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.