Washington Gas Light Co. officials received a barrage of stockholder criticism yesterday that the company wastes too much money and hires and promotes too few minorities.
The company also reported during an unusually long two-hour annual meeting that last week it gave Richard Vierbuchen, Xecutive vice president, the responsibility of heading its troubled Davenport Insulation subsidiary.
When Washington Gas Light acquired Davenport in 1977, it "appeared to have very good earnings potential," said company President Donald J. Heim in his annual message. "But we were disappointed by the 1978 operating results of this subsidiary. After looking into the matter quite carefully, we concluded that its management needed strengthening."
A large part of the meeting, however, was spent defending the company's minority hiring and promotion policy and explaining why the company's net income dropped by 9 percent last year.
"What the stockholders are saying herd today is we need to take a good hard look at ourselves," Kenneth H. Tracy, a District representative of the company, told the meeting.
One stockholder asked why there were no blacks on the company's board of directors and why there were no black officers. "We have an affirmative action plan in our company that promotes from within," said company Chairman Paul E. Reichardt. During the last six or seven years, employment has been static and there have been few turnovers, he said.
Reichardt said later that 32 percent of WGL employes are minorities and 42 percent of recent promotions involved monortities. In 1972 only three women and minorities held supervisory positions. That number has increased to 112, Reichardt said.
But, Reichardt noted, in response to another question, that there have been no black department heads, attorneys or directors since he became chief executive officer in 1973, despite affirmative action plans.
Tracy said that none of the eight staff attorneys recently hired were black. There have been eight promotions in the customer service department, "but no blacks will ever, ever in my opinion become a manager in customer service and it sounds ridiculous in a city that's predominately black," Tracy said.
Other stockholders attacked what they considered the company's waste of money. In response to one stock-holder's querry, Heim said that the company had spent $16,700 on lobbying the Maryland legislature.
Corporate gadfly Evelyn Y. Davis sparked debate with her resolution to prohibit the firm from donating money to charitable organizations. Her resolution gained support from only 9 percent of the stockholders and was defeated.
During the discussion, the company said it spent $48,000 on charitable contributions, most of which went to the United Way, and Georgetown, George Washington and American universities.
In other action, Heim said that gas sales in the first two and one-half months of 1979 were about 10 percent above normal, "principally due to the weather being 12 percent colder than normal." But Heim said that earnings "are not as good as they should be, principally because of the continuing effect of inadequate rates in the District of Columbia."
This month the D.C. Public Service Commission approved a rate increase of $7.1 million, about 65 percent of what the company asked for. Heim disclosed yesterday that the company is considering appealing the decision in the courts "and will certainly file again for a new rate increase in the District just as soon as we can prepare the application and document the amount of increase necessary."