During the first decade of home rule, a younger, more integrated group of business leaders less rooted in Washington has replaced the older, established and mostly white business community that wielded substantial power over D.C. affairs before home rule.
The composition of the leadership of the business community has been altered by death, retirement and a decade of other changes, including more access for women and minorities and the shift in the nature of Washington business itself.
Among other things, the city's business leadership reflects that it is now less of a small Southern town and more of an aspiring national business center.
"The shift in the business community is one of raising sights and expanding horizons," said Stephen D. Harlan of Peat, Marwick Mitchell & Co., a former president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
But home rule itself also appears to have played a role in creating a new approach to business leadership.
"There has been an emergence of new members of the business community who look at a whole range of issues and say, 'We better get at it. Hey, this is our problem, our issue, not the concern of a House subcommitee,' " said Theodore C. Lutz, who worked at the federal Office of Management and Budget as the examiner of the budget for "national capital affairs" before home rule.
"Colonial thinking was removed for the new breed of business leaders," Lutz added. "That psychological impact has been important for the community." Lutz, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from 1976 to 1979, is now a vice president of The Washington Post.
Washington was once a town where rich and powerful white men, their sons and grandsons took care of business. Family ties and institutional loyalty were the guiding forces.
Men such as Robert V. Fleming of Riggs National Bank, Robert G. Baker of American Security Bank, Thornton W. Owen of Perpetual American Bank, Dominic F. Antonelli Jr. of Parking Management Inc. (PMI) and Leonard B. Doggett Jr. of Doggett Enterprises Inc. once were "overwhelmingly dominant factors in deciding where the city was headed," according to one prominent businessman.
Now Fleming, Owen and Baker are dead. Antonelli and Doggett are still powerful, but not as dominant as they once appeared to be. Most of the "new guard" here today played either no role or a limited one in influencing local government before home rule. In fact, many of them were not even around.
For instance, Edwin K. Hoffman of Woodward & Lothrop is one of the few chief executive officers of a major retail firm today who held that position 10 years ago. Many of the city's major retail outlets are now part of national companies.
Some of today's business leaders, such as developer Oliver T. Carr Jr., Washington Post publisher Donald Graham and Perpetual American Chairman Thomas J. Owen, are carrying on family businesses, often taking them in new directions as well.
But, in addition, a combination of factors, including promotions, appointments and relocations from other areas, has created many first-generation Washington leaders.
Luther Hodges Jr., chairman of the National Bank of Washington, didn't even move to Washington until 1977, coming from the North Carolina National Bank in Charlotte. Harlan was still working at Peat Marwick in New York during the home rule debates a decade ago.
Zoning lawyer R. Robert Linowes, senior partner of Linowes & Blocher, was the most powerful zoning attorney in Montgomery County 10 years ago but not a major player in the District. It was the passage of home rule that inspired him to open an office in the District in 1975 and become active in city affairs, he said.
"When it became obvious that the city was going to have a voice in determining its own destiny, our firm wanted to help direct a course of action," said Linowes, who became president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 1979.
W. Jarvis Moody, chief executive officer of American Security Corp., came to the District from a large New York bank, Morgan Guaranty & Trust. Another Washington business executive, Delano E. Lewis, a vice president for C&P Telephone Co., came from Kansas to work on Capitol Hill for four years before moving to the telephone company. He worked for D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy during part of that time.
Kent T. Cushenberry, the highly visible director of corporate community relations/governmental relations at IBM Corp., originally was from Chicago and did not even come to Washington until 1976, two years after the home rule battle had ended.
Roger R. Blunt, president of Blunt Enterprises and in line to become the first black president of the Board of Trade next year, was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers during the early home rule disputes.
Multimillionaire Joe L. Allbritton, the powerful chairman and principal owner of Riggs National Bank, who has a chain of funeral homes in California and Texas and extensive real estate holdings here and abroad, came to Washington after home rule.
Arriving here in 1975 from Texas, Allbritton purchased The Evening Star Communications Co., which included The Washington Star and several radio and television stations.
"The new business leaders have a broader outlook," said Linowes. "They've grown up under a home rule blanket, and they have an increasing understanding of the fact that the District Building is where decisions are and should be made."
While their predecessors had to deal with conservative Southern members of Congress who dominated the committees that decided the city's fate, the new leadership has learned to work with the city government.
"Before home rule, businesses were forced to go to a Southern-dominated group of bigoted congressmen," said John Hechinger, owner of Hechinger Co. Now, business leaders are turning to elected local politicians who are accountable to D.C. residents for their actions and have more of a stake in matters affecting the city, he said.
That change began almost immediately after the adoption of home rule, according to Joseph H. Riley, former chairman of NS&T Bank. One of the first things business leaders did was to meet with Fauntroy to assure him that they would go to the newly elected government with their problems and would not go to Congress unless D.C. officials declined to listen.
"We promised him that the business community would not go in the back door without knocking on the front door first," said Riley, who was the president of the Board of Trade during the first year of home rule.
The Board of Trade itself has undergone a tremendous evolution over the past 10 years. Throughout the 1960s, the board was considered by many to be a monolithic group of white businessmen with narrow business interests and a limited involvement in trying to improve life in the city.
"It was an old-buddy network," said William H. Jones, vice president for corporate affairs at the Potomac Electric Power Co.
Before home rule, some business executives say, there was a feeling in the community that the board was not working for the interests of the city residents.
"The Board of Trade, for example, wanted to have a new major highway constructed right through the city," said Hechinger, who was the first chairman of the District's appointed City Council.
"It was called the white men's road through black men's homes," Hechinger said.
The Board of Trade originally opposed home rule in 1965 and continued fighting the change until 1972, when it voted to back the plan.
Several business executives now say home rule accelerated the increasing professionalism and responsiveness of the Board of Trade. Once the board committed itself to the change in the District's form of government, it was forced to begin cultivating a more cooperative relationship with local politicians.
The agenda and tenor of the board began to shift even before that, in the early 1970s, as the board started conducting studies and working to improve the economic life of the District.
It promoted and fostered employment and training programs and began to work closely with Hugh Scott, former superintendent of the D.C. public schools, to improve the management of the school system.
Over the last 10 years, the board has studied regional issues such as public safety, water and sewer problems and transportation, while at the same time looking out for its more specific interests, such as lowering the cost of workers' compensation.
The board has taken a broader approach in terms of viewing the area as a whole in addition to taking a broader approach to issues. "We're becoming a regional economy," said Blunt. "No business here deals with the District alone. The city is now viewed as one piece of a larger business fabric."
The election of Julia M. Walsh, managing partner of Julia M. Walsh & Sons, as the new president of the board is one more illustration of the evolution.
Walsh is the first woman president in the 95-year history of the board. Flaxie Pinkett, president of John R. Pinkett Inc., a real estate firm, was in line to become the first black and first woman president of the board but stepped down in 1983 for health reasons.
"My husband was 50 when he became president of the Board of Trade, but when I become president I'll be 60," Walsh said. "It took me 10 years longer to get there because the climate wasn't right for a woman.
"I think home rule had something to do with changing this climate," Walsh added. "Women couldn't get into the power structure before -- the opportunities weren't there." About half of the City Council today is composed of women, she noted.
But, said several other business executives, although more blacks and women have an entree into the business world than they did 10 years ago, control of the economy still remains primarily in the hands of white males here as it is nationally.
Colbert I. King, a senior vice president for Riggs and a native Washingtonian, said that "although home rule represented a significant transfer of political power from the federal level to the residents of the District, the ownership of business in the city remains relatively unchanged in terms of sex or race."