By William B. Philpot, IV
Yesterday I attended the Ward 7D General Meeting . . . and boy was it an event to behold!
In The Beginning
The meeting started promptly with a delightful ambition on getting to the issues articulated within the Agenda established. Upon the very first item on the Agenda, the very first issue began to arise; Commissioner Willie Woods of Ward 7D07 made issue of the appropriate legal process in reviewing the New Officers Signage of the 1st Quarterly Financial Report.
It was funny to watch actually–Mr. Woods to debate the fact that the appropriate course of action in resolving such an issues was not taken by the entirety of the ANC. Gaining some momentum with the general audience, in part made up of constituents and official government office representatives, Mr. Woods made it clear to Ms. Willette Seaward of Ward 7D06 and Chairperson of the 7D ANC that the commission had failed to perform the appropriate research in the protocols to resolving the apparent issue with the Financial Report (gained thru the signature of removed ANC Commissioners).
It was quite clear that the ANC had not only failed to do whatever research for protocol information regarding this first agenda item but then had failed to communicate adequately internally what was going to be presented, voted on and discussed.
As this was the first ANC meeting that I’ve attended in almost over 6 months, I was taken aback by the rising tensions between some of the ANC Commissioners. Reminding me of my very first attendance to an ANC meeting, this meeting was filled with overlapping discourse and a lack of attention to the issues at hand. While it did seem that there was a remote (at best) concern for the constituents in attendance, there was more a concern for one ANC commissioner needing to prove their points over another ANC commissioner. It was hilarious!
As ANC Commissioner Seaward did do her very best to keep the meeting on track within the established agenda and with the time allocated, it seemed that there was an apparent lack of internal due-diligence and communication about the topics to be discussed.
The Changing of Meeting Date?
As if nothing else could or would surprise me–I thought–there was an agenda topic for the vote to change the ANC General Meeting date. Upon the discussion beginning, there was a clear lack of appropriate notification and/or research to even have even brought this subject to the table rather than to even vote on it. Many constituents within the audience found this as an agenda topic as insulting and an abuse of power and intention of the ANC. ANC Commissioner Willie Ross of Ward 7D03 made it clear that he did not agree with the action of changing the date from the already established second Tuesday of every month to the second Wednesday of every month.
Explanations were given as describe the process executed to implement the consideration of the meeting day, but apparently, by way of the general audience, this process failed to reach the constituents and others that would be affected by such a course of action. Yet again, there seem to be a lack of communications within the ANC. I wonder how they’ll learn to fix this one very clear and apparent problem.
Fortunately for us, there was something of a very pleasant visit from newly appointed Councilmember At-Large Sekou J. Biddle. Having been a previous educator and a member of a number of boards and organizations, Mr. Biddle seemed to also have mastered the aspects of public speaking and relations.
After offering to take a number of questions, Mr. Biddle was bombarded with issues of financial inequality demonstrated by the DC government and issues relevant to the possible closing of one of the Ward 7D local elementary schools.
While the air began to thicken a bit, Mr. Biddle successfully introduced some ease as he attempted to thoughtfully address the many concerns. In most respects, Mr. Biddle seemed to do what some others do not which is to just listen.
Overall the meeting was rather tense and seemed to stumble along causing it run longer than what was planned. The Ward 7D ANC needs to better plan and communicate internally before bringing matters to the constituents and the general public. Maintaining proper order and organization is the task of the commission itself and not that of those who come for the leadership of the ANC. Special consideration needs to placed upon what and why we say certain things and personal feelings must be left at the door in favor of logical process. I sure do hope this becomes apparent to atleast one of them soon . . . or else it’s back to the old days of backward progress and stagnation.