Chaos Rules at the ANC Meeting
Chaos ruled at the 5C Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner meeting last night, at least for a while.
Rashidi Christian, an outspoken member of the Edgewood Civic Association, sounded off at least three times against the Fairfield project. Fairfield is a very large (535 unit) proposed residential and commercial complex to be located near Eckington Place and the New York Avenue Metro. The Fairfield representative said that the amentities package was now at $160,000, but Christian was adament that Fairfield had not met with the Edgewood C.A. in good faith.
Christian was particularly concerned that, in his view, Fairfield would be marketing the residences as a "childless community." At some point, Commissioner Tom Fulton (5C-03) stated that "as the only openly gay public official in Ward Five, I find [Christian's] line of questioning offensive." Christian began yelling in response.
Eartha Isaac chimed in: "Will the respresentative from Eckington say anything" about the project? Perhaps she referring to Commissioner Jones, who was silent throughout the meeting, until her brief Treasurer's report.
Commissioner Marshall R. Phillips, Sr. (5C-08) then stated that he was annoyed that Fulton repeatedly brought up the fact that he was openly gay at meetings. Fulton adamently denied this, and said that the record would support him. I believe Mr. Christian was still yelling.
At this point, the meeting descended into chaos. A few minutes later, James D. Berry, Jr. (5C-01) brought the meeting back from the brink with some conciliatory words that brought applause from the audience and both Phillips and Fulton.
Harry Thomas, Jr., the winner of the Democratic primary for the Ward Five City Council seat, spoke for about five minutes at the end of the meeting. He mentioned that he will be hosting a breakfast for all ANC commissioner candidates in the near future to talk about the role of the ANCs. I definitely plan to attend.
Thomas is hoping to develop a plan to make the ANCs, police, and civic associations work together better. He added that "We must treat our police officers like human beings," particularly in light of the heavy schedules the officers have been enduring lately.
After Thomas finished his speech, Commissioner Robert V. Brannum (5C-04) demanded that Thomas's remarks be stricken from the minutes, because the remarks were political. I think Brannum may be confusing his role as commissioner to be nonpartisan. The ANC meetings are a public forum for the exchange of ideas, including political ideas. Thomas's speech certainly wasn't partisan, but it wouldn't have been a problem if it had been partisan, so long as his opponent (nonexistent at this point on the Republican side of the aisle) is given the opportunity to speak as well.