Saying Goodbye To The Kojo Nnamdi Show
On this last episode, we look back on 23 years of joyous, difficult and always informative conversation.
Prince George’s County investigates whether police cheated on department exams. D.C.’s “mayor in waiting” tries to win over voters who didn’t support him. And Arlington County’s board asks its manager to resign. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) responds to being described as a “disgraced” former mayor, and defends his sixteen years in office and his record of public service. He discusses his role in Vincent Gray’s mayoral campaign, and the role of race in the election:
D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) says the city faces an economic, rather than a racial divide, and calls for measures to keep longtime residents from being displaced by gentrification. He says that while he has lent his support to Vincent Gray’s mayoral campaign, Gray is his own man:
D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), continues his conversation with Kojo, discussing what he sees as the media’s unfair portrayal of his legacy as mayor:
Craig Rice, candidate for Montgomery County Council (D- District 2) discusses the budget outlook for the county and whether residents should have to pay fees for ambulance use:
Craig Rice, candidate for Montgomery County Council (D- District 2) discusses the foreclosure crisis in his county and across the state. He also discusses his own experience with a foreclosed property:
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," featuring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Later in the broadcast, we'll be joined by Craig Rice. He's a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council. And already in studio with us is former mayor and Ward 8 Council Member Marion Barry. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He is a reporter at NBC and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom, Vincent Gray held two town meetings this week, one in Ward 5, the other in Ward 3. I wasn't on hand for Ward 5. I did attend the one in Ward 3. It required a major sacrifice. It was a whole two blocks away from my job, but I made the voyage anyway.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWell, here were these people, most of whom presumably voted against Vincent Gray, who -- they probably didn't know very much about Vincent Gray -- and then they're confronted by this policy (word?) spilling statistics and numbers without referring to any documents. This guy who knows nuance and context on every issue, talking about education reform and his assertive role in it, the budget calling for demonstrations in favor of D.C. voting rights, and next thing you know, they were applauding, asking thoughtful questions, no boos, no visible hostility, no questions about whether he would retain Michelle Rhee or anyone else. Vincent Gray, it would appear, has gotten off to a good start in winning people over.
MR. TOM SHERWOODI thought he did a good job. I thought -- first of all, Mary Cheh, the Ward 3 councilmember who endorsed him, even though he lost Ward 3, 80 percent to 20 percent -- she did a good job of endorsing him, putting a human face on him. And it says something about the Gray campaign that during his race for mayor, he wasn't able to get his image out to the Ward 3 people. But on the other hand, it also says something about the Ward 3 people who weren't -- didn't have their eyes and ears open. So I think he did do a good job and that -- you didn't say it, but I'll say it. You know, we're talking about white voters who -- there must have been 6, 700 people there, and I think they were skeptical. They were worried that -- they believe what Fenty had said, that Gray represented going back to the old days when the city was bankrupt and all that kind of stuff. Gray is a very smart guy. He's -- and he acquitted himself quite well.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join this conversation, you can call us at 800-433-8850. You can go to our website kojoshow.org. Send us a tweet @kojoshow or an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tom, as you know, I wrote critically of Ward 8 councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry's visibility in the Vincent Gray campaign, said a few things that may even be interpreted as mean-spirited, specifically referring to the former mayor and Newark Sharpe James as disgraced former mayors.
NNAMDII knew that would upset Mr. Barry, so I also mentioned that I am personally fond of him but that he would probably stop speaking to me. As you know, Marion Barry is not one to hold grudges. And rather than not speaking to me, he wanted to be able to say his piece. And that's why he's here today, to talk about that, the election, his role, his vision for the city's future and, frankly, anything else he feels like. So I won't start with any questions. Mr. Barry, welcome. Thank you very much for joining us.
MR. MARION BARRYThank you very much, Kojo. I'm glad to be here.
NNAMDIYou can just go ahead.
SHERWOODYou know, I hope you're not going to read that long speech you have in front of you.
BARRYI have Kojo's outrageous...
SHERWOODOh, the article. That's the article.
BARRY...ridiculous, lightweight, beneath-his-dignity, beneath-his-character kind of a situation. I've known Kojo for probably 35...
BARRY...40 years. He's been thoughtful. He's been well-researched. This was the lightest article I've ever seen him written. It was...
SHERWOODDon't you think he should stick to radio?
BARRYI think he should. It was filled with inaccuracies, assumptions, statements that were beneath him, and I'm not just outraged. The majority of citizens in this city -- I don't have any problem being criticized, being analyzed, but I have a problem when people tell lies, when they distort the truth, and they make statements. For instance, two disgraced mayor -- there's -- not even white people in this town think I've been disgraced. I've done some things personally that were not good. I've been entrapped by the federal government, et cetera, et cetera. But even in that, there's been no conviction. You made allegations about me being a crack addict, and there's been no evidence of that. The jury voted 9-to-3 to throw out all those charges and et cetera. So I think you ought to not deprecate the good service that I have done. But this time...
NNAMDIWell, I did make reference in the piece to the Barry revolution.
BARRYNo, that's so general. What's you needed to do is look at 31 years of public service in this town, where the majority of people in this town, both black and white, recognize and acknowledge that I've been a tremendous asset to this town. The downtown would not be developed if it weren't for the Barry administration. You would not have the Verizon Center. You would not have neighborhood centers there. You would not have job developments. You would not have a burgeoning middle class. You would not have anything like that.
BARRYThe issue in this campaign is not Marion Barry. You want to make it that. And you have been simply like the other people are. I mean, you were trying to make me with something that Marion Barry -- Vince Gray has proved he's not Marion Barry. Marion Barry wouldn't have been in office for 16 years as mayor if I were that damn bad. You know, we did a lot of great things in this town. We made mistakes like other people make mistake governmentally. But the mistakes I made, or were made by others on me, were personal, non-governmental. There is no way of looking at the D.C. government -- take for instance, take the finances.
