Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The infamous ANC 8C Office. See what $900 a month gets you in commercial real estate on MLK

Finally, after two years The Advoc8te finally got a tour of the interior of the  ANC 8C office located at 3125 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. It would be kind to say that the office space leaves much to be desired. Much like the ANC itself, the office space was run downdisorganized and dated. The carpet was dirty and worn, the chairs were stained, the paint was peeling and there wasn't one piece of working office equipment in the entire space - including the telephone. All of the office furnishings including the maps looked like old  props and aspects of the office construction looked very bootleg. There is exposed wiring, holes in the walls, an amateur looking HVAC installation and the stairwell banister was some bootleg contraption of wires threaded through the carpet and the banister railing. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the construction wouldn't pass DCRA inspection.

I suppose it's good news that ANC monthly meetings are no longer held in this office. Besides having inadequate meeting space for public meetings (the meeting room could probably accomodate maybe 15 - 20 people),  the entire office is just run down. The office does not instill confidence that this ANC is about progress or about doing serious work. The office looks like the Commission just gave up. Standing in the office you can almost see exactly when all the work stopped, sometime in 2003/2004,  right around the time all other expenses ceased (except for the rent payments). In terms of office supplies there were some office supplies (paper, pens, paper clips, etc.) but most of it looked as if it hadn't been used in a  very long time.

There were boxes of copier paper that had yellowed with age, boxes of unopened paper clips and binder clips, reams of old school calculator printer paper and a few desktop computers that were probably considered obsolete in the early 90's. In a desk drawer I found artifacts of a Commission past, a collection of ANC 8C business cards proudly displaying the ANC 8C name, office address and the office telephone and fax numbers (both of which have been disconnected many years ago). In many ways, current state of the ANC 8C office is exactly what you would expect considering the dysfunction of ANC 8C. It looks more like a time capsule than a vital office. It is the ultimate example of taxpayer waste, an office for the sake of having an office. Definitely not an economical use of taxpayer funds and definetly not  a place where productive work is happening on a regular basis.

As a resident I was not encouraged by the state of the office, except perhaps encouraged to pour some gasoline, light a match and walk away. I was however,  filled with shock and just a little bit of anger. I was angry that for some  people this was not only acceptable but was considered “the best” of what we as residents should expect. Perhaps at some point the ANC 8C office was a great use of ANC funds. Perhaps it was being utilized by the Commission and residents to meet and to  do real community work however somewhere along the line the office became nothing more than an expensive storage space. Residents and commissioners totally abnegated control or oversight into how ANC 8C dollars were being spent, funds that if spent wisely could really have a positive and far reaching impact on the community. For the record, I am not dead set against ever having an ANC 8C office. Perhaps one day when our ANC has proven that it can be responsible and  productive then perhaps we can have a functional, modern and accessible office that is open to residents and commissioners alike, but until then I am dead set against wasting ANC 8C funds for an office that is not being used consistently for ANC 8C business. It's a waste of taxpayer funds and does nothing more than fatten the pockets of a landlord who clearly doesn't care enough for their property to maintain it adequately.

According to Commissioner Cuthbert ANC 8C has had this office space since the creation of the Commission, sometime in the mid 1970s. ANC 8C currently pays $900 a month for this office space at an expense of over $100,000 for the past decade and nearly $58,000 of that the last 5 years, the only significant expense reported. If this is what ANC 8C residents, community leaders and the DC Government think is the best we can do with our tax payer dollars then I suggest they need to raise their expectations ASAP! We should expect more - even in Ward 8.

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Ms. V said...

I really don't know what to say... SMH

The Advoc8te said...

My reaction exactly. If you were to throw out everything that was no longer working and all of the junk you would probably be left with enough ANC files to fit in two boxes.

daplushman said...

Maybe we can get some stimulus money, pay some of the guys hanging out at the home depot to makeover that building.

Anonymous said...

Another great post. This blog is always so informative. Keep it coming!

AMA said...

I saw the video of the meeting and I don't understand something. The ANC is saying they haven't spent any ANC money on things for the community or office supplies because they haven't had a quorum, but don't they need a quorum to pay for the rent? Is that right?

I found it hard to believe they haven't had a meeting with a quorum in over 5 years. That doesn't make any sense.

Deanwood Denizen said...

if the anc approves its budget then monies can be spent without approving each expenditure. for example if 1500 is budgeted for office supplies the checks for office supplies can be written. if the anc budgets 100000 for rent then checks can be written. so the question is has anc made a budget and voted on that budget so checks can be written for the expenditure.

The Advoc8te said...

And the answer to that question is "N-O". According to the DC Auditor ANC 8C hasn't had a budget in many, many years. We are still trying to get a budget approved for fiscal year 2009 (which was due in Jan 2009) and we are in fiscal year 2010