Wednesday, April 04, 2007

ANC2C Meeting Cancellation

I got to the meeting about 15 or 20 minutes late only to discover it had been canceled. I was told the reason was Chairperson Brooks had posted signs prohibiting videotaping and some residents had refused to accept that edict. So she called off the whole meeting. A video of this is now available here.

I don't know if it's possible anymore, but I sure wish we could de-escalate this dispute. I have no doubt that the people who want to record a public ANC meeting are within their rights, and I simply don't understand why Ms. Brooks is willing to go to such lengths to prohibit that. But this is going nowhere. Is there no one who could mediate this mess?

On an even more disturbing note, Ray Milefsky sent out the following e-mail (it's already up on Off Seventh, so I'm not betraying any privacy here):

I just had a very long, no-holds-barred conversation on a wide variety
of topics with Mr Thorpe and Ms Sutherland after the cancelled ANC
meeting. I have known them for twenty years. We may not be busom
buddies or see eye-to-eye on a whole lot but we respect one another as neighbors, have endured much together, and know the lay of the land a
heck of a lot better than many newcomers.

I was very, very upset to hear their repeated reference to some
dog-owning neighbor saying last Saturday that his/her dog(s) is/are
cleaner than most Black kids. They implied the resulting response
verged on a riot.

What is the story? Who would be so stupid to say something like this?
Did it ever occur or is this neighborhood folk legend? This is more
than crude and vile disrepect. Why have the blogs, which chitchat
about everything, leave out this matter that will destroy what little
good will that exists among the diverse interests in this

Is anyone willing to comment?

This is indeed very upsetting, and I literally felt ill after reading it. If someone actually said this, it is inexcusable and despicable. If this story is made up, then it's just as bad, because it means someone is willing to put out an incendiary falsehood to inflame racial animosity for some reason. Unfortunately, once a story like this gets out there, it's virtually impossible to set right.

I should say that I also had a fairly extended and friendly conversation with Ms. Sutherland after the meeting and she did not mention this to me. What she did say, more than once, is that "the bridge is broken and it doesn't look like it's going to be fixed ." Sadly, I'm afraid she may be right about that. I guess I'm still hoping that someone will decide to take the high road here and put the interests of the community first.


At 4/04/2007 8:23 PM, Blogger volvolution1 said...

I wrote Jack Evans and told him we need another meeting held this month (or an additional in June), need to have an ANC bigwig present at next month's meeting, and that all meetings need to be held at public places. I doubt anything will become of it, but I thought they were constructive remedies to the mayhem that's being catalyzed by DoBro and her gangbanger pals

At 4/04/2007 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 4/04/2007 9:15 PM, Anonymous Charles Walker said...

If somebody made such a comment about black kids and dogs, then those who heard that comment owe it to everybody to name the person.

As for ANC meetings - the one thing I would change is to not have people (members and the public and certain commissioners) shouting in meetings. We should speak respectfully to each other. But on the issue of video recording itself, is is crystal clear that the public has the right to video record ANC meetings. Period. No matter how many ANC meetings she cancels, no matter how many churches she tries to hide behind. I don't accept that we need compromise on the videotaping issue. What we need is for Brooks to get with the program. Gottlieb Simon did try to get the commissioners together to talk - but Doris Brooks spurned that meeting.

At 4/05/2007 6:28 AM, Anonymous Carmen said...

Well who broke the bridge? Who has been inciting race riots? Who has been making up lies?

This is not a time for compromise, its a time for calling out the people who are inciting this and recognizing their utter lack of credibility.

At 4/05/2007 6:49 AM, Anonymous Alexander M. Padro said...

Permitting videotaping of all ANC meetings is not negotiable. We must insist that actions affecting the public not be taken in the shadows. If Brooks can't stand the fact that citizens want to exercise their rights to document our meetings and disseminate this documentation, then she can resign as chair of the commission. Or even better, she should resign her seat on the commission and allow someone who wants to be open and inclusive and actively work for the betterment of our community to have an opportunity to serve.

--Commissioner Alexander M. Padro
ANC 2C01

At 4/05/2007 7:29 AM, Blogger si said...

Right on Commissioner Padro. The community has a right to tape any public meeting and the more people who have access to our local body of government, the better it can ultimately function in transparency. What I dont understand, and I am asking everyone I can think of: We have laws that govern ANCs. Who actually enforces them? We see alot of interpretation that gets ignored.

I think that "comment" is total BS and another effort to create conflict.

At 4/05/2007 8:17 AM, Blogger retracsemaj said...

Recall that on March 28 Commissioner Kevin Chapplescheduled a mediation with Gottlieb Simon from the Office of the ANC but Chairman Doris Brooks did not show neither did she communicate her intentions to not show. I'm not sure what other mediatory steps can be taken.