BARRYWhen I came in office in 1979, our money was in the Treasury. Our books had not been balanced. It had not been audited. Nothing had happened. I moved us out of the treasury into our own local banks, our first audit in a hundred years, and set us on the road to financial recovery. Take, for instance, the control board. I didn't create the control board. Sharon Pratt Kelly left $331 million of debt, and we had a Republican Congress. That's what did that. So I just think you're not being mean-spirited. You're being outrageously ridiculous and inaccurate about your analysis, which surprised me.
NNAMDIWell, a couple of...
BARRYIn fact -- let me just say one other thing. In fact, when the article came out that day, Kelvin, (sp?) who's my nephew, who was your cameraman for many, many years...
BARRY...who's now second-in-command at Channel 26 because of the training that he got over at Channel 32. He called me, and he said, "Has Kojo lost his mind?" I answered, "He lost his sense of history." "What is wrong with him?" He must have been -- he was shocked. In fact, he was hurt...
NNAMDIWell, allow me to say...
BARRY...by the way you write (unintelligible)
NNAMDI...why I said a number of the things that I said. It seemed to me that you had assigned yourself a fairly prominent role in the Gray campaign. I saw you debating Ron Moten on News Channel 8 on behalf of the Gray campaign, even though the Gray campaign apparently -- on Channel 5 -- even though the Gray campaign...
SHERWOODFox Channel 5.
NNAMDI...Fox Channel 5 -- even though the Gray campaign sought to assert that you were not representing it in that debate. I saw you prominently at a number of the Gray functions, and it served to remind me that you, despite all of the things you did and you said you did during your mayoral terms, are still, in many respects, a symbol of racial divisiveness in this city. It served to remind me that the last time you were elected mayor in 1994, and white voters seemed to object to it, you told them to get over it.
NNAMDIAnd I didn't think that that was the kind of message that Vincent Gray wanted coming forward in his campaign. I did not say that you are a crack addict. I don't believe you are or ever were a crack addict. I said that after you were arrested for crack cocaine in 1990, you appeared on my broadcast on Howard University Television. And that provided a significant boost in my image and in my ratings at the time, but I did not assert that you were addicted. I did use the term...
BARRYBut you did -- even...
NNAMDIWait a minute, I did use the term disgraced former mayors.
NNAMDIBecause in my view, mayors who have been sent to jail for whether it was personal peccadilloes or whether it was political fraud, have been disgraced. You have returned from that disgrace to be reelected mayor and ward member for city council, but I think the term, disgraced, in that context is not incorrectly used.
BARRYNow, Kojo, you can't rationalize this in any way you want to rationalize it. There is no way that someone running for mayor in the District of Columbia would not want the support of a person who's had 16 years of mayoral experience, who also have 31 years of experience in this town and who -- any politician would welcome that. The great majority of voters in this town, particularly in the black community -- and my rating's about 65, 70 percent, which means that I got 94 percent of the vote in Ward 8.
BARRYAny politician worth his salt would welcome that kind of support. And Vincent and I talked long and hard about running for mayor. I started last spring. He's been my friend for over 35, 40 years, and it's wrong of you to deprecate that relationship. It's wrong of you to criticize that relationship. It's wrong of you to assert that he can be like I was in a negative way, when all I've done is done great things for this city in terms of governmentally. And also the Gray campaign welcomed my support, and we talked about that support. And he -- on this debate, he's said, I represent -- no other reason I represent 70,000 people. Well, I'm very popular in this town. I'm less popular in the white community, but that's not my fault. I'm not -- wait a minute, let me finish this.
NNAMDII know the man you call...
NNAMDI...Uncle Tom Sherwood wants to get in on this conversation.
BARRYLet me say one thing about the "Get over it" quote. What I said after I ran against Carol Schwartz, there were a number of people who were opposed to my candidacy. I said the first level of reconciliation is what councilors tell me, psychologists tell me. The first level of reconciliation between any two people or any two groups is to get over that which you have a problem with. That's what that meant.
SHERWOODCan I get in on that 'cause I was there at that press conference?
SHERWOODThis is -- and I'm not going to be -- I don't want to sound like I'm on his side too much, but I will say I was at that press conference. What the mayor said when he was asked by a reporter, what do you tell the people in Ward 3 who voted heavily against you? Barry said, in his usual, you know, disarming way, get over it. I'm going to be the mayor for all the people. The quote that got into the newspapers and on TV and other places was, get over it, as if it were in your face. So while it was a risky kind of thing to say at any event, I think the full sentence does count. But I do think...
NNAMDIAnd everything has to be seen contextually.
NNAMDIWe're talking about perception, and perception is everything.
SHERWOODThat's why I want to go to that.
NNAMDIAnd at least two columnists in this town described Vincent Gray in one way or another as Marion Barry-like. When Vincent Gray walked into that town hall meeting in Ward 3 last night, I suspect that a lot of the people in that room were expecting, "Marion Barry like." And it does not really matter who Marion Barry really is. What matters is their perception...
SHERWOODWell, I was going to get to that.
NNAMDI...of who Marion Barry really is, and they thought that Marion Barry-like and that Vincent Gray was going to walk into that room and tell them to get over it. And what they saw was who Vincent Gray really is.
SHERWOODThat's right. And, you know, and the racial disparities in our elections go well beyond the 1994 race. You know, with Tony Williams, you know, when he ran, he was -- when he made that surprise announcement, he was going to move UDC to Ward 8 or something like that without consulting anyone. He had trouble with the racial in the post-polls. Sharon Pratt Kelly, who was a big favorite in 1990, had a lot of problems in 1994. I mean, we've had these racial disparities for some time.
