Two brothers who separately have helped bring the American people Smokey the Bear T-shirts and the Panama Canal treaties now also head Washington's two most prominent Business groups.
R. Robert Linowes says, only partly in jest, that "It shows the amazing good judgment on the part of the business community" that he is president of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, while his brother Sol Linowitz is president of the Federal City Council.
"They recognize real talent," says Linowes, while noting that the simultaneous presidencies actually are a coincidence. "I don't mean to seem immodest, but I think it's because we're both interested in the city and we're willing to work."
Numerous business executives throughout the city credit Linowes and Linowitz and Linowes, who with two other brothers changed his family 40 years ago.
"They're more of an elitist group," the board of Trade's Linowes says of the Federal City Council," and we're more of a populist group." It is a point that Kenneth R. Sparks, the council's executive vice president does not dispute.
The Board of Trade now has more than 5,000 members, including almost all of the major business establishments in the Washington area and numerous smaller companies as well. Its membership is open to anyone who wants to join and is willing to pay the annual dues, which range from a modest $250 to $29,000, depending on a complex formula that takes into account a corporation's size and amount of business. The board has an annual budget of $1.2 million.
The Board of Trade engages in a wide range of activities, all designed in one way or another to promote business in the Washington area.
Linowes joined the board only four years ago after spending 20 years as a zoning attorney in Montgomery County. "It was the one thing a lawyer could do where he could see the fruits of his action. And it meant you had the opportunity to make an impact on how the area grew," Linowes says.
During two decades as the lawyer for some of the biggest developers in a county that feverishly was promoting growth, Linowes gained a reputation as a shrewd lawyer who always was prepared with more facts and experts than his opponents, usually citizens' associations, could muster.
"he did a craftsmanlike job for his clients," says Idamae Garrott, a former Montgomery council member and a frequent foe of Linowes on zoning cases. "But a great many citizens disagreed with what he said for his clients. A lot of people were really unhappy."
"His mark is felt all over the county," says Irving Wolock, one Montgomery resident who opposed Linowes in zoning cases. He said Linowes' efforts on behalf of developers was "to the overall detriment of th e county.
"The question is: Is it good to have masterplans followed? In general you're better off following them. Linowes' business was to break master plans.
Linowes readily concedes that his work as a zoning attorney is not universally appreciated, but also points to innovative types of zoning, such as industrial parks and planned developments, that he helped engineer a part of his legacy.
Linowes also left his mark on the U.S. government. As an Agriculture Department attorney in the early 1950s he helped develop a plan under which the government reaps royalities from all the Smokey the Bear paraphernalia that is sold - T-shirts, belts, hats, the works.
Linowes says he became interested in the city and the Board of Trade in the early 1970s when he realised the city was ripe for a business boom.
"I thought I could materially assist in that," he says. "I am an impatient guy. I have to be doing things that are good as far as I'm concerned."
"He's a great citizen, one who feels he has to payshis dues," Joseph H. Riley, president of the National Savings and Trust Co., said of Linowes. "He felt he owed this city something, not that he was doing us a favor by serving" as president of the Board of Trade.
In the early days of the Board of Trade's 88-year history, it was deemed a group that had the best interests of the city at heart, but gradually people outside the business community began to view it as more interested in profits than in the welfare of the community.
By 1954, Philip Graham, the late publisher of The post, felt that the Board of Trade was too conservative and too entrenched a group to deal with many of the problems besetting the city.
Along with a group of other Washington business executives, Graham formed the Federal City Council. It was designed to expedite the rebuilding of Washington and at the same time improve the city's operations and dealings with the federal government.
Today, the group's membership is limited to representatives of 100 corporations, business establishments, law firms and a few individuals. In all, 132 people - mostly the white, male business establishment of the city - are on the council. Its membership changes little from year to year and by invitation only.
Its members pay between $1,200 and $3,000 in annual dues to give the council a budget of $200,000. With that money, the council pays a staff of four and finances periodic studies of a variety of city and regional problems.
The studies, such as one completed recently calling for construction of the full 100-mile Metro subway system, are written by the council's members who volunteer their time to study various aspects of urban life.
The council over the years has, among other things, helped rebuild Southwest Washington, formulated plans for the rehabilitation of deteriorating housing in the city and produced a drug information program.
"We don't make any pretense of being representative" of the community, says the council's deputy director, Michael F. Brimmer. The group is widely listened to because of the stature of its members, such people as Edwin K. Hoffman, president of Woodward & Lothrop Inc., J. Willard Marriott, board chairman of the Marriott Corp.; Abe Pollin, owner of the Capital Centre, and Foster Shannon, president of the Shannon & Luchs real estate company.
Linowitz - former Xerox board chairman, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, prominent international lawyer and with Ellsworth Bunker one of the U.S.'s Panama Canal treaty negotiators - has been president of the Federal City Council since 1974.
Several council members said that Linowitz is unusually quick to grasp urban problems and spends a large amount of time on council matters. "Sol has always been a committed guy to cities," Linowes said of his brother.
Linowes, 55, and Linowitz, 64, along with brothers David F. Linowes, 60, and Harry Linowes, 50, grew up in Trenton, N.J., the sons of a wholesale food importer.
All have had a Washington connection, with Harry currently the managing partner of the accounting firm of Leopold and Linowes and president of the Jewish Community Centers of Washington. David helped found that accounting firm and now is a management consultant, a professor at the University of Illinois and chairman of the federal Privacy Protection Commission.
It was David who said he suggested in the mid-1930s that the family change its name from Linowitz to Linowes because the suffix "witz" clearly denoted a Russian heritage at a time when it was not advantageous to have a Russian ancestry. "There was no reason to be tied to the Russian society, totalitarianism," he said.
So the three youngest brothers changed their name, but Sol Linowitz did not because he already was working as a lawyer in Rochester, N.Y., and was known as a Linowitz.
The brothers were raised in an ethnic neighborhood and it is that backgroung that Harry Linowes attributes to the brothers' activism today.
"We were taught respect for other people," he said. "People didn't have money, but we did things together, being considerate for one another, being concerned for one another."
David Linowes said simply: "We're all great believers inparticpatory democracy.We have to assert ourselves."