Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

missioners, while opposing Home Rule for the District, favored the "separation of legislative from administrative functions. by setting up a council to act as the legislative body.” It also favored, as proposed in the Reorganization Plan, the substitution of a "single administrator (for the Board of Cominissioners] ... as essential to good government provided that the administrator is appointed by the President and has the power of veto over the acts of the Council.”

The need for reform was summarized by Representative Ancher Nelsen, ranking Republican member of the House Committee on the District of Columbia, who informed the House Committee on Government Operations during the hearings on the Reorganization Plan, that the "planning and execution" of iniportant programs in the District government “currently approaches a state of near anarchy'.

3. Does the President have the authority to submit the Reorganization Plan to the Congress?

Yes. The Reorganization Act of 1949 expressly requires that “the President shall examine and from time to time reexamine the organization of all agencies of the Government and shall determine what changes therein are necessary to promote the better execution of the laws, the more effective management ... of the Government ... and the expeditious administration of the public business."

Section 7 of the Reorganization Act defines the term "agency" to mean "any and all parts of the municipal government of the District of Columbia except the courts, thereof”.

4. Does the President have the power under the Reorganization Act to propose the abolition of the Board of Commissioners and the transfer of the Commissioners' powers to a single Commissioner and to a legislative council?

Yes. Section 8 of the Reorganization Act states that the term "reorganization" means any "transfer, consolidation, coordination, authorization, or abolition" of the "whole or any part of any agency".

5. Is there any limitation upon the power of the President to effect changes in the District of Columbia government?

Yes. No reorganization plan may abolish the municipal government of the District of Columbia, transfer it to or consolidate it with any other agency of the government.

6. Does the Reorganization Plan No. 3 abolish the municipal government of the District of Columbia, transfer it to another agency, or consolidate it with another agency?

No. The government of the District of Columbia by statute is designated by Congress as the “District of Columbia by which name it is constituted a bodycorporate for municipal purposes". The Commissioners are by statute defined to be "officers” of the corporation of the District of Columbia. The Board of Commissioners is the combination of the three officers. The reduction of the number of commissioners from three to one and the creation of a nine-member legislative council to perform functions previously assigned to the Commissioners plainly do not "abolish" the government of the District of Columbia or transfer the government to any other agency.

7. Does the President's Reorganization Plan violate the provision of the Constitution that the Congre88 shall exercise "exclusive legislation" over the District of Columbia!

No. Congress has exercised "exclusive legislation" over the District of Columbia by enacting the Reorganization Act of 1949 which requires the President to submit to the Congress proposed changes in the structure and operation of the District of Columbia government. In addition, Congress continues to exercise the power to legislate for the District of Columbia by retaining the power to reject or to approve the proposed Reorganization Plan. Chairman John L. McMillan and Representative Joel T. Broyhill, both avowed opponents of the Reorganization Plan, have themselves implemented the legislative power of Congress over the plan by sponsoring resolutions to disapprove the plan. The enactment or the rejection of the resolution will be an exercise of legislative jurisdiction by the Congress.

In addition, Congress and the courts have recognized the power of the President to reorganize the District of Columbia government through the provisions of the Reorganization Act. In 1952, the District of Columbia government was reorganized under a plan which abolished, transferred, or consolidated 95 agencies within the District government. The power to accomplish this reorganization, which has been accepted without successful challenge during the past 15 years is the same power invoked by the President here. The power to transfer administrative functions of the three commissioners to one commissioner and to transfer the function of approving municipal ordinances and regulations to a nine-member council is no different from the power, exercised in the 1952 Reorganization plan, to transfer the various functions of some 95 agencies to the Board of Commissioners.

80-903-67-14

8. Does the submission of the Reorganization Plan by the President by-pa88 Congress!

No, it does not by-pass Congress. The Reorganization Act requires that the plan be submitted to both Houses of Congress. The Plan is then referred to the Committees on Government Operations. Provision is made for congressional action on a resolution, which may be sponsored by any member of Congress, which declares that either the House or the Senate "does not favor" the Reorganization Plan. Such a resolution is referred to the Government Operations Committee and if not acted upon by that Committee at the end of 10 calendar days, the resolution may be brought to the floor of Congress as a privileged matter. Since the enactment of the Reorganization Act of 1949, approximately 80 Reorganization Plans have been submitted to Congress. While most plans have become law, a number of Reorganization Plans bave been disapproved.