SHERWOODAnd that's what Vince Gray says he wants to try to address. But I would like to ask the mayor -- Mayor Barry -- about this. Knowing the Ward 3, Ward 8 contrast, what do you think about the fact that 80 percent of the voters in Ward 3, mostly white voters, voted against Vince Gray? And at his performance last night -- you weren't there, but you probably read about it and heard about it -- he did a pretty good job. I mean, what do you know about Vince Gray that those nervous white voters should hear?
BARRYWell, let me just say, in terms of the election, going back to Kojo's analysis of it, he puts it on race. This city was racially polarized before I even came to Washington in 1965. It is still racially polarized and geographically polarized, but more importantly, it's economically polarized. White family $101,000, black family $39,000 -- I didn't create that racial polarization. What happened, Tom, in my administration, I got 47 percent of white vote in my first time out. But as I began to govern, the programs that I advocated appealed more to the needs of black people and not to the needs of white people.
BARRYTake job training, for instance. In a white community, I get the impression you don't need a government-sponsored job development program. You don't need subsidized housing. You don't need social services. Very few white people send their kids to educational -- to D.C. public schools. And so the programs I advocated, people could see and feel them, but the programs that white people would want to get involved in, you couldn't necessarily see and feel. For instance, Betty King -- who you knew, that people...
SHERWOODHad dinner with her less than a month ago.
BARRYYeah, people that are in Ward 3 are interested in taxes, trees, traffic...
BARRY…and crime and good government. And so that's what made the difference in the election.
SHERWOODBut let's look forward. Let's go forward...
BARRYAdrian Fenty (unintelligible) Let me give you an example…
SHERWOODI know, but I want you to tell people what you think about Vince Gray about how he's going to be not a -- just a Ward 7 or a Ward 8 person, but a citywide person. What, I mean...
BARRYI know, I know...
SHERWOOD...should they be fearful of him?
BARRYNo, no, no.
BARRYAnd why not?
BARRYSee, the Washington Post has sort of perpetuated this myth that Vincent Gray is this monster here, like Marion Barry the monster, as opposed to someone who cares deeply about this community as I do. You know, I want everybody to flourish in this community -- Vince Gray does, too. Vince Gray spent all of his adult life working for people. At DCARC, he and I both depopulated Forest Haven. He's a sensitive person. He's a caring kind of person. He was -- he integrated a white fraternity at George Washington when it wasn't popular, to do so would hurt (word?) and others. And so The Post and Kojo Nnamdi ought to stop perpetuating that myth that they have to be fearful of Vincent Gray.
SHERWOODYou know, Gray has announced that Tony Williams and Alice Rivlin, who ran the control board for a while, that both of them have joined his transition team. Is that a kind of a way to tell people not to be so nervous?
BARRYNo. So we have given him the best experts you can get. Alice Rivlin was the OMB director in the Clinton administration. Tony Williams, former mayor. He's asked a number of other people for their expertise. And so you ought to all stop that, that he is making an effort to bridge the gap by appointing these kinds of people. He wants the best expert advice he can get to make this city. This city is difficult to manage. And the problem with Adrian Fenty is that he never stopped running for office.
SHERWOODAnd stopped talking to people.
BARRY(unintelligible) et cetera, so what Vincent Gray is doing is (unintelligible) all of us who have expertise. There's no way you could not want to know what Anthony Williams thinks about. There's no way you don't want to think about what Marion Barry thinks about 16 years of being mayor. I didn't get to be that mayor because of my name. I got it because of my service, because I met the needs of a lot of people. Everybody in this city, black or white, indirectly or directly, had been touched by Marion Barry in a positive way.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, our guest is Marion Barry. He's a member of the D.C. City Council. He's a Democrat who represents Ward 8. He's also the former mayor of the District. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Let's go to Farzad (sp?) in Washington, D.C. Farzad, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
FARZADHi, Kojo. I'm fond of your program. And I would like to say I have been in D.C. area since 1970s, and I'm very fond of Mr. Barry. Regardless of the personal problem, he has done a great job for, not only African-Americans in Washington, D.C., but for everybody. And I just wanted to tell him that I'm really, you know, glad that he is still in the political scene. And good luck, Mr. Barry.
BARRYThank you very much. I wish you'd tell -- he heard it. Kojo, stop perpetuating these myths that I was an awful mayor.
SHERWOODWell, you did some awful things, but you were a...
NNAMDIWait a minute. Wait a minute.
BARRYPersonally, of course.
SHERWOODI mean, you did stuff personally, that's true. But you did some good things. I mean, the Verizon Center would not have been built. It was dead in the Ward, and you got with (word?) and built the -- the city spent a lot of money. It wasn't just...
NNAMDIHere he is flacking for another politician again.
SHERWOODNo. I'm just saying the truth is -- but, you know, your personal problems and the troubles in the government and the Virgin Islands stuff -- all that stuff was bad stuff.
SHERWOODIt's not an either, or -- it's a both.
BARRYBut in all of those cases, Tom, take the (word?) The government spent $50 million on trying to entrap me.
SHERWOODWell, we have never gotten a budget...
SHERWOODSome people say 45. Some say 50. It might be one.
BARRYBut the reality was, nine of the 12 jurors wanted to absolve me of all charges, the same thing as when the Secret Service talked to me in front of the White House, that I was acquitted, Tom. So I'm saying when you look at all that, it's more of media...
SHERWOODWell, I do think that your personal failings...
SHERWOOD...your personal failings did affect some of your government decisions. I mean, there's no question about that.
BARRYI don't think so.
SHERWOODBut I would say, you know, there are -- I've written many of the things you've done well, but, I mean, there is a list of what makes people nervous of -- that you're just so friendly with Vince Gray. And that's why they're worried about him.
