He has stood as a symbol of the alledged indifference, secretiveness and people-be-damned attituude of Mayor Walter E.Washington's administration.
He was a priceless liaison between the mayor and the city's influential business community, virtually making himself into a one-man bureau of economic development.
First in his own right, and later through his handpicked successors, he has controlled, observers say, the key city department that issues vital licenses and permits in what some perceive as an iron-handed manner.
An now Julian R.Dugas, the acting city administrator of the District of Columbia, has stubbornly settled into an influential niche in the soon-to-be administration of mayor-elect-Marion Barry.
His longtime friend, Mayor Washington, reinstated Dugas as director of the Department of Licenses, Investigations and Inspections on Nov.7 after Washington lost his bid for reelection. That action assures Dugas civil service protection in the event the Barry administration tries to fire him-as it undoubtedly will.
Two weeks later, Washington reappointed Dugas to a three-year term as chairman of the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board-an appointment that will place Dugas in charged of an agency that Barry advisers feel is pivotal to economic development and planned land use in the city.
During his campaign for mayor, Barry said he would remove Dugas as city administrator-somewhat of a perfunctory pledge because the city administrator is one of the few persons in city government not afforded civil service protection from dismissal.
As a result of Walter Washington's actions, however, Barry is faced with a more complex problem and one about which the mayor-elect refused to say yesterday what he would do until after his inauguration Jan.2.
A key Barry adviser said, however, "In so many words, Marion doesn't want Julian in his administration. Anywhere. He represents indifference, not just in Ward 3, but even to people on Georgia Avenue."
Members of Barry's transition organization are bracing for a possible tough fight with the often feisty Dugas.
A friend of Dugas said he wants to stay in city government for at least several months beyond January in order to increase his retirement benefits.
Dugas, who could not be reached for comment, has been a city employe since June 26, 1953. He could retire now with full benefit because he is 60 years old and has worked for the city at least 20 years, according to D.C. Personnel Director George R.Harrod.
But, Harrod said, "The more time he puts in the more money he makes (during retirement)." Harrord said he could not say precisely how much Dugas would receive in retirement benefits if he stepped aside now, nor how much Dugas would gain for each additional month or year that he stays in city government.
Barry advisers believe that allowing Dugas to stay on the city payroll long enough to gain the retirement benefits Dugas wants may be the major concern in talking with him, rather than what policy role Dugas might play in a Barry Administration.
"I think there will be a fight with Julian," one adviser said, "It will be about his retirement."
The directorship of the city's licenses department was the job Dugas held before becoming city administrator, and as part of his agreement to take the administrator's post, he was given the option of returning to his old job.
Since 1972, Dugas has been a member of the ABC Board-which has often been criticized by citizen groups as sluggish, insensitive, ineffiecient and biassed in some of its decisions. Dugas and James W.Hill, a protege of Dugas , form a majority on the three-person board.
Barry's transition advisers believe the operations of the board will be crucial in affecting growth in the city, since many of the incoming businesses (restaurants, clubs and hotels, for example) will need liquor licenses to operate. The granting of liquor licenses has also become a criticial issue in some residential areas of the city.
According to one Barry confidant, the incoming administration is willing to reorganize the ABC Board if necessary to give Barry a chairman and board majority of his choosing. The new administration also is looking at ways to oust Dugas as license department director.
"Julian has a lot of knowledge. I'm sure he'd give good advice. There's a lot of areas where he could provide good guidance to Marion. He's a senior member of the government," the confidant said. "He's seen a lot. He's been on the inside since Walter Washington's been major (1967).
"Now, whether that means he has to be a department head, whetherr he can run and administer programs the way Marion wants is another issue...There may be some role for him relative to the mayor-(elect), but not in the cabinet."