Hilda Mason has been on the City Council for only two weeks. But already, her personal political agenda has sparked some lively, behind-the-scenes maneuvering over who will head the Council's Committee on Education, Recreation and Youth Affairs.
Mason is a neophyte on the Council, but served for five years on the D.C. school board and worked in the school system for 20 years before that. Like her Statehood Party predecessor, Julius Hobson, who died Mar. 23, Mason wants to chair the Education Committee, even though Democrats control 11 of 13 seats on the Council.
William Spaulding, the loquacious Democrat from ward five, became temporary committee chairman when Hobson died. At that time, one city hall insider said the chances were "very remote, nearly impossible" that Spaulding would not become the permanent chairman. Last week, after the choice of Spaulding apparently hit some snags in the educational community, the insider reneged on the prediction, saying, "Consider that statement inoperative as of now."
Then there's Douglas Moore, the Council's outcast Democrat, who last January became the only person on the Council to head no committee when his colleagues stripped him of his Budget Committee chairmanship. Moore's name is now being tossed about as a possible chairman for the Education Committee. He apparently stands better with the educational folks than Spaulding. If it is offered to him, Moore said, he'll certainly take the chairmanship.
Council Chairman Sterling Tucker introduced legislation last week that would have made Spaulding the permanent committee chairman. But it never came to a vote, and probably won't until next week or later.
Spaulding was once considered one of Tucker's strongest supporters. But last month, Spaulding led the charge that came within one vote of dumping Tucker's plan to form a 15-member task force to study restructuring the troubled department of human resources.
The momentary independence does not appear to have placed Spaulding on the outs with the Council chairman. But when you add the problems that Spaulding may encounter from other colleagues, it certainly won't help. "If it comes down to a showdown on the floor," one source said, "Bill's going to be in for some rude awakenings."
Mason has support from the public, as evidenced by several calls and telegrams some of her Council colleagues have received championing her candidacy. Some Council members also are leaning toward her. The big thing working against her is a still developing tradition on the young, home-rule Council. There are those who fear that the Democratic-run Council would set a dangerous precedent by passing over a veteran Democrat to give a key chairmanship to a newcomer from a different party.
Since security at government buildings are tightened up following the Hanafi Muslim takeover, city employees going to work at the District Building are more likely to be required to show identification before entering. There's only one problem: the city has no central system for issuing employee IDs, so every department has to produce its own.
That's why one worker was over at the laminating machine at Drug Fair the other day, getting the homemade ID encased in plastic. And it's probably also why one city employee was able to get past the guard during the early days of the tighter security system by flashing an official-looking I.D. certifying lifetime membership in Kappa Alpha Psi, a social fraternity.