BARRYWell, Gray is his own person.
SHERWOODWell, that's why (unintelligible)
BARRYVince Gray's his own person. Vince Gray decided on his own to run for mayor.
SHERWOODWell, if Mayor Fenty had talked to him once a month, he wouldn't have run. But he wouldn't talk to him at all.
BARRYI don't agree with that either.
BARRYSee Fenty and Vincent's problem went deeper than just the two people. Mayor Fenty didn't understand the need to have the cooperative relationship...
BARRY...between the council, not just the chairman and the city council.
BARRYAnd he lost touch with the people, too.
SHERWOODLet's go back to criticizing Kojo. I like that part.
NNAMDINo, no, no. Mr. Mayor...
BARRYI want Kojo to apologize for that outrageous...
SHERWOODWell, he didn't write the headline.
BARRYOh, not the headline but the substance of it where he took 31 years of public service and said, two former disgraced mayors, comparing me to Sharpe James. There's no comparison between that. I went to prison for 6 months on a personal situation that hadn't anything to do with the government, and so he ought to get off of it. He perpetuated -- I'm shocked at him when he did it. I'm shocked at him now, and I want an apology from him.
NNAMDIMr. Mayor, before I make that apology, allow me to try to broaden the discussion because in that article -- and now the point I was making -- is that perception is everything. When I talked about the Barry revolution in that article, I specifically said that what Marion Barry was able to do was to bring jobs and contracts that were, in those days unavailable to African-Americans, to make them available to African-Americans. That was in large measure the essence of the Barry revolution. The broader point I was wanting to make, and you said early in the discussion I was thoughtful. I was trying to be thoughtful again, and I'd like to hear your thinking on this. The broader point I was trying to make, is that gentrification throughout history has been controversial.
NNAMDIAnd when that gentrification involves the United States of America, with our troubled racial history, it becomes volatile. And that volatility is what we experienced here in this election. It seems to me that what's going on in this city are that affluent black, affluent whites are replacing poor blacks in many parts of the city. There's a great deal of resentment about that. The problem of governing the city now has to be on the one hand how you broaden the tax base of the city, which means accepting the entry of more affluent whites into the city, and at the same time have racial harmony in the city. How do you see Vincent Gray meeting that challenge?
SHERWOODAlso, there are affluent African-Americans who are moving into the city, too.
SHERWOODGentrification is not just a racial white thing. I mean, there are people...
NNAMDIThat -- traditionally, gentrification has been a problem because it meant different classes of people...
SHERWOODPeople with money...
NNAMDI...one replacing the other...
SHERWOOD...to replace the people without money.
NNAMDIYou throw in the racial aspect of that. It becomes volatile. And the perception of Marion Barry -- true or not -- is that Marion Barry tends to stoke racial fires.
BARRYWell, you ought to stop that talk, too, 'cause I don't. What I do say is that I welcome new people into the city, but I don't want long-term residents displaced. That's a...
NNAMDIHow do you do that?
BARRYHow do you do that? It's by having policies of homeownership that subsidizes those who need subsidy. Gentrification only take place when they are renters. If you look at Shaw, it's been gentrified.
NNAMDIWhich is where I lived for 20 years.
BARRYWe've been gentrified. It's because white homeowners or those -- I mean, property owners have decided to take their property back from their renters, renovate them, sometimes stay in them and sometimes sell them. And that is what the basis of the problem is. So you try to do home -- take Ward 8, 23 percent homeownership. That ought to be a high priority of any administration, which is my administration, Mr. Gray's administration, to do that.
BARRYSo what I'm pleading for, for you members of the medium, to stop perpetuating these false perceptions about what we are about. The basic problem in this city, that Vincent Gray's going to tackle because he cares deeply about the city, is the one city. That's a social, political relationship that goes on. But Vincent Gray only got 25 percent of the white vote when he ran for chairman, and Marion Barry was not around. I was running for my own seat.
SHERWOODHe was running against...
SHERWOOD...who'd been the Ward 3 councilmember...
BARRY...councilmember, that's right.
SHERWOOD...for 12 years.
BARRYSo I wish you'd all stop that. The issue here is economic. The issue here is, how do you get economic development going? Get more gap closing of economics. The people in Ward 4 up at -- the middle-income people in Ward 4 who are black who don't have much a problem relating to affluent -- even non-affluent white people. You go to a social parties Tom. You see that...
SHERWOODI'm invited to a few.
BARRY...all the time. It's at the lower end of the spectrum that you have the animosity and this disgust with the system, disgust with the situation, and you all keep talking race. I don't talk race. I talk equity. I talk equality. I talk parity. I talk economic gaps being closed. In fact, Kathy Patterson, I just talked to her just last week. We're going to launch a program -- that can't have been. What the hell?
BARRYMary Cheh, Mary Cheh. And I've been talking about getting -- pushing a program called Operation Better Understanding. We're gonna get about 100 Ward 3 people or new Ward 8 people and have breakfast and sort of (word?) one-on-one. People get to know each other better.
SHERWOODWell, there's something like that now with Palisades, people in Hillcrest over in Ward 7.
BARRYYeah, now, see what happens in the black community, our needs are different and therefore some of our values are different. Some of our priorities are different. In politics or anything else, I have to represent the needs of the people of Ward 8. When I was mayor, needs of the city and people of the city -- all the people of the city, and I'm getting sick and tired of some of the media people keep perpetuating to the myths. You know, I fought too hard for racial equality. I went to jail for racial equality, not that I want to do that. On the other hand, when things are against the most vulnerable people, I'm going to speak out. Speak out, speak up.
