Jack Evans Responds
In the interest of fairness, here's an excerpt from a response from Councilman Jack Evans's office to points raised in e-mails sent by several neighborhood residents (including your humble blogger) about last week's "crime forum":
"1) Our office gave Mr. Moulton permission to videotape the meeting at the United House of Prayer. Our contact for using the building is Doris Brooks. When Mr. Moulton got there with his equipment, Ms. Brooks informed him that he could not videotape the meeting. IF the meeting was held in a facility controlled by Councilmember Evans, i.e., the Wilson building, he would have been able to give the final word. Since it was Ms. Brooks who arranged use of the building for us, Mr. Evans was not abel to "overrule" her decision. We allowed Mr. Moulton to tape our Constieunt Fundraiser event becaus that decision was solely up to us. In the future we will be sure to find out the rules of the facility we're using to ensure an incident like this doesn't happen again.
"2) The meeting was hosted by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, ANC 2C and ECCA - it was at the top of the agenda if you were able to get a copy. Mr. Thorpe is the President of ECCA. Doris Brooks and Alex Padro are ANC commissioners. They all sat at the head table.
"3) When Mr. Evans began the meeting he recognized the members for both groups (ANC 2C and ECCA) and asked if Barbara and Kevin were present.....there was no response. Apparently, they both came late to the meeting. Ms. Curtis was identified by Windy Abdul-Rahim of our staff who tried to escort her to the front of the room....Ms. Curtis declined. Mrs. Rahim did not see Mr. Chapelle. I assure you if she had, she would have extended the same courtesy to him. Again, Mr. Evans recognized both Ms. Curtis and Mr. Chapelle and apparently, they were not present at the time. Mr. Chapelle had every right to come to the front of the room and had Mr. Evans known he'd shown up later, he was have invited him to do so. You were there, so you saw how many people were in attendance. Again, had we know he was there, he would have been escorted by Windy or invited by Jack to come up front, but he could have also just walked up and made his presence known."
Here's what I think about the response:
1. This might be an adequate explanation if there were no long-standing context of efforts by Mr. Thorpe and Ms. Brooks to prevent video recording of ANC meetings despite the absence of any legal prohibition against such recording of public meetings. Jack Evans's staffers are certainly well aware of this and he should have been as well. To acquiesce in Doris Brooks's prohibition of the recording makes it appear that he supports the Thorpe/Brooks position. If holding a public meeting with our mayor, councilman, and police chief in a private space means it no longer operates under the rules of a public meeting, then it should not be held in that space.
2. I did get a copy of the agenda, and the only non-DC government names on it were those of Leroy Thorpe and Doris Brooks. None of the other ANC commissioners were included. Again, there's context here--namely the maneuvering by Mr. Thorpe and his enabler, Ms. Brooks, to maintain defacto control over the ANC after losing an election. And again, Evans's staffers should be well aware of that. I can see no reason why this meeting (unlike the previous ones in June and September) needed to be "co-sponsored" at all. (Wondering whose idea that was...hmmm.) Giving Thorpe and Brooks equal billing with Jack Evans (and giving the other commissioners no billing) suggests--rightly or wrongly--that Evans supports their shenanigans.
3. Okay, okay, partial credit here. But if there is a head table, who sits there carries symbolic weight. Why weren't all of the commissioners invited beforehand to sit at the table? Mr. Thorpe's dubious credentials as "president" of the ECCA aside, I really have no problem with him being seated at the dais (assuming there needs to be one at all), but what about other (dare I say more active?) community associations? This was supposed to be a show of unity against crime, not a veiled political rally for one faction.
At least there seems to support for holding any other such meetings in a more neutral setting.