Strengthening ANC 6B’s Bylaws

Hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend! Two weeks from tonight on Sept. 17th, ANC 6B will hold a special call meeting at 7 pm at Brent Elementary School (301 North Carolina Avenue SE) to consider adopting proposed revised bylaws and proposed standing rules. The documents below are the product of ANC 6B’s Bylaws Review Working Group, a group which I chaired as Parliamentarian.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this year, the working group was tasked with doing a comprehensive review of ANC 6B’s bylaws and making recommendations to the full commission. The current bylaws are too long, contain significant inconsistencies, include outdated references to DC law and are loaded with administrative detail that makes it extremely difficult for the commission to make routine changes in its operations. From the outset, the working group set out to streamline the document, update references and move administrative functions and detail to new standing rules.

In addition, the working group considered a number of “policy changes” designed to improve how the commission operates. The following are a few of the major changes:

  • Resident Members of Committees/Task Forces Get a Vote – Under the current bylaws, resident members serving on committees can only vote if their commissioner is not present at the committee meeting or if the issue on which the committee is voting is located in his or her Single Member District (SMD). It seems odd to ask a resident to serve on a committee and not to let him or her vote, particularly when all committee’s do is vote on recommendations (the full commission always has the last say). The revised bylaws would allow all resident members a vote, regardless of whether their commissioner is present or not.
  • Committee Assignments – ANC 6B’s bylaws state that every commissioner is a member of every committee or task force. This means that commissioners feel compelled to attend three committee meetings (planning & zoning, alcoholic beverage control and transportation) the first week of the month followed by the full commission meeting on the second Tuesday of the month. And the commission hears all of the same cases at the full commission meeting.  The proposed standing rules would spread the workload by assigning commissioners to the two committees with the most work – planning & zoning and ABC – and would fill the rest of the committee slots with resident members.
  • Executive Committee – ANC 6B’s Executive Committee is really only an executive committee for purposes of establishing a quorum. Once a quorum is established (three of the five officers), then any commissioner can attend and vote at executive committee meetings. The revised bylaws would create a true executive committee and limit votes at committee level to the five officers
  • Meeting Procedures – If you’ve been to an ANC 6B meeting lately, you know that our monthly meetings typically last for 3+ hours. Long meetings are not good for encouraging public participation and engagement with the commission. The proposed standing rules introduce simple meeting procedures, such as putting time estimates on meeting agendas and establishing clear rules for community speakout, that will hopefully increase the efficiency and decrease the length of commission meetings.

The Sept. 17th meeting will likely include lively discussion about these and other proposed policy changes. Seven commissioners must vote in support for the revised bylaws to be enacted while the proposed standing rules will need a majority vote.

This process has taken a tremendous amount of time and effort. I owe a special thanks to Commissioners Jared Critchfield (6B06) and Dave Garrison (6B01) for agreeing to serve on the working group. Commissioners Carol Green (6B07) and Brian Pate (6B05) also contributed to the development of the revised bylaws and proposed standing rules. And I especially want to thank Susan Eads Role and Wanda Sims, two registered parliamentarians who volunteered their time and expertise to assist in our comprehensive review.

Please post any comments and questions below.

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