D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's special assistant for labor and religious affairs is the proprietor of a notorious Capitol Hill flophouse with hourly room rates that was the subject of a recent neighborhood protest.
Matthew F. Shannon, who is one of Barry's closest aides and now in line for a job at the Employment Services Department, said he bought the "140 Tourist" home at 140 12th St. NE three years ago, before joining the mayor's administration.
the "140 Tourist" is an old two-story townhouse converted into a 10-room transient lodging house, where patrons rent rooms for two hours for $7.50, or for four hours at a cost of $9. There is an "overtime" charge of $2.
It is the kind of place where Linda, the day manager, tells potential customers, "You bring your own woman and I'll register you and send you upstairs." It is the kind of place where at lunch time, a white four-door Bonneville pulls up in front and the man and woman inside pay their room fee and retreat to an upstairs room while taking sips from a bottle wrapped in a crumpled brown paper bag.
The neighbors have complained about the rather seamy clientele attracted to the "140 Tourist," especially since August when a D.C. police officer, responding to a hold-up alarm, was shot and wounded on the sidewalk outside. The traffic congestion on weekends, the men constantly parading in and out with their quickie "dates" and the police shooting all are in marked contrast to the renovated, pastel-colored, middle-class town houses on the block.
"A lot of people who have just moved in [to the block] get nervous," one woman resident said. "And it is a valid concern when at 3 in the morning a policeman gets shot."
The residents of the block circulated a petition in August and presented it to City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), asking that the tourist house be closed.
Shannon has been trying to sell the "140 Tourist" since that shooting incident, asking for $135,000, which is more than twice the property's current assessment."Clearly the business is no longer compatible with the community," Shannon said. "Clearly it brings too much notoriety.
"I immediately contacted my realtor and put it on the market" after the Tourist" is itself a house of prostitution.
"No, it is absolutely not," Shannon said. "There's never been a disorderly house charge filed against that address. I wouldn't have owned it for three years if that had been the case."
Linda, the day manager agreed. Asked if she ever supplied prostitutes for the customers, Linda said, "Hell no, that's not my job."
Shannon, who makes $36,500 in his current job, said he made a $10,000 profit on his establishment last year.
Shannon said that the disclosure of his ownership of the "140 Tourist" should not interfere with his still unannounced promotion to a new job in the Employment Services Department. "We had clearly a firm understanding that I would move over there," Shannon said. "The mayor knew about it when I came to work for the city. I have no reading at this time" what effect the negative publicity will have on the promotion.
Shannon had said last week that he would leave the Barry administration to take a job with the federal Home Loan Bank Board. Since that time, the mayor's special assistant, Ivanhoe Donaldson, was named acting director of the Employment Services Department, and Shannon now is slated to move over to that department to assist him.
"As to the patrons of it [the 140 Tourist]," Shannon said, "I just don't want to comment on it." CAPTION: Picture, Matthew Shannon plans to sell his tourist home for $135,000. By James K. W. Atherton -- The Washington Post