NNAMDIHere is Michael in Quantico, Va. Michael, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MICHAELYes. I want to ask the mayor -- or former mayor -- if he would ever consider running again for mayor. And while we're asking for apologies and telling people to stop things, instead of reinventing history, I'd like to just see if you would apologize, Marion Barry, for basically being a racist, for basically using your power and position to gain personal favor and personal wealth and basically apologize for those things. I'll take my answer off the air. Thank you.
NNAMDIWell, I got to tell you Michael, I have never heard Marion Barry accused of possessing personal wealth before. So maybe that's something that you know about that we don't know about. I'll move on to...
BARRYThat's such a ridiculous question. I'm not even going to answer it. He's out of his mind.
SHERWOODWell, I can guarantee you, if Mayor Barry has personal wealth, neither I as a reporter nor the IRS has found it.
BARRYI'm dead broke now almost.
NNAMDIHere is Katrina in Washington, D.C. Katrina, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KATRINAI just heard Councilmember Barry say that he doesn't talk race. He's all about equity. But I thought a few minutes ago I heard him say something like, white people don't use social services, white people don't send their kids to public schools. And I'm wondering why he phrased it in racial terms instead of economic terms and class terms.
NNAMDIHere's Mayor Barry.
BARRYHow do you phrase it? It's a reality. See, what people get upset about -- if I speak reality, if the reality is that the majority of white people in this city don't need a job training program, those are facts. You know, we're talking about this post-racial era. Race is still a factor in America, whether you like it or not. I didn't start it. I'm not going to be able to end it. I'm not perpetuating it. The only thing I'm saying -- if I describe Ward 8 as 98 percent black, that's not talking race. That's talking reality -- 98 percent of the people in Ward 8 are black people, African-American people. And 98 percent of the white people in Ward 3 are non-black people. So get off of that. I'm not going to say that again.
BARRYI'm going to say get over it.
SHERWOODNo more commands.
BARRYNo more commands. I urge you to not just see describing something as reality as racial.
NNAMDIKatrina, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Mose (sp?) in Springfield, Va. Mose, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MOSEHello, Kojo. Thanks for bringing me on the air.
MOSEI will -- I would like to thank Mayor Barry for the good work he has done for this city. As an ex-student -- yeah, ex-student of Howard University -- Kojo, I used to prep you for evening shows. I remember those days.
NNAMDIYes, you did, Mose.
MOSEYeah, and I remember the interview you made with Marion Barry. And I strongly believe that Vincent Gray will be the best man for this city. Racial disparities, that's going to be existing. It exist in the old ward. He'll try his best. Like everyone else, Marion Barry tried his best to bridge it. Sharon Pratt Kelly tried her best, and even the present mayor tried it, so it's something that we'll have to live with. It's going to go. It's going to continue. Even our president is feeling the same pain, so if we focus our attention on that, then we're not going to solve the problems of the city. So I do recommend over your media, Kojo, with all due respect, that our people -- typical African people should come out and vote for Vincent Gray. He's the best guy. I know him personally. We attended Howard together, and I know him. So, please, come out...
NNAMDINo. You couldn't attend Howard with Vincent Gray because Vincent Gray went to George Washington University here in the District of Columbia, where he headed up a fraternity, integrated a predominantly white fraternity. It was a Jewish fraternity that would not let a well-known Jewish radio commentator join that fraternity, even though Vincent Gray was the head of it. We won't mention the radio commentator's name.
SHERWOODNo. But they've made the right decision.
NNAMDIHere is Mike...
BARRYAnyway, let me...
BARRYHere's the problem, Mose. You're absolutely right. You know, I've had over 40 years of public service -- 50 years. What the media tends to do, if you put it in chapter terms, 100 chapters of my life, long life -- 74 years old -- the media tends to -- some members of the media tends to focus on just two chapters. The 98 chapters are gone by the wayside. I think Tom experienced this when he was -- what is that? I think he deal with Harry Jaffa. Harry Jaffa went to...
SHERWOODMy co-author of "Dream City."
BARRYYeah, which was an awful book that he wrote.
SHERWOODNo, it was not awful.
BARRYThat he wrote.
SHERWOODFor which you need to apologize.
BARRYNo. Now, you're part of those writers.
SHERWOODOh, all the bad stuff, Harry wrote.
BARRYHe did, and you're absolutely right. He focused on the two chapters of 100 chapters. And media needs to stop that. Some media members want me out of office. They expressed their personal (word?). They shouldn't take it in to the media. We fought too hard for freedom of the press. We fought for the press to be responsible and to be as accurate as they possibly can be as they depict my life.
NNAMDIBut, Mr. Barry, here is what you seem not to want to understand. Your 46 years of public service...
NNAMDI...your 16 years in office means that every time you appear with a candidate like Vincent Gray, you are going to attract more attention than that candidate.
BARRYWell, I'll tell you what...
NNAMDIThat's simply true.
BARRYI'll tell you what -- and I think the great people will tell you -- I attract five to 10 time more people positively to a candidate...
SHERWOODBut not in...
BARRY...than in 1 or 2 percent negative.
BARRYAdrian Fenty had 57 percent of the white vote when he ran -- 57 percent.
SHERWOODI know. Well, I mean, he...
SHERWOODHe -- you didn't help -- Fenty lost because he stopped speaking to you about three years ago.
BARRYThat's not why he lost.
SHERWOODThis was autocratic. Now, that's -- but you are a controversial figure. You just are. Your arrest in the Vista Hotel, all of that, the -- from financial -- it's just part of -- as you say, is part of the chapters.
SHERWOODThat's more than two chapters.
NNAMDIAnd the ultimate book about Marion Barry, the ultimate story of Marion Barry will not be written while you are still in office. It's probably not going to be written. All of your accomplishments together over those 46 years are not going to be written while you are on the scene, still being an active political figure.
SHERWOODAnd the good things don't excuse the bad.
