Tuesday, January 27, 2015

ANC 5D Special Mtg in Video, Open Letter, & Press Release

Video shot by Edward Milton

Okay, Friday's ANC 5D special meeting was the shortest ANC meeting I've ever been to (17 minutes); it was also exciting and full of surprises. First surprise: the ANC voted 3 to 2 not to participate in the ANC Security Fund. This caught me completely off guard and led to the second surprise: me on video. This is not me at my most articulate, and I certainly did not plan to be on camera. But very soon after the vote, Chair Kathy Henderson adjourned the meeting and I jumped up and asked for a little more discussion of the issue because I had not even contemplated the possibility of the ANC voting against participation. However, as I learned from subsequent discussion with the commissioners who opposed joining the ANC Security Fund, they had good reason to do so.

Typically joining the ANC Security Fund is a no-brainer. It protects the ANC from unauthorized expenditures, whether those be from outright theft or just unapproved spending by the Chair or Treasurer. As I said in the video, the alternative is a more costly surety bond. Pretty much every ANC (and every ANC I've ever had contact with) participates. And the deadline for participation is the end of January. I spoke up because I was shocked, confused, and concerned. In the recording you can hear Commissioner Adam Roberts say that the January deadline is an administrative deadline, and does not prevent the ANC from participating in the fund until that time. I wasn't aware of that at the time (it just hadn't come up), but I called the Office of the ANC and it's completely true. But even so, the Security Fund protects ANC money. Why would some commissioners choose to vote against it? Read their open letter below (click the text link above the doc if you can't read this version, or download the pdf).

Here's a key excerpt that explains why they voted as they did:

Why did the ANC 5D Commissioners vote AGAINST participating in the ANC Security Fund at this time?

The Commissioners who took action and voted against the motion at this time did so because key documentation, such as financial reports, bank statements, and meeting minutes have not been available to the Commission. Commissioners have made multiple requests since December 2014 for such documents, which are presumably stored in Commissioner Kathy Henderson’s home.

Additionally, financial records have not been transitioned from the former Treasurer (Commissioner Henderson) to the newly elected Treasurer (Commissioner Keisha Shropshire). Participation in the fund

requires the Chairperson and Treasurer to each agree, on the same form, to be personally liable to the [Security] Fund for any sums paid out by the Fund as a result of wrongful misappropriation or negligent loss of ANC

ANC 5D Treasurer, Commissioner Shropshire, takes this role and responsibility very seriously and prefers to have full disclosure and all financial documentation turned over before establishing the Fund and agreeing to take on this liability. Similarly, we insist on having our own opportunity to review and perform independent due-diligence on these documents prior to participating in the Fund, and ultimately before beginning to spend ANC money.

This open letter (which you should read in its entirety) was promptly followed by this press release: Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 7.40.34 PM

I'm pretty sure this is my first appearance in a Kathy Henderson press release, so I guess I'm honored. Maybe? But she actually misquotes me. The volume is not the best on the video recording, but I listened multiple times and I never once heard myself use the word "mistake" on the audio recording.  Now I did speak with Commissioner Henderson for a couple of minutes immediately after the meeting and I might have said something along the lines of I think the Commission would be making a mistake by not participating in the ANC Security Fund (because I do think that, and she was thanking me for speaking up). I definitely did NOT say "the commissioners are making a big mistake by not voting to participate in the ANC Security Fund." Why would I say that? It was clear by that point that permanent non-participation was not anyone's intent. The commissioners who voted in opposition all want to join the Security Fund...they just want to see the books first. I think that's quite reasonable (it is public money, after all). Actually, I think it's also pretty brave because they had to know that their Chair would try to spin the vote as purely obstructionist behavior by commissioners who just don't get it.

