WASHINGTON -- State and local officials say Marcia L. Hale, the new head of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, will understand their financing and tax law concerns because she has spent much of her career working for county or state governments.
Hale, who took over the intergovernmental affairs position in August, had been the director of scheduling and advance work for President Bill Clinton since he took office in January.
"She's eminently qualified" to head an office charged with maintaining good relations with states and localities, said Grady Patterson, the treasurer of South Carolina. "She has had a lot of experience with state and local governments, so I think she is a very fine appointment."
Hale, a South Carolina native, was assistant county planner for the Aiken County, S.C., planning commission several years ago. She also assisted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a redevelopment plan for downtown San Francisco when Feinstein was a city supervisor there, according to a biography of Hale issued by the White House.
In addition, Hale directed South Carolina's lobbying office in Washington, and worked for the presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988, and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., in 1984.
Catherine L. Spain, the chief lobbyist for the Government Finance Officers Association, said Hale has "an interesting background," and she "knows the players, knows the concerns, and knows how the [state and local] associations operate."
Although Hale has spent considerably more time working in state and county government than in city government, she is not likely to have a bias against cities, said one municipal lobbyist. "I don't think in the end it means all that much," the lobbyist said.
Hale succeeds Regina Montoya, who was appointed by President Clinton in January. Montoya is leaving the position to move to Texas, where her husband has been named a federal judge, the White House said.
When Clinton took office, municipal officials had said they expected him to have a better relationship with state and local governments than had either Ronald Reagan or George Bush.
The officials based their hope on statements Clinton made during the campaign, and on the fact that he had been governor of Arkansas, president of the National Governors Association, and a member of the Anthony Public Finance Commission.
But as Hale begins her job, some state and local officials are expressing disappointment with what they feel is Clinton's failure to push Congress to ease tax law bond curbs or take other actions that would aid state and local finances.
"She's taking over at a time when people are not happy campers," Spain said.
For example, top officials of the National Association of State Treasurers have said they were unhappy that Clinton failed to include proposals for easing bond curbs in his economic package.
Other municipal industry officials have grumbled about the way the White House handled the permanent extensions for the tax exemptions for mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial tax bonds in the recently passed tax bill. They said that when congressional leaders hammered out the final version of the bill, the White House did not push hard enough to include the extensions.
The two permanent extensions survived in the final bill only because of the efforts of congressional supporters, the officials said.