Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's Going on in Cleveland Park?

If the vacant storefronts weren't enough, Cleveland Park seems to be in turmoil over the leadership of the local Citizen's Association.

A posting on the Cleveland Park Listserv today, in response to questions about the upcoming meeting, opens the question about the legitimacy of the organization. From President George Idelson:


The Cleveland Park Citizens Association welcomes the many new members who have joined in recent weeks. This is a president's dream come true and we look forward to their active participation. A recent listserv posting by a CP'r suggested that his call to join CPCA to "make sure all voices are heard" apparently spurred this membership surge. He also described a recent meeting where he and others offered suggestions for achieving broader representation. What the posting didn't mention is that those attending the meeting specifically requested an "equal voice" -- one-half the members of CPCA's Executive Committee -- either on the slate or as heads of our committees, for our upcoming election. They didn't spell out who these new candidates might be, but said such a "joint" slate would avoid an acknowledged, organized campaign to take over the entire leadership of CPCA at our annual meeting. The campaign urged people to join by a certain date, to be eligible to vote for this competing, unnamed slate. Sad to report, this campaign has been fueled by false charges that the Association opposes all change and development. It has distorted our position on the Giant development and makes the wild claim that the Association is responsible for store vacancies on Connecticut Avenue. That the campaign was orchestrated was demonstrated by some 60 bundled applications received by certified mail just before the specified cut-off date, by anonymous leaflets, and by private emails urging residents to join CPCA to "stage a coup." Normally, competition for leadership is healthy and our nominating process is wide open. Demonizing an association and encouraging a chaotic election is hardly normal. This is Cleveland Park, not some third world country. We are deeply dismayed over the divisiveness this campaign has caused in our community. Development issues can be contentious, but they ought not be used to tear the community apart. The Giant hearings have ended and the record is closed. The Zoning Commission will decide whether all the upzoning requested in our low-density neighborhood is worth the potential impact. We need some time for cooling off. Time to reflect on the issues. For these reasons, CPCA's Executive Committee has executed the emergency powers granted in our bylaws to postpone the election of officers until the Fall. This is clearly an emergency. In the interim, we will seek ways to mend this tear in our neighborhood fabric. We look forward to constructive support and suggestions.

One could expect a response like this from a third-world banana republic, but in the heart of the nation's capital? The by-laws seem fairly specific:

All officers provided for in Article V and the delegates to the Federation of Citizens' Associations and the Federation of Civic Associations shall be elected for a term of one year at the annual meeting which shall be held on the first Saturday of June each year.

So does anyone from the CPCA care to rationalize this other than a ploy to maintain control over a volunteer organization?

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