I also saw that Kathy Henderson sent the following out to a few public email lists:

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 8.09.59 PM

Kathy Henderson's press release (also, why is India Henderson the contact person?) isn't "an official accounting" of what went on at the meeting. Even if someone had typed minutes or typed everyone's words verbatim it wouldn't be official because both of those things would have to be approved by a vote of the ANC before they became official. Ms. Henderson really shouldn't be sending press releases on behalf of ANC 5D when they haven't approved such an action. That's actually something William Shelton got in trouble for doing (before he got in trouble for stealing nearly $30,000 from the ANC). So it doesn't exactly put her in great company. Kathy Henderson isn't stupid. She knows she has no authority to issue press releases of this type on behalf of ANC 5D. She's probably just hoping that you won't know that, and I think that's pretty reprehensible behavior.


Anonymous said...

Kathy Henderson is a big dummy! A bigger dummy than Lamont Sanford ever was...

djbys said...

I love the "if you don't agree with me, you must not understand" mentality.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Chair were not so condescending and rude to her colleagues, more would be accomplished. She clearly thrives on public humiliation and her conduct demonstrates a lack of leadership that will negatively impact any work this group could do. It underscores her disdain for anyone "new", her inability to hold working meetings to prepare the commissioners to address issues in meetings, and a need for power over interests of the larger community (though there is little "power" in this advisory role).

Javondrius said...

Gurrrlll anc 5d is outtta control ova cheah...

IMGoph said...

The anonymous comment at 10 pm hits the nail on the head. Condescending and rude is the name of the game here. Amazing to watch from a distance.

And I just love the look on Bernice's face through this. You go, Ms. Blacknell! Don't let Kathy get away with being a tiny tyrant.

Anonymous said...

Good on the commissioners for standing up to Henderson, who has shown herself to be incompetent time and again. The fact that DC needs a security fund to act as some kind of insurance for ANCs misappropriating public funds is pretty sad, though.

Has anyone reported the funny money business (not turning over records on expenditures, etc) to BEGA and the DC OIG for investigation?

While Kathy shows herself to be what she is, there are some nit-picky things that irked me in this post:

I might have said something along the lines of I think the Commission would be making a mistake by not participating in the ANC Security Fund (because I do think that, and she was thanking me for speaking up). I definitely did NOT say "the commissioners are making a big mistake by not voting to participate in the ANC Security Fund."

-While technically true, this seems to be splitting hairs.

She knows she has no authority to issue press releases of this type on behalf of ANC 5D.

I'd think the chair of a body of elected officials could, at the least, send a press release on behalf of that body. But, calling it an "official accounting" seems wrong absent some certification or official record.

that's actually something William Shelton got in trouble for doing

-Any more info on that? That's the first I've heard of it, but certainly sounds interesting and relevant if true.

inked said...

It may seem like nit-picking, but I was saying it would be a mistake for the ANC not to participate, not that I thought those commissioners had made a mistake by choosing to ask for the records before voting to participate. I think that's a big difference.

Even ANC Chairs can't just send out press releases on behalf of the ANC without the ANC approving such press releases. She can send out all the press releases she wants on her own behalf, but she can't purport to speak for the entire ANC.

Shelton tried it with a letter he sent to the BZA about part of the New Town stuff and got slapped down.

Anonymous said...

If ANC Shropshire hasn't received all of the relevant financial information she's 100% correct to vote not to take part in the fund.

By taking part in the fund, as Treasurer, ANC Shropshire is verifying that the books are correct. If she'd verify the books without seeing them she'd be liable for any issues that might already be there and wouldn't be looking out for this Ward.

After seeing how Ms. Henderson conducts herself, I wouldn't trust that woman with a trash bag.

Kudos to the ANC members who voted to do their due diligence and kudos to Frozen Tropics for filming the meeting so we have some proof!

Anonymous said...

I like how the letterhead spells "government" wrong. Very telling of the quality of work Ms. Henderson puts out.

It seems very reasonable to me that the new treasurer wants to wait to see the books before signing the security fund forms.

Anonymous said...

At 11:30 Anon,
Nice catch on "governmemnt". Commissioner Henderson also insists on writing and pronouncing Commissioner Shropshire's name incorrectly. I assume that is intended as a slight or sign of disrespect.