Hine Litigant Files Complaint Against Mayor and DMPED on Transparency Issue

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.)

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

16 responses to “Hine Litigant Files Complaint Against Mayor and DMPED on Transparency Issue

  1. AnonX

    ‘Tis an ill wind that does not blow some good. EMMCA is fulfilling an urgent District-wide need in asking DC government agencies to follow existing law mandating public posting of development processes and decisions. I praise EMMCA with a heavy heart. The Hine Appeal, and its successor request for reconsideration, are the only slender reeds of recourse we currently have had left after a Zoning Commission decision that depended on false testimony from a Developer, SEB in this instance. Only a FOIA filed after the ZC decision uncovered the developer fibs upon which the Zoning Commission based its opinion — and — as egregiously — upon which the DC Court of Appeals also bases its opinion. That Appeals court upraids us appealers for not knowing what the city of DC refused to reveal! Please also do remember, our FOIA was stonewalled twice — a FOIA!! We had to go all the way to the Deputy Mayor’s office to get our documents revealed. And, wow! they really were revealing! Our city is endlessly corrupt. And it seems that few people give a damn. So thank goodness for EMMCA’s action. Today we shut the barn door after the horse has been stolen, and, if it succeeds — (remember, the laws already exist for this transparency EMMCA is requesting — EMMCA has to file a lawsuit to get a city to follow its own laws) — only future development dastards will be unable to hide lies. This is cold comfort for our beloved Capitol Hill historic district, stuck now with SEB’s Hine School Development for all time.

  2. Sigh

    Zzzzzz. Can we please just move on at this point? Please just start construction.

  3. Jen Squires

    Right? Our beloved Capitol Hill historic district would love to see a beautiful new mixed-use development on the Hine Site; as opposed to an empty, decrepit school building and parking lots. Stop stonewalling progress and let it go already.

  4. .astounded.

    Hey, Ivan and Brian, good to see you or your influence in the comments section.

    This article has little to do with the Hine PUD appeal. You guys are off base for linking the Hine appeal to a need for transparency in government/development deals, just because its the same lawyer. Maybe the question you ought to really be asking is “Were your ANC representatives paid to be such avid supporters of Stanton/East Banc?”

    Apparently one ANC Commissioner even stated, “I don’t understand why you are sueing us…” to one of the appellates. Shameful, if you ask me – that the ANC Commissioners are so cozy with SEB they feel threatened by the appeal of a PUD.

    I love how EMMCA is supposed to be transparent, but DC is not. What weird alternative world do you guys live in that you cannot grasp this?

    • Jen Squires

      It says quite clearly in the article that the FOIA request was by the Hine litigants for documents connected to the Hine development plan. See the connection now?

      • anon

        ..except it’s going back to 2001 and also covers West End Library project

      • Jon

        Why is this being connected to the ANC Commissioners?

        The connection to Hine is clear and direct. And the fact that the community is finally speaking out regarding our frustration with the delay doesn’t make us puppets- or in anyone’s pocket. BTW making that allegation regarding the ANC is shameful. They lend their time and talent and aren’t paid for their efforts. It is one thing not to agree with them it is another to be so disrespectful.

    • Brian Pate

      LoL. One of my issues with the litigation is the ability of the litigants to twist facts, or even invent facts, to fit their narrative. I for one am often as astounded as you are.

      If you asked, I’d tell you that I’m fine with a law suit intended to get the City to follow their on FOIA laws. While you’re at it, please sue DDOT, DPR and DCPS for failing to follow their own rules and regulations (and I’m only half joking). And beyond the fact that the same activist lawyer who filed the Hine lawsuit and subsequent appeal (with no meaningful input from the intervening party or several of the original petitioners) is also the lawyer filing this suit, I see no significant material linkage between the two issues.

      But I kind of get it—a shallow narrative filled with half-truths and gross over simplifications is much easier than a substantive negotiation or conversation about how to improve things. Have it your way.

      Brian

      P.S. – If you check my campaign financial reports, you’ll find that I’ve never accepted a political donation from anyone—so you’ve got that wrong as well.

  5. Ken Chalk

    It’s time to move on. Additionally I feel like a developer and the city have been more than transparent I think over the course of this development there must’ve been at least 30 or 40 meetings between the ANC and various community groups.

  6. Ken Chalk

    It’s time to move on. I feel that the developer and City have been very transparent. There must’ve been at least 30 or 40 meetings between the ANC and various community groups to the developers plans for this project.

  7. AnonX

    The connection is not to the Hine Project only, but also to all DC development projects, and going back to 2001. About SEB meetings for Hine — there were way more than 40 such meetings — as SEB is happy to tell you. Were you there? How could you miss how bogus they were?

    • anon

      which is much of the point here. the final plans related to the community benefit were largely omitted during this process

  8. Anonymous

    These posts are exhausting… can we just move on already?!? WE GET IT. You are unhappy about the plan to tear down a giant gross old school that is an eyesore on our charming little community. Change is awful. Developers are evil. DC government hides things. Blah blah blah. ENOUGH. It’s time to accept that you lost this one, and just move on.