Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Underlying Agenda In Play (?)
Fengler: I am posting this email exchange between Commissioner Pate and myself.
On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 10:55 PM, Brian Pate <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I know you had a full agenda last night, but I was seriously disappointed with the lack of an opportunity for public comment on the most recently adopted plan, BEFORE the plan was voted on by the Task Force. Will this be rectified on Thursday?
I also have a simple question. Why did ANC6C blithely give away 3 SMDs to an ANC that very vocally stated that they did not need or want them, then turn around and vociferously lobby for an additional SMD to their south? It does not make any sense to me, unless there is an underlying agenda in play. Please help me clear this up.
On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 5:55 PM, Joe Fengler <email@example.com> wrote:
If time permits, at the end of the meeting, an opportunity for public comment will be provided. The last two meetings (public meeting #9 and #10) are scheduled as public meetings for the task force to make decisions. These are not hearings where we are soliciting additional information from the public. We have completed that phase of our redistricting process. However, if a task force member wishes to make a motion to open the meeting for public comment/participation/input on various proposals/recommendations, and that motion receives the appropriate second, as well majority of the task force voting in the affirmative, the meeting will be open to public input during the meeting. I am being candid to manage expectations.
I welcome the opportunity to address the two questions you asked me. And thank you for asking them. It is this type of exchange that will facilitate understanding. And to be clear, for the rest of my comments below, I am speaking as Joe Fengler and not the W6TF Chair.
1. Why did ANC6C blithely give away 3 SMDs to an ANC that very vocally stated that they did not need or want them?
As you are asking my opinion on ANC 6C's recommendation to realigning 6C SMD in the NW to the new 6E, I believe the full rational for their request can be found in the recommendations they forwarded the task force on Friday, September 16, 2011 - which can be found here.
It appears that 6C was providing solutions to address the integration of ANC 2C as well as meet the objectives listed in the Ward 6 Guidelines for ANC/SMD - which can be found here (as well as posted on the W6TF website, under Filing Cabinet). These guidelines were also provided on page 30 of the W6TF Redistricting Report (issued August 18, 2011) - which can be found here (as well as posted on the W6TF website, under Filing Cabinet).
Specifically, the very first objective of the Ward 6 Redistricting Guidelines for ANC/SMD deal with striving for cohesive grouping of residents: "Recognize neighborhood cohesiveness by grouping residents into ANCs where they are likely to have the most concern about issues that come before their own ANC, and have an affinity of interests and preferences with other residents in the same ANC."
To that point, ANC 6C's formal recommendation provided to the task force stated: "We recognize the opportunity to bring together the northwest communities from the current ANC 2C to our north with the northernmost ANC 6C communities because of constituents’ similar interests and issues as NoMa and North Capitol corridor development continue to move through their neighborhood. We believe that ANC experience in dealing with developers in ANC 6C01, 02, and 03 will provide guidance as this development proceeds. Thus we recommend that 6C01, 02, and 03 join with the four current 2C SMDs to form a new ANC 6E."
From the ANC 6C Listening Session held on July 14,2011, the following statements where made:
(1) ANC 6C Chair Karen Wirt said that right now, ANC 6C has nine Single Member Districts, and with the addition of Shaw it could very well be 12, so one idea would be to break off 09--along with 01, 02 and 03—into a new ANC 6E.
(2) Ms. Scheeder pointed out that the boundaries of 01, 02, 03 and 09 plus Shaw can be put together logically.
(3) Ms. Wirt said 6C had nine, and Mr. Coburn said that seven is a logical number in terms of operations, etc., that seven provides more people to pitch in and get things done.
(4) Ms. Scheeder pointed out that there’s a lot of development happening within the Ward and there should be consistency in developing the policy for the ANCs. The Task Force should develop procedures that will equalize the workload among the Commissions.
You can read the entire ANC 6C Meeting Listening Summary on the W6TF website - which can be found here.
To summarize these three data points, I can follow the development of the idea to realign ANC 6A NW SMDs from the early stages of the redistricting process all the way to ANC 6C sending that recommendation to the task force. It appears to be based in sound public policy - that NW blocks in Ward 6 share more in common with ANC 2C than ANC 6C. That ANC 6C and ANC 2C both recognize the neighborhood cohesiveness achieved by grouping these residents together as the share common issues.
It is important to note that ANC 2C's position on this subject as evolved over the summer as they had a chance to really study the potential option of incorporating most of ANC 6C's NW SMD. If you read the ANC 2C Listening Meeting Minutes (which can be found here), you will see very hesitant and skeptical comments from ANC 2C Commissioners. Initially, ANC 2C wanted to remain a four SMD ANC. By the time they voted on their official recommendations - they recommended adoption of the initially approved maps that had seven SMDs, to include other recommended changes. I credit that to Chair Padro and Commissioner Nigro's willingness to work with the task force and understand the objectives of the Ward Six redistricting process.