9. Does the submission of the Reorganization Plan for the District Government by-p488 the Congressional committees on the District of Columbia?

The Reorganization Plan itself is referred to the Government Operations Committees, which have been selected by Congress as the appropriate Committees to review the reorganization plans for all government agencies. The Committees on the District of Columbia have no jurisdiction to act upon the Reorganization Plan or upon any resolution to disapprove the Plan.

10. Do the District of Columbia Committees of Congress have the power to change any of the provisions of the Reorganization Plan?

Any member of Congress may introduce legislation to modify the government of the District of Columbia. Such legislation is referred to the District Committee. That committee may act upon the proposed legislation and report or not, as it chooses, the legislation to the floor for final action. Representative Ancher Nelson has sponsored the Reorganization Plan as a bill in the House and it is now pending action before the House District Committee. Unlike the Reorganization Plan, Representative Nelson's bill is subject to amendment. If the House District Committee favors any changes in the District of Columbia government, it has the power to report any legislation it adopts to Congress before the President's Reorganization Plan could take effect.

11. Does the Reorganization Plan affect the "federalinterest and power over the government of the District of Columbia ?

No. No new powers are given to the Commissioner or the Council by the Plan. All policies, ordinances, regulations of the nine-man council, and all actions of the Commissioner must be based upon legislation enacted by the Congress and approved by the President. The ultimate power to determine the budget and fix appropriations remains with Congress. The Commissioner and all members of the nine-member council are to he appointed hy the President and confirmed by the Senate. The present mechanism for asserting the federal interest in the District remains unchanged.

12. Does the Reorganization Plan provide for local citizen participation in the District Government?

Yes. The plan establishes a District of Columbia Council of nine members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman, who must have been residents of the District of Columbia for at least three years and who must be "broadly representative of the District of Columbia community". No more than six members shall be "adherents of any one political party". District citizens will therefore have more than their present participation in "advisory citizens councils". The council will be more representative of the city than a three-man board of commissioners, one of whose members is a specially designated officer of the Army Engineer Corps.

In addition, the plan requires that either the Commissioner or the Assistant to the Commissioner must have been a resident of the District for three years.

Thus the plon assures that all policy making functions are exercised by residonta of the District--a provision which does not now govern those programs whirh are administered hr the Commissioner of Public Works. It provides that at logat one of the executive officers of the District of Columbia must be a resident.

13. What relationship does the Reorganization Plan have to Home Rule for the District of Columbia ?

The answer to this question depends upon how one views the Reorganization Plan.

If the Reorganization Plan is regarded as the final answer to the needs of the District of Columbia, if there are to be no further changes in the structure of the District government, there is no connection between the proposd structure of å commissioner-nine man city council and the goal of a self-government for the District.

If the Reorganization Plan is regarded as part of an evolutionary development toward self-government for the District of Columbia, then the commissionernine-member legislative council can become the foundation stone for elected government with full municipal powers over the affairs of the District. The next stage in the movement for self-government could be the enactment of legislation to provide for the election of the commissioner and the members of the council and the delegation to the city government of broader power over local matters.

14. Why doesn't the Reorganization Plan provide for the election of the Commissioner and the members of the Council?

The Reorganization Act of 1949 does not permit the election of officers who replace those who have been appointed.

15. Does the adoption of the Reorganization Plan preclude legislation by congress to provide for the election of the Commissioner or the members of the Council?

No. Congress can enact legislation concurrently with the approval of the Reorganization Plan, or subsequently, to provide for the election of any officers of the District of Columbia government. Bills have been introduced for the election of one commissioner, the school board, and for a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. None of these proposals is inconsistent with the Re organization Plan.

16. Representative Ancher Nelson has testified before the House Government Operations Committee in support of a "management reorganization of the District government" sponsored by Schuyler Lowe, former Director of the District of Columbia Department of General Administration. Does the Reorganization Plan prevent the adoption of the Loue Plan!

