Bare office walls, boxes stacked by the door and two waist-high trash bins yesterday signaled the impending departure of D.C. City Council member Jerry A. Moore Jr, a 15-year council veteran who will attend his last meeting today.
While his colleagues plan to assure him that he will be missed, some are also anxious to claim the two things that Moore cannot pack -- his committee chairmanship and his office space.
At least four members would like to replace Moore as chairman of the council's public works committee. Two want Moore's corner office, considered a plum because of its size and view. Others have an eye on Moore's appointment to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
No matter who gets Moore's assignments, it will mean reshuffling committee chairs, reassigning office space and possibly rearranging committee responsibilities in an effort to appease other members.
Council members view committee chairmanships as power and a way to increase their staffs. Moore's public works committee is responsible for such things as transportation and environmental affairs and oversees government agencies with a budget of about $330 million.
Tomorrow the council will meet in a closed session to discuss council rules and how to divvy up Moore's council clout.
City Council Chairman David A. Clarke is closely guarding what he may recommend. Nevertheless, members' requests and proposed trade-offs have been a poorly kept secret in the District Building.
After Moore lost to Republican Carol Schwartz, at least four members indicated that they wanted the chairmanship of the public works committee.
Of the four council members who wanted Moore's chairmanship, only Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) and Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) say they remain contenders.
Winter said her role as chairman pro tempore has too few responsibilities. "I've only chaired two half meetings since I've been here," Winter said. As a result of lobbying, Winter, who also wants to move to Moore's office, maintains that she has the support of eight members.
"I'm adamant," said Winter. "I've served my time as pro tem and I'm not going to be left without a committee chairmanship. That's how you get the sort of trade-offs you need to get things through the council."
Other council members say that Winter, a 10-year council member, is favored to win the chairmanship because council rules say that "the principle of seniority shall be respected in the assignment of committee chairs."
Winter, however, said that Clarke tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to chair the government operations committee, headed by William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), while making Spaulding the public works chairman.
Clarke would not comment and Spaulding merely acknowledged that he has requested Moore's office space.
Kane, on the other hand, wants only Moore's chairmanship. "I think I have done a good job and I would like to think that hard work and competency means something down there," Kane said.
Meanwhile two other council members, H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) and Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), who once expressed interest in the public works chairmanship, now say they lack the seniority to win the spot.
Sources say that Crawford will become chairman pro tempore and in two years will seek to chair the human services committee if the present chairman, Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), does not seek reelection.
Smith, who does not chair a committee, said he expects to get one. "I suspect I may wind up with H.R.'s committee with something added to it," Smith said. Crawford heads the libraries and recreation committee.