Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June ANC Meeting--Almost Normal

Well, whaddya know...an almost normal ANC meeting. The bar is set pretty low, of course, but at least it didn't degenerate into a shouting session. Martin got the whole thing on tape (no static on that, so maybe that point is finally settled), but if you don't have the sitzfleisch to watch the whole thing, here are a few observations from your humble blogger:

The treasurer's report and minutes of the May meeting were approved unanimously. This may seem pretty humdrum, but it actually represents a breakthrough of sorts, because for the first time the draft documents had been delivered to commissioners Chapple and Padro before the meeting. Alas, this was not the case for the quarterly report, and Chapple moved to table it for that reason. There ensued a long, rather confused discussion about rules of order, but after fifteen minutes or so the tabling motion came to a vote. Brooks voted no, Chapple and Padro voted yes, and I think Curtis voted yes too initially. However, the Parliamentarian then tried his best to get Curtis to change her vote, launching into extended "explanations" of what it all meant. Despite protests that the motion had already been voted on, there was another vote, and maybe another (it was pretty chaotic and I couldn't always hear what was going on), but in the end Curtis abstained, so the motion passed to table it. Another first, I think.

The two written agenda items presenters were no-shows, but Mr. Wang (not sure about the spelling) of the Chinatown Steering Committee alleged that the DC Planning Commission was ignoring or bypassing the committee regarding various approvals. It was unclear to me whether his complaint referred to one of the no-shows (Yemi Wong, regarding a project in the 600 block of H Street) or to a project by the Gould development company on the block bounded by Mass, I, 6th and 7th, but most of the ensuing discussion involved the latter. (This was in part a reprise of an earlier ANC meeting back in October, I think.) Without a lot more background, it's hard to understand exactly what all the discussion is about but the initial complaint seems to be that the DC Planning Commission approved the design of the Gould project without the imprimatur of the Steering Committee. The poor guy from the Planning Commission got lambasted by Thorpe, who basically accused him of not knowing what the rules were. It's hard to tell if the issue is mainly a question of not being sufficiently deferential to the Steering Commitee or if it's really about the latter's dissatisfaction over what they've been able the shake down the Gould operation for. Gould, who was there again, made what seemed to me a pretty convincing case citing numerous meetings with the Steering committee or its sub-committees and concessions made to the Chinese community regarding design, amenities, contributions to organizations, and leasing, etc. He said he had paid Tony Cheng $6.5 million for the property and had offered him a pro rata share of the project, but Cheng opted out. So who knows what the real story is. Despite occasional lip service to preserving the Chinese presence in Chinatown, it mainly seems to be about tussling between rich developers and rich Chinese businessmen.

One interesting note: Thorpe urged Mr. Wang to make a presentation at the next ECCA meeting. Last I heard, the southern limit of ECCA's bailiwick is N Street--a long way from Chinatown. This is the second little indication I've heard recently suggesting that Thorpe sees his sphere of influence as covering a much wider swath of the city than the ECCA presently allegedly represents. An issue for a later date.

The Chinatown discussion took a very loooong time, and ended with a powerpoint presentation showing the project and highlighting derelict buildings and trash that have already been cleaned up in anticipation of construction.

Debby Smith made a quick appeal for support for a day spa she wants to build at the NE corner of 7th and P (1501 7th). The lot is presently owned by the NCRC but it will be disposed of by the DC government and she apparently has prepared the way to acquire it. She alluded to a previous bid for ANC approval, which apparently had been shot down by Thorpe. A fairly heated exchange ensued, but thankfully was cut short. Would be interesting to know the back story.

There was a presentation by the "People's Property Campaign" which is pushing a "Public Property Community Bill of Rights". Basically, there pitch is that no more publicly owned DC property should be sold until a promised inventory is completed, and that if sold its use should be restricted to certain purposes as determined by the community. They have a website. No vote was taken on this. (Wonder if that had something to do with the little "park" on N Street that UHOP would like to acquire.)