No. The Lowe plan provides for coordinating the planning programs of the District government in connection with the proposed Model City project under the Demonstration Cities Act. It would coordinate the planning process only. It has 10 relationship to any proposals to reorganize the functions of the Board of Commissioners.

The adoption of the Lowe plan, therefore, would not eliminate the division of responsibilities for the various departments of the District government between the three commissioners and it would not separate the legislative function from the administrative power now commingled in the Board of Commissioners.

Mr. Lowe has himself described his plan as “supplementary to the Reorganization Plan." He has testified that his plan would be implemented best under a Hayor-City Council forin of government or the Commissioner-Council government proposed in the Reorganization Plan, and he has endorsed the Reorganization Plan as one which "streamlines the executive side of government and beefs up its ordinance making powers.”

17. The Washington Metropolitan Board of Trade states that "some or all the powers" now exercised by the National Capital Planning Commission, the Redevelopment Land Agency, the National Capital Housing Authority, the United States Employment Service, and other agencies should be transferred to the city commissioners so that they "will have the powers which they need to carry out their responsibilities for administering our local government." Is this position an argument against the Reorganization Plan?

No. It is an argument for the plan. While the Plan does not transfer the powers of these agencies to the Commissioner and the Council, legislation can be enacted to transfer the powers of these agencies to the local government. Senator Francis Case of South Dakota has provided the answer to the Board of Trade's opposition to the Reorganization Plan, when he stated in connection with the Plan in 1952 that:

“To reject the plan for something it does might make sense, but the reject it for things it does not do would be to pass up an opportunity to get some badly needed reorganization under way."

[ocr errors]

If the Reorganization Plan is adopted, the consolidation of the functions of other District of Columbia agencies becomes a much easier step to accomplish..

18. The District of Columbia Bankers' Association states that the Reorganization Plan retains the same unclear lines of authority which plague the existing Board of Commissioners. Is this a justified criticism of the Reorganization Plan!

No. The Plan expressly provides that all executive powers now exercised by each of the three commissioners and all functions except those specifically transferred to the City Council shall be exercised by the Commissioner. The division of powers between three commissioners which now “plagues the Board of Commissioners" is thus eleminated. It is true that the Commissioner and the Conncil will not have all the powers exercised by all of the agencies concerned with the District of Columbia, but the adoption of the Reorganization Plan offers a step: toward the consolidation of all local governmental powers in one body. A rejection of the Reorganization Plan would solve none of the problems of the District government.

19. Unidentified "high ranking District government officials" have been quoted as saying that the "council is not supposed to make the major decisions but . will attempt to" and that its performance will be "disruptive". Is there any merit to this criticism?

Inasmuch as the criticism is directed against assumed behavior in the future of a group of people whose identities are not known, the comment is no more than a prediction based necessarily upon prejudice against "citizens who are broadly representative of the community".

The facts assumed in the criticism, however, are incorrect. The Council is given express authority to make numerous “major decisions". These include the adoption of all regulations. police, building, health, welfare, motor vehicle. among others. It includes the power to prescribe the rate of real estate and personal property taxes. Each of these matters involves "major decisions”.

Further, the Reorganization Plan provides that the actions of the Council are subject to the approval of the Commissioner. There is thus a built-in check on the decisions of the Council.

Apart from this control, Congress and the Judiciary serve, as they do for all agencies of the Executive Branch of the government, as a check on the abuse of power.

20. The Reorganization Plan has been criticized because it does not require the Commissioner to have been a resident of the District of Columbia at the time of his appointment. Is this a reason for opposing the plan?

NO. A District resident can be appointed as Commissioner. The President has promised that he "will look first to the residents of the District" in selecting the Commissioner. There is thus a virtual pledge that a qualified person who is a resident of the District will be appointed as the Commissioner. In any event. under the Plan the policy and rule-making powers, as pointed out above, will be vested in the nine-member Council, all of whose members must be District residents.

21. The District of Columbia Republican Committee has criticized as "an in. credible grant of authority with a tremendous potential for chaosthe power given to the Commissioners to determine the "agencies and officeg" in the D.C. government and to transfer such personnel and funds "8 he may deem necessary in order to carry out the provisions of the reognanization". Is there any merit to this criticism?

