I applaud Henry Cisneros' decision to stay at his post rather than seek elective office ("The Reluctant Warrior," by Marcelo Rodriguez, Feb. 27). Cisneros, from all accounts, is a very capable individual who can make a difference as secretary of HUD. He has the confidence of the White House. Let's focus on his results as secretary rather than inject him in nebulous scenarios for '96 or '98. It's Cisneros' business if he chooses to put family before political ambition.




The ultimate destiny for a person committed to public service need not be the pursuit of higher elected office. To assume otherwise, as Rodriguez does for HUD Secretary Cisneros, puts one pursuit over another and undervalues the contributions of public administrators.

Rodriguez sees a paradox in Cisneros as the politician turned bureaucrat. Yet we've had many Presidents who were far better Cabinet members than they were chief executives: James Madison, John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan among them. The best example is Herbert Hoover, who served with distinction as U.S. food and relief administrator during World War I and as secretary of commerce before becoming an abysmal President. America has also been blessed to have had the services of many other capable politicians who had neither the need nor the fire to seek the presidency. Alexander Hamilton, Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Henry Kissinger are prime examples.

America needs more politicians willing to settle into the less glamorous, but equally necessary and possibly more consequential work of public administration.





If Cisneros can make HUD into a force to deal successfully with what he called "today's potential killer--gangs, loss of our youth, central city problems, race and class divisions"--the "reluctant warrior" will become an American hero.

We need better space in neighborhoods and communities for people to come together and make for themselves, and for all society, an environment built on the value of family life, commitment to high ideals and opportunities to make these ideals a reality.

It won't be easy, nor can it be done without heavy investment from both the private and public sectors, along with strong, dedicated leadership that believes in the democratic system.


Pacific Palisades


Three things I would like to hear Cisneros say:

To HUD clients: "We'll contribute to your ladder of opportunity, but meet us halfway with initiative. When we tell you the waiting list for housing assistance lasts five to 10 years, we hope you won't need it by then."

To HUD hierarchy: "Deflate procedures and deliver the goods. Protect the taxpayers, but don't expect rewards for creating mazes that only enhance your internal status and budget requests."

To HUD employees: "Your jobs are not an entitlement. We'll give you a sense of purpose; you give us an honest work effort instead of copping to burnout."


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