Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Spite Politics; or: How to Win by Losing

Well, we knew what was going to happen, and this time the spectacle did not disappoint.

Fresh from hijacking the East Central Civic Association on Monday, ANC2C chairman commissioner Leroy Thorpe convened what may be his last meeting as titular chairman before an overflow crowd. The warm-up acts were humdrum and a little tedious except for watching a couple of big developers squirm over whether they had made enough concessions to the Chinese community (which was unrepresented at the meeting) for a project at 600 Mass Ave in a block that has never contained any Chinese businesses or residences. Oh, and some discussion over whether to use ANC grant money to buy computers for the recently-taken-over ECCA to replace others bought previously (which from all appearances have never been used for ECCA business). Questions about what the equipment would be used for were indignantly dismissed, and the motion passed, comme il faut.

But the main event was the Resignation Foretold of Mr. Thorpe as ANC Chairman. True to his promise, he relinquished the office and immediately nominated Doris Brooks to succeed him as Chairperson, Barbara Curtis as Vice-Chairperson, Doris Brooks as Treasurer, and Barbara Curtis as Secretary (to take the minutes that are never published or distributed to constituents, one supposes). The votes were predictably 3 to 1, with Alex Padro dissenting.

But wait, there's more. Ms. Brooks then proceeded to nominate Mr. Thorpe as Parliamentarian for the 2007-2008 term and moved to use his phone number as the main telephone number for the ANC. Passed again, 3 to 1. (There may have been something else handed over to Mr. Thorpe--I sort of lost track in the growing hubbub.)

Reaction among the audience ranged from smiles of smug satisfaction among Thorpe supporters to howls of outrage and helpless laughter from his critics.

What all this essentially guarantees (assuming Kevin Chapple's 5-vote victory isn't overturned in tomorrow's recount) is that the ANC will probably be even more dysfunctional than it already is, and that Mr. Thorpe will continue to call the plays. (Perhaps employing those helmet radiophones that NFL coaches use to tell their quarterbacks what to do. There will have to be something like that, since Mr. Thorpe currently gives audible stage prompts to Ms. Brooks and Ms. Curtis on their every move.) The commission will likely be divided 2 and 2 with Mssrs. Padro and Chapple on the other side--likely insuring paralysis. If Mr. Thorpe should win the recount, of course, everything will be as it was--with the additional sense of invincibility.

Or maybe not. The weird thing about all this is that there are never any actual issues debated. It's always all about the ego trip and being the Alpha Dog and making sure the capo's ring gets kissed. There's really no reason that the four commissioners couldn't agree on most things that come before them. The question is whether Mr. Thorpe is more interested in asserting his preeminence as community leader than he is in advancing the interests of the community. He certainly has the resources at hand to screw things up. What he decides to do with them remains to be seen. Who'da thunk George "Macacawitz" Allen could provide a model for accepting a closely fought electoral defeat gracefully? If only.

Well, it certainly was worth the price of admission, which was, of course, nothing.


At 12/06/2006 7:24 PM, Blogger richard said...

you may want to revist what you said about 600 block of mass ave having no residents. there are four sides to a block.

At 12/06/2006 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daddy Five-Oh,

Thanks for a good summary. It had to be seen to be believed. I felt like I was watching a coup d'etat unfold in some third world country.

A question for those blog-reading folks who voted for Thorpe: Are you proud of how you voted? Or are you a teeny bit ashamed of yourself?

At 12/07/2006 5:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think our ANC should apply to AID for Third World development loans rather than rely on the parsimonious DC government. That way everyone would get a laptop. If ever you needed evidence that ANCs should be abolished, it was at last night's shenanegans. Excellent summary, Papa Cinq-O. I can only add: 1. two Chinese residents stood mutely in the packed hallway; 2. LT had two Islamic Fruits (Tam-Tam Macoute?) sitting as glowering yarmulked henna-bearded guards at his right hand. Hats off to Lydia Goring and the few who dared to speak up as ANC tax dollars were dispensed and the coup unfolded without a glitch. Where was that wimp David Catania, who has oversight over the ANCs? I hope all of the neighborhood blogophiles will put down their lattes and speed dial or e-mail his office immediately in protest. I asked Alex at minimum to notify his office. Instead he posed in his usual lump of oh-so-superior smuggery. May he only have something more effectively retaliatory in mind than rolling his eyeballs. Kevin, I hope, will at least have the cojones to at least speak up for his constituent. Heady week for LT, though, crowning himself head of ECCA, diverting tax dollars for computers and cam cameras to the ECCA, and electing himself (after resigning he still voted) "parliamentarian." He gives Robert Mugabe a run for his money. Ray

At 12/07/2006 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is David Catania? Does he have any power over the ANC in his role?