At 4/05/2007 8:18 AM, Blogger volvolution1 said...

Just an FYI: Wendy from Jack Evans' office was in attendance of the meeting last night. During our conversation she was careful not to render much in the way of an opinion about what transpired but did indicate she had received an abundance of calls.

At 4/05/2007 8:21 AM, Anonymous Carmen said...

I spoke with Windy (at Jack Evans office) today and she informs me that under the law, neither Jack, nor the Council, nor Gottlieb Simon, nor the mayor has any authority to do anything about our ANC situation unless our elected commissioners commit a felony. Other than that, our only recourse is at the ballot box or through a recall.

I wonder if it isn't time to talk about a recall effort.

At 4/05/2007 9:24 AM, Blogger volvolution1 said...

A recall would be difficult, because you'd need 10% of 454 people (45) in SMD 2C03...

At 4/05/2007 9:33 AM, Blogger si said...

you need 10% of registered voters in the SMD to sign a petition, i think thats around 200.

At 4/05/2007 10:13 AM, Blogger Drew said...

45 doesn't seem impossible... 200 seems like a bit more of an undertaking... anyone know how many registered voters there are in her SMD?

At 4/05/2007 10:35 AM, Blogger gpliving said...

45 people is a piece of cake when you live in a condo building. The problem is that everyone is still getting settled in the new condo buildings in 2C03. It's just going to take time to get everyone registered and aware of their local politics. Oh, and not to mention that the buildings that settled in the past 6 months need people to occupy all of the units too.

Why not focus on 2C04? We only need 3 competent commissioners out of 4.

At 4/05/2007 11:09 AM, Blogger si said...

whatever the community decides to do, no recall action can be initiated until July 1st of this year.

At 4/05/2007 11:25 AM, Anonymous Dave M said...

I do not live in ANC2C -- I live in ANC1B -- but this ANC is just 2 blocks south of me and impacts my immediate neighborhood. This is ridiculous! The racial comment has absolutely nothing to do with this situation. Anyone who wants to organize a recall of Ms. Brooks, let me know as I would be willing to help get that process moving. We can go around with portable DVD players and show the neighborhood what is going on.

At 4/05/2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Drew said...

How about we recall both 2C03 and 2C04... the 04 race was much closer and with less votes total (270). Would mean less signatures and a better likelyhood the opponent could win.. richard rogers still up for it?

At 4/05/2007 1:22 PM, Blogger Tad Rainwater said...

I strongly recommend we don't try for a recall. It would be hard to pull off, and it will likely leave us looking like the jerks. The last thing we want is a backlash that could turn moderate and apathetic voters against Kevin Chapple, who won by 4 votes. Instead we should start focusing on the next election, educating newcomers and registering them to vote. It's a slow process, but that's how democracy works. Brooks and Curtis just won in a regular election with little or no effort. They will certainly win in a recall.

At 4/05/2007 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good point tad, Leroy still seems to be operating with that same fact in mind. He stays in the game, keeps pushing his way around and he (with the obvious approval and support of Jack Evans) stages his 2008 comeback.

Please people, we can't go back to that. Come out to meetings, if you walk your dogs, say hello and nice things to non-dog walkers and others you see on the street. Dispell the fictions that the other camp tries to create. Do nothing and the newbies will regret their innaction once Leroy has regained full power. Amazingly, he still carries a very powerful stick among local DC govt officials who do not dare to cross him.

What citizens say is unimportant, but when Leroy rants, govt officials not only listen they dance to his tune.

At 4/05/2007 7:30 PM, Anonymous rr 446 said...

should commissioners of 2C04 and 2C03 be recalled if another instance of failure occurs? or can we wait until '08?

Commisioner Padro is right, they need to perform NOT obstruct because that's what we've got now.

a parlimentarian should sit to the side and suggest if called upon not sit up there like an elected official. if thorpe wants to anger and motivate the opposition he's doing an excellent job.

this isnt rocket science chairman brooks, just allow the videotaping so those of us who have other obligations and cannot make the public meetings have a chance to see what's happening.

At 4/06/2007 7:41 AM, Anonymous Gee said...

should commissioners of 2C04 and 2C03 be recalled if another instance of failure occurs? or can we wait until '08?

My understanding is that, if a recall were successful, the earliest a replacement for a recalled commissioner could be in place would be June 2008, or about six months before the new commission (elected in the fall of '08) would take office anyway.

As a practical matter it will be harder to convince voters to recall a commissioner than to get them simply to vote for somebody else in a general election. For that reason, I think the best strategy by far is to abandon thoughts of a recall and work to defeat either or both of the obstructionist commissioners in the general election in '08. Ms. Curtis won by only a few dozen votes last time. If we find a good candidate and work like hell for him/her, we'll have a real, working commission in 18 months. That may be a long time to wait, but there aren't better alternatives that I can see.

