Several members of the D.C. City Council accused Mayor Walter E. Washington - and themselves - yesterday of giving favorable treatment to residents of affluent and politically prominent sections of northwest Washington in the selection of appointees to more than 100 city boards and commissions.
The allegations came as the Council approved two otherwise routine mayoral appointments to the board of the Redevelopment Land Agency, which advises on the city's urban renewal program, and one appointment to the Public Service Commission, which oversees utility operations in the city.
Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-six), the principal critic of the appointments, said that more than half of the past 71 nominees lived either in ward three, the predominantly white and upper-income area west of Rock Creek Park, or in ward four, the largely black and middle income section of upper northwest Washington.
"When elected to the Council, many of us stressed the importance of city-wide representation on the entities representing the interests of District residents," Winter said. "A cursory examination of recent Council confirmations shows that the elected Council has failed to stem the tide of disproportionate representation."
Winter said that 22 of the 71 nominees were from the ward three, 20 from ward four and 10 from ward two, which includes the downtown, Foggy Bottom and southwest sections of the city. The remaining 19 appointments to such agencies as the D.C. General Hospital Commission, the Commission of Aging and the board of University of the District were from the city's other five wards, she said.
"Those figures are really quite shocking," said Council member Marion Barry (D-at-large). "The Council has to take a stand and say 'no'. No matter how good these people are - and these people are good - the Council can't keep passing the buck."
Yesterday's criticism was the latest in a continuing interchange between some members of the Council and the mayor over the often-tangled membership on the city panels.
Keeping membership on the commission has been a pesky problem for the mayor, whose office has been trying for the past year to develop a computerized listing of the estimated 1,200 members of the panels and when their terms expire, according to Martin K. Schaller, the mayor's executive secretary.
At times board members have served for as much as two years past the statutory expiration of their appointment before being formally reappointed or removed. A handful of persons have at times been appointed to numerous boards. And at times some boards have been unable to meet because of inability to have a quorum in between vacancies and appointments.
"Traditionally, in the past, it is true that a large number of persons have come from wards two, three, four and to a lesser extent, ward five. Since the start of home rule and especially in the past 18 months, we (have made) a systematic effort to get representation from each of the eight wards," Schaller said.
Schaller said he thought some of the criticism was "not fair" because some of the appointees are recommended to the mayor by other agencies and still other appointments require persons to be from particular city areas of a certain trade or profession.
Schaller, who said most of the appointments are now up to date, said that in some cases, board are too small to have citywide representation.
Despite its vocal rebukes yesterday, the Council voted overwhelmingly to confirm Elizabeth Hayes Patterson, a 31-year-old lawyer from ward four, to a three-year term on the PSC. Patricia A. King, 35, a lawyer from ward two in southwest Washington, was confirmed for a five-year term on the RLA board, and Joseph F. Hennessey, a lawyer from ward three, was confirmed for a three-year RLA term.