Guest Commentary: Backstabbing, Squabbling, and Utter Denial – What Else Would We Expect From ANC 5B?

Transparency was the word of the evening, rolling several times off of the newly elected commission chair Regina James’ tongue as she and other commissioners attempted to breeze past the financial scandal and hide a maneuver to oust one of their fellow council members. The constituents clamored for resignations and explanations, citing the financial scandals as only the tip of the iceberg in the ways in which the commission has failed the people. The overwhelming response from the commission was hostility and refusal to accept blame.

 In the spirit of ANC 5B ambiguity, the commission could do no more than plead ignorance and provide dodgy answers when confronted. In regard to the recent financial scandal brought on by former commissioner Chair William Shelton, the only consistent response was that the commission had simply been too trusting and that they too had been betrayed, which she cited this as being akin to a spousal betrayal. Ms. James also could not provide one concrete reason as to why she and others felt that Commissioner Bennett was not fit to serve as recording secretary (Commissioner James motioned to call a special meeting to review quarterly reports, which were not prepared. When pressed by Commissioner Bennett on the agenda, only then did she admit that they would also be reviewing a commissioner’s service in office. Additional prompting led James to name Bennett as the person to be reviewed for removal from office. How’s that for transparent?), even though there was no mention of removing the commissioner, Treasurer Patricia Daniels-Brown, for her very concrete failure to notice $30,000 disappearing from the ANC 5B account. According to Ms. James, there were “issues they felt inappropriate” in regard to Mr. Bennett, and it was “taxing” on the commission. The meeting continued in this fashion as she also railroaded through her agenda, ignored public request for clarification on business matters (e.g., refusal to read aloud an ANC letter of request for money) and a mad motion after motion without providing any detail to the public regarding the business being conducted. (editor’s note: The commission disregarded Robert’s Rules of Order, the governing system of conducting public meetings, which would have allowed public comment on new business motions brought before a vote.)

 Just as the intensity of the public sentiment reached a boiling point, the citizens in the audience were finally allowed to comment on the ongoing scandal and abuse of power by the commission. The commission’s reaction was at times, less than respectable. One commissioner replied to a citizen’s comment with something to the effect of, “who are you to tell me that I belong in my position?” Commissioner James’ knee jerk reaction was to motion for dismissal when at least half dozen constituents still had not been heard. At least one commissioner had the decency to make a plea for the people and shame the rest of the commission into agreeing to hear additional comments.

 The conclusion of the meeting was no disappointment. In an attempt to clear her name, Daniels-Brown made a clueless and inept statement that because she is a reverend (irrelevant), she would not and did not steal money. She then admitted that she did not prepare one quarterly report since January because she “didn’t have time.” What Daniels-Brown and most of other commissioners ultimately failed to grasp is that that the people clearly asked those commissioners who failed to do their jobs to step down.

 In all fairness, some of the commissioners were less vocal than others and not all immediately jumped on the Ms. James’ bandwagon. However, if the rest of the commission doesn’t start reading their bylaws and standing up for their citizens, then they should enjoy their remaining time in office, because as one citizen put it, “the ANC 5B commission got off easy tonight”.

 Note: The special-but PUBLIC-meeting to review quarterly reports and to review the recording secretary Vaughn Bennett’s position will be held either September 14th or 15th. Plan on attending. If it’s anything like the September 1st meeting, you won’t forget it.

Editors Note: The above commentary was written by a resident of ANC5B who attended the commission’s meeting on Sept 1, 2011. It is apparent that the commission made no efforts to be open and transparent at this meeting and Regina James’ attempt to oust a fellow commissioner because he has opposing views on how the commission’s business should be run (according to bylaws and rules, no less) shows that as a leader, Ms. James fails miserably. A lesson in leadership is being able to accept differing views and negotiate to a compormise. This is lost on the new Chairperson of the commission. I wanted to thank Commissioner Davis for her resignation and service, as she gave her 30-day notice to step down. For anyone’s interest:

12 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Backstabbing, Squabbling, and Utter Denial – What Else Would We Expect From ANC 5B?

    1. So, who is the anonymous author of this one-sided missive? Mr. Bennett himself, is my guess. Transparency is okay for some, I suppose.

