Citywide Caucus of ANC Commissioners Pushes for More Funding, a Louder Voice, and Maybe a Paycheck
By Larry Janezich
The City-wide ANC Caucus held a virtual meeting last Monday night agreed to push for better funding for the ANCs, a louder voice in addressing city-wide issues, better organization, and maybe paychecks for commissioners. The Caucus also discussed police reform and the Mayor’s amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Maps.
The meetings typically draw 10% or so of the city’s 300 commissioners, but it was the consensus of those who attended Monday’s meeting that the city is missing an opportunity to directly enlist the assistance of commissioners in addressing city issues.
Commissioner Chuck Elkins (ANC3D01) said that what’s missing from the Commissions is money and that limits the ANCs’ ability to look at issues. He said the ANC’s are a “boot-strap” organization and he was not sure if that was intentional or the result of benign neglect…. “If commissioners were paid, it would make a difference as well, but as of now, we have been relegated to a minor role in the city. Maybe we deserve it, but I don’t think so.” He added, “We want more support for what we do, not just as ANCs but on city wide issues. [The Office of ANCs] doesn’t’ believe that’s our job but [they] have a narrow view of what our job is.”
Commissioner Fredrica Kramer (ANC6D05) agreed that the “crux of the problem is that there are no resources for what we do”, and urged the city to provide funding for people to do studies and research.
Commissioner Andy Litsky (ANC6D04) said he has always opposed paychecks because he feels serving is a civic duty. But, he said, Elkins and Kramer “are spot on – I’d rather have funding which would make the ANCs self-sufficient – to do things beyond just our community…. We need funds to allow us to challenge things put before us by agencies and the city council.”
Commissioners Brown (ANC7B02) and Patel (ANC2A03) supported paychecks as compensation for the full-time demands of the job. Commissioner Ready (ANC6B03) supported the pay issue as a way to broaden the appeal of serving as a commissioner.
Commissioner Lucio (ANC5A03) said she could take or leave the paycheck but added the ANCs need better organization from the top down including more support and a larger staff.
Commissioner Brannum (ANC5E08) agreed with Lucio and was mildly critical of the Office of ANCs which is headed up by Gottlieb Simon. He continued, “The OANC thinks the ANCs report to it instead of being a legislative council…. We report to our constituents and the people of DC…. I think we have to demand respect as an institution. Many ANCs focus locally, but our outreach and impact are beyond that.” He appealed to the city to give the ANCs support “so we can do what we do.”
Lucio suggested drafting a letter to city officials and four commissioners and Caucus coordinator Chander Jayaraman volunteered to write a draft which the Caucus will consider at its next meeting on Monday, March 29.
The City Wide Caucus – which is currently an informal organization – was organized by Jayraman in 2020 while he was Chair of ANC6B after virtual meetings offered a way for commissioners across the city to meet and discuss areas of common interest. After losing his bid for an At-Large City Council seat, the Caucus asked him to stay on as coordinator. The caucus usually holds a virtual meeting every other Monday night.
5 responses to “Citywide Caucus of ANC Commissioners Pushes for More Funding and Maybe a Paycheck”
Originally established to “reflect” the will of the community, paying these proto-politicos to act as a sort of super government would be a mistake IMHO. If they do get paid, then they should be liable for their decisions and subject to lawsuits or other forms of accountability.
I’m all for giving some more resources to the ANCs so they can conduct outreach and organize with their constituents. Paying ANC commissioners a salary however is a terrible idea. Their entire existence is be direct hyper local connection to the residents so concerns are heard. They’re not meant to be a legislative body. They’re not meant to be drafting policy. It isn’t meant to be a full time job either (although I do recognize the time commitment many make is significant.) If you want to see corruption and graft enter the ANC landscape just start paying them a salary
Frankly, it is well past time to eliminate ANCs entirely. They were designed decades ago to transition the city from Federal control to (more or less) local control. Plus, it is time that our city councilors finally take responsibility for serving their constitutions directly, instead of hiding behind the ANCs when things don’t get done or go wrong. We should not have a buffer between constituents and their city representatives–that only serves to make things more complicated and difficult.
A business case for paying ANC commissioners can only be made if doing so would result in a multiple of savings for the District. The history of ANCs, however, is one of asking for more expenditures and not for cutting spending. ANC members should not be paid until they are instrumental in cutting District expenditures.
Paying them wages is not proper, because what they do is not an hourly task.
However, a “thank you” would be appropriate — an honoraria. A few bucks, pocket money, to show our appreciation for sitting through those endless meetings dealing with the minutia of zoning and development.