Finally, there was a presentation by Roosevelt Cohens who wants to open up a program providing day services for released criminal offenders from his house at 1718 5th Street. Thorpe (who lives nearby) reacted strongly to this, and discussion was cut short and the meeting gavelled closed.

Overall, this was a big improvement over previous meeting. The Parliamentarian still runs the show, speaking whenever he likes for as long as he likes, and either directly deciding who gets to speak or telling Ms. Brooks whom to recognize, and favored people get to go on and on. And rules of order are flouted repeatedly. But still...

10 Comments:

At 6/07/2007 4:47 AM, Blogger Mari said...

Slowly your ANC is getting there.

 
At 6/07/2007 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say THANKS for attending and giving us the update...very much appreciated!

 
At 6/07/2007 6:49 AM, Blogger Shaw Rez said...

THANK YOU so much for the summary of the meeting.

I find Leroy's suggestion that Mr. Wang make a presentation at the next ECCA meeting infuriating. Was there any public outcry over this or was this a kind of under-the-radar suggestion? Hopefully Mr. Wang will not make said presentation, as the ECCA under Leroy's leadership is as irrelevant politically as he is.

Attention on the ANC should continue until Leroy's puppetry has dissolved. I am so sorry I couldn't make last night, as accountability comes with attendance and such attention as you give it.

 
At 6/07/2007 7:36 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

shaw rez: I wouldn't lose any sleep over Thorpe's offer. The CSC is about as useless as the ECCA is these days.

 
At 6/07/2007 7:52 AM, Blogger Shaw Rez said...

Good to know, Joe...

Leroy's attempted power plays are so annoying, regardless of how impotent they are!

 
At 6/07/2007 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really need to take to the streets for the next ANC election - maybe some kind of grassroots campaign to make sure these shenanigans are put to an end...

 
At 6/07/2007 8:09 AM, Anonymous justindc said...

It's a sad commentary that the meeting last night was an improvement. I attended for the first time, and it certainly an interesting event. Apparently Robert's Rules of Order don't mean much to Mr. Thorpe. Oh well...

 
At 6/07/2007 8:11 AM, Anonymous martin said...

Doris Brooks is completely incompetent. Even Mr Thorpe expressed to me after the meeting that she is not the best of the current commissioners for the job of Chair/Treasurer. (She's just the easiest for him to manipulate in my opinion).

Our ANC will not begin to meet the needs and concerns of residents and businesses in our community until residents in Gallery Place step up along with her other constituents to vote her out of office.

The Green Turtle already received its liquor license approval by way of closed door back room meetings courtesy of Jack Evans, outside of the ANC public meetings. Jack Evans hasn't been invited or shown interest in coming to our ANC meetings himself. But controlling the business of our ANC privately and conveniently from his office doesn't seem to trouble him one bit.

I can't imagine many business people going to our ANC2C meetings (even somewhat approved improved) if they didn't need to do so.

 
At 6/07/2007 8:29 AM, Anonymous rr 446 said...

sorry, but the chinatown steering committee needs to be heard even though DC's favorite developers came in and ruined old chinatown. mr wang should go anywhere he can to be heard. the office of planning needs its head examined and not sympathy because of the number they continually do on the neighborhoods.

 
At 6/16/2007 7:59 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

This is a great report and many thanks for it! It was great to see the improvement of the commissioners getting drafts of the May minutes before the June meeting and that they had corrections and they were accepted. Apparently Ms. curtis is going to be able to handle that duty after all the discussion, agreement, and "broken promises" of a few weeks ago about it.
As for the Quarterly Report, from my notes of the May meeting, it was tabled then too which is what I thought prompted the parliamentarian to "explain" the consequences of the commission having funds withheld if the report is not filed by a certain deadline and that he was, perhaps, hinting that if that happened, it would be on Commissioners Chapple and Padro. As I recall, he mentioned that something like that had happened before.
I truly believe that if there can be improvement with the minutes there can be improvement with the Qtrly report and that having those core functions working properly, though they may seem "humdrum", will be a giant step forward.

 

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