ANC Round Up: Awkward Edition

Photo by arjubx. http://www.flickr.com/photos/arjubx/3647767943/
DC Triathlon
DC Triathlon

Last night the ANC met for its final 2010 session, and one theme dominated the meeting: awkward. As in “awwwk-waard”. On multiple occasions last night, GM winced at the social discomfort on display. But that’s what made it such a great meeting!

Special Events

Early on in the meeting, the commission turned to the question of special events. There has been a growing perception among the commissioners that the number of special events in Georgetown that require street closings has been on the rise. To combat that, the ANC is working to develop certain guiding principles as to whether to approve an event or not. The two main principles are whether the event is mainly charitable in nature and what benefits it has to Georgetown. GM probed a little on the second prong, since it sounded to him a little like extortion, but really what that principle entails is more of a qualitative look at how cooperative the group has been and how much they have done to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.

So with that in mind, the commission turned to two proposed events that are asking to shut down some Georgetown streets: the DC Triathlon on June 19th and the Nation’s Triathlon on September 11th. Both of these events are being planned by Charles Brodsky. While the commission focused somewhat on the proposed impact the races would have on the community (the DC Triathlon would only shut down the Whitehurst; the Nation’s Triathlon would shut down the Whitehurst, M St. west of Key Bridge, and Canal Rd.) the discussion soon narrowed in on whether the races are charitable or not. Brodsky was quick to point out that the Nation’s Triathlon has raised $9 million to help fight Leukemia. The commissioners, however, pointed out that his company is still for-profit and they questioned whether the charitable donations even come out of the fees or are simply raised additionally by the competitors. Brodksy stated that some charitable donations do come out of the race fees.

It was already somewhat heated at this point, but it got worse. The commission wanted to know roughly what percentage of the race revenues go to charity. Brodsky said he didn’t know, and that he couldn’t even guess. The commission found this hard to believe. Eventually they asked that he come back and tell them next month what that percentage is. He basically refused to do so. To this Tom Birch asserted that without more information, the commission had no way to know whether this whole thing is a sham. Brodsky didn’t take very well to that comment. The ANC told Brodsky that they’d be happy to work with him to minimize the impact the races have on the community but that he was going to have to work with them or they’d oppose the race. At one point Brodsky said he’d just as well take their rejection. In a word, it was awkward.

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0 Comments For This Article

Peter Rosenstein

It is always interesting when ANCs become totally parochial and don't consider the benefits to the entire City when looking at events they are asked to comment on.

Take the High Heel Race in Dupont. This is now a citywide event. It has no charitable component at all, actually some of the local restaurants have gotten into trouble for having too many people on their patios during the event and it is a hassle for people living on the streets that are closed. The same can be said for the Pride Parade. But the ANC approves these event because for the High Heel Race 25,000- 50,000 from across the District and surrounding jurisdictions come into the area and for Pride it is over 100,000 the District gets positive coverage for the events as far away as LA and SF and there is even international coverage.

I do understand asking Brodsky to let people know what percentage if any he gives to charity for the races. It would be nice if he was generous, but his is a private company as far as I know and you can't compel private companies to be charitable. You can try to embarrass them into it but even if he says he gives no money- these races are benefitting the District with positive images around the world.

So the Georgetown ANC shouldn't overstep their bounds on this and act in a way that harms the District. And the ANC must take into consideration that even if Brodsky doesn't personally give money the races provide a way for people to raise money for charities and develop an esprit de corps among people that is often hard to do in other ways.

I applaud the Georgetown ANC for wanting to set up guidelines for what events they want to approve. But since Georgetown is a part of the District, I don't think they have seceded yet, they need to have a category that states "Events that benefit the District as a whole will be eligible for approval".

Parochial interests are fine but we do need commissioners who have a broader perspective and who are willing to say to those who elected them that sometimes the good of the many is more important than the minor and very temporary inconveniences of a few.