Sandy McCall: Top Aide to Mayor Aims to Keep Associations in District Contended

Article excerpt

Sandy McCall speaks in glowing terms about his boss, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Mr. McCall worked for the Democrat's campaign for election last year and is now deputy chief of staff for external affairs in the mayor's office.

He praises Mr. Williams for his "pre-World War II character," saying of the mayor, "he doesn't whine."

Aside from being an advocate for the mayor, Mr. McCall is also an important figure in the trade-association community. He serves as association liaison, a role he plans to eventually turn over to the office of economic development.

There are more than 3,000 trade and professional associations in the Washington metropolitan area, most of them in the District. The constituency is politically active, and has been working for a government liaison for a number of years.

In 1994, D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, Ward 4 Democrat, drew up a set of guidelines for a liaison to follow, though Mr. McCall is the first to have served in that position.

Mr. McCall has politics in his blood. His uncle served as governor of Oregon and his grandfather was governor of Massachusetts. Though this is his first job as a public servant, he made a failed bid for the D.C. Council in a 1997 special election.

Mr. McCall, a West Coast transplant, embraces his adopted city, where he has lived on and off since 1985 and continuously since 1989. In addition to his Capitol Hill home, he owns a beach house in Oregon.

After serving in the mayor's office, he plans to return to investing in equities and real estate, which he has done for the past 18 years.

Question: What does being the mayor's association liaison involve?

Answer: I meet with [associations]. I go to breakfasts, occasionally. I stay in touch with leading lights in the association community . . . [National Association for Gifted Children Executive Director] Peter Rosenstein, [Greater Washington Society of Association Executives President and CEO] Susan Sarfati, [American Society of Association Executives President and CEO] Michael Olson, people like that, [GWSAE Public Affairs Representative] Jim Albertine. They sometimes need to be heard.

The classic case is when we came in, the very first day I was here, I got a call from Michael Olson and Peter Rosenstein who told me what was later confirmed in a letter I got from Susan Sarfati - it was within days of my being there - about this foul-up with the tax situation.

And the District - following the old adage of `We've fouled up; therefore, we will punish you' - had told the associations that they had not filed any informational forms on the District taxes since 1982. But they were liable for up to five years of penalties on their investment income.

And I listened to them and it sounded, you know, this was the opposite message of what Tony Williams is all about. We take responsibility when we make mistakes. We don't pin them on other people. So I called [the mayor's then-budget chief and current chief of staff] Doctor [Abdusalam] Omar, and we set up a meeting within about seven days and a number of association people were there, and it was a very good meeting.

And they explained their situation well and there were people from [the Office of Tax and Revenue] there, and they listened and they went back to Omar and within about 10 days, we reversed ourselves. That's a record, I think, in correcting mistakes in the financial end of the District government. And it's because of Tony Williams.

Q: So that's an example of where you would deal with the association community?

A: On something like that. Also, the Association Retention Act that Charlene Drew Jarvis, to her credit, pushed through in 1994, outlined a number of things that a liaison to the associations would do - which I just happen to have here. And I read it, and I tried to sort of pattern what I could do after that. …