      1. Actually, Regina, it was not Vaughn Bennett. Your claim that this was written by him, though, does show your prejudice against Commissioner Bennett and proves your vendetta against him goes to extreme. Ms James, transparency is a novel concept that you do not understand which was proven at the last ANC meeting. As well, your failure to ask the treasurer for her resignation shows the lack of leadership you have as part of the ANC. As long as the incumbents stay on this ANC, it will continue to be mistrusted and dismissed by the public at large.

      2. I sincerely hope that this is someone posing as Regina James, cause the real Regina James cannot really be stupid enough to say “transparency is okay for some, I suppose”. I mean, judging by the way she ran that meeting, I know she’s no genius, but give me a break.

        What really gets me is that she and the other ANC 5B members are going after Vaughn Bennett for calling them out on their stupidity, yet none of the ANC’s called for William Shelton to resign after he allegedly stole $30k+. Nor have they called on the resignation for that imbecile Patricia Daniels-Brown who openly admitted to not having filed a report or look at the bank statements since she’d been in office cause she “didn’t have time”. And further went to use the fact that since she is a “reverend”, that she would never steal money. I’m sure that’s what all the preachers now involved in sex scandals said too and we know where that got them. Another useless face on the commission. I’m sure that this is just the beginning of what will come out of this bunch of idiots.

  1. I really enjoyed the meeting last night. It started off poorly with Vaughn Bennett leading the meeting. He couldn’t even provide the audience with copies of the agenda, which they demanded. How could he even lead a meeting with an agenda which he said he never helped prepare. It was craziness, as usual. Regina James was quite cool, calm, and collected. I can remember the days when she was as rude and vociferous as Kathy Henderson was last night. As the last questioner said, its “Time to move on” and she was glad to see the 5B Commissioners taking those steps. I totally agree with this.

    1. Were we at the same meeting? First off, Vaughn Bennett wasn’t even running this meeting….it was a meeting improperly called by the other ANC’s without his knowledge. Second, Regina James is completely incompetent. She ran that meeting like a bull in a china shop…running all over the place without regard to Roberts Rules of Order. Then, on this very blog, she comes out saying that she has no use for transparency. I’d like to hope that it’s because she doesn’t know what that word means…but I have a feeling it’s just because she’s just as inept at her job as past and present ANC commissioners are.

      Woodie, Woodie, Woodie…just when I started to think you might be among the educated, progressive people on this blog, you go and write a comment like this.

  2. Woodie and ReginaDC need to look at their statement, people like these two and resident non-participants are the root cause of this community problems. Arrogance and Ignorance do not a good team make. Regina was not cool just arrogant and ignorant of the community concerns. Woodie, apparently attended a different meeting then the rest of us attended on September 1st 2011.

    The fact there is nepotisim and other factors that foster poor management at this level… does not make it difficult to see why we have not achieve statehood. The ANC5B commissioners have one of the poorest performance records in the city, and we the community are part of the problem. Most of us do not vote, or participate in the smallest of community political business or enterprises. Our commissioners reflects this, by the way is there a conflict of interest when a DC government employee is a ANC Commissioner.

    I have heard a number of people in the community, telling Commissioner Bennett, to work with Regina, you do not work with a person who has treachery in their heart. What you do is remove them from any position of influence and power. This fact has historical basis. I am not trying to hide who I am or what I am about. What we need is some good examples of fairplay and cooperation by all.

    Bye the Bye what is the purpose of Commissioner James assistant? Has any past Chair had an assistant?

  3. What really struck me at that meeting was that when the residents were finally allowed to speak, there was really only one neighborhood-type request (I can’t even recall what it was, a letter of support?). This commission is so dysfunctional we don’t simply want to “move on” as some commissioners (and apparently Woodie) would like to see happen. They had their chance – years and years for some – to do right by their residents. What was completely absurd is that they stood up there and said that they had failed but now it was time to move on. As if we are supposed to feel sorry for them that they can’t do their jobs!

    The commission, unfortunately, banks on the fact that they believe they are powerful and that the majority of residents are not involved. There were what, 50 at most people at the ANC 5B meeting there out of thousands? I strongly believe there are a lot of residents that remain in the woodwork for a number reasons. Awareness is number one. As a newer DC resident, I would never have known about the ANC and the BS that is going on had two things not happened 1) I made an active attempt to search for information about my neighborhood and found this blog; and 2) I received a flier from my SMD Commissioner Vaughn Bennett’s emergency meeting, in which I attended. As far as I can tell there is no communication between and among residents and the ANC members, and no attempt at community outreach on behalf of the ANC as a whole. Where are all the young people I see hopping on the metro in mornings? There are a lot of old timers in the area who do care and attend these meetings. Their opinions and knowledge of what is going on is invaluable. But what about the younger generations that are trickling into these parts? Where are they? Unaware is my guess. The other major issue I think there is a long history of feeling dis-empowered and disappointed, which has led to a general sense of apathy among the community.

