The First Glimpse of the New Eastern Market Governing Authority
by Larry Janezich
Councilmember Tommy Wells appeared before ANC6b’s Executive Committee Tuesday night to share with them the report of the Task Force on Eastern Market Governance. Wells appointed the Task Force last year to make recommendations for a new Market governing authority. He distributed the report to the Commissioners – asking specifically that he be accorded the courtesy that the report not be made public until he has had a chance to meet with other community organizations, including the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC), Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA), CHAMPS, Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS), etc.
The Executive Committee, Chaired by ANC6b Chairman Neil Glick, regularly meets the last Tuesday of the month to set the agenda for the next month’s full ANC6b meeting.
Wells said, “I think the Task Force Report is good – I pretty much think it’s the right way to go.” It made some great recommendations and provided a framework for writing the legislation.” But, “There are some things I don’t agree with – the devil is in the details.”
Specifically, Wells pointed to the question regarding how the Board will be appointed. The Task Force recommends that the Councilmember from Ward Six appoint five of the eleven member Board. Wells said he was not sure that there is a precedent for that or that it was “kosher.” He was “not sure there is not a better way,“going on to say that the important principle is that the Board is established and has authority. “How the Board is appointed can be worked out through the community process.”
Wells sought guidance on how the ANC wants to handle the proposed legislation. He warned about the community putting too much stock in the Task Force Report or too much effort in responding to it, since it is a series of recommendations and not an official document. He encouraged the ANC wait to look at the draft legislation, hold their own hearing, and pass a resolution saying how they thought it should be amended. .
Regarding a time line, Wells said he “would love to have the process done by the end of July.” That seems unlikely, given the regularly scheduled City Council summer recess from July 15 until September 15. Wells allowed it was “not the end of the world” if that goal was not met.
The Task Force Report will be public on April 12, when the Councilmember appears before the regular meeting of ANC6b – unless Wells decides to release it early. Wells will explain the purpose of the legislation and the process by which it will be considered.
That process is expected to unfold as follows:
The Washington powerhouse law firm of Arnold and Porter has been engaged on a pro bono basis to write the legislation. The earliest draft of the bill is expected to be available toward the end of April.
Introduction of the bill
ANC will hold a Special Call Meeting in late May to hear Wells – or his legislative staff – explain the legislation.
ANC6b will vote on a resolution regarding amendments at its regular June 14 meeting.
City Council Hearing
Two readings before City Council and passage by City Council in July or September
The councilmember highlighted several controversial issues on which the ANC was likely to be lobbied.
Perhaps the most important is what he called the “paradigm shift from EMCAC.” The new Authority will be a Board of expertise. Their purpose will be to maintain the integrity and preservation of the Market. Neighbors will be board members – but the board members will represent the interest of the market, not the constituencies from which they come – “not Stanton Park or the ANC.” All affected entities need and will have a point of access, but not necessarily a seat on the board, especially if their interests could conflict with those of the Market. .
In addition, he cited the issue of the role of vendors. The report recommends three voting seats on the Board for vendors, and Wells said he agreed with that. Another issue is the role of flea market. Wells said that he thought it would be in their interests to “grandfather them in,” and said he believed that their new landlord would be the new Eastern Market Authority. He said he was committed to keeping flea market viable during construction of the Hine Development and that this will involve city authority, regarding potential use of Metro Plaza and or 7th Street going south.
Finally he cited concern regarding balance of food vs. craft vendors at the Market. “Eastern Market will be a fresh food market. Crafts are important and can be supported but this is about preserving a fresh food market.”
Wells emphasized during the meeting that the Market is owned by all of us. This process, he said, will provide a means of vetting the new governing structure – and we always need a whole lot of transparency. We want everybody to know that there’s a process and that this is not a take over.”