The new trend in government is cooperation between agencies, but the aluminum wire industry might be feeling like the kid on the block who thought he won the fight, only to turn around and see the rest of the gang.
Last year a federal court in Delaware ruled that aluminum wire is not a "consumer product." and halted the Consumer Product Safety Commission from distributing a booklet describing the danger of fire hazards from some aluminum wiring.
The CPSC didn't have the jurisdiction to disseminate information about a non-consumer product, the court ruled in a case brought by Kaiser Aluminum. The CPSC is appealing that finding.
But, there is a new twist. The Office of Consumer Affairs at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare has notified consumer affairs offices in several states, that they can still get a copy of the "controversial booklet," if they write the right kind of letter to the CPSC.
The right kind of letter is a request under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The federal judge in Delaware modified his order last month to allow the CPSC to give out the book if it is requested under FOIA-although the agency is not allowed to tell people that they can get the book that way.
Enter HEW which, according to spokesman Howard Seltzer, decided to take it uupon itself to tell people how to get the book.
"We learned about it because a couple of congressmen had put the contents of the book in the Congressional Record, and Rep. Newton Steers (R-Md.) had copied the book and was making it available." said Seltzer. "We knew he couldn't supply the whole country though."
There is one problem, however. In its eight-paragraph letter, HEW made two substantive errors, including one in the instructions on how to request the book from the CPSC.
Consumers wishing to obtain a copy of the booklet should write directly to the Freedom of Information Officer. Consumer Product Safety Commission 1111 18th St., NW., Washington 20207 and request it with the following paragraph:
"Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 5 U S C 552, I hereby request a copy of the draft booklet describing how to detect faulty aluminum wiring in homes found in Exhibit 1 in the case of CPSC vs. Anaconda."
SCHLESINGER RUMOR-Some of the more liberal members of the House have been dropping hints that Department of Energy boss James Schlesinger may be on the way out - at the invitation of the White House.
The congressmen claim that they have been lobbying against natural gas deregulation, consistent with the national energy policy, but have found that Schlesinger has been quietly lobbying on the other side. Schlesinger's office flately denies the charge, pointing out that he is on the record favoring continued regulation.
And the White House has become increasingly annoyed with the rumors. "It's dirty," said Press Secretary Jody Powell in an interview. "These are plants and they are just not true. I don't know anyone in the cabinet who enjoys the President's confidence as much as Mr. Schlesinger."
Although Powell said that Carter has been pleased with Schlesinger, other White House staffers contradicted that analysis.Said one, privately, "We are uncomfortable with him. He still hasn't changed his views and doesn't seem willing to compromise."
CPSC NOMINATIONS - With the early resignation of Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman S. John Byington. the White House finds itself in a sticky situation according to insiders.
With the nominations of Susan King and Edith Sloan to fill the two remaining "Democrate" seats along with David Pittle, the White House has the choice of naming one of them chairman or designating a Republican for the top job.
Apparently, the White House feels all three Democrats have some shortcoming. King is too inexperienced, Sloan ran into some trouble at her confirmation hearings last week where her views were seen as inflexible and dogmatic, and strong consumer advocate Pitte is viewed as "too professorial and academic - he asks too many questions," according to one White House source.
Some White House saffers urged the naming of a person of chairman quality in the most recent two appointments. "When you are offering an eventual chairmanship, you can attract a higher quality applicant." said one staffer. "It was a mistake not to reserve a chairman's spot for one of the two new Democratic appointees." Still, the well-liked Pittle is seen as the leading candidate for the top job right now.
TRUCK HEARINGS-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.Mass) is going to hold Antitrust subcommittee hearings in Chicago and Denver at the end of March on trucking industry pricing practices and rate bureaus, according to hill sources.
But the White 5House says the administration is still evaluating how to handle the trucking deregation issue.
Subcommitt sources say privately they were surprised last month when administration spokesmen said they had not yet decided on whether or not to pursue legislative action this year on trucking.