    I hope the readers of this blog and other blogs that are unhappy with the state of affairs in our neighborhood will seriously consider attending ALL ANC meetings, special or regular, talking to their neighbors, and getting involved when the opportunities present themselves.

    1. I can only speak for myself (someone who firmly believes that if you don’t participate you don’t get the right to complain- so i have no comments on the ANC leadership) but the idea of sitting through these meetings seems a colossal waste of time other than to bare witness to the follies pointed out above.

      When I first moved to Woodridge I went to several of the ANC meetings and I must say the long time residents were amazingly warm and welcoming. By the second meeting they were trying to get me on a committee for something that i forget. Ultimately I stopped going because of a lack of substantive discussion and the fact that the meetings were a bit more like church than a civic forum. The frustrations you all chronicle are exactly the reasons “young people” don’t go to these meetings. I and my neighbors who have become good friends, choose not to participate because the system is broken. There is a perception that the mantle of leadership is horse traded among a select few families and well…..if you have the same people doing the same thing… aren’t going to get much in the way of change (and no the irony of this statement isn’t lost on me).

      If you really want to get young/new people involved then create a separate group….a lobby if you will, and I assure you, if young/new people feel there is a critical mass they will happily get involved.

  4. I’ve attended Mr. Vaughn’s SMD meetings. Believe it or not they are conducted in very much the same manner as the ANC 5B meeting. He explicity states that the community only get 60 seconds or so to comment. So much for freedom!

    Mr. Vaughn did in fact lead the meeting, for the first 15 or so minutes, until a president was elected.

    In general, I’ve been very disappointed with the ability of recording secretaries to accurately record what is said at any ANC meeting. That is what I understand Mr. Vaughn was faulted on. The next public ANC5B meeting will be held on Thursday, September 15 at the 5th District Police Station at 7 pm. The agenda will be:


    In no way is Mr. Vaughn being removed as a 5B Commissioner. Based on my own dealings with 5B-04 and the negligible amount of work that has been done to improve the Rhode Island Avenue Corridor, I would like to see him and any other Commissioners along Rhode Island Avenue step down and be replaced by more capable representatives.

    1. Woodie, you have some steep standards for someone who really doesn’t have a lot to do with redevelopment of RIA especially when he is one person on a dysfunctional body like ANC5B. Before any ANC commissioner can do anything, they need to have a capable organization. Mr. Bennett is being removed because Regina James doesn’t like opposing views on the commission. If Ms. James thinks that what she got at the last ANC meeting was rough, just wait. It will not stop until she and others on that commission who failed to do their jobs and demand accountability have resigned or are recalled (which I hear is a gathering storm). I think everyone understands that Mr. Bennett will not be removed as a Commissioner, only the voters can do that but he is being removed as an officer because of Ms. James is being petty. If she had any ounce of professionalism or cared for the integrity of that organization, the Treasurer’s name would be on the agenda, not Vaughn’s.

  5. I was one of the people at the September meeting that spoke out. This meeting was a train wreck! I can not believe this is allowed to happen and no one is stepping in. The ANC 5B is a disgrace, they are disrespectful, tasteless, and have no disregard for the residents of Ward 5B. What I saw was a sick cycle of corruption, irresponsiblity, and selfishness. None of the ANC members, besides V.Bennett, took accountability for what happend. Mr. Shelton stole OUR money, tax payer money; money that was supposed to be funnelled into our community for growth and enrichment. Instead we have Stadium Nightclubs, DC STar and other useless places pouring their ratcheness out into our neighborhoods. The ANC’s is our voice so THEY are the problem. Ms. Regina James ought to be the most ashamed for not taking responsibility. Patricia-Brown Daniels should have been ousted a LONG time ago. The problem is these people enjoy having the power and disregard the responsibility associated with it. They feel untouchable. The worst part is that its a cypher, Regina, Harry Thomas, Pat Brown-Daniels, all of these people are in the same network. We need to gather as a community and put a stop to this. And I plan on being part of that effort, you just see.

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