Mayor Walter E. Washington literally gave royal treatment yesterday to advisory neighborhood commissioners who had accused him of insulting them by failing to show up at their last scheduled meeting in May.
The mayor and most of this cabinet members devoted the entire afternoon to discussions of ANC concerns about crimes, housing, taxes and real estate speculation. The three-hour session with about 100 commissioner in the City Council chambers had its lively moments, but ended amicably. Afterward, the commissioners were treated to drinks, snacks and chitchat in the mayors office suite.
"We entertained the queen and we entertained the princess." Washington said in references to visits by members of the British royal family. "We can entertain you in the same style and if anybody doesn't like that, I'm sorry."
A smaller group of ANC representatives stormed out of the mayor's conference room on May 18 upon learning that Joseph P. Yeldell, former Department of Human Resources director and now special assistant to Washington, had been designated to substitute for the mayor, who was ill.
Washington's new warmth toward the elected advisory group prompted out members to comment that "it appears he might be running for re-election."
It was the first official meeting with the mayor and his cabinet for ANC members since they were sworn in March, 1976. The commissioners appeared determined at the session to define their identity and functions.
The ANC representatives asked for more publicity about their activities, greater input into the city budget process, review of the major's appointments to citizen boards and regulation bodies and easier access to surplus offices and equipment, in addition to annual leave for members who are government employees to conduct ANC business.
The mayor said the ANC's role as public participation mechanism is qualified by the existence of 138 other citizen bodies that have similar overlapping purposes. While some of those bodies have "outlived their usefulness," it is difficult to ci-band them. Washington said, adding "we tried that on one and you never heard such a cry."
"I'm still the mayor and I know something about what this thing is." he snapped when Commissioner Reginald Winter persisted that ANC's should review appointments by the mayor. Winter said his constituents see the board seats as "political patronage" and want more public oversight of the nominations.
Cabinet members came forward singly to answer the commissioner's questions about their departments. The most heated discussion followed as assertion by one ANC members that Police Chief Maurice Cullinane had misinformed the mayor when he said that reductions in crime had occurred here.
Cullinane responded that the accuracy of police crime statistics was verified recently in a study by an independent auditor. Commission spokesmen demanded more foot patrols, more scooter policemen and improved use of squad cars. The mayor said the recommendations would be considered.
The mayor pledged a series of follow-up sessions and greater communication between his department heads and the ANCs.
"I'm pleased with the new signs of detente between the mayor and the ANCs," said member Carol Gidley.
The red-carpet treatment for the commissioners included greetings by about 10 women employees from District Building offices dressed in evening gowns to play hostesses for the meeting and reception.
Martin K. Schaller, the mayor's executive secretary, said he authorized up to $1,800 from the mayors ceremonial account for the affair.
In his congenial adjournment of the meeting, Washington assured the commissioners that the reception was "not something of mine, it's yours; you paid for it out of the same funds I used" for the royal family.