Friday, October 05, 2007

Further Thoughts on the ANC Non-Meeting

If you haven’t already, take a look at Si’s post on the Mt. Vernon Square blog regarding Carole Mumin’s testimony regarding OFTON on Wednesday’s non-meeting and also at Martin’s comment on that. This certainly raises questions about why she singled out Kevin Chapple, but never mentioned the letter from ANC Chair Doris Brooks demanding that her organization repay the grant money it had received. (Kevin raised that point, but I’m not sure it actually registered with most people there.)

Here’s the thing: No one is questioning whether OFTON is a worthy organization that does good work in the community and deserves support. But that does not exempt it (or any other recipient of public funds) from the obligation to provide required documentation to show that the money is being used for the intended purpose.

There really is no need for the displays of righteous indignation—the “how dare you question me when I’ve done such and such” or “...when I’ve been in this neighborhood for X number of years.” That’s not a proper answer, but we get this over and over again in ANC meetings.

If, as appears to be the case here, there was a simple mistake and the required documents are available to be submitted, then fine—send them in and be done with it. There’s nothing wrong with saying that there was a mix-up and the issue is now resolved. But why claim that Kevin has done her an injury, when the alleged infraction was turned up not by him, but by the DC Auditor in the course of looking at other ANC grants?

Why should a demand for accountability be taken as a personal affront? It’s not. It’s the way things should work. If you’ve actually used public funds for the purpose you received them, then why should anyone be embarrassed at being asked to demonstrate that? The only embarrassment is if the funds weren’t used properly.

Unfortunately, I think this defensiveness is a symptom of the climate of non-accountability that has plagued DC for so long and is finally—hopefully—starting to change. Basically, this is why DC schools are in such lousy physical condition (let alone the academics) even though they enjoy quite lavish funding. It’s why DC bureaucracies are often so incompetent and unresponsive, compared to suburban jurisdictions. (Please, spare me the why-don’t-you-move-to-Virginia comments.) If you never demand accountability, it just encourages waste, cronyism, incompetence, and distribution of government services according to how much personal clout you have rather than according to where they’re most needed.

The sums involved in ANC grants are pretty small, but the principle is not. There’s nothing wrong with asking where the money went, and there’s no indignity in having to answer.


At 10/05/2007 8:22 PM, Anonymous Charles Walker said...

Right on, Daddy-Oh. Couldn't have said it better myself.

At 10/06/2007 8:14 AM, Anonymous Dale said...

Agreed. Well Said.

At 10/07/2007 6:22 AM, Blogger si said...

Wise as always. Too right DC Gov suffers from a general cover your a$$ mentality. But the moon is out. I think the Examiner is doing a good job of exposure, seems like they write about a different scandal every day now.

Hopefully Mrs. Mumin will get all her docs straightened out.

At 10/10/2007 6:24 AM, Anonymous Happy Whitman Resident said...

Fifth and Oh-

Love your blog, but I'm disappointed that you added the Whitman Watcher to your blog list. You provide relevant, important insight on the neighborhood. That blog is insolent, inflammatory, and bad for the neighborhood.

At 10/13/2007 5:12 PM, Anonymous ess said...

Amen, brother! But where, when, how did the "I'm not responsible/accountable" attitude get started?
And what do you think is changing it?


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