The Federal Communications Commission is buzzing over several people who wouldn't mind filling what has been described as the commission's "minority seat" -- the one held by Henry M. Rivera until he left to join the Washington law firm of Dow, Lohnes & Albertson.
A rainbow coalition of people has been in to see various commissioners, including FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, about the job, which must go to a Democrat or an independent. "People are literally coming in all the time," said one FCC source. "They are coming in from all walks of life. Some are self-nominating, and some other people are nominated."
The decision, of course, rests with the White House, which also has been receiving names. "Nobody has ever intimated to anybody that the call will be made here," said the source. "It's up to the White House."
Names that are on people's lips include Derrick Humphries, a communications lawyer who has worked with the Congressional Black Caucus; Steven Pena, a broadcast lawyer who is a Hispanic; Edwin Lavergne, another prominent Hispanic communications lawyer; Drew Pettus, an aide to Rep. Al Swift (D-Wash.); Larry Irving, an aide to Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Tex.); Joseph Guzman, a senior attorney for GTE Sprint, and Louise McCarren, chairman of the Vermont Public Service Board.
"A couple of people have called Mark Fowler , and most are going through the White House process," said another FCC source. "They are interviewing anybody at all serious or who has backing. Derrick Humphries is lobbying very heavily."
Humphries, whose name has been put forward by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), was not available for comment. He is a partner in the Washington law firm of Brown & Finn and has worked as a cable TV and public utilities attorney. He holds a law degree from Wayne State University Law School and is a Democrat, according to Goldwater's office.
Pena is being promoted by Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Calif.). A Democrat, Pena received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1981. While in school he worked as a legal assistant to former FCC commissioner Anne Jones. Pena practices law with the firm of Gurman, Kurtis & Blask. Pena said he had not talked to anyone at the White House but that he has talked to FCC officials. Pena, who primarily represents radio broadcasters, said he would be interested in pursuing broadcast issues at the commission but that he has no "agenda."
"It's too early to think in those terms, but it's a great honor to be named and I'm working with it one step at a time," he said.
Lavergne, a Democrat who practices law with the firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, Underberg, Manley & Casey here, also has a law degree from Georgetown. "I understand I'm on the list, but that's all I know," he said.
Pettus has worked on communications issues since Swift was elected in 1978. A lawyer with a degree from Lewis and Clark College, the Democrat says he has gotten strong support from Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.). As far as the FCC seat, he said, "I've sought it out myself, and Gorton has written to the White House. I've talked to the White House . . . and I have also talked to three of the four members of the commission, including the chairman.
"I'm very much interested in the issues," says Pettus. "It's an exciting time, especially in the telephone area . . . . I would very much like to be part of the commission."
Irving, Leland's legislative director, said, "Some folks in the broadcast industry have said they are going to carry water for me. I have not heard anything from the White House or the agency -- I don't have a negative or a positive." Irving, a Democrat and lawyer with a degree from Stanford University, was formerly with the Washington firm of Hogan & Hartson and said, "If it the job was offered, I'd take it."
"If there is a list, I hope I'm on it," said McCarren, an independent whose name was put forward by Sen. Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt.). An attorney with a degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, McCarren said she has not had any interviews with the White House or FCC officials.
Neither Guzman nor GTE Sprint officials were available to comment.
USER FEES UPDATE . . . Entrepreneurs can look forward to breaking open their piggy banks within a few months to pay new fees for FCC services.
Right now the application services are free, but not for long, says agency spokesman William A. Russell.
"We will collect fees for all kinds of services from all kinds of applicants," he said.
The proposal is part of the FCC budget now going through Congress, he said. The fees will range from $20 to renew a rural radio relay station to $18,000 for authorization to launch and operate a space station, according to Russell. An application for a new AM radio station would cost $2,000, a new FM station $1,800 and a new TV station $2,250. If applications must be compared by the commission to choose the best, the fee will be $6,000, Russell said.
In fiscal 1986, the fees are expected to raise $41 million. The move is expected to cut the number of applications coming to the commission, Russell said, but "the real purpose is our estimated cost to do all this would be $50 million. At $41 million, we come close to recovering the taxpayers' cost of processing the licenses."
MILESTONES . . . Robert S. Powers, chief scientist for the agency's Office of Science and Technology, has left after 20 years to join MCI Communications Corp. as special consultant in engineering. Thomas B. Stanley has been promoted from deputy to acting chief scientist, pending reorganization of the office into the Office of Chief Engineer. Stanley might become chief engineer.
Stephen Melnikoff, former legal assistant to Commissioner Rivera, has left to join the regulatory office of Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. Dicksey Cribb, meanwhile, has been named special assistant to Russell, who directs the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs. Cribb, who will follow legislative affairs, is a former special assistant to the assistant secretary of labor for employment training.