President Carter yesterday named Thomas F. Murphy, former president of the International Bricklayers Union, as acting chairman of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC), which is supervising the revitalization of the city's principal ceremonial route.
The appointment of Murphy, 70, temporarily takes the pressure off the search for a permanent PADC chairman. The search has been complicated by a first-time attempt from D.C. political officials to control the chairmanship of the small but powerful federal agency.
The PADC vacancy was created when long-time Washington business leader Joseph B. Danzansky died on Nov. 8.
Mayor Marion Barry has nominated his former chief campaign fund-raiser, Max N. Berry, for the post. Berry is a partner in the law firm of Berry, Epstein, Sandstrom and Blatchford.
However, at the same time, D.C. State Democratic Committee chairman Robert B. Washington Jr. has recommended the appointment of Thomas J. Owen, chairman of Perpetual Federal Savings & Loan Association. Washington is a member of Perpetual's board of directors.
White House officials have expressed concern over the political allegiance of the mayor's choice, Berry. Until October, Berry was a member of the D.C. Committee for a Democratic Alternative, which was an early advocate for drafting Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in this year's presidential nomination process.
But one senior White House official said the overriding concern there was that D.C. officials resolve their differences over the appointment. The White House does not want to offend the mayor or the top Democratic party offical by choosing between competing candidates, the official said.
The selection of Murphy solves another problem that has been pressed by PADC staff members in recent weeks to the White House. The rules under which the PADC operates make it difficult for the agency's board of directors to make decisions on the disposition of property, and the negotiations of leases without a chairman.