NNAMDIAnd, hopefully, Sherwood won't be the one writing it. Here's Mike in Frederick, Md. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MIKEThanks, Kojo. This is a really interesting show. I have a couple of things to say. First of all, I would like to take up for you, Kojo, about making a clear distinction between the public good that one can do in office and personal failings. I took a trip to Jamaica a couple of years ago. And my cousins there, when I told them -- I said I lived in Washington, the only thing they knew, the first thing they said was, oh, didn't your mayor get arrested for crack?
NNAMDIMade the news worldwide.
MIKEAnd, you know, I said, you know, that's true. It happened, but he has helped a lot of other people, too. And so I don't think that you can say clearly that you're completely innocent because you've helped people, nor can you say that you're completely disgraced because you have a personal failing, but I think it's important to recognize that both of those things are true.
SHERWOODThis -- where did he come from? This is the most commonsense person who's ever called in the show.
BARRYThank you so much for that comment.
SHERWOODHow did he get on the air?
BARRYBut make it clear, I'm not defending any personal misgivings or personal actions of mine.
BARRYMisdeeds, what I was guilty of. But I'm not going to defend, I'm not going to let go the fact that a lot of those things -- that because your federal government for a lot of different reasons were the ones who did the attacking, but I was absorbed in that situation.
SHERWOODWell, you're not saying they were the instigators.
BARRYI don't know. Here's the problem.
NNAMDIYou're the one who used to follow the mayor all the way down to the Virgin Islands to spy on him.
SHERWOODI had some great trips on the Washington Post dime. Thank you very much for sending me.
BARRYAnd I made you the (unintelligible)
SHERWOODI appreciate it.
BARRYTom, I'll admit this. I don't mind the controversy. I just like for people to be fair. That's all.
SHERWOODAnd I try to be.
BARRYYeah, only thing I want is fairness. God gave me a lot of gifts, and I've used them mostly...
SHERWOODMost of the time.
BARRY...effectively for people. And I'm not a perfect person at all. And, you know, we make mistakes, both personally and governmentally, and you learn from those things.
NNAMDIHere is Mark in Washington, D.C. Mark, we're running out of time. Please make your comment or question brief.
MARKAnyway, I met you down there on MLK Avenue at the UPO Center on Southeast. And do you remember that Hopi tribe unity fest that was, like, in the '90s or something like that? And so, you know, and I even remember you from when I was small, like, from Pride Incorporated at 16th and whatever, and...
SHERWOODAnd 16th and U.
MARKAnd U, right.
NNAMDII took a 10-course photography course in what was then called the Pride A.U. Program. I took that photography course here at American University.
SHERWOODI thought he was going to get to his question really quickly 'cause we're out of time.
NNAMDIRight. Well, I'm afraid we don't have time for Mark's question because we ran out of time in this segment.
BARRYBut, Kojo, can I just say this?
BARRYI wish people to stop thinking that Vincent Gray does not think for himself. That's the implication you're saying, that he doesn't think. He got to resign Marion Barry and some other people. Vince Gray is the most thoughtful person, the most hardworking person. You see him, and almost at 2:00 in the morning (unintelligible)
SHERWOODAre you going to criticize him when he disappoints you?
SHERWOOD'Cause you know he's going to. But I'll bet by spring, if not by February.
BARRYThat's democracy. If we want an autocratic kind of government, then you ought to go elect one. Get rid of democracy.
SHERWOODWe did. Mayor Fenty.
BARRYA democracy demands disagreements without being disagreeable.
SHERWOODI'm going to wait until you get mad at this person.
BARRYAnd so, my constituent needs, in a lot of instances, are at odd with the needs of some other people in the city. I have a major responsibility, legally and morally, to stand up for my constituents. And to go against somebody else's needs, I'm going to go against them because my constituents come first. I love the people here...
NNAMDIMarion Barry is the Ward...
BARRY...and that people love me, too.
NNAMDIMarion Barry is the Ward 8 representative on the D.C. City Council. He's a Democrat and the former mayor of the District of Columbia. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us.
BARRYThank you. Where's my apology?
NNAMDIMy -- your apology will come privately. I think...
BARRYOh, you're chicken, huh?
NNAMDII -- no.
BARRYYou had the guts.
SHERWOODOh, here. Let me...
BARRYAnd you had the guts.
SHERWOODSo in public, he writes in a paper with a million copies. But he wants to quietly tell you on the side.
BARRYYes, right. He's chicken.
SHERWOODYou know, if he did that -- if you do that, I'd call you on that.
SHERWOODI'd call Kojo on that.
BARRYI'd just call on it.
NNAMDII know where to run into you.
BARRYI tell you, if you don't want to apologize, don't apologize. The people will never forgive you.
NNAMDIWell, the people will forgive me at some point. But I don't think that I did anything for which I need to apologize. And when the book on you is written, you will find that the Barry revolution will be a significant part of it, and I'll have a great deal to say about that.
NNAMDIThank you very much for joining us.
SHERWOODOh, I don't know. It's denigration in my book. I don't think another book needs to be written.
BARRYOh, that book you wrote. All right. Forget about that.
NNAMDIJoining us now in studio is Craig Rice. Craig Rice is a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council. He won the primary in the county's second district last month. Craig Rice, thank you very much for joining us.
MR. CRAIG RICEThank you so much. Pleasure to be here, Kojo.
NNAMDIHow does it feel sitting there, knowing that you might be questioned by the former mayor of the District of Columbia Marion Barry? Is it intimidating to you?
RICENo. It's actually a pleasure to meet a formidable person like this, although I've met Marion Barry a number of times before, and so it's a great pleasure. You know, one of the realities in dealing with government is that, you know, I truly respect people that give of themselves and dedicate their lives to public service. And so, you know, there has to be an amount of appreciation, not only for his work in the Civil Rights movement but also his service to the District of Columbia residents.