At 4/06/2007 8:09 AM, Blogger si said...

agreed, the process is so long its hardly worth it. The community should certainly continue to demand performance, accountability, open meetings, and broad communication. And certainly adherence to the law.

interestingly enough, C. Curtis did win by about 35 votes. There were also about that many Undervotes.

At 4/06/2007 8:53 AM, Blogger Clara Barton Dweller said...

Where does Leroy get all his power from?? (E.g., why is Jack Evans apparently beholden to him?)

At 4/06/2007 11:20 AM, Blogger volvolution1 said...

Leroy Thorpe doesn't have any power, he simply uses divisiveness as a means to create the illusion of power. The more people engage in "Leroy this" and "Leroy that", the more ingrained his name becomes...which is why I have always argued that he should be ignored at all costs. He's a nobody, a minion -- not an elected member, prominent civic leader, or moral person. Why give him any attention?

Jack Evans isn't beholden to anyone. He just doesn't give a shit about Shaw. And has no incentive to do otherwise.

At 4/07/2007 8:19 AM, Anonymous Gee said...

Agreed, Leroy doesn't really have power, he has the memory of power and a small cadre of supporters who share that memory.

And as best I can tell Jack Evan's doesn't care about Shaw, otherwise he would have noticed that things have changed here for good, and he is living in the past by sucking up to His Imperial Majesty The Parliamentarian. Chapple and Padro are going to get some company, things are going to change, and everybody is going to remember where Jack was when the going was tough.

Guess he just figures he can make up the votes he loses here in Georgetown. We'll just see about that.

At 4/10/2007 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't live in this ANC either, but as the previous commentor said, their actions affect my ANC and the neighborhood in general.

I am a new resident and don't know much of the history of the ANC in this neighborhood, but I have lived in DC for 7 years and it is truly my home now. Maybe I'm being naive, but I think it's very sad that two groups of people who ostensibly want the same things (ie positive change in the neighborhood and good relationships bewteen residents) can't seem to hear each other. It's even sadder that it seems that one side it simply blocking out the other. Why?

It's hard enough to get anything done in DC...wouldn't it be in everyone's best interests to just deal with each other?

At 4/10/2007 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess {Jack] just figures he can make up the votes he loses here in Georgetown. We'll just see about that.

Surely some ambitious and talented soul in the City who wants to be Ward 2 City Council person is taking notes. There are 19 sumthin' folks running for the Ward 4 seat. Ward 2 has got to attract more candidates and someone to give Jack a run for his money.

At 4/20/2007 9:55 PM, Anonymous Cary said...

Here's the legal stuff:

This is a crystal clear violation of the DC Open Meetings Law, which Advisory Neighborhood Commissions must follow. As a government entity, ANC meetings must be open to the public (despite the statement by Chairperson Doris Brooks at the meeting that “This is not a public meeting!”

The Corporate Counsel (now renamed the Attorney General) has ruled that the open meeting law allows residents to record meetings so long as their doing so is not disruptive (i.e. walking around with a camera during the meeting, setting up lights blinding commissioners).

This ANC does not make minutes available, publish a newsletter, or otherwise inform residents of the actions it takes. It also has a history of acting in a highly unprofessional, devisive, disrespectful, and financially questionable manner (dolling out thousands of public dollars to friends and supporters for computers that are never put to public use and “tree boxes”). For these reasons, they fear a public record of their conduct — hence this whole ridiculous shananigan about videotaping.

For the record:

DC Code 1-309.11(g):
“Each Commission shall be subject to the open meetings provisions of § 1-207.42. No meeting may be closed to the public unless personnel or legal matters are discussed….” The law also requires minutes of all meetings be available to the public.

D.C. Code 1-207.42: “a) All meetings (including hearings) of any department, agency, board, or commission of the District government, including meetings of the Council of the District of Columbia, at which official action of any kind is taken shall be open to the public. No resolution, rule, act, regulation, or other official action shall be effective unless taken, made, or enacted at such meeting.
(b) A written transcript or a transcription shall be kept for all such meetings and shall be made available to the public during normal business hours of the District government. Copies of such written transcripts or copies of such transcriptions shall be available, upon request, to the public at reasonable cost.”

Corporate Counsel ruling finding that an ANC may not bar videotaping of public meetings:

The ANC bylaws also do not permit the Chairperson to unilaterally cancel meetings or change the meeting location.

DC law, bylaws, rules of order, whatever. Will anything be done to stop this clearly illegal conduct? No, probably not. There's no mechanism to stop it, absent maybe getting a ruling from the attorney general and/or seeking a court order of some sort. But do remember this and spread the word when the next election comes.


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