A public deliberative body in the District is trying to figure out what to do about a misbehaving member. And no, it’s not the D.C. Council.
The Columbia Heights advisory neighborhood commission — ANC 1A, for those keeping score at home — is mulling censure for one of its members after he insulted a colleague on a popular neighborhood Internet group.
The commissioner, Lenwood Johnson, last month forwarded an e-mail among the ANC’s members to the Columbia Heights Yahoo group discussing the circumstances of a recent meeting, with an added message calling one of his fellow commissioners a “lowlife.” He later forwarded to the group his profane reply to a reader who had e-mailed him personally to complain. The New Columbia Heights blog runs all this down quite nicely.
It has fallen to ANC chairman Bill Brown to figure out what to do about a commissioner like Lenwood.
Last week, Brown circulated a censure resolution reprimanding Johnson for “[breaking] the trust between the Commission and its constituents” by circulating private e-mails and “engag[ing] in behavior unbecoming to his Office and this Commission” by engaging in public insults.
But Brown said Monday he’s had to take a step back, partly because the ANC has no written standards of conduct aside from conflict of interest rules. The Columbia Heights commission, Brown said, is working with the citywide ANC office to fashion some guidelines.
”Commissioners get into fights all the time,” said Brown. “That’s no big deal.” However, he added, sharing internal e-mails, calling each other names, and so forth isn’t so easy to tolerate. “I don’t want it to boil down to we’re letting him slide on his behavior,” he said.
Johnson said last week he saw nothing wrong with sharing the e-mails and added that his colleagues should be able to absorb a modicum of name-calling. “As public officials, we hold ourselves out to praise or scorn,” he said.
He threw in a rather unassailable point: “As far as cussing and swearing at each other goes — hell, the city council did that two weeks ago.”