City Paper Widget

Friday, September 12, 2014

Although Quorum Achieved, Absences Still Plague ANC1B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street achieved a quorum at its regular monthly meeting on September 4. However, its work is still made much more complicated by habitually absent Commissioners.

ANC1B's September 4 meeting started at 7:00. By 7:20, it had achieved a
quorum, with the following Commissioners in attendance: Ricardo Reinoso (district 05), Dyana Forester (06), Juan Lopez (07), Mark Ranslem (08), ANC1B Chair James Turner (09), Allyson Carpenter (10), E. Gail Anderson Holness (11), and Zahra Zilani (12).

At the beginning of the meeting, Turner made an announcement about some of the Commissioners who were not attending. Commissioner Marc Morgan (01), Turner said, was absent due to the illness of his father. Jeremy Leffler (02) moved out of his district but has not officially resigned. Deborah Thomas (04) had sent Turner a note saying she would be unable to join the meeting.

Thomas has the worst attendance record of all ANC1B Commissioners who have served since the last election. She has attended only 7 of 22 meeting, or 32%. Thomas did not submit petitions for her name to appear on the November ballot for re-election as ANC Commissioner.

During his announcement, Turner did not mention Commissioner Sedrick Muhammed (03). Muhammed did not attend the meeting.

Muhammed has the second-worst attendance record, and the worst of all Commissioners clearly running for re-election. Including this latest absence, Muhammed has attend 12 of 22 meetings -- or 55%. For data on Thomas's and Muhummed's attendance, see the blog post by Nick Baumann, Chair of ANC1B liquor-licensing affairs committee, on ANC1B Commissioner attendance. Baumann's information was the subject of the SALM blog post of August 25.

However, the absense that generated the most discussion at the meeting was Leffler's. Leffler moved out of the district several months ago, but has never sent a resignation letter to the DC government. There is apparently no other mechanism for removing a Commissioner. So Leffler still counts as a Commissioner for the purposes of a quorum, meaning that the Commissioner officially has twelve member, seven of whom must be in attendance for votes carrying an ANC's "great weight" to apply. If Leffler had resigned when he had moved, ANC1B would only need 6 Commissioners (of 11) to reach a quorum. If this had been the case, at least one of the two aborted July meetings of ANC1B could have gone forward.

Leffler's district (02) extends in a jagged square, roughly from S Street NW on the south to Florida Avenue in the north, and from 12th Street to 8th Street. It was remarked at the meeting that this district was contributing the most to the ANC's workload, as the center of new development moved east along U Street from 14th Street towards Shaw. This is generating new liquor license-related requests, new historic preservation cases, and new requests for zoning relief -- all ANC concerns.

For example, at the September 4 meeting, there were several items from Leffler's district. They included liquor-license related requests, including that of two liquor stores -- see yesterday's SALM blog post. In addition, a zoning case for 919 T Street (see SALM blog post of July 28) came up for full ANC approval.

In Leffler's absense, unelected committee members picked up the bulk of the work. For example, in the liquor-license cases, Baumann and his liquor-licensing affairs committee negotiated with the current and potential licensees, but they were hampered by their inability to speak with the authority of an elected Commissioner. When Baumann asked the Commissioners for a volunteer to help on the fine details of the negotiations, the room was filled with an embarrassing stony silence as Commissioners initially refused to take on further work outside their district.

Eventually, Commissioners Forrester and Lopez agreed to take on part of the liquor-licensing affairs work abandoned by Leffler in his district.

Once this detail had been worked out, Commissioner Holness made a motion calling for Leffler to resign. It passed unanimously.

Later in the same meeting, Commissioner Holness moved to withhold ANC consideration of all activity in Leffler's district, but the motion died for lack of a second.

The next scheduled meeting of the full ANC1B is October 2.

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