeewoman from Washington since 1977. In 1982, she had run the mayoral campaign of Patricia Roberts Harris, another hometown Washingtonian with a national reputation who failed to unseat Barry.
So Kelly -- Mayor Dixon was in fact involved in the city, but she turned -- she had a tremendous victory, upset victory in 1990 against some city council candidates, and the world lay at her feet, but rather than embracing the various elements that opposed her, she fought with them, and she ended up fighting with the Congress, the courts, the media, the city council, and the business community. It was either her way or the highway in so many cases that people said, "forget it, we can't work with you." and while she did some things as a reform mayor, her personality and her politics isolated her to the extent that she was -- that even the "Washington Post," which endorsed her in 1990, didn't do it this time.
LAMB: The population is 580,000, something like that?
LAMB: How many... what percentage are African-Americans?
SHERWOOD: 70%. Just under 70%.
JAFFE: There's about, I'd say, 2% or 3% Hispanic.
SHERWOOD: And Asian.
JAFFE: And Asian.
LAMB: Over a person a day is killed. You say it somewhere in your book that a young black man is killed once a day. Why?
JAFFE: Well, primarily the drug trade, primarily the lack of opportunity and the lack of perceived opportunity. You know, one of the events that we describe is when George Bush, who was starting yet another war on drugs, wanted an example to go on national TV and talk about, and so he arranged for the D.E.A. to set up...
LAMB: The Drug Enforcement Agency.
JAFFE: ..the Drug Enforcement Agency, to set up a drug buy in Lafayette square, which is right across from the White House. And indeed it happened. The African-American from Washington, D.C., who was set up had to be given directions to the White House. He lived in a neighborhood, maybe as the crow flies, a mile or two away, didn't know how to get there. So there's a part of Washington that is so enclosed and divorced from the rest of the city that the drug culture, the drug life, and the lack of respect for human, for life, can become that vicious.
LAMB: Where are the murders committed?
SHERWOOD: Most of the murders are committed in southeast and in parts of northeast Washington. Rarely in this city, unlike Miami and other tourist towns, tourism, being our number two industry here, do we have reports of tourists being attacked and shot. I think one tourist in ten years maybe has been shot and killed. That was one person, an elderly gentlemen who had strayed away from downtown and any regular parts that tourists might go to.
We have a terrible problem with guns in this city. We have the strongest anti-gun law in America here. No one can own a handgun if you didn't have it before 1977, but the borders are porous to Virginia and Maryland. A lot of the guns in fact come from Virginia. Another thing, this city does not have the established territorial gangs that some urban areas have, and so there are a lot of fights in the drug community over who's going to control what drug trafficking there is in some of the poorer neighborhoods, and those are constantly people being killed.
LAMB: Where do the whites live in the community?
JAFFE: Almost entirely west of Rock Creek Park in the northwest quadrant of the city, and I'd say probably 90% of the white population lives in that particular area, ward 3, some in ward 2, which is Georgetown.
SHERWOOD: Ward 1 on Capitol Hill.
LAMB: How many murders committed in ward 3?
JAFFE: I'd say, maybe one or two. That's about it. Sometimes none in a full year.
SHERWOOD: Yeah, two or three at most, and they've been sensational crimes, an armored guard, a security guard being shot at a restaurant, that type of thing.
LAMB: What's so attractive about crack cocaine?
SHERWOOD: It's cheap, makes you feel -- we say this, according to what people say -- it's cheap, makes you feel great, and it's highly addictive; that if you, if you first try it one or two times, and it's -- I'm told the high is such that you just cannot believe you can do anything else but get that high again, that mothers have been known to, obviously, to leave their children, infant children, and go out in search of crack cocaine, having sex in exchange not for money, but for crack cocaine. It is quite powerful.
LAMB: How much is it?
JAFFE: I think you can get it for $5 a hit.
JAFFE: I mean, you can get -- it comes in a little tiny plastic container, so you can get it for as little as $5 or $10. There's one thing about the murder rate that I think is important to point out, is that, you know, my personal criticism of Marion Barry is not so much his personal failings, but his failure as a mayor, and in his last six years especially, he allowed the public housing projects to deteriorate to the point where Washington, D.C.'s public housing became the worst in the entire nation, which is a breeding ground for crime, for health problems, for everything.
Secondly, under his watch, the police department was very much crippled because of lack of funds, because of cronyism, because of poor technology. So the marriage or the convergence of those two aspects of Barry's government -- public housing into deterioration, the police not prepared to handle the influx of crime, is what contributed to the murder rate.
