Mayor Marion Barry's complaint about lack of Carter administration support on city budget requests drew little White House reaction yesterday, but a city union leader sharply questioned the mayor's criticisms of the municipal work force.
Barry declared Saturday that "we did not have the lobbying and enthusiasm . . . we thought we should have" from the White House for the city's pending budget requests.
Interviewed yesterday, Pauline Schneider, a presidential aid who deals with D.C. affairs, asserted that the White House had a "good working relationship" with the city, but declined comment on the mayor's specific complaint. Presidential press spokesman also had no comment.
While Barry also contended that the city had too many employes, an officer of a union that represents many of them claimed that in several essential job categories, the number is actually too few.
When bureaucracies prove unable to manage their affairs, low-ranking employes, who are "overworked and underpaid are used as scapegoats," asserted Geraldine Boykin, executive director of District Council 20 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union.
On Saturday, as part of a blunt and free-swinging assessment of the city government he has headed for seven months, Barry sided with the two main Congressional overseers of the city budget, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.), who view city's 40,000 member work force as excessive.
In the course of his remarks and responses to questions at a forum of civic leaders here, Barry said "I think we have too many [employes] . . . I am going to try to find ways to reduce the number."
Boykin, who said her union represents about 16,000 city employes in such areas as sanitation, water and sewer services and human resources, asserted that "we take exception to anybody who says they don't deliver the services they are paid to do . . . "
In many of the areas in which persons represented by AFSCME work, she said, the city actually has fewer employes than needed to provide the level of services city residents "expect and pay for."
"For somebody (from outside Washington) to say that the District has too many employes is ludicrous," Boykin contended, asserting that municipal government here must fulfill the responsibilities of a state as well as a city.
In her own discussions with the mayor, she said, she never received the impression that he sought to blame lower-ranking employes for any municipal shortcomings. If problems exist, she added, they are more likely to be in the upper ranks of the bureaucracy.
In another interview, Department of Huamn Resources director Albert P. Russo appeared to agree with the mayor's criticisms of his agency. In DHR, the city's largest agency with 6,000 employes and a proposed budget of more than $250 million, the mayor said he found "a lack of competent people."
Russo said he, too, was "concerned about the performance of a number of officials" in the department. Unless performance improved, he said, changes would be made. In addition, Russo said he agreed that city government employes "must give more of themselves and do better."
While agencies will find it extremely difficult to expand the work force, he said, "I see no diminution whatsoever in terms of demands for services."
The obvious solution, Russo added, "is to demand not only more competent performance but a greater work effort, not necessarily limited to an eight-hour day."
Barry also criticized the school board Saturday, describing its members as "a little chicken" for bowing to neighborhood pressures and refusing to close 24 underutilized schools despite budget restrictions.
Terming the criticism unfair, board president Minnie S. Woodson said that before closing schools it is also necessary to consider questions of educational policy and the safety of small children who might be forced to cross busy streets.
The mayor also asserted Saturday that services provided citizens must be made equal throughout the city even if it meant taking some from Ward 3 west of Rock Creek Park, and putting them in Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River.
If more services are in fact being provided in Ward 3 than in Ward 7, which she represents, said council member Willie J. Hardy, then "he [Barry] should have already equalized services. If he hasn't, then he ought to. I don't know what he is waiting for.
"We need more services out here," she added, "But I don't want to reduce services needed someplace else."
For Barry, Saturday's remarks represented the first public criticism of Carter's treatment of the District of Columbia since the mayor took office in January.
The mayor referred specifically to lack of support for requests in Congress for financing in the 1980 fiscal year. "We need more support from the White House," he said at the meeting at the Martin Luther King Library.
The president is on a vacation trip on a riverboat on the Mississippi River and reportedly had not learned yesterday of the mayor's remarks.
Schneider, White House staff assistant for intergovernmental affairs, said in the interview here yesterday that the White House and D.C. government have been "working closely and I think harmoniously" on problems of mutual interests. "I feel . . . we have a good working relationship with the District . . . "