Over the past 4 1/2 years as I’ve served on ANC 1A, I’ve been looking for ways to improve the Commission’s operations in addition to weighing in of the various business that requires ANC review — such as liquor licenses and zoning variances. One small change I recently identified and which could easily be solved is giving the Board of Elections clearer instruction to declare a seat vacant when a Commissioner stops attending meetings. While many ANCs do not have a problem with absenteeism, others do (especially in the second half of a term).
Not only does an absentee Commission fail to represent the people who elected them, but it has resulted in instances where a Commission has failed to achieve quorum which results in the entire Commission being unable to officially vote on the issues at hand. In 2014 ANC1A had two absentee Commissioners — one ceasing to attend meetings after January 2014 and another ceasing to attend after the June 2014 meeting — which did contributed to a failure of quorum at the July meeting and fragile quorums for the last quarter of the term.
Understanding that few people — even the most dedicated — are able to attend every meeting, it struck me that there should be a reasonable solution, so I drafted a resolution which passed with eight in favor, one against, and one abstaining with the following resolve:
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A urges members of the Council of the District of Columbia and the Mayor to introduce and pass legislation adding the following language to D.C. Code § 1-309.06 to address ANC absenteeism and assist in keeping Commissions functional:
- § 1-309.06(i) Any member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission who ceases to attend the Commission’s official public meeting for three consecutive months shall be considered to have resigned, and the office shall be declared vacant.
The full resolution (read here) was sent to Councilmembers Bonds and Nadeau, and in speaking with a member of Councilmember Bonds’ office, has been received favorably. There is a good chance this simple change will move forward and help keep Commissions operating.