Mayor Marion Barry and his wife Effi, have accepted a free $2,000 trip to Paris from an airline that hopes the VIP giveaway will be good for business.
So has the mayor's top political aide, Ivanhoe Donaldson, and City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon and his wife, Sharon. (Other Council members were not invited.)
So has D.C. Ethics Board Chairman James L. Denson.
So far R. Robert Linowes, the Greater Washington Board of Trade's "Man of the Years," and his wife, Ada.
So has Barry's banker, William B . Fitzgerald, president of Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association.
While budget officials continue to struggle with the worst financial crisis in the city's history, the city's top leaders will board TWA's wide-body Lockheed jet and lift off from Dulles Airport for the 6:55 p.m. May Day flight next week.
Barry said yesterday he is making plans for the trip and said he will return after a long weekend. "I'm tired and exhausted and I need a rest," Barry said "I don't make any apologies for taking a few days off, and I don't see any symbolism, what we need is realism," he said.
"I can accept it, Barry said. "There's nothing illegal, improper or immoral.TWA is going to be gaining notoriety about their inaugural flight -- what's wrong with helping TWA? I'll help TWA, I'll help United, I'll help anybody else who's in business."
Barry said earlier this year, he had been offered a free trip from New York to Kenya and back from Pan American World Airways, but he couldn't leave at the time because he was preparing his fiscal rescue plan. Instead, the mayor's legal counsel, Herbert O. Reid and City Council member Willie J. Hardy (D-Ward 7) went on the trip, he said.
After sipping French champagnes in a spacious first-class cabin, the mayor's party will deplane on the morning of May 2 and that night be feted at a fashion show and reception in the salon of leather goods designer Hermes. The reception and show are begin paid for by Hermes and were arranged by Trans World Airlines which is sponsoring the trip.
TWA's Washington public relations director, John Corris, said the exclusive international jaunt represents the inauguration of the airline's widebody jet service to Paris. TWA has had "seasonal" service to Paris in the past, but on smaller jets, like Boeing 707s.The Lockheed L-1011 is in the "jumbo" class.
The VIP list drawn up by TWA's local marketing manager, Rod Gaines, reads like a mini Who's who of Washington's local business and political establishment.
Yet uncommitted is the city's largest developer, Oliver T. Carr Jr. Among others accepting TWA's invitation are; Donald a Tollefson, managing partner of Arthur Andersen & Co., the accounting firm; Charles Diehl, vice president of George Washington University, and Cassandra Poole of the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.
The airline's goal is to have accepted invitations from 50 civic and business officials by take-off time.
"The people invited are those the carrier views, obviously, as people who would contribute, if you will, in small measure, or in large measure as a matter of fact, to the economic success of this service," said Corris.
He said such trips are offered under regulations laid down by the Civil Aeronautics Board.
After the airline picks up the tab for each of the $1,000 round-trip tickets, Corris said the VIP guests are on their own to make hotel, sightseeing and eating arrangements. The length of the trip is up to each individual. The free tickets carry open return dates.
Corris said that all the inaugural flight guests might not get to sit in first class because there are only 30 such seats on the L-1011." Now I guess you might assume that the mayor and the chairman of the council would very likely be in first class,' he said.
Though Corris said the value of the ticket giveaway is about $1,000 per person, a check with TWA's passenger information service showed that a full-fare, first class roundtrip ticket to Paris is $2,330. However, coach fares were available for as little as $786.
About 10 of those who had accepted the invitation by yesterday had indicated they would be taking spouses along.
Among the media officials who accepted the invitation, according to Corris, were Olita Crawford, producer of the WTTG TV talk show Panorama, and her assistant, Joelle Norwood; WMAL radio's Phil Brown and Hank Sperka of Philadelphia's WPVI television station.
From Garfinckel's department store, executive vice president Hanne Merriman and Naniko Weiner of the public relations department accepted.
Also representing Independence Federal will be its vice president, Howard Davis.
Effi Barry is a member of the independence Federal board of directors. Last year, her position on the board become controversial when the board become controversial when the Barrys received cut-rate mortgage from Independence on their home in Southeast Washington.
The Barrys said they relinquished the discount, which would have saved them $240 a month in interest payments, following published reports and inquiries from the news media about the preferential treatment. Mrs. Barry said at the time that discount loans for all independence directors was standard company policy.