I read with sadness your article on D.C.’s advisory neighborhood commissions (“Democracy Inaction,” 5/29). In the early ’80s, I served on the Capitol Hill ANC (both as a member and as the chair). While all of the problems noted in the article existed then with many of the ANCs, our ANC was an effective community organizationi.e., resolving community complaints, getting the zoning board to listen, creating more than 100 neighborhood watch clubs, etc. While I could rightly claim it was based on the incredibly diverse and hard-working commissioners (far left, far right, poor, rich, gay, straight, white, black, gray, etc.), that would only be a part of the picture. It was the staff, Rae Zapata (then going to law school, now a lawyer in private practice) with some interns, who made our ANC’s plans into actions. This combination of effective commissioners and staff made us the exemplary ANC then and apparently still represents the necessary ingredients for a working democracy.
via the Internet