Philip Ogilvie, the zoo director-turned-election monitor, first came to public notice here when he was hit in the head with a chair. But more recently he has been getting in some pretty heavy political licks of his own.
In the 10 days since District of Columbia voters tried to elect a new city government, no one has been more energetic on the vote-counting scene than the genial, wide-waisted, white-beared Ogilvie. He is the Marion Barry campaign aide whose quiet but prodding questions have exposed a series of glaring mixups and mishaps in the tabulation.
"I don't think anyone is really an expert on the voting regulations of the District of Columbia, including the members of the board of elections," said Gerald Wallette, co-manager of Sterling Tucker's mayoral campaign. "But to the extent that any one person could prepare himself thoroughly. Phil is the one who has done that."
"I don't think he's had just a narrow political interest in mind," adds Wallette. "He's really been interested in seeing that the vote count is done accurately."
Ogilvie has been asked, he says, why he should make such a fuss over ball point pens, double-voting and the other sundry issues that have muddied the vote tally. His man, Barry, is on top of the heap, after all, so why raise questions?
"We can't afford to have people perceive a tainted victory" is Ogilvie's brisk answer.
Incredibly, the man who to many appears to know more about D.C. voting procedures than anyone else is a newcomer not only to the city's politics, but to the city itself.
Ogilvie left his job as director of the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo and moved to Washington in February 1977. "I anticipated an appointment from the Department of Interior," he said, but the appointment never came through.
Precisely why Ogilvie lost out on that federal job - and who is to blame - is now old business, which he will not discuss. New business is the election of Marion Barry.
A Californian by birth, Ogilvie worked for then-Gov. Pat Brown and other Democratic candidates in his home state before he became a zoology teacher at the University of Oklahoma. Then he was tapped to take over as director of the Oklahoma City Zoo.
But he wound up leaving Oklahoma City - and taking over management of the Portland, Ore. zoo - when the city's garbage collectors went on strike in 1969. "The city manager wanted to use my zoo keepers to break the strike," says Ogilvie. Ogilvie refused to go along with the idea.
One of his greatest frustrations as a zoo director was the obligation to stay out of partisan politics. "You have to stay impartial," he noted. "You have to cooperate with the winner, whoever he is."
So only nine months after settling into his house on Capitol Hill, Ogilvie plunged gleefully into the political fray, winning unopposed election to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6-A. No one else was running, he explained, so a few weeks before election day he was drafted for the race by several neighbors.
He met Marion Barry at a party for area ANC commissioners last winter. "I liked the man," he says simply. And besides, "His cat is the son of my cat."
Ogilvie has an "inordinate amount of energy," says Barry in return. "He is perceptive and trustworthy."
Ogilvie became deeply involved in the Barry campaign's successful effort to discredit the election petitions of two minor mayoral candidates, James Clark and Wilmur A. Davis.
It was this role that led to the incident in which Clark, during a board of elections hearing last month, suddenly struck Ogilvie from behind with a metal chair.
Although he bled profusely and spent several hours in the hospital, Ogilvie is far too practical a politician to air a grievance in public. He has seen Clark frequently around the District Building in recent weeks, Ogilvie said.
"I have said good morning. He has said nothing."