Minutes after I arrived last night, January 14, I was denied permission to observe a meeting of the Dupont Circle Conservancy (DCC). The reason given was that I am a blogger. I left the meeting as requested, without argument.
A representative of the DCC approached me a short time after I arrived and told me the meeting was not open to me. I protested that I was an interested member of the public. The representative told me I was a blogger and I could not attend the meeting. It seemed clear that further objecting would not do any good, so I left.
I have previously attended two meetings of the DCC. The first meeting I attended was on October 8, 2013. I openly took notes. Based on these notes, I published the SALM blog post of October 15 about the proposed development of the single-family home at 1618 Q Street NW.
In November, I again attended a meeting of the DCC. At that time, the same representative as above approached me and asked me what my interest was. I told him that I wrote a blog. The representative said interested members of the public were welcome but he did not want me to write about meeting. I agreed to make no notes and write nothing about the meeting. I was allowed to observe the entire meeting. There is no blog post about the November meeting.
On its web site, the DCC describes itself as "an all volunteer membership-based non-profit 501c(3) educational organization". I am not a lawyer and I don't know what rights and obligations this status gives them. Particularly, I do not know if they have an obligation to have open meetings and/or are allowed to limit the purpose or behavior of people who attend.
This is the first community organization that I have been asked me to leave. I have previously attended meetings of two other local community organizations (the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance), and even published articles based on what I saw and heard at these meetings, without interference.
I was at the last night's meeting long enough to notice that it was also attended Commissioner Abigail Nichols, representative for district 05 on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont. Nichols was just winding up a short presentation to the DCC when I arrived.
I also saw other presenters waiting at last night's meeting to appear before the DCC. These presenters have previously appeared before ANC2B and its committees, and I have written about their projects on this blog. The properties in question are 1618 Q Street and 1528 Church Street.