JUST LIKE THAT, and in no particular order, Mayor Marion Barry has issued a 77-item laundry list of things he'd like to get done around the city -- with a little something of interest for almost everybody. As a grab-bag of topics for discussion, the mayor's "package" is just dandy; but it tells you little about the new administration's sense of what it thinks matters most. What this kind of list does do, presumably, is give many people an impression that all sorts of things can be accomplished by a busy city government -- which is, of course, not what we're used to around here.
But 77 proposals ? That would amount to a new law every four days for the rest of the year, if you count weekends. So we assume thta this is nothing more than a "wish list," not unlike the ones Walter Washington used to produce. Indeed, a good 15 of Mayor Barry's proposals were retreads from Mr. Washington's old lists. So with the requisite number of grains of salt, the City Council and the community ought to welcome the wealth of old as well as new ideas emerging from Mayor Barry's office -- while waiting for the specifics.
It seems hard to believe, for example, that the mayor considers a proposed ban on high-phosphate detergents just as important as finding jobs for black youths, or that his proposed $300-a-year clothing allowance for some city fire inspectors is as urgently needced as plans and money to open up those boarded city-owned housing units. The next step, if the mayor expects a serious response from the council, is to decide which problems nees the most urgent attention and to draw up the necessary bills for enactment with some indication of the priorities.
We would top this list with housing and jobs -- both of which Mayor Barry has talked about repeatedly. Having promised to take the boards off those houses, what does the administration need in the way of authority and money to get going? And what kind of jobs would the administration create with city and federal money? And, how much rearraning of the District budget requests is needced to improve the housing and job markets here?
No one expects Mr. Barry to come up with jobs and homes for everybody in the fourth week of his administration. On the contrary, the politicial dangers of promising too much too soon and then waiting too long are all too familiar. So far, the talent and energy levels at City Hall are refreshing (and yes, some of the employees there really do sound a little more polite and cheerful these days). What will be interesting to watch next is how the new administration works with the council on specific programs and projects to deal with the city's most urgent needs.