LAMB: How long did Marion Barry spend in jail?
SHERWOOD: Six months.
LAMB: Where did he go?
JAFFE: He briefly was at Petersburg, Virginia, and then there was an alleged incident there of sexual misconduct with a female visitor.
LAMB: What does that mean?
SHERWOOD: Well, it means that the -- it was alleged by another inmate that while Marion Barry was in the visiting room with a female visitor that the female visitor performed oral sex on him.
LAMB: But you say in the book that the person that did the alleging was a white inmate.
SHERWOOD: Right. That was yet another -- "Dream City" points out again and again that nothing is seen through just clear eyes, that race and racial fears and racism plays a role in virtually everything. And again, this is an allegation that the inmate that made these allegations against Barry was white, had worked in the warden's office, and didn't like Barry, and that -- but enough was found that the prison system, the federal prison system did in fact move Barry to a place in Pennsylvania. But I would say, in researching that very incident, and had a direct conversation with the inmate who alleged the incident, he never specifically saw what he said he saw; it's just that it looked like something was happening. He never specifically saw the actual act.
LAMB: Who's Jim Sleeper?
JAFFE: Jim Sleeper is a columnist for "Newsday" right now. He wrote a book called "The Closest of Strangers," which is about the relationship between liberal whites and blacks in New York City.
LAMB: Let me read-- you know this, of course; it's on the back jacket-- it says, and he's writing about your book, he says, "a vivid account of how the complex legacies of white racism and white guilt commingled with the deep hurt and mistrust at the center of black politics to let one man, Marion Barry, preempt the development of an integrated civic culture in our nation's Capitol." What does that mean?
JAFFE: It's a mouthful.
LAMB: I'll read it again.
JAFFE: That's okay
SHERWOOD: Maybe we could take it in parts. (laughter)
JAFFE: Well, I think that he makes a number of good points that we try to develop in "Dream City." First of all, the tremendous mistrust and distrust of the white establishment is at the root of politics here. Congress, you know, in fact runs the city, or has the power to run the city. This is a white establishment organization, by and large.
The second thing that I think is important here is that politics in Washington, D.C., are so young and so fragile, and Marion Barry's expertise as a political operator allowed him to commandeer control of the democratic party, which has 10-1 advantage over the republican party, to control the city council, which was called "the Marionettes" during his tenure as mayor. And to basically, you know, kind of put down any attempt to develop a political counterpoint to his own control.
SHERWOOD: The fact is that the white racism that he speaks of is that the home rule for the city, limited home rule, was reluctantly given by Congress. In fact, the Congress was distracted by Watergate and other matters. But many black people rightly feel and know that if white people could, they would take this city back and not allow black people to run it. I mean, that is heard, not on public television programs like this, but you can hear that remark as you go around the country and the city.
In fact, I was in Florida just this past week, and someone wrote in, saying, "well, those people have elected Marion Barry, they should have, the home rule should be taken away, and Congress should run the city again." And I think that that's one of the things that people don't quite understand. The people of Washington, the African-Americans who live here, and many whites of goodwill, resent very much the external forces of the country always talking about "those people in Washington,” as if they're somehow subhuman, and I think race does play a major factor there, in that.
And so, when some African- Americans who voted for Marion Barry this time said, "look, here's an in-your-face-vote. You think you're worried about Marion Barry and he shouldn't be our mayor? We're sick of you telling us who we're going to vote for. I'm going to vote for Marion Barry. In addition, I think he'll do a good job, but I'm going to vote just because you hate him so." And that's a racial insecurity. That's not the best reason to vote for mayor, but that's a legitimate reason, and I can understand that. I get that feeling throughout the city.
LAMB: Go back to Rasheeda Moore and Al Arrington. Did you interview Rasheeda Moore for this book?
JAFFE: We attempted to. By the time that we made that attempt, she was in the witness protection program, long gone from Washington, D.C.
LAMB: What does that mean?
JAFFE: It means that after she testified against Marion Barry in federal court, she was essentially given a new identity, a new home by the U.S. Marshalls and the FBI, because they considered her life to be in danger if she stayed in Washington, D.C.
LAMB: Go back to the beginning of the investigation. You mentioned earlier about Jay Stephens going after Marion Barry after the Ramada Inn incident. How did they find Rasheeda Moore? "They" meaning the FBI?
SHERWOOD: Rasheeda Moore, of course, being the beautiful model that Barry had met previously and carried on a relationship with. That's part of the Al Arrington story, is the unraveling of connections. Charles Lewis had an address book that had lots of names, and I think there was an "RC" in there or something, which was Rasheeda Moore's nickname.
