Friday, January 09, 2009

The ANC Curse Continues

I wasn’t feeling well, so I missed the ANC meeting Wednesday night, naively thinking that a new era of civility and cooperation had begun. So it was with great dismay that the next morning I found the Shaw list serve full of angry posts about the re-election (by deadlock) of Doris Brooks as ANC chair. Since I wasn’t there, I’m basically relying on Si’s account of the meeting; I’ve always found her to be a fair and accurate reporter.

I have to add my voice to those who think reinstating Doris was a bad idea. I agree with Si that Doris has shown herself to be incompetent and that she has no idea how to run a meeting or an organization. After all, that was the ostensible justification for Leroy Thorpe being her “parliamentarian” and “executive assistant”.

I don’t know why Theresa did what she did. (I spoke to her briefly last night, but didn’t have a chance to question her about this.) Perhaps Alex assumed he had an entitlement to becoming the Chair, having suffered through years of abuse during the Thorpe regime, and maybe she took umbrage at what appeared to be a display of arrogance. It doesn’t make sense to me, but she undoubtedly had her reasons.

Leroy must be having a good laugh right now, and who could blame him?

Still, I think everyone needs to calm down and take a deep breath. I’m glad a couple of people like Jeff Wellbaum have taken a conciliatory approach. This isn’t the end of the world, and the worst thing that could happen is if the new ANC dissolves into another two years of toxic antagonism.

Here’s my suggestion: Why not have the chairmanship rotate among the four commissioners? Let each one preside for, say, three months, and then pass the gavel to the next person. The European Union operates this way, why can’t ANC2C? Obviously, everyone isn’t going to have the same strengths, but no one has to be the Top Dog and no one needs to feel slighted. If one person doesn’t do such a great job…well, it’s only for a short time and then someone else has a chance.

Presumably this would require some change in the ANC by-laws, but that could be easily accomplished if the four commissioners set aside their bruised feelings and put their heads together.

I think it’s less important who is the titular chair than what the ANC decides to do. I would like to see the sort of communication innovations (like a website, maybe!) that we all have discussed. We could have some committees of concerned residents who want to work on certain issues (e.g., development, public safety, vacant properties, etc.) and maybe do some of the preliminary work on issues that come before the ANC so that everything doesn’t fall on the four commissioners.

There’s still a chance to make this work. Let’s not blow it!