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Interim Director of D.C. Council Office of ANCs Appointed

Fritz Mulhauser | October 12, 2021 | Last modified: November 2, 2021

An office within the D.C. Council that oversees the 40 D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions got an interim director by Council vote October 5. Ms. Schannette Grant, previously on staff in the office, will take over following the resignation September 30 of long-time director Gottlieb Simon.

Larry Janezich reported in Capitol Hill Corner that some commissions asked last summer for help improving transparency. They aimed to meet needs of hybrid in-person and virtual meetings planned to resume early in 2022. (ANCs are not covered by the Open Meetings Act.)

The request, according to Janezich, included software to assist with outreach and engagement, language accessibility for those whose first language is not English and supplemental communication access services for those with disabilities, and funding to support remote meeting technologies, audio-visual technology and services, printing services and website assistance. Delay in response contributed to discontent with the office.

The Coalition has been for some years in discussion with commissioners on transparency initiatives, including bringing commissions under the Open Meetings Act. Assistance with duties under the Freedom of Information Act may also be an area for helpful conversation. Commissioners’ handling of emails, for example, has led to lengthy and expensive lawsuits. One, filed in 2013, is still ongoing. Long after the District lost its defense of ANC refusal to release emails (official business on private accounts), legal fees of $176,000 remain pending (with $65,000 already awarded)according to the Attorney General’s 2020 litigation report. A 2019 case also involving ANC email took was only resolved recently.

The Coalition looks forward to working with Ms. Grant.