And, it was, I can't remember through all the steps, because it's quite complicated, but we lay it out in the book, in "Dream City," how they finally discovered that Rasheeda Moore Is the daughter of a local Washington woman who is the organist in the local church. And they attempt to talk to her, and initially they're going to, but then it all falls apart. And they bring her in, through classic interrogation techniques, to talk to her, and she doesn't want to say anything, and then she leaves. But then ultimately she's arrested on a small charge out in Los Angeles, I think a driving charge or something like that, and they're able to persuade her to talk.
LAMB: Now, again, what's the year where this investigation starts?
JAFFE: It starts in January of '89.
SHERWOOD: This is '89.
JAFFE: Rasheeda Moore was not actually brought in to testify until Christmas.
LAMB: Of '89.
SHERWOOD: It was very late.
LAMB: Okay, but you at some point point out in your book that she was down and out and on food stamps and welfare, and she had children, and where were they?
SHERWOOD: They were in Los Angeles. And there was a problem with their -- the children were staying, I think for a while, with the father of the children. I don't want to misremember this on national television, so I'm going to be careful about that. But they were -- I think it was a driving charge on which they arrested her, and they said they had found her, and they went out to talk to her.
LAMB: And Al Arrington... the Bible had an impact in this, and you bringing up his relationship to the Bible and his use of it. Explain that, and again, Al Arrington is a Washington, D.C., policeman.
JAFFE: Yes. Al had a near-fatal traffic accident in the mid-80's, and it became a very religious experience for him, because a minister was called to the hospital to administer last rites. The doctors thought he was finished. He recovered, and it became a religious awakening for him. When he was interrogating a number of the people who were close friends of Marion Barry or who would, you would expect to be protecting Marion Barry, he would read passages of the Bible that appealed to them, essentially, to a higher God than the political god that Marion Barry had become. And it worked in enough cases, and it worked with Charles Lewis.
SHERWOOD: And he also would, he had this technique of drawing fish -- little fish, and a big fish up here, and then he'd draw a little fish down here, and he would talk to various people and he said, "now, you're down here. You're one of these little fish. We're going..." he would draw a line towards the big fish. He said, "we're not worried about these little fish.
We're going towards the big fish, and any of the fish that get in our way, you know, we're going to have to deal with. I mean, you know something. We want to know what it is, 'cause we don't want you, we want the big fish." So in addition to the religious aspect, he had people in tears in the interrogation rooms with his ability to call upon the deep religious culture of the African-American community. In addition to that was the cold steel of the cop saying, "here's what we're doing, and don't you forget it."
LAMB: Where is Al Arrington today?
JAFFE: Al Arrington lives in Prince George's County, Maryland. He is...
LAMB: A suburb here.
JAFFE: A suburb of Washington, D.C., he is selling real estate.
SHERWOOD: And he'd be happy for you to call him. You know, he's actually part of – one of the problems in Washington is it's not the white people who are fleeing the city, but the black middle class. They have left in tens of thousands since the late 80's, and they've moved, in many respects, to Prince George's County, just over the D.C. line in Suburban Maryland, where there are tremendous neighborhoods of homes and schools. In fact, that county now is 50% African-American, and the great fear for the city, as a city resident, for me, is that whoever is mayor has got to do something to help draw people like them back to the city. They are the foundation for any city, and they need to come back.
LAMB: You paint the picture of the night that -- I know our audience saw the Vista Hotel incident where they arrested Marion Barry -- you paint the picture leading up to that. Where did you get that information?
JAFFE: We got it largely from Al Arrington. We got it from some of the court records. Tom Sherwood was on hand. He was the first reporter at the Vista.
SHERWOOD: I got there, there was an eerie silence. There was just nothing. There was... I expected pandemonium, and there was just eerie silence and quiet. The mayor's car was there. The hotel people were just coming and going as they normally do. It's a luxury hotel downtown. And then suddenly these two plain-clothes officers come out, and the mayor's security guard is in custody, and so I walked up to him, I said, I called him by his name, and said, "what's going on." I'd heard that Barry had been arrested, of course. I played dumb like reporters try to do. And these two police officers look like they were about to arrest me, so I backed off and went inside the hotel, and within the next 20 minutes or so, we discovered that in fact the mayor of Washington had been arrested in this cocaine sting.
LAMB: How was the setup conducted?
JAFFE: Well, Marion...
SHERWOOD: Room 727.
