D.C. economic development plans have neglected the city's far Northeast and Southeast sections in favor of downtown development, three D.C. City Council members charged yesterday during a heated budget hearing in which they grilled the deputy mayor for economic development.
The criticism came as Deputy Mayor Curtis McClinton Jr. testified before the council's committee on Housing and Economic Development. McClinton, who has made a budget request of $510,000 for fiscal 1986, said his office would undertake 60 public and private development projects. Included here, he said, would be initiating economic development opportunities, creating jobs and providing decent and affordable housing.
While McClinton said that his department's plans include every part of the city, council members H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) and Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), said that their wards were being neglected while the city concentrated on developing the downtown area.
The three council members had met before the hearing and discussed what they considered a lack of economic progress in the city's poorest wards. They said during the hearing that they were putting McClinton and Mayor Marion Barry on notice that they would aggressively seek some major changes in their wards.
"We have allowed the executive branch to institute programs for us in which we have had absolutely no input," said Winter, adding that McClinton should be required to give the council plans for neglected areas of the city.
Rolark said that Ward 8 did not have a planner to coordinate economic development and that she had been trying "desperately" to get some improvements along Martin Luther King Avenue.
At one point, Crawford and McClinton engaged in a quick and bitter exchange over the status of economic development projects in Ward 7.
"You're doing absolutely nothing but a lot of talk," Crawford told McClinton. " . . . As far as I'm concerned, you've done nothing compared to what should be happening."
Crawford also criticized McClinton's two trips to China and the city's plan, which McClinton referred to in his testimony, to place an arch in the District's Chinatown area as a symbol of friendship with China. Crawford suggested that it might be better if city officials never take another such trip.
Crawford also told McClinton that he should resign.
"I am offended by the fact that you have a personal vendetta against me," McClinton shot back, adding that Crawford had given the mistaken impression that projects in Ward 7 had not been considered.
Later, Crawford said that he had made three requests that totaled more than $100,000 to fund Ward 7 projects, including $24,000 to pay an urban planning agency to assemble a package of material for Urban Action Development Grants for the area.
Following the budget hearing, McClinton said that his office is working with a limited number of resources and that Crawford was more concerned about his failure to obtain consultant contracts for specific agencies than about neglect in the ward.
"We have been responsive and sensitive," said McClinton, adding that resources and staff are not always sufficient to address all of the city's needs.
McClinton was appointed deputy mayor for economic development in 1983 and assured the council committee that he felt confident that his skills would ensure that he would always be "gainfully employed."
When a reporter asked if he had any plans to resign, McClinton said, "Go to hell." CAPTION: Picture, Curtis McClinton Jr . . . $510,000 plan criticized.