Eleven of the 13 members of the D.C. City Council, concerned by a decision of key presidential aides to recommend a Brooklyn prosecutor to be U.S. attorney in Washington, have urged President Reagan to select a lawyer from Washington instead.
In a letter hand-delivered to the White House, the council members noted that the U.S. attorney's office prosecutes most criminal cases in the District and added that it was important that the council and the federal prosecutor "share priorities and maintain good communication."
Because "shared roots" is one way to secure that communication, the council members stated, they expressed concern that the administration's apparent choice for U.S. attorney "is not a part of the District of Columbia community."
Last week, White House and Justice Department officials agreed to recommend that Reagan nominate Thomas P. Puccio, head of the Justice Department strike force in Brooklyn and chief prosecutor of the Abscam political corruption cases, to replace U.S. Attorney Charles F.C. Ruff.
In their letter to the White House, the council members also made it clear that they were disturbed that "there was little or no attempt" to discuss the matter with local law enforcement and judicial officials.
"While the District has not always gotten what it wanted in such matters, it has been traditional that they were at least discussed before they were announced publicly," the letter stated.
The council members also recommended that Reagan retain Ruff as the federal prosecutor, saying they found him an "able advisor, willing to listen to local priorities in the conduct of his office . . . " While Ruff was appointed to the job by the Carter administration in 1979 for a four-year term, the federal prosecutor serves at the discretion of the incumbent president. Ruff declined to comment yesterday on the council members' letter.
Council member John Ray (D-At large) said yesterday that he declined to sign the letter because he didn't want to limit himself to supporting only Ruff for the U.S. attorney's job. At-large council member Jerry A. Moore Jr., the council's only Republican, did not sign the letter either, but could not be reached to explain his reasons.Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), whose office released the letter and who heads the council's judiciary committee, said Mayor Marion Barry was out of town and unaware that the letter was prepared.
A few lawyers here who had expressed interest in the U.S. attorney's job moved through the routine screening process at the Justice Department and the White House over the last five months, but no decisions were made. Sources have said that Puccio -- at the suggestion of the Justice Department -- became a candidate for the job about three or four weeks ago.