JAFFE: Yeah, Marion Barry had to be brought up to the room, and he fought it for quite a while. I mean, his -- the great lure was not drugs, but sex. Rasheeda Moore was Marion Barry's former lover. They hadn't seen one another for a while. She kept calling him up, and actually, some of the reporting comes from people who had been in his office, in Marion Barry's office that afternoon.
She kept calling him up to come to the room, and he resisted it because he had a sense: "too many nosy rosies," as he said, literally. But she said, "look, I just got some takeout food from downstairs, they're delivering it to my room, why don't you come up here and have a bite to eat with me." And that became the reason that Marion Barry actually came to the room, 'cause he didn't want to do that.
He kept saying, "I'll meet you downstairs." He came to the room, and then it was a matter of Rasheeda Moore actually getting Marion Barry to smoke some crack, and it took a lot of convincing, which I think was one of the weakest parts of the federal government's case. Because if you view the videotape, it wasn't just Marion Barry toking on a pipe; it was the amount of time and the amount of cajoling and the amount of liquor, in the form of cognac, that it took to get Marion Barry to light that crack pipe.
SHERWOOD: In fact, Ken Mundy, the defense attorney for Barry, who just played a remarkable role in defending Marion Barry, initially was aghast, you know. Here's the videotape -- it's like Abscam and all those other cases where you see people, in that instance, people stuffing money in their pockets for Congress.
In this case, you had the mayor of Washington in that very clear picture smoking crack cocaine, but Ken Mundy was able to take the jurors back and say, "now look what happened-- look at all of what happened before he reached up and took the pipe" and whether it was legal entrapment was not necessarily the issue. Ken Mundy wanted the jurors to think it was entrapment, and they did, and with some justification.
It took too long for Marion Barry to do the hit. And I think there were two hits, and even to this day now, there are some people who complain that the police not only set Marion Barry up, but that also they risked his life; that he could have died from a hit of that cocaine.
LAMB: In the end, how many count indictment?
JAFFE: I think it was 14.
LAMB: How many counts was he found guilty on?
LAMB: And that was?
JAFFE: A misdemeanor drug count involving a woman named Doris Crenshaw, who was a…
SHERWOOD: Minor player
JAFFE: …minor player and a civil rights friend of Marion Barry's, and I think it was a political deal struck by the jury to basically acquit on a number of counts….
SHERWOOD: Well, it was a hung jury on 12. I think the acquittal was on the Vista itself.
SHERWOOD: And, but again, and then the judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, the Reagan, I think Reagan appointee, played a classic role in stirring the racial fears of the city. The maximum time Barry could get on that one misdemeanor cocaine possession charge was six months, and the judge made it clear, he made a speech in which he disparaged the jury's findings and sentenced Barry to the six months.
So even to this day, there are many people who think that Marion Barry got a raw deal. In fact, somebody, the harshest thing I've heard one person say is that Ted Kennedy had his problems with Chappaquiddick and someone died, but here he was running for the Senate and being considered as a national candidate for president, long afterwards. Marion Barry was personally involved with drugs and that the judge treated him so harshly. In fact, the judge could have put him on probation, and he would not have had to serve one day in jail.
LAMB: Reaction to this book?
JAFFE: Well, by and large, it's been terrific and gratifying for me, because people read the book. I mean, people, you know, there are a lot of non-fiction books about politics that are kind of dry, and this book has enough going on that people really enjoy it. I think that the people who we quote and the information that we present has not been challenged in any serious way by anybody.
LAMB: Back to this dedication: "In memory of my Father, Joseph..."
JAFFE: Joseph Jaffe.
LAMB: "...who taught me to love books, and for my mother Zelda, who believes in me." And then, for Tom Sherwood, "for my son, Payton, who once innocently illuminated all the time spent on this project by telling a caller 'he's not here, he's working on that damned book.."
SHERWOOD: It took a long time. It took a long time. Four years. Apart from my own, fallibilities and jobs we had to do, we had to put up with the publishing industry, Simon And Schuster is a big organization and all the problems of putting anything together. Probably this show, too. It was just, took a long time. But we think we did it right for the people of the country to understand more about their nation's Capital. We think it's -- we wrote it of course, but we think it's the best book about the nation's Capital. It tells you how the Congress set up a very bad system and some of the local politicians here made it worse.
LAMB: Harry Jaffe, with "Washingtonian" magazine, and Tom Sherwood, with local station WRC. This is the book: "Dream City" and we thank you both for joining us.
SHERWOOD: Thank you.
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