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Alcohol chair won't attend ANC meeting

Georgetown's ANC will take up street closure requests related to controversial alcohol control board chairman Charles Brodsky when it meets Monday night, but General Counsel Martha Jenkins of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) said Brodsky will not attend the meeting as he has done in the past. Brodsky, who was appointed Chairman by former Mayor Adrian Fenty, has drawn criticism for an apparent conflict of interest between his private role leading businesses that seek official actions from ANCs, while simulataneously chairing a board that rules on disputed cases in which ANCs are often among the parties seeking redress or clarification of the law.ANC Chairman Ron Lewis said he expected representatives from Brodsky's D.C. Triathalon to attend the meeting on the company's behalf. But legal experts say Brodsky's conflict of interest remains whether he or his representatives advocate on behalf of his businesses before government officials such as ANCs.Matt Watson, former D.C. Auditor and recognized expert on government ethics, finds Brodsky’s actions highly problematic. “It’s clearly unethical and possibly criminal for a District official to represent a private party before a District agency,” said Watson. As Watson explains, referring to several federal and district laws, it puts both Brodsky and the ANC in positions of competing public interests. Might an ANC vote against Brodsky’s request affect alcohol licensing decisions in Georgetown? As ABRA chair, might Brodsky's decisions on Georgetown alcohol matters be affected or carry the appearance of being affected by ANC 2E’s positive or negative decisions on street closures requested by his businesses? D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson has raised concerns about what he calls Brodsky's "conflict situation," while others have questioned whether Brodsky's involvement with ANCs could lead to ex-partei communication -- improper contact with a represented party in a dispute -- which could invalidate decisions by ABRA or the ANC if legally challenged. Longtime Washington attorney Don Dinan, general counsel to the D.C. Democratic State Committee, is troubled by Brodsky's dual role. "It creates a direct conflict of interest if a person in an extremely powerful position over the fate of the neighborhood represented by an ANC, especially ANC 2E in Georgetown where liquor licenses are a key component in the quality of life in that neighborhood, to ask the ANC to endorse something that benefits him privately." Lewis declined to comment on the Brodsky matter. He said the ANC will start the meeting with community input on another controversy -- Georgetown University's proposed expansion plan. "We're going to be giving [the Plan] a thorough scrubbing so we can focus our response," he said. "We want everyone in the community to have a chance to express" their view, Lewis said. Focusing on the expansion plan "is absolutely critical" for the community, he said.