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The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

ANC attendance lags, delaying consideration of agenda items

Residents+sit+in+anticipation+of+an+Advisory+Neighborhood+Council+meeting.
Colin Wagner | Photographer
Residents sit in anticipation of an Advisory Neighborhood Council meeting.

Select members of a local governing body frequently miss monthly meetings, causing backups in the group’s legislative process.

At least two members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission have missed a regular meeting since May, pushing some agenda items to the back burner as the body struggles to reach legally mandated quorum. ANC Chair Jim Malec said commissioners should resign if they are unable to regularly attend meetings.

“Representing the public is a privilege, not a right,” Malec said in a message. “If you can’t or won’t do the job you were elected to do, which in this case, requires consistently attending one meeting per month, then you should resign.”

While most commissioners have missed at least part of a meeting since May, Evelyn Hudson — who represents the 2A09 district encompassing St. Mary’s Court and Amsterdam Hall — has not attended a meeting in any capacity since May due to health issues, according to multiple commissioners. She did not return several requests for comment.

Malec said there is at least one ANC commissioner who has not sent or responded to any internal emails since the term began in January.

2A06 Commissioner Joel Causey did not attend this month’s meeting or the ANC’s regular July meeting. He returned a request for comment about attendance issues within the ANC with an automatic reply stating that he has “taken a leave of absence from the ANC due to family illness.” The reply defers those needing “assistance within ANC 2A06” to 2A08 Commissioner Jordan Nassar.

Malec said he does not have additional information on how long Causey will be absent. He said former 2A05 Commissioner Kim Courtney’s July resignation — ending her term that began in March — has narrowed the margin for reaching quorum during meetings.

The ANC requires representatives for five of its nine districts in order to conduct meetings, even if a given district does not have a representative, per its bylaws. The body meets monthly to vote on liquor and retail licenses, coordinate zoning applications and approve installations, offering a virtual component for commissioners and community members to attend.

The West End Library, which hosts the monthly meetings, has told commissioners to end meetings by 11:00 p.m. — extending the library’s hours of operation past their regular closing time of 8 p.m. to provide a venue for the meetings. The ANC tabled meeting agenda items to accommodate the library’s hours in June and adjourned its April meeting at 11:41 p.m.

In order to reach quorum for the ANC’s special meeting in July regarding the proposed homeless shelter in The Aston — a former GW-owned residence hall — Causey, who attended the meeting in-person, called Hudson, who said she was present over the phone. She did not call into the meeting’s virtual component and she did not vote or speak during the meeting, outside of saying she was present. Hudson left the meeting once 2A01 Commissioner Yannik Omictin joined via Zoom.

Nassar said absences reflect the need for the ANC positions to be paid, along with exhaustion over internal tensions within the commission. He said many commissioners prefer to work with the businesses and residents they represent to coordinate permitting applications and other tasks instead of deliberating District-wide resolutions within the ANC that may not have the same regional relevance.

“Many times the resolutions proposed is to give suggestions on what direction the council members should take on certain policy decisions that are sometimes out of our league,” Nassar said in an email.

D.C. law states the government should give “great weight” to ANC recommendations.

2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel, the longest-serving member of the ANC, authored two resolutions commenting on proposed D.C. Council bills which were first listed on the agenda for the June 21 meeting, but the commission pushed them to the November meeting when they failed to reach quorum in October’s meeting. Patel removed her four resolutions from the September agenda because she was unable to attend the majority of the meeting, the ANC took August off and it failed to reach quorum for its July meeting.

Patel said she can individually submit her resolutions in support of D.C. Council bills but that it does not have the same effect as the ANC showing support for these bills as a body.

“The best measure of great weight is when the ANC passes it,” Patel said. “And at the end of the day, the work that an ANC commissioner does, the ANC commission is to do is for the betterment and the improvement of all of D.C.”

Since May, ANC 2A has passed three resolutions. The ANC passed six resolutions in April, two in March and in February, it passed four.

2A04 Commissioner Ed Comer left the ANC’s October meeting early because of another commitment. His departure pushed the ANC out of its quorum of five commissioners, delaying the consideration of Patel’s resolutions and the ANC’s budget for fiscal year 2024 until their November meeting.

Patel said other commissioners fail to read agenda materials prior to meetings and ask unnecessary questions which can slow down proceedings.

“A lot of these questions that they ask are basic, basic-level questions they should’ve already done on their own,” Patel said.

Comer said commissioners have cited family illness, out-of-town work and classes as reasons for missing meetings but said he could not speak as to exactly why other commissioners missed meetings.

“I’ve gone to meetings, and other people haven’t showed up,” Comer said. “And I find it very disappointing, but I can’t speak for why they’re not there.”

Grace Chinowsky contributed reporting.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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