In his Dec. 11 op-ed column, Colbert King said the D.C. Council "would have [the mayor] get out in front on the Columbia Heights development fiasco. That, sir, is a mess of the council's own making." I disagree. The mayor appointed more than half the members of the Redevelopment Land Agency Board (RLA). One appointee is his chief deputy. The mayor did not direct his appointees to give weight to the two-year planning process that crossed the ethnic, racial and economic divide that Mr. King called attention to in his column. He did not encourage his appointees to consider the importance of developing all parcels rather than only two or to stand firm in the face of race-baiting and make a decision that could withstand objective scrutiny.

The RLA decision does not make financial sense, it does not advance the community's efforts to build a strong, unified vision of its future, and it does not provide accountability.

After the decision, the mayor did not ask his appointees to the board to immediately make public the rationale for their decision. It also is unclear whether the mayor tried to persuade Giant to reconsider its decision to gut the historic Tivoli Theater--a decision that guarantees years of delay as the development is tied up in court action related to historic preservation.

I do not see how all this can be laid at the doorstep of the D.C. Council. If the mayor had provided leadership, we would be planning for a groundbreaking ceremony.

VIRGINIA RIEHL

Washington