At 12/07/2006 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in a neighboring ANC, but I live on the border of Shaw so I keep up with the ongoings of my neighbors. One bit of caution I throw to you all is this position of 'parliamentarian'. As parliamentarian, he will have the ability (and with the title believes he has the right)to assume control of the meeting and be able to assert himself without having to ask for the floor.

At 12/07/2006 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Catania is the token Republicanist on the DC City Council. He has oversight over the ANCs and held hearings on LT several years ago where residents, at personal risk, gave testimony against the latter, only to have Catania wuzzily dismiss the whole thing when he was mau-maued into submission. Call his office pronto.

At 12/07/2006 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My reading of the DC Code is that the ANC HAS to have an election for its officers in January, so Mrs. Brooks is not automatically chairman next year despite Leroy's power play (gridlock in the election shouldn't mean that last year's chairman continues her reign). Furthermore, the Parliamentarian can be removed at the Chairman's will.

Does anyone know something I don't, or am I reading the code incorrectly??!!

Ray--I need to formulate my argument, but I am going to contact David and anyone else I think can help. What type of testimony was given last year?

At 12/07/2006 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone please wake me from this nightmare: Ms Gordon's victrola is scratching and screeching the same old lics about the ECCA in the background and KING Kong is grinning at me from a new found branch on a tree high above.

Since the ECCA is going to have shiny new laptops ($3k could almost buy 3 new MacBooks with Intel Core Duo -- but then there's software...), it was good that someone in the gallery suggested they get user friendly Apple's. But I seriously doubt the coven will have time to step away from their cauldron cooking up self serving schemes with their Master to dust the new cobwebs of those boxes to serve the community in any meaningful way. They don't know how to change more than the date on their gerneric meeting announcements as it is.

To watch our Machiavelli manipulate those otherwise nice old ladies (Brooks/Curtis) to do his bidding was sickening. Those who voted for such a con man should be ashamed.

Again, to contradict anyone who thinks LT is so smart, the dude has been in office for 18+ years. He's just APING the tricks that he's seen other crooks do in the past -- any MONKEY could do that. It takes real smarts to be able to speak to the needs and concerns of a diverse community and address their problems direclty, even handedly and justly. LT just ignored a significant number of constituents at last night's meeting while jumping through legal loopholes dispensing our tax dollars for his own use and to his suck ups.

Our community coffers have just been pirated. A significant number of constituents in a certain City Council Member's Ward are facing a problem that is a bit more troubling than fixing cross walk signals and we need someone to step up and do more than just JACK.

And please address this problem before my caps lock key gives out.

At 12/07/2006 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shaw rez,
If the vote split is 2:2 ANC officer positions cannot change, so the previous officers retain their titles.

At 12/07/2006 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12/07/2006 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is my first blogging experience, so pardon my ineptitude in advance. Obviously, I am getting online and getting vocal after last night’s ANC meeting.

I spoke this morning with the DC Office of ANCs (OANC) which confirmed that the outgoing ANC officers from 05-06 will retain their seats in 07-08 if there isn’t a majority vote to do otherwise (and there won’t likely be as we’ll have a 2/2 split). So, it appears to me we’ll have Ms. Brooks as our leader for the years to come. It disturbs me just as much, however, that the OANC assisted Mr. Thorpe in concocting this coup.

As to his role as parliamentarian, the OANC assured me this does not give him the authority to control the meeting, but the OANC clearly is making a distinction between theory and practice. I’m not aware of what our ANC’s bylaws allow, (Mr. Thorpe, I’m told, is the sole keeper of such documents) but the OANC suspected the new chair, Ms. Brooks, had the latitude to create such a position.

I also raised my concern over one of the grants. It screams of conflict of interest to me (not to mention imprudence) that another organization, of which Mr. Thorpe allegedly chairs, is given such a large grant of tax payers’ money without, it appeared, much justification or demonstration of its public use. OANC suggested I file a complaint with the Office of the DC Auditor, as they have to sign off before the money is spent. I’ll do that.

