ATLANTA -- Mayor Andrew Young could face at least two important developments this week in a scandal that so far has had little effect on his standing here.
On Monday, Public Safety Commissioner George Napper is expected to discuss an internal police review of the reassignment of three police officers involved in the initial investigation of allegations of cocaine use against former state senator Julian Bond, Young and other prominent black Atlantans by Bond's estranged wife, Alice.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury will resume investigating whether Young's telephone call to Alice Bond during the initial police probe constituted an obstruction of justice. U.S. Attorney Robert Barr has said that making the call, regardless of its content, could be an indictable offense.
Law enforcement officials seem to have little interest in the alleged cocaine use, focusing instead on the mayor's call. Young's considerable reputation has minimized the scandal's impact on him, but some observers here think a protracted, secret investigation could undercut him with Atlanta voters. An indictment, they say, could undercut him with national Democrats.
"Because Atlanta is perceived as a mecca for black leadership, it has broad implications," County Commissioner Martin Luther King III said. "The community certainly is entitled to know the truth, but I just want the community to never lose faith in the leadership."
If serious questions remain when the Democratic National Convention opens here in August 1988, Young also may play a diminished role in the nominating process.
Steve Suitts, executive director of the Southern Regional Council, a liberal think tank here, says Young "is probably one of the most visible black leaders in the country who's not claiming to be part of the Rainbow Coalition" of black presidential aspirant Jesse L. Jackson.
"It's clear that a lot of white Democrats are counting on Andy Young again to be the person to tell black voters this was a good and fair convention and these are the candidates to support," Suitts said. "If he's not indicted, he'll be able to carry out his role, which is to speak to black voters without alienating white voters."
Young has denied wrongdoing or any role in the officers' transfers. He testified before the grand jury and has said he will speak publicly when its investigation is complete.
Meanwhile, Young enjoys the explicit support of political, business and community leaders across the spectrum of race, party and class.
"I trust Andy," said Ethel Mathews, a black welfare-rights activist who nonetheless excoriates him as an absentee mayor who serves the interests of white developers over those of the poor.
Michael Lomax, the Fulton County commission chairman, said: "People think the mayor is an honest man with a great deal of integrity. It is very difficult for me and others to see him in any other terms."
"The mayor has been accused of making a phone call, and people understand how that could have happened," said state Rep. Jim Martin, a Democrat whose district includes part of Atlanta. "If there's impro-priety in the police department, that's the kind of thing that people would be upset about. I can't conceive of Andrew Young being involved in anything like that."
Martin said his constituents feel that Young has not done enough to protect their neighborhoods from unwanted new development, but they have not expressed particular concern about his involvement in the Julian Bond affair.
The affair began March 18 when Alice Bond told Atlanta police that her husband, several local black elected officials and other socially prominent blacks used cocaine.
In a written summary of the interview, investigators said Alice Bond told them that she had seen Young use cocaine but did not know what he was doing until someone told her "sometime later."
Alice Bond said she was provoked to tell her story after a woman she described as her husband's lover had hit her in the face with a shoe. She later retracted her allegations. However, she did lodge a battery charge against the woman, who has since been jailed for parole violations and also faces separate charges, lodged last fall, of cocaine-trafficking.
In the next few days, Young has said, Atlanta Police Chief Morris Redding told him of Alice Bond's allegations. In an April news conference, he disclosed that he telephoned Alice Bond as she prepared to leave for a second interview with two FBI agents and two Atlanta police officers.
Young said he phoned her as a Congregationalist minister and a family friend of 25 years' standing rather than as mayor, and asserted that he only "counseled" her not to report rumors. Alice Bond testified before a federal grand jury that what she told investigators was not influenced by what Young said during the telephone conversation.
"I think there was an obstruction of justice," said state Sen. Paul Coverdell, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who says he believes Young's account. "I just think it was an obstruction without malice, without thought."
Many others who accept Young's explanation say they think the grand jury will believe him, too. If not, said former governor Carl Sanders, an important white moderate politician and spokesman for Atlanta's white business community, "I think he would be acquitted in 15 minutes."
A potential but improbable source of bigger political and legal trouble for Young was the transfer of the police officers who were initially involved in the case. On March 31, the two investigators who had interviewed Alice Bond wrote a confidential memorandum to the police chief summarizing her allegations. The next day, they and their captain were transferred.
Days later, that memorandum was leaked to local news media and the public scandal began.
Young has said that the transfer was routine and expected and that he had nothing to do with it in any case. He said the officers were on temporary assignment to the narcotics unit and that officers regularly are rotated in and out of such details as a safeguard against corruption.
Regardless of the findings of the police review, the report is likely to revive a controversy that has been quiet here in recent weeks. The grand jury is not thought to be looking into the personnel changes, an area over which police administrators have great latitude.
Meanwhile, a blue-ribbon panel appointed by Young to review his behavior and that of other city officials appears to have made little progress. It requested and received subpoena powers and has interviewed a few police witnesses, but it has met only a few times since mid-April.
The apparent absence of an investigation into Alice Bond's allegations of drug use may help explain why, even though his reputation is not as lofty as Young's, the attention on Julian Bond has faded into the background. The grand jury has been investigating only whether there was a distribution network.
Atlantans reacted with shock and dismay to Alice Bond's list of alleged drug users, some of whose names have not surfaced because they are not public figures. Matthews, the welfare-rights activist, said, "There's a dark cloud done rose over Atlanta."
Suitts, of the Southern Regional Council, thinks Atlanta's leaders ought to be more concerned with what has not happened than what has. "There has been no process by which to clear the air for political purposes," he said. "All the investigations that are going on are secret, and the only sources of information ordinary people have are gossip and rumor."
"It has hurt all of us," said county commissioner King, the oldest son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., "because people already were saying they have problems with black leadership in terms of delivery of services and accessibility to the public, so anything added to the flame heightens it."
And Suitts says the longer the matter drags on, the more Young's prospective role at the Democratic Convention will be jeopardized.
But Lomax, the county commission chairman here, who is black, disagrees. "I think we're going to be voting in record numbers in November of 1988," he said, "and it's not going to take Andy Young or anyone else to tell us that's in our own interests."
Lomax finds one encouraging aspect in the scandal. "I don't know whether there's truth to what Mrs. Bond has said, but regardless of what she has said, everybody -- the black community, the white community -- needs to recognize that drugs and especially cocaine are a problem in this country without respect to race or social class or education. If that has been traumatic and sobering for the black leadership, it's a lesson we can all stand to learn."