2. Why did ANC6C...turn around and vociferously lobby for an additional SMD to their south?
Again, it appears that ANC 6C is basing their recommendation in the following Ward 6 Redistricting Guidelines for ANC/SMD:
Guideline #2. To the extent that current boundaries contribute to effective functioning of the ANCs, limit the scope of change to ANC and SMD boundaries.
From ANC 6C's formal recommendations: "ANC 6C believes that seven is a logical number in terms of operations and provides a sufficient number to get things done. Six SMDs can result in a tie vote, whereas seven does not, and this is particularly important as NoMa developers continue to come before ANC 6C as the area to our north grows."
Guideline #3. Balance workloads and resources of ANCs and pay attention to likely caseload based on development patterns, historic districts, etc.
From ANC 6C's formal recommendations: "A better balance would be created in Ward 6 and hence the workload better distributed if the number of SMDs in each Ward 6 ANC is more evenly divided: 6D and 6E each have seven SMDs; 6A has 8; 6B would have 9 if 6C were to have a seventh SMD. Thus we recommend that for effective functioning of the workload both across Ward 6 and within 6C, a seventh SMD is needed in 6C."
Guideline #4. Take advantage of natural or built features to the extent they make sense to residents in defining the boundaries of ANCs.
From their formal recommendation: "Similarly, the extension of ANC 6C’s southern border to Independence Avenue also satisfies the criterion of grouping residents into ANCs where they are likely to have similar interests, concerns and preferences in the Capitol Hill historic district."
So, while I understand that there is disagreement regarding ANC 6C's recommendations, as well as the subsequent W6TF adopting them, I don't see any hidden plan. In my opinion, their recommendations are grounded in good public policy for Ward 6. In addition, I supported this recommendation for the following additional reasons:
1. In the Ward redistricting process, Ward 6 lost Chinatown and has significant adjustments to the western end of the Ward. Initially, my objective was to effectively incorporate 2C into Ward 6 - which was accomplished. In my opinion, it is not realistic to think that all the changes created by the DC Council on the western end of Ward 6 could be completely resolved/absorbed in the western end. Initially, the task force proposed to do just that - by reducing ANC 6C to six SMDs. Even to get to six SMDs required moving ANC 6C's eastern end to 8th Street - essentially taking census blocks for ANC 6A. I was initially OK with that plan as it would be reviewed by all the ANCs to provide formal comments and recommendations. However, upon reading ANC 6C's recommendations, it was clear to that trying to "contain" all the western end changes within their existing boundaries (along with the portion from ANC 6A) did not lead to an equitable redistricting process.
2. The redistribution between the NW SMDs and ANC 6A and 6C SMDs. In my opinion, the differences between Ward 6 NW SMDs and Ward 6 NE SMDs are significant. Noting that ANC 6C does still retain parts of NW below Massachusetts Avenue, I attribute that to an acceptable deviation to support the larger goal of building equitably-sized ANCs. I will agree, it is not perfect solution. That being said, shifting ANC 6C boundaries both east and south supports the guidelines adopted and is a much better policy option than having ANC 6C retain more of NW than they already have in the currently approved plan.
3. In my opinion, the redistricting process is recognize neighborhood cohesiveness, retain/build effective ANCs and balance workloads, resources and caseloads. By adopting a final plan that has one ANC with 6 SMD and one ANC with 10 violates all three of these guidelines. While it would be difficult to build all ANCs with the same number of SMDs - implementing a plan that has three ANCs with 7 SMDs, one with 8 SMDs and one with 9 SMDs is a worthy policy objective worth achieving as it supports all three of these objectives.
4. Accordingly, I disagree that those living between Independence and East Capitol will be "cut" adrift from Eastern Market/Barrack Row. Eastern Market is a wonderful resources share by the entire Ward 6 community as well as the city. I don't agree with "where I shop" is "what ANC" I should be in. While the line - "I can see ANC 6B from my window" does not hold logic with me. The very nature of borders means that someone will see another ANC from one's front door. I can think of MedLink, H Street Connection and RFK all as good examples of "recognized" features that are just across the street.
In close, I hope this clears up how ANC 6C came to their recommendations. I offered my additional points used in making my decision in an effort to provide the context of one vote - mine. I respect that others have different rationale and don't agree with any of the points provided by ANC 6C or even my additional analysis. But, I will say, from my opinion, this was not a hasty decision made without study or proper notice to the community. In this case, well respected task force members, who are volunteering their time and great expertise, spent two months reviewing the same information and came to different conclusions. Whether the decisions are "wrong" or "right" depends on the evaluation lens used to make a decision.
Respectfully, Joe Fengler