NNAMDIYou've been studying up on your history, but now you're running for a seat on the Montgomery County Council.
NNAMDIYou gave up a chance to defend your seat in the Maryland State House in order to do this. Why are you running for this job? And what do you think is at stake for the county right now?
RICEWell, you know, it's a defining time, and for one of those believers that sets it all in, it really boils down to what truly matters for your community, making sure that your voice for those that are less fortunate than you. And right now, this is a time in which Montgomery County is in crisis. And it's really a time where we've got to stand up for some of the core services that need to be provided for Montgomery County but also make sure that we're restructuring our government that, I think, for a long time over these past few years, has made some missteps.
SHERWOODThat's a good political speech, but the state's in crisis, too. I mean the state's got horrendous budget issues, and there's this big governor's race going on. So why move down or just move to the side to the county as opposed to staying involved in Annapolis?
RICESure. Part of the fight is going to be guaranteeing that those core services are delivered upon. And while we are on a macro level at the state, on the county level is where we actually deliver those. That's where the rubber hits the road. And I feel that's where it's most important where we have to, as a part of our delivery, make sure that we're guaranteeing that those core services are there, you know, for our constituents. I mean, it's truly what I believe. It sounds kumbaya, but the reality is, is that's why I'm in this.
SHERWOODJust tell -- for those of us who may not know -- what part of the county are we talking about in the District? What is...
RICESure. District 2 encompasses the northern swath of Montgomery County, all the way from the western side, Poolesville, Dickerson, Darnestown, over through Germantown and Clarksburg, down to Montgomery Village, over also to Olney, Laytonsville, Damascus, Barnesville, Boyds. So it includes...
SHERWOODGeographically, it's huge.
RICEVery much so.
NNAMDII want to get to a few of the issues in this before I get to the politics. Volunteer firefighters, who want to repeal a countywide ambulance fee pass by the council, have endorsed you.
NNAMDIVoters will get a chance to weigh in on that fee in a referendum next month. What is this debate about to you?
RICEWell, the reality is this, is that there's a concern amongst the volunteer firefighters that we are going to have constituents that are paying for ambulance services. That's a core service that we've guaranteed and delivered to our constituents for a long time. And for us to then step away from that and say that we're going to actually charge residents is wrong. The proposal that I think that the county executive put forth is actually something that's a little different from what was projected to the public. And so now that I've had a chance to delve into what's there in the actual bill itself, I think that there are some protections in place. However, I still have some concerns, and that's the reason why I really don't know if it's the right step for us to be making at this point, to be going forward with an ambulance fee. But now that the courts have decided, it's really going to be up to the voters, and it's not going to be up to Craig Rice.
SHERWOODBut don't you think it's...
NNAMDIAnd County Executive Ike Leggett said the referendum to kill the fee will most likely succeed. This week, he proposed laying off fire and rescue workers, cutting ambulance services to help the county save money. What do you think should be on the table?
RICEI mean, I'm going to tell you right now. There isn't much out there. When you look at the reduction in library services and thus cutting hours, when you look at all of the different departments within the county government that have had significant reduction -- some as much as 15 percent -- and we're also looking at with a new budget crisis this year of another $140 million, we're going to be asking for those same agencies again to do another 10 to 15 percent. I'm not sure where that money is going to come from, Kojo, to tell you quite honestly. And so from that perspective, I don't know if, now, this is necessarily the right time for us to be doing this since it's already in the budget.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Craig Rice. He's a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council. He won the primary in the county's 2nd district last month. Your Republican opponent in this race, Robin Ficker, says he's the only candidate who has the best interest of the upcounty area at heart and that there's a large part of the county that should be protected from urbanization. He said last week on WTOP's "Politics Program" that this is a 90,000-acre area in upper Montgomery County that we do not want urbanized.
RICEI absolutely agree. You know, he's referring to the agricultural reserve...
RICE...which he, of course, calls the agricultural preserve for some reason. I guess he wants to try and moniker it separate just for him.
NNAMDIBecause he's Robin Ficker.
RICEExactly. But the reality is this. Listen, there isn't a single person on the county council that wants to develop in the agricultural reserve. I was actually just talking with our Department of Economic Development Steve Silverman, who's the chair, and we were talking about ways in which we can ensure that farming becomes viable in those areas -- and even where farming isn't there -- that we're looking at new and innovative ways to ensure that that land is used. The reality is our best protection for keeping the agricultural reserve separate and that we don't encroach on it with development is making sure that it's an economic engine for both the county and the state.
SHERWOODSo you're running against Robin Ficker, fairly well-known, lively politician, candidate.
NNAMDILively is an understatement.
SHERWOODWell, I would just say, in the simplest way without reading any notes on it, how -- why you and not him? What's wrong with him?
RICEWell, Robin doesn't have any issues. You know, when he talks to -- talking about what he's going to do for education, what is he going to do for social services, what is he going to do specifically for economic development beyond him saying that he's going to stand up as the single vote against property tax -- well, I've already been quoted in The Washington Post as saying that it would have to be a dire emergency. We'd absolutely have to be in, you know, ground zero mode for us to have to raise the property tax. So we're in agreement there. So his one issue, we agree. And so from there, he doesn't have any other issues that he stands for. I haven't seen any proposals for him. When asked on the WTOP program, whether or not -- you know, what he'd do for transportation, I never heard from him. What I've said, and what we need to do is look at public-private partnerships as a way to look at funding the Corridor City Transitway, which will provide mass transit to the upcounty. That's a key and core issue here.
SHERWOODWhat about the Purple Line?
NNAMDIWell, that's because the host of that program, Mark Plotkin, doesn't know how to ask questions.
SHERWOODWell, he doesn't even know what they're talking about out there.
