District of Columbia City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon has selected persons to fill two key positions on the City Council staff but has run into opposition from several of his colleagues because both persons live outside the city.
Dixon has told council members that he would like to appoint James M Christian, 30, a lawyer and a lobbyist for The Potomac Electric Power Co. as chief lawyer for the council, replacing Edward B. Webb Jr.
Dixon also would like to appoint Ruth O. Robinson, 34, an administrator at the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, as secretary to the council, replacing Robert A. Williams.
Christian, who would make $44,756 as general counsel to the city's legislature, lives in Silver Spring. Robinson, who would draw the same salary in a job comparable to being the council's staff director and chief clerk. lives in Beltsville.
"People tell me we've got all these capable people in the District of Columbia," one council member who is opposed to both appointments said yesterday. "I don't see why we can't find them... If you can't live here, you don't have to work here."
Dixon said yesterday that Christian and Robinson had agreed to move into the city it chosen for the posts by a majority vote of the council. "Anyone that works for me is going to have to live in the Distrcit," he said.
Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) said the nominees might have to move to the city first. "The present general counsel who lives in Silver Spring apparently promised that he would move in, and he hasn't. So we want more than a promise."
Opposition to the two choices is providing one of the first known internal struggles that Dixon. who became council chairman Jan. 2, apparently is having in his effort to assert control over the council.
Several council members expressed concern that Dixon made his selections with minimal input from his colleagues.
On Jan. 10, Dixon issued a memorandum announcing that Christian was "my choice to be general counsel." Council colleagues were asked to comment by the end of that day, but 10 council members signed a Jan. 16 response to Dixon saying they had not received the Jan. 10 memo until Jan. 11.
"I don't know the people well enough to object [to them]," Mason said. "I would object more to the process."
Dixon said yesterday: "I would just hope that they let the people's resumes and background speak for themselves."
Robinson, a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, has worked in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the constitutional rights and civil rights subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and as a teacher at Antioch School of Law.
Christian, a Harvard Law School graduate, was a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the House District Committee and the politically active Washington law firm of Hudson & Leftwich.
Some council members have expressed private opposition because Robinson and Christian have had professional associations with the council chairman's wife, Sharon Pratt Dixon, the Democratic national committee-woman from the District.
Mrs. Dixon is a lawyer for Pepco -- but does not lobby the council -- and once taught at Antioch Law School. She generally is regarded as one of her husband's closest advisers.
"We're a close family," Dixon said yesterday. "We have many mutual freinds. We are a team."
Dixon could not say yesterday when he would ask the council to approve his selections.