SURELY THERE IS STILL someone, some where, somehow, who is willing and able to tackle city hall's mission impossible -- the elections board -- and make it work. Teddy Filosofos, latest in a series of executive directors to toss in the towel, wins high marks from his staff, as a letter to the editor today emphasizes; and others in the District Building are generous in their praise of, and sympathy for, Mr. Filosofos, who had but four months on the job before the registration roof fell in on Election Day. But rather than point a finger of blame at anyone -- you'd have to spin it 360 degrees -- the job now is to put someone in charge of cleaning up this act.
We have a suggestion for Mayor Barry: Ivanhoe Donaldson, the mayor's own general assistant, campaign aide and bureaucratic troubleshooter. Yes, this is open to criticism that it would be too political a move, that the proper distance between a mayor and an elections board should not include his close associate and political adviser. But we are not thinking of a permanent assignment -- just an important temporary mission for which Mr. Donaldson is well qualified.
Not only does Mr. Donaldson have a strong, top- to-bottom knowledge of the District government's inner workings and the necessary ingredients of an efficiently conducted election, but he also has a record of success in straightening out a bureaucratic mess: the summer youth jobs program. On that project, in a matter of months, Mr. Donaldson saw to it that complete, computerized daily records were kept of everyone reporting to work, when each summer employee had been paid, how much, what each was assigned to do, who the supervisor was and what evaluations were on file.
The basic job of an elections board is 1) to sign up every eligible resident who seeks to vote; 2) to hold a clean election; and 3) to count the ballots accurately. With these fundamental objectives and a carte blanche from the mayor to rearrange the duties and staffing in whatever ways may be required, Mr. Donaldson could -- if he is willing -- perform a public service above and beyond partisan attack. Republicans, Statehood Party members and Democrats from whatever intramural teams exist would all benefit from any open surgery on the elections board that worked.
We have no idea how Mr. Barry or Mr. Donaldson may react to this suggestion. But drastic action is called for -- and it cannot be taken too soon.