No. This power is customarily given to the heads of all government agencies in order to implement the provisions of a Reorganization Plan. The power is granted in order to eliminate the possibility of chaos which might result if the agency heads were required to obtain an act of Congress in order to provide for administrative changes within their departments. The identical power was granted to the Commissioners under the Reorganization Plan adopted in 1952. It did not result in an “incredible grant of authority" to the Commissioners, nos did the power to reorganize offices and to transfer funds bring "chaos" to the. District government.

22. Congressional critics of the Reorganization Plan say that the power to es. tablish offices and agencies in the Distrirt government and to transfer fundo icas taken away from the Commissioners by Congress in 195h and that the grant of similar authority in the present Reorganization Plan riolates the 1954 statute.. Is this argument correct?

7

No. The D.C. Appropriation Act of 1954 was directed specifically and solely to the authority of the Commissioners to carry out the provisions of the Reorgapization Plan of 1952. It states :

“The authority of the Commissioners to establish agencies and offices in the government of the District of Columbia pursuant to Section 4 of Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952, and to effect transfers of unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations and other funds pursuant to Section 5 of said Plan shall not extend beyond June 30, 1954.”

The debate in Congress establishes that this provision was adopted to speed up the implementation of the 1952 Reorganization Plan by the District Commissioners.

The provision in the present Reorganization Plan giving the Commissioner the authority to establish offices and to transfer funds is concerned only with the implementation of the present plan, not the 1952 plan. The 1954 rider therefore is not a bar to the grant of this power to the Commissioner.

23. Critics of the Reorganization Plan say that it will jeopardize the jobs of D.C. gorernment employees. Is there any merit to this criticism?

By eliminating two commissioners, the Reorganization Plan will result in the abolition of certain jobs. However, the functions of the one commissioner will be considerably expanded and the nine-member council will assume other functions of the present Board of Commissioners. It is therefore very doubtful whether the total number of jobs will be reduced.

In addition, the activities of the District government have greatly increased with the new programs in education, housing, welfare, recreation, and the general anti-poverty effort. District employment has been increasing an additional 1,000 to 1,500 employees a year. Any employees who would lose their jobs under the Reorganization Plan would be able to transfer to new positions created by the expanded District employment.

Apart from these considerations, most of the 32,000 District government employees are protected from arbitrary discharge by civil service or other tenure protection laws and regulations.

24. The Reorganization Plan has been criticized as giving "dictatorial powerorer the District to the President. Does it?

No. The only powers which the President has under the plan are (1) to appoint the Commissioner, his assistant, the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, and the members of the Council, to detail officers of the Corps of Engineers to assist the Commissioner, and to remove the Commissioner or members of the Council. Removal of members of the Council may be made only for neglect of duty, malfeasance, or conviction of certain crimes.

25. The District of Columbia Republican Committee and Representative Joel Broyhill are supporting legislatioin to permit the citizens of the District of Columbia to elect one of the three commissioners. Would legislation to permit the election of one commissioner be inconsistent with the Reorganization Plan?

No. In submitting the Reorganization Plan to the Congress, the President re. stated his support for home rule legislation which would provide an elected gov. ernment for the District. A bill which would permit the election of one commis. sioner would permit the election, in effect, of the Mayor of the District of Columbia and would therefore be a step toward self-government. The election of one commissioner, while leaving the functions of the existing board of commissioners intact, however, would not solve the problem of the division of responsibility for governmental programs. The Broyhill proposal therefore cannot be regarded as a substitute for the Reorganization Plan, although it could be accepted as one additional method of providing for citizen participation in the District's government.

26. Are the proposals to permit the citizens of the District of Columbia voting representation in Congress and an interim non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives related to the Reorganization Plan?

They are related in the sense that, like the Reorganization Plan, they provide for increased participation by the District's citizens in their government. However, the enactment of measures to provide congressional voting and non-voting representation for the District will not resolve the problem of the management of the city government and they will not provide for effective participation by the District's citizens in the day-to-day policy making functions of the local government. These proposals cannot be properly regarded as a substitute for the Reorganization Plan.

« ForrigeFortsett »