In an article yesterday a word was dropped from a statement by D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate John Ray. In saying why he would remove the current D.C. corporation counsel, Ray said, "We need a real lawyer as corporation counsel." The current corporation counsel has been a member of the bar in good standing since 1965.
D.C. mayoral candidate John Ray said yesterday that if elected, he would launch programs to properly train mid-level workers, reorganize the top level of the bureaucracy and remove several current department heads because the D.C. government is a jumble of discouraged workers and cronyism that city residents view with distrust.
In a luncheon interview with reporters, editors and editorial writers of The Washington Post, Ray also said that he would support an increase in the school system's budget and increases in the authorized level of the city's 3,880-member police force and the number of police on foot patrols.
Ray, a 39-year-old lawyer and at-large member of the City Council since 1979, also said he would begin a policy of promoting current workers into top city jobs to improve employe morale.
"I don't think the city is that much better off than it was four years ago," Ray said, in explaining why he is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor along with incumbent Marion Barry -- whom Ray supported in 1978 -- and two others in the Sept. 14 primary, lawyer Patricia Roberts Harris and City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4).
"In many aspects I think it's worse off than it was," Ray said. "I think in terms of basic administration of the city we're worse off. I think the perception that the voters, the citizens have of this government is worse.
"One of the themes that I get all the time from citizens is that they don't trust the government," Ray said. "There is a sort of undercurrent there that the government is sort of dishonest."
Ray said the city government's main problem is the absence of capable middle-management personnel in its bureaucracy of more than 30,000 workers. The root of the problem, Ray said, is that home rule and locally run city government came to D.C. soon after the 1968 riots, and many whites who were middle-managers in the city government left and have never been adequately replaced.
"That [exodus of middle-management] created a void in our government, a void not so much in leadership but in skills of management and skills of administration," Ray said. Until there is an office of personnel to train lower-level employes and mid-level managers, he said, the city would continue to have foul-ups with its water billing and election procedures.
In addition to more training and more frequent promotions, Ray proposed to abolish the office of the city administrator and instead establish a five sector government -- public safety, public works, finance and budget, planning and economic development and human services. Each sector would be coordinated by a deputy mayor to whom department heads would answer, Ray said.
"There would be a line of authority," Ray said. "They city employes would understand the authority. You would also have someone at the top that could also crack the whip and go down the line and deal with these problems that I've identified along the way.
"Until we have that, we're going to continue to have the system where we have a department head, a deputy, then four or five deputies under there. There's about 50 positions of deputies . . . that we could eliminate right away . . . "
Ray said the city government is still filled with cronyism that has fostered the feeling among city workers that unless one is a friend of the mayor there is no hope of promotions in the civil service. "There is the basic feeling amongst city government employes that nobody really cares about them," he said.
Ray said he would remove the heads of those agencies he considered the worst run in D.C. government: James A. Buford of the Department of Human Services, William B. Johnson of the Department of Environmental Services, Robert L. Moore of the Department of Housing and Community Development, Sidney Glee of the Property Management Administration, which runs the city's public housing program, and Dorothy Kennison, director of the Rental Accommodations Office.
Ray also listed among the worst run agencies the departments of Corrections and Employment Services, both of which currently have acting directors -- Matthew F. Shannon and George Holland, respectively, whom he also would remove.
Ray added he would also remove Corporation Counsel Judith W. Rogers and Gladys W. Mack, the city's budget director. "We need a lawyer as corporation counsel," he said.
Ray blamed much of the problems in the city agencies on what he said was incumbent Mayor Barry's failure to learn the government. "He really doesn't know where the problems are," Ray said, "and as a result of that he has not focused on that. What he really has focused on is trying to build a lot of shiny new office buildings downtown -- which are good, and what we need to do -- but he has not been able to focus on the nuts and bolts of government to make it work."
Ray said he could not promise that he would not raise taxes if elected, but said he believes the city's $1.9 billion budget is sufficient for a city the size of Washington. He said as mayor he would also improve the city's efficiency in collecting fees and stop waste in programs.
"You read about the water bills for some senior citizens, some residential property, that they get a water bill for $14,000," said Ray. "What you don't read about is the large complexes in this city that haven't paid water bills in the last three or four years. There's millions and millions of dollars out there that this city isn't collecting, and that's why it's so important to avoid bad management."
Asked to cite other examples of excessive spending in the city government, Ray named the Department of Human Services. He said people getting emergency assistance are not now repaying the city as they should and that the rate of welfare fraud is still unacceptably high.
But in one area, the school system, Ray said he is willing to spend more money despite declining enrollment, which Barry has often cited as a reason for not increasing spending.
Ray listed a seven-point plan for actions he would support as mayor to improve the quality of the public schools, including election by the voters of the school board president for a four-year term instead of having the board president elected by other board members for a one-year term.
Ray also said he would support a formula-based budget for the schools, more vocational and technical schools to train students for jobs, more teachers' aides and nurses and a smaller class size.
To further ease unemployment in the city, Ray, who has proposed tax abatements and free land for businesses that expand or come to the city, creating jobs, said he would make an effort to bring back some of the businesses that once were in the city but now have moved out.
Ray also said that additional treatment centers for drug addicts would be one of the priorities of his government.
Ray was accompanied to yesterday's luncheon by former D.C. police chief Burtell M. Jefferson, who was Ray's campaign manager until recently, when he left to lead the Ray-backed drive for passage of a measure to establish mandatory minimum jail sentences for most persons convicted of using a firearm in a violent crime and many convicted drug dealers.
Ray said such laws have been a deterrent to crime in other cities. "This law does not apply to all convictions for all crimes as some people have been misled to believe," he said. "It's only for selling drugs for profit and crimes committed with handguns.
"It's hard to get convictions, as the chief [Jefferson] can tell you," Ray said. "Barry arrested over 5,000 people on drug charges and he got only 50 felony convictions out of it. A few years for selling drugs is not too much to ask."