Two members of the House subcommittee that oversees the Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday called on Terrence M. Scanlon, the CPSC's controversial chairman, to consider resigning, saying that he seems bent on disrupting or destroying the agency.
Reps. James J. Florio (D-N.J.) and Dennis E. Eckart (D-Ohio), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's consumer protection subcommittee, accused Scanlon, a Democrat appointed by President Reagan, of ignoring the advice of his two fellow commissioners, both Republicans, and shunting aside effective workers.
"If nothing else, these personnel changes appear designed to disrupt the work of the agency and render it useless in identifying and responding to consumer safety problems," the House members said in a statement. They said they are drafting legislation "to overhaul" the 14-year-old agency.
Scanlon called the request that he consider leaving the agency "ludicrous . . . . The congressmen can't have it both ways. If they want to constantly urge me to improve enforcement of the law, they should let me make the management changes necessary to do just that."
The Florio-Eckart statement is the latest in a series of attacks on Scanlon that followed last week's disclosure that he unilaterally reassigned the agency's enforcement chief, David Schmeltzer. The two GOP commissioners and numerous consumer groups protested. They charge that Scanlon is undermining the agency's effectiveness and its staff's morale.
Scanlon has said Schmeltzer's transfer and other personnel changes he made were prompted by serious management problems in the agency's enforcement program, especially in the handling of disposable cigarette lighters and toy lawn darts. His critics say the failure of the commission to address these issues is a product of his management style.
"If Mr. Scanlon is truly concerned about management problems, he should stop this virtual merry-go-round of senior-level personnel shifts within the agency," Florio and Eckart said.