NNAMDICraig Rice is a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council. If you have questions for him, don't let Tom Sherwood monopolize the conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850. Here's Mr. Monopolization.
SHERWOODI've been in Montgomery County once or twice. The Purple Line, should it be buses or trains? Where should that be?
RICEListen, that's something that our governor -- gubernatorial candidates are squaring off on right now. I can tell you right now that it's extremely expensive for us to underground it. I know that there are concerns about the capital of trust and trail and us infringing upon that with going above ground. You know, either way, when it comes to large-scale mass transit, there are plenty of residents that are not going to be happy. When you look at the Corridor City Transitway, which is in...
SHERWOODWell, I didn't ask you to characterize this. I asked you what your position was.
RICEWell, my position is, is that I support the Purple Line. I support the Purple Line because I think that we've too long had a link missing. You know, growing up here in this area, I have taken the Glenmont to Shady Grove Route far too long and seen that a lot of residents are very frustrated with that. So I support the project. You know, it's going to be based on funding.
NNAMDIGov. Ehrlich favors Rapid -- Bus Rapid Transit. You don't want Bus Rapid Transit. Did you prefer the Purple Line, the light rail?
RICEThe reality is in the Down County, it's going to be a very difficult for Bus Rapid Transit to work effectively. That's something that more favors. When you look at where Bus Rapid Transit is structured in a lot of areas, I'm not sure if that's the right place for it.
SHERWOODAnd how's the Innercounty Connector doing? It's fast. I have a construction -- I'm just asking the nice non-controversial things that are occurring.
RICEOf course, of course. The easy, the easiest.
SHERWOODBut enough of last year. It's a heck of a roadways that's being built.
RICEIt is, it is. But I think that, you know, for those who don't support the ICC...
NNAMDIWatch the phone...
NNAMDI...start lighting up now...
NNAMDI...for those who don't support the ICC.
RICEExactly. For those who don't support the ICC, you know, when you look at the large swath of land that was taken away and the trees and all that -- but the reality is, it's a road. And it is going to be an economic engine, I think, for Montgomery County, both to get businesses coming into and allow for some of our residents to be able to get out of county and get to other areas.
SHERWOODIs that going to be a pay -- that's not going to be a toll road, is it?
SHERWOODIt is a toll road.
RICEIt is, and it's a very hefty prize tag as well, which is unfortunate. But that's the reason why I have so long pushed for us, and I've done this in the general assembly a number of times. I've passed a number or pushed a number of bills that dealt with public-private partnerships. That's the way for us to make sure that we're trying to lower the cost when it comes to our constituents.
SHERWOODNow, did you run -- are you running for the council so you can run for a county executive later?
BARRYI am focused solely on serving my constituents...
SHERWOODI'm just trying to look -- I'm looking ahead.
RICE...in District 2.
NNAMDIWhere have you heard that response before? Here is Nelson in Washington, D.C. Nelson, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NELSONYes. Good afternoon, everybody.
NELSONI just wanted to know if you had any reaction to Rep. Cummings trying to initiate the stop foreclosure. In all of the areas that you're looking at representing, there's a lot of townhouse and homeowner associations, and many of them are hurting right now because they can't get -- if no one's paying their bill, no one's paid their HOA bill. And if the foreclosures are stopped, this is putting an additional impediment in front of them. And equally so, in Maryland, the recent court of appeals ruling that the Common Interest Communities can't come to the courts for petty amounts of out-do assessments. It looks like we're building up a total train wreck, and you have a lot of these people that you're going to be representing if you get elected. What are you going to do?
NNAMDIHere is Craig Rice.
RICEThat's a great question. And you're absolutely right. You know, when I look at the areas of Montgomery Village in Germantown and look at the rush foreclosures that are affecting my constituents, it certainly something that's very difficult. But I think that what we've done in the State of Maryland, it's been extremely successful with myself, as a delegate, and Gov. O'Malley leading the charts, has been to make sure that we set in place. We extended the time for the foreclosure process to make sure that people had a chance to try and save their homes. That's first and foremost -- most important. I can tell you that I'm speaking from personal experience. You know, this is something that has affected me and my family personally. And so I can tell, you know, when it comes to saving your home, it's...
SHERWOODI'm sorry. Have you been foreclosed on?
RICEWell, actually, my wife and I back in 2007, after I had taken the job for the general assembly. And I lost my job to run for the general assembly full-time and couldn't have another job. We actually faced a foreclosure action, and we had to fight to save our home. And it was an extremely trying process for us, but with programs that are in place, we were able to do so. And we're able to keep a roof over our heads for my wife and my children, and that's so important.
SHERWOODWhat about the hardship he was mentioning though? And the homeowner associations, you know, if someone's not paying his or her mortgage, and they don't pay the fees...
NNAMDIOnly have about 30 seconds.
RICENo, no. That's absolutely right. We need to make sure that people are making whole on their debt. And so I don't support -- just totally having moratorium on foreclosures, I do want to make sure that we have a process that's fair for the homeowners to allow them to make it right and get themselves out of the hole.
NNAMDICraig Rice is a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council. He won the primary in the county 2nd District last month. Craig Rice, thank you very much for joining us.
RICEThank you so much. I appreciate it.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, always a pleasure.
SHERWOODAll right. Beautiful weekend, get out and enjoy it.
NNAMDIRide your bike. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
On this last episode, we look back on 23 years of joyous, difficult and always informative conversation.
Kojo talks with author Briana Thomas about her book “Black Broadway In Washington D.C.,” and the District’s rich Black history.
Poet, essayist and editor Kevin Young is the second director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. He joins Kojo to talk about his vision for the museum and how it can help us make sense of this moment in history.
Ms. Woodruff joins us to talk about her successful career in broadcasting, how the field of journalism has changed over the decades and why she chose to make D.C. home.