Hine Litigant Files Complaint Against Mayor and DMPED on Transparency Issue
by Larry Janezich
On Friday, September 12, Eastern Market Community Association (EMMCA) filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint with the DC Superior Court against Mayor Gray and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED). The complaint was filed on EMMCA’s behalf by attorney Oliver Hall. Hall also represented litigants (EMMCA was one) opposed to the Zoning Commission’s approval of the Hine development as well as litigants opposed to aspects of the West End Library development.
The complaint alleges that DMPED violated the FOIA’s mandatory disclosure requirement because it has failed since November 1, 2001, to disclose records (specifically Land Development Agreements) which it is required to make public as a matter of law. In addition, the complaint alleges that DMPED unlawfully denied, delayed and obstructed specific requests for the LDAs on the West End Library and the Hine Development.
EMMCA was injured, the complaint says, because DMPED’s failure to follow the law made EMMCA unable to introduce evidence before the Zoning Commission concerning the benefits and amenities portion of the Hine development PUD process.
A ruling in favor of EMMCA would not appear to have any effect on the on-going Hine litigation. It could, however, require DMPED to follow the letter of the law regarding contract transparency. Though EMMCA is claiming injury, the complaint asks the court to order DMPED to post all public LDAs (contracts) after November 1, 2001, on its website; and to declare that DMPED’s failure to disclose LDAs and a general index of public records on its website are contrary to law.
EMMCA has been at odds with ANC6b for many months over the issue of the Hine development, but they do agree on the issue of DMPED’s lack of transparency. Last February, in testimony before the DC Committee on Economic Development, ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven joined appellants of the Hine project in agreeing that DMPED failed to respond properly to a FOIA request filed by Capitol Hill residents seeking details about the deal that DMPED struck with Hine developers Stanton/Eastbanc. Flahaven said that DMPED “mishandled the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by community members and needlessly delayed and limited access to information…” (See post on Brian Flahavan as well as then-Deputy Mayor Hoskins here: http://bit.ly/1aVCuwD.)