THE CHARGES and denials in the two conspiracy bribery trials of Joseph Yeldell and Dominic Antonelli Jr., who were finally acquitted, have a worn and boring aspect to them. No one wants another go-around on allegations that have hung over the city government, last year's mayoral election and those two men for such a long time. But no matter how unwelcome, the subject comes into public view again with Mayor Marion Barry's decision to give Mr. Yeldell a $50,112 per year job as advisor to the city on the purchase, lease and use of computer equipment.
Mr. Yeldell is entitled to reinstatement to a city job at the highest civil-service level. But the manner of his return to city government was in the hands of the current administration, not a matter of mere entitlement. And the Barry administration chose to put Mr. Yeldell in a top position that is an incentive to him to remain in city government and take a key role in the city's future.This is perplexing because Mr. Yeldell was a central figure in the administration of former mayor Walter Washington. During his tenure as head of the Department of Human Resources in the Washington administration, Mr. Yeldell's leadership was an exercise in cynicism and indifference; one long series of episodes in which he was shown to have let down the weak and needy clients his department was meant to serve. And Mr. Barry, the candidate, campaigned against that attitued on the part of public servants.
Perhaps Mayor Barry felt he had to give Mr. Yeldell such an important job in order to justify the high salary Mr. Yeldell has a right to. But the Barry administration has found ways to keep others out of the governmental mainstream when it wanted to, people who had the same civil service entiltements as Mr. Yeldell. In most cases, the mayor relieved them of their positions high in the city government and give them lower-ranking jobs that they preferred not to accept.
Some say Mayor Barry chose to retain Mr. Yeldell in a high position because he wanted to extend his political base to the constituency that supported Watler Washington. Mr. Yeldell, according to this theory, can be that group's man in the Barry camp. But there are a large number of people besides Mr. Yeldell who could have represented that group in the Barry government. Given Mr. Yeldell's sorry record in government, the mayor's decision is baffling -- and disappointing.