So what can we do? I’m irate, but what if Thorpe legitimately outmaneuvered his opposition? The prospect of a Ms. Brooks/Thorpe ruling duo for the next two years is an unacceptable result in light of the November elections? Do we turn to the media? The DC Attorney General? Cantania, as someone suggested? All the above? I’m not comfortable sucking this up.

At 12/07/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12/07/2006 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that several concerned residents/taxpayers file complaints with the DC Auditor and cc: the DC Office of ANCs and Councilmember Catania. This is a raiding of the ANC treasury, plain and simple. ECCA may have once been a legitimate and effective organization, but the elections/ of this week (with no notice, nominations adherance to bylaws, etc.) selecting Leroy Thorpe as president shows that it is no longer. The ANC Chair has simply allocated himself a few thousand dollars of taxpayer money before he leaves office.

The 9/05 audit report of ANC 2C shows that the ANC already has allocated about $10k to the ANC over the past 4 years, including $3,691.00 for the purchase of 4 Dell desktop computers less than two years ago!!! The report is available at Oh, the ANC also allocated an additional $1,847.50 in 2/05 to COPE -- another "organization" Leroy Thorpe controls (his red hat patrol), for 2 Dell desktop computers to purportedly communicate with the public and the police. Has anyone received anything from COPE or ECCA via e-mail lately? Has anyone seen their websites? This money may be going into someone's pocket. Do all of these computers actually exist??? Anyone seen them?

At 12/07/2006 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A point of clarification. Hon. Catania's used to have oversight over the ANC's, however, last year the Chairman of the council's office took over so oversight belongs to Hon. Cropp or perhaps Hon. Gray in the next term.

At 12/07/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger si said...

its worse than that.

Computer donation count 2005/6:

Cope (red hats) (leroy thorpe & mary sutherland) - 4
ECCA - 6 computers (2 of them are laptops)
RI ave thru P st NA (mary sutherland) - 4 computers
Gibson Plaza TA (barbara curtis) - 2 computers
(Page 10)

let us also not forget LT is attempting to have Ramsey reassign 20 officers from PSA 308.

The Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions is located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, Mr. Gottlieb Simon Executive Director, Phone 202-727-9945, email

At 12/07/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am I correct in recalling that the woman speaking for the ECCA grant stated that the ECCA did not have laptops but just desktops?

At 12/07/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger si said...

you are correct.

At 12/07/2006 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ECCA needs to account for their current equipment inventory before any more gifts are granted to this organization. No wonder DC is such a joke. There is ZERO accountiblity.

At 12/07/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger DaddyFiveOh said...

To respond to Cary's question: In the 10 or so months I've been attending ECCA meetings, I have never seen any electronic correspondence of any kind from that organization. There is no website (I, perhaps naively, offered to try to help set one up, but got a polite brush-off). I am unaware of any e-mail address for the ECCA. They may use a computer to create the meeting announcement flyers, but that takes one computer not 6 or 10.

At 12/08/2006 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think retracsemaj hit it on the head when he suggests that Mr. Chapple, and presumably, Mr. Pedro, get immediately familiar with parliamentary procedure! I spoke with Gottlieb Simon of the OANC yesterday who told me 1. that only Mr. Thorpe has the bylaws for our ANC and 2. the Chair, Ms. Brooks, is probably within her authority to nominate a parliamentarian. Do our bylaws allow it? Who knows? However, as we all know, Ms. Brooks cannot run that meeting and as chair, I doubt she can really delegate her role to Mr. Thorpe -- nobody elected him. Padro and Chapple need to have an attorney intimately familiar with Robert's rules of order sitting behind the two of them and objecting every step of the way. It should have happened last Wednesday to prevent the vote that took place! This ANC cannot be held hostage by ONE unelected person and as it stands, he’s winning. What will it take to have somebody from OANC or the AG’s office come to make sure our meetings our conducted FAIRLY and in accordance with the rules as they are written, not as they are made up?

At 12/08/2006 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it can be held hostage! And it will continue until there is a successful recall of the new chairman(Brooks) or vice chairman(Curtis).

At 12/08/2006 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mssrs Padro and Chapple need to shots of testosterone, not Robert's Rules of Order, when they sit down at January's ANC. It was disgusting to see how docile everyone was at the ANC coup d'etat, especially Alex. The ECCA is not meant for whitefolk, so we should be silent and know our place there, but not at the popularly elected ANC where are tax dollars have been squandered away on give-aways and tree boxes to cronies for almost two decades.

At 12/08/2006 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ECCA: Egregious Corruption at the Community's Expense


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