ANC6B Backs Away From Reforming Its By-Laws

Parliamentarian Brian Flahaven (standing at left) is forced to remove resident member voting provision in order to save ANC By-Laws Revision. Standing at right is Commissioner Garrison, with Commissioner Oldenburg between them. Commissioner Metzger is seated.

ANC6B Backs Away From Reforming Its By-Laws: Commissioners Retain Power – Community Representatives Still Limited – Revised

by Larry Janezich

Monday night, ANC6B’s efforts at By-Law Reform stalled when the Commission failed to adopt a key provision.

The proposal would have more actively engaged the community by giving all resident members of committees a vote on questions coming before the committee.  Currently, the resident members may vote only if the commissioner from their single member district is not present, or when the question concerns a matter in their single member district.  Resident commissioners have only recently been installed in ANC6B, part of the initial round of reforms and compliance with By-Law requirements adopted by the ANC in 2011 when a number of reform candidates were elected.  A motion to strike the provision by Commissioner Garrison failed on a 4-4 vote, with Commissioners Garrison, Oldenburg, Metzger, and Green voting to strike it.  Voting in support of extending the right to vote were Chair Critchfield, Parliamentarian Flahaven, and Commissioners Pate and Campbell.  Commissioners Glick and Frishberg were absent.

Revision of the By-Laws requires approval of seven commissioners, although proposed amendments only require a majority of those present and voting.  At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Garrison had warned that “for me and others, there are a couple of provisions that are deal breakers.”  He went on to say that although there was much in the proposed streamlining of the By-Laws he approved of, he would vote against the entire package at the end if the provisions he objected to remained.  Even if both absent Commissioners had been present and had voted for the resident member’s voting provision, there would not have been enough votes for final passage if the 4-4 vote indicated the final strength of the provision’s opponents.

Faced with losing months of work on the consolidation and streamlining of the By-Laws, Flahaven called for a recess prior to the vote on final passage.  When the Commission reconvened, Flahaven moved to strike the language providing a committee vote for resident members.  That motion was agreed to, 6-2, with Parliamentarian Flahaven and Commissioners Campbell, Green, Metzger, Oldenburg, and Garrison voting aye.  Chair Critchfield and Commissioner Pate opposed.

Prior to the vote, Commissioner Pate said of the opponents of resident member voting that it was “poor form to oppose the whole set of By-Law reforms in order to muscle this amendment on resident voting through.”  He called the opposition to the amendment giving them a vote in committee “shortsighted, myopic, and a position that cuts against the grain of progress.”

Stripped of the provisions, the By-Laws were adopted by a vote of 7-0, with Commissioner Green voting in the negative.  During the meeting, she had pressed for stronger and more specific language regarding compliance with the regulations of DC Code.  Three of the commissioners voting against reform last night have previously been found in violation of the By-Laws by this ANC: Commissioners Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenberg.


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5 responses to “ANC6B Backs Away From Reforming Its By-Laws

  1. Donna

    I am a bit surprised that these two amendments failed. I served on the Zoning subcommittee when the bylaws allowed committees to have resident members. We heard cases and voted on recommendations to the full ANC. I don’t know when that was changed to this system. The way it was previously committees served as an incubator for people who learned issues and could be a pool of candidates for the future. By allowing a committee with residents who were trusted to vote a recoomendation on every issue before the committee the fatigue factor for commissioners was reduced.Hopefully commissioners appointed a resident from their ANC that they felt they could rely on to reflect the Commissioners values and goals for their SMD as well. There needs to be more meaningful governance opportunities for a broader range of residents. Too bad this failed.

  2. Gutnar

    I frankly don’t understand this ANC. First the voted in favor of the Hine project even though it will destroy the neighborhood. Now they vote against residents’ participation. What we have is an “elite” ANC more concerned about their own status than that of the community they are supposed to represent. Our resposibility is to change our ANC commissioners on Nov 6, and choose those that can represent the real interests of the Eastern Market community.

  3. brian pate

    You’ve got a few key facts and characterizations wrong. I know you were in and out of the meeting, so perhaps you missed a few things.

    The Commission voted unanimously to strike the clause from the standing rules that would have designated Commissioners to serve on specific Committees. They did so in order to get through the agenda before our time at Brent expired, because after passing the by-laws, it was essential to have standing rules from which to operate. This was done with the full understanding that standing rules will be revisited at another special call in October.

    Lastly, I voted in favor of extending voting rights to resident members on both occasions. That should have been clear to you from the scolding I delivered CM’s Garrison, Oldenburg and the others who threatened to torpedo the by-laws because of the inclusion of this provision. I have been a proponent of extending voting to resident members since my first campaign for the seat, and have been instrumental in increasing resident participation on Committees. You of all people should know this, and it deeply angers me that you would misrepresent my position on a matter that I consider to be philosophically very important. I ultimately voted in favor of the amended by-laws because the level of work and the other fundamental changes they represent need not be scuttled due to the shortsightedness of some of my colleagues.

    Please correct your article and the characterization of my position. In the future, I also recommend a phone call for some basic fact checking.

  4. Kathleen

    Your clarifying comments are exactly how I read Larry’s article in the first place.
    I think your position at last night’s meeting is a very reasonable one. But just fyi, I won’t be voting for you, because I’ve noticed that you are quick to anger, and quick to scold.

    • Kathleen,

      My intent is not to come across as petty–I simply would like Larry to responsibly correct the inaccuracies in his post. It’s a reoccurring problem and one that should be corrected if the blog is to be a credible source of information, and not just a series of opinion pieces.

      The last word is yours.