Mayor Walter E. Washington said yesterday that in seven reports given him so far on alleged improper actions by Joseph P. Yeldell, he has found nothing that would prevent yeldell's reinstatement as director of the D.C. Department of Human Resources.
A source close to the mayor said Washington clearly has not ruled out returning Yeldell to the DHR post. "He (the mayor) has left the door open," the source said. "He just doesn't want to say now what he's going to do."
The mayor temporarily removed Yeldell from the DHR directorship Dec. 3, in the midst of published allegations of widespread hiring, leasing and contracting abuses in the massive city agency.
Since that time, a series of reports has reach found little hard evidence of illegality on Yeldell's part. the disclosure of each inconclusive report has placed increased pressure on the mayor from the city department heads and Yeldell supporters to justify keeping Yeldell out of DHR.
Yesterday, as he received the latest of seven reports released so far, the mayor said he still has seen nothing that would justify disciplinary action against Yeldell.
Asked what affect this latest report would have on continuing Yeldell's temporary removal from DHR, which is supposed to end sometime next month, the mayor said, "I'll get to that when it comes up."
The mayor said he expects one final report on alleged lessing abuses in DHR within the next two weeks. "Then I'll be ina position to tell you what my position will be in respect to that episode." the mayor said, in response to questions of whether he would then reinstate Yeldell.
Yeldell's lawyer, Curtis R. Smothers, said, "I think it's clear that the remaining report will do what the report has done today, and that is to clearly vindicate Mr. Yeldell's position."
Yeldell said he was "not making any comment one way or the other until we get the thing together."
IN the meantime, rumors abounded within DHR that Yeldell would be reinstated.
"That's all they (DHR workers) have been talking about," a one-time Yeldell antagonist said. "A lot of people are running afraid because . . . many people don't want him back."
A petition to the mayor, objecting to reinstatement of Yeldell, reportedly circulated during January, but gained few signatures because "too many people were afraid to sign it," one worker said.
During the same period, a campaign to raise funds and buy a full-page newspaper ad defending Yeldell, was intiated by a loyal deputy, but that effort also failed for lack of enthusiasm, a DHR source said.
"Yeldell has told some of us there will be some changes" if he returns, an employee friendly to Yeldell said.
Another employee said, "Oh, dear Jesus Christ. If he does come back, I just don't know. Maybe Judge robinson will put him in jail" - an allusion to the contempt findings against Yeldell and other officials last week as a result of the continuing welfare applications backlog.
Mayor Washington's comments on Yeldell yesterday came at his first regularly scheduled meeting with reporters in more than six months.
Accompanied by Lorenzo Jacobs, director of the city's departmeor of Housing and Community Developement, the mayor announced that the city planned to begin construction this year on 3,500 housing units, most of which would be for low-and moderate-income residents.
The mayor also announced yesterday that he expected an end next week to the freeze on city low-interest loans to college students, which have been held up because of an unusually high rate of delinquent outstanding payments.