Sidney Glee used to be a faceless civil servant, toiling in obscurity along with thousands of others in the D.C. Department of Human Resources. He was unhappy, felt passed over for promotion and was dissatisfied with the way he saw the huge social service agency being run by then-director Joseph P. Yeldell.
Suddenly one day last January, things changed. A new administration moved into the District Building and Sidney Glee moved up in city government -- close enough to the center of power to feel he had arrived at a professional level he had sought for some time.
He made more money, had more prestige, felt more useful on his job, and even took the mayor of the District of Columbia fishing one weekend.
"I made myself available and things happened," Glee said. "Being basically a country boy and a religious boy, I think I'm gonna always be taken care of."
This country boy's success story is not simply a testimonial to the workings of fate. It is a tale of how this overwhelmingly black town has developed several "old boy" networks of its own.
Sidney Glee went to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., and so did Robert L. Moore, the city's new housing director.When Mayor Marion Barry made Moore director of the city's troubled housing department, Moore made Glee, his old schoolmate, his special assistant, and the agency's chief troubleshooter for public housing.
Glee doesn't downplay the usefulness of attending the right schools.
"One thing about blackschools," he said recently. "The relations you develop are just like an extended family."
Old school ties have figured in other political connections. Many of former mayor Walter E. Washington's closest advisers shared longstanding friendships from their days at Howard University, for example.
And Glee wasn't the only familiar face Moore encountered when he came here. The Barry administration has other college connections.
Moore and City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers were in graduate school together at Howard. One of their instructors was Carroll B. Harvey, who worked for Marion Barry's self-help group, Pride, Inc. Harvey is now Barry's assistant city administrator for operations.
Harvey once took his students, including Moore and Rogers, to Gary, Ind., to work with Mayor Richard G. Hatcher. One of the aides to Hatcher at the time was James O. Gibson, who is now Barry's assistant city administrator for planning. One of Hatcher's political strategists was Ivanhoe Donaldson, who is now Barry's general assistant.
Actually, Glee said, when he started attending Johnson C. Smith, Moore had already left. But after his own graduation, the two of them met at a party in Camden, N.J. In true small-town fashion, both were married to Smith women.
In those days, Glee was on the bottom of the city bureaucracy. After receiving his bachelor's degree in 1963, he came to Washington and worked first at a car wash, and later at a clothing store and a landscaping firm.
Then fate took over, as he tells it. "I fell asleep on a bus and woke up and I was in front of the recreation department," Glee said. He began work soon thereafter as a $1.29-an-hour playground aide.
Glee began to climb the bureaucratic ladder. He went from being a "roving leader" working with youth, to the city's personnel office, the Neighborhood Youth Corps staff and finally to DHR, where many considered him a good friend of Yeldell.
"Joe and I were supposed to be so tight," Glee said. "But Joe never game me a promotion, (and) I was there before Joe Yeldell."
By the end of his DHR tenure, Glee was overseeing the operations of five specialized drug abuse clinics and was a GS-14. But he was still unhappy. "I disliked where I was. It was ridiculous," he said.
Over the years, Glee had repeatedly crossed paths with Moore at Smith alumni functions. Glee had a classmate who was a dentist in Houston -- where Bob Moore was housing director. Glee visited Moore in Houston, and not too much later, Moore visited Glee in Washington.
When Moore took over the housing job, Glee stated his case for a promotion and a change of job and Moore said yes. Sidney Glee's ship had finally come in.
D.C. auto license tag No. 1 is now on both ends of the new white Cadillac Seville of Effi Barry. Earlier this year, it was assigned to her 1973 Volkswagon.
And speaking of cars, there's this story about City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers and his silver-grey Alfa Romeo convertible -- tag No. 3 -- which was parked on the wrong side of the street in front of the District Building for more than three hours one day last week.
D.C. Police Officer Phil Clark, whose duties include giving out traffic tickets around the District Building, acknowledged to a reporter that cars should not be parked facing in one direction when traffic in the nearest lane is headed in the other direction. Rogers' car was.
"Well, why doesn't that car have a ticket?" a reporter asked.
"I have no comment to make on that car," Clark responded with a smile.
Out of the building came police officer A. W. Scott, badge No. 3472, who also agreed that the car was parked illegally. But she deferred to Clark, with a smile, when asked if the car would be ticketed.
By the time a reporter got up to the fifth floor of the District Building where Rogers has his office, the city administrator was coming out of the door, car key in hand.
Why was his car parked illegally out front, the reporter asked. "What do you mean it's parked outside illegally," Rogers barked, as he took the elevator to the ground floor and promptly turned the car around so it was parked properly.
The problem, he explained, is that construction workers do not want him to park on the west side of 13 1/2 Street in his usual reserved space, and between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. the street is one-way south. "I got here this morning at 6:30 and I've been in meetings all morning. I haven't had a chance to move it," Rogers said.
Officer Clark assured a reporter later that he would have given the same consideration to anyone he knew at the District Building in a similar predicament.
So try that one on your friendly neighborhood ticket writer the next time the pink paper is about to fly. If you have any problems, let Rogers and Clark tell it to the judge or the hearing examiner.