A dispute involving the recent election of officers for an advisory neighborhood commission in upper Northeast has ended in court with the new leadership filing a $50,000 lawsuit against a group of commissioners they replaced.
The newly elected officers of the Brookland-Woodridge ANC filed suit in D.C. Superior Court Jan. 18, charging that last year's officers had refused to relinquish their powers.
The suit also charged that the old leadership had changed the locks on the ANC office door and refused to give the new officers a set of keys. One commissioner was locked in the ANC office one night and had to call police because he had no keys.
Superior Court Judge Susan Holmes issued a temporary restraining order in the case last week, upholding the election and ordering the old officers to stop prohibiting the new officers from "exercising their privileges as duly elected officials."
The dispute began Jan. 3 when eight of the ANC's 15 members voted to suspend the rules and elect new officers. ANC commissioners were elected during the November general elections. The city government requires each ANC elect its officers 30 days after all members of an individual ANC are certified; the Brookland ANC was certified on Dec. 5.
Mozelle Watkins was elected chairwoman; Joseph Bowser, vice chairman; Helen Young, recording secretary; Virgil Thompson, corresponding secretary; Raymond Dickey, treasurer, and Anna Cole, parliamentarian.
But three of the 1984 officers, Etta Marshall, vice chairwoman; Harry Thomas, parliamentarian, and Robert Artisst, corresponding secretary, protested the election, alleging that it was illegal because it was held without public notice.
The three refused to participate in the election and later refused to give up their offices. The winners filed the $50,000 lawsuit against the three.
The suit also alleges that Marshall had the locks changed at the ANC offices, at Slowe Elementary School, 14th and Jackson streets NE, and that she refused to give keys to the new officers. Thompson also alleges in court records that he was locked in an ANC office after a meeting, on Marshall's orders.
The suit alleges that Marshall "continued to authorize the issuance of checks by the former treasurer, who was not reelected in the November 1984 election."
Judge Holmes ordered Marshall to give the new officers the keys and access to the records and to turn over all banking materials to the new treasurer. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to in the case today.