Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia.
I HAVE today approved S. 2871, "Relating to the manner of appointment of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, the deputy recorders, and the employees of the Office of Recorder, and for other purposes."
I have approved this bill only because I believe the principles underlying it are sound in that they advance the even more important principle of home rule for the District of Columbia through the delegation by the Congress of an important administrative responsibility for the conduct of District affairs to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia.
The Recorder of Deeds and staff of his Office under this legislation will become civil servants appointed in accordance with the civil service laws and the Classification Act of 1949. Present employees of the Office will be given an opportunity to obtain civil service status after examination by the Civil Service Commission. Any who fail to meet the requirements for full civil service status will be retained in their present capacities long enough to permit them to find other employment. These provisions are consistent with the extension of the civil service and with the granting of home rule responsibilities.
The bill has added a further requirement to present law. It restricts the appointment to the Office of Recorder of Deeds to persons who have been residents of the District of Columbia for at least 5 years immediately prior to appointment. Whether such a limitation will turn out to be wise is a matter which only the passage of time can decide. It is conceivable that it may restrict the Commissioners to the appointment of a person who is not the best qualified man for the job. In this connection, I wish to make it clear that when a vacancy in the office occurred some months ago, I nominated, after consideration of the qualifications of a number of persons, the man who, in my judgment, had the best qualifications for the job. The Senate chose not to take action on this nomination. It has now joined with the House of Representatives in enacting this bill. I accept this action of the Congress, but I cannot sign the measure without again stating publicly my support of my nominee. I believe that he was the best qualified candidate available, and I am convinced that he would have served the people of the District of Columbia loyally and with distinction.
I hope that the Commissioners of the District of Columbia will fill this position promptly and that the period of suspense and uncertainty for the employees of the Office of the Recorder of Deeds will end as soon as is possible under the new law.
Note: As enacted, S. 2871 is Public Law 379, 82d Congress (66 Stat. 129).
Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230905