Shuttle diplomacy is in full swing between Capital Hill and in Interior Department. Object: to remove Kenneth Dodd, civil servant, from the list of endangered speices within the department.
Dodd, of course, is the career herpetologist (snake expert) given his walking papers for writing to the owner of Dominique's restaurant. He asked that it remove from its menu Pennsylvania rattlesnake, which, with red cabbage and green peas, was being served at $9.25 a plate. Dominique's, by the way, is a favorite eating spot of Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus, whose credentials as a protector of wildlife and endangered speices have been have been top drawer.
Andrus apologized to the restaurant owner. He said the letter was not authorized, that the snake is not in danger of being extinct and to carry on. An aide to Andrus sent Dodd a letter of charges informing him that he would be fired next month, pending an appeal. Grounds for the dismissal include improper use of government stationery, and creation of an incident that embarrassed the Interior Department. One suspects Interior will learn more about embarrassment before the incident is concluded.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) is angry. She chairs the civil service subcommittee that gets into things like the methods of firing bureaucrats.
Human Resources subcommittee chairman Herbert Harris (D-Va.) sees the incident as a test of the new civil service reform act that gave bosses more power to dismiss employes.
Harris said yesterday that "this arbitrary firing of a dedicated career civil servant illustrates the kind of actions I warned about when the Reform Act was being considered last year. . .
"This kind of flagrant disregard of basic employee rights has an adverse effect on the morale of all career civil service employes, "Harris asserted. "And I intend to see that it stops."
Next step is up to Interior. If it can find a face-saving way to rescind the Dodd firing, the matter probably will be dropped. If not, various members of Congress are itching to hold hearings on the snake affair, with some witnesses being asked to bring copies of menus so the nation can see what affluent Washington is eating.