D.C. City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker's appointment of a "superclerk" to oversee the council's review of the city budget has created widespread resentment among council members and much of the council staff.
The appointee as staff director for budget review, Patricia Spirer, has a pay grade of GS-14, higher by one grade than any of the GS-13 staff directors of the council's nine legislative committees. Council members themselves, considered part time, rank lower at GS-12.
Protests over the way Sprer was appointed erupted this week at a meeting of the council's special committee on personnel and administration.
Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) said the personnel committee learned of the upgrading of the budget job only after it was an accomplished fact and Tucker had chosen Spirer to fill it.
That, Winter said, was a violation of proper procedure, under which the appointment should have been first considered by the personnel committee and then approved at a meeting of the council's full membership.
Spirer was confirmed as the first business matter when the council convened May 1, before some of critics of the appointment had arrived. An attempt later in that meeting to reconsider the action failed by a split vote.
Spirer's appointment at the higher pay grade was "terribly detrimental to morale within this council," David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) said at this week's committee meeting.
"I think it was illegal," said Marion Barry (D-At Large), a mayoral rival of Tucker.
Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) said she was both surprised and distressed at how the appointment was handled.
Robert A. Williams, secretary of the council and a key lieutenant of Tucker, said the job was upgraded, following civil service procedures, to reflect its future enlarged scope after the resignation of Lynn Scholz, the former director.
Tucker told a reporter yesterday that Spirer was one of several applicants who had been interviewed. "She is experienced and she's qualified," he said.
Spirer has been a council employe for eight years. When the budget job vacancy occurred, she was working at the U.S. Office of Education under an exchange program.
"I guess some of this is directed at me, and it's not pleasant, " she said yesterday. "I feel the job is important and should be GS-14. But I'm not saying the other (staff director) positions shouldn't be GS-14s, too; perhaps they should."
GS-14 has a salary range of $30,750 to $39,975 a year, while the range of GS-13 is $26,022 to $33,825. Council members earn the top pay for GS-12, $28,4444 a year.