Job of Administrator for St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.10/28:
This position continues to remain unfilled as controversy holds up appointment to the post. A case of history repeating itself. In the past,nominees for this administrative position have rarely enjoyed smooth sailing according to an article written by Alan Emory,Senior Correspondent, Watertown Times, Watertown, N.Y. This article is submitted in its entirety for your enjoyment and also for your commiseration. "It's just like the dark cloud that hovered over Joe Bfstplk in the "Li'l Abner" cartoons.
The job of the St. Lawrence Seaway administrator must be jinxed. From the very first, 44 years ago, political gaffes and controversy have shadowed the top post in the Seaway Development Corp. The latest involves Albert S. Jacquez, a Californian, whom President Clinton has picked to head the Seaway Corp. The White House did not bother to run the prospective choice by any of the Seaway-area members of Congress, and
the reaction of such long-time Seaway supporters as Reps. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn, and Sen. Spencer Abraham R-Mich. has been nearly vitriolic.
But why should Mr.Jacquez's nomination be any different
from those of the past? The very first Seaway chief was Lewis G. Castle, a Duluth, Minn. banker, whose claim to fame was that he was an errand boy for the leading Seaway lobbyist,N.R.Danielian. Mr Castle demonstrated his expertise by allowing Canada to dictate the size of the Seaway locks,which were built so small they could not accommodate the larger vessels that now want to use the waterway system. His deputy was Martin W. Oettershagen of Flossmoor, Ill, a suburb of Chicago.
When John F. Kennedy was elected president, he decided the new Seaway administrator--then appointed at the pleasure of the president--should be Joseph H. McCann of Michigan. However, Mr Oettershagen wanted the job, and he
pleaded with his friend Chicago Mayor William Daley to intercede with the president. The mayor explained that, while Mr.Oettershagen was a Republican, he really only wanted to serve a year as administrator, and Mr. Kennedy agreed. When Mr. McCann was told of the decision, he was stunned. The president then asked Mr. McCann to serve a year as deputy administrator, after which he would get his
promised job. Mr McCann, a good soldier, agreed. After Richard M. Nixon was elected president, the
political niceties dictated a Republican Seaway chief, George Wilson of Ohio wanted the job and lobbied vigorously for it, but lost out to David W.Oberlin, the port director of Duluth. Congress then passed a law giving the Seaway administrator a seven-year statutory term.
Then came 1981, and Ronald Reagan became president. The Seaway job was promised as a patronage plum to the choice of George Clark, the New York state Republican chairman. But another surprise, James A. Baker 3rd, Mr Reagan's chief of staff, was approached by Eugene V. Atkinson of Pennsylvania, a Democratic congressman who switched parties, ran as Republican in 1980 and was defeated. Mr. Atkinson thought the Seaway job looked like a good security blanket, and Mr. Baker wanted to reward him for becoming a Republican, so he offered the ex-congressman the post, forgetting it had been promised to a New Yorker. New Yorkers were furious. Great Lakes members of Congress who knew nothing about Mr.Atkinson except for his reputation for inefficiency, were furious. The White House recoiled at this hostility, reinforced by New York freshman Sen.Alfonse M. D"Amato's demand that Mr.Clark be given the right to pick the administrator. When James L. Emery of Geneseo lost his bid to become lieutenant governor of New York in 1982, Mr. Clark tapped him for the Seaway job, and he eventually was nominated and approved. Mr. Emery later resigned the post, and after a hiatus of several months, it was given to Stanford E. Parris of Virginia. Mr. Parris, a Republican congressman, had, as a loyal Virginian, opposed the Seaway because of its competition with Virginia ports. He lost his bid for re-election in 1990, however, after which then-Rep. David O'B. Martin, R-Morristown, a House colleague,recommended that President George Bush pick Mr. Parris as Seaway administrator. Mr Parris then became a big Seaway booster, but, after a short time, quit to run for the Virginia state Senate. The Seaway jinx held, and he lost that race,too. David G. Sanders, whom Mr Parris had brought with him to the Seaway Corp. from Congress, took over as acting administrator, but President Clinton eventually chose Gail C. McDonald of Oklahoma, a former member of the Interstate Commerce Commission,as the new Seaway chief. Mrs. McDonald proved an able,energetic, and popular administrator, a high-profile figure in the Massena,N.Y. area. However, she dropped out to take a fat salary as a lobbyist for the oil and other industries, opposing strict environmental regulations. Apparently tired of that role, she managed to land a job as special aide to the Federal Railway Administration to handle the disposition of the Consolidated Rail Corp. That became effective 3 weeks ago. It apparently was not intended to be anything more than a way station, because, according to several government sources, she called Sen. Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., to see about the prospects of her getting her old Seaway job back Mr Moynihan then publicly promoted her. And that is where things stand today. Mr Sanders is still acting Seaway administrator and Congress has still refused to approve the Clinton administration's recommendation that the Seaway Corp. be transformed into a performance-based organization, whose leader would be someone chosen by the secretary of transportation and whose budget would be based on cargo revenue, rather than congressional appropriations.
The jinx cloud still hovers over the agency.
Joe Bfstplk would be happy.
Reported by: Joan Baldwin