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The Shaw advisory neighborhood commission’s outgoing chair, Al Hajj Mahdi Leroy Joseph Thorpe Jr. has had a busy December. He was officially voted out of his elected position on the ANC, only to be appointed to a new role—parliamentarian and executive assistant to the chair—by new chair Barbara Curtis. He took over a Shaw neighborhood association and two days later allocated his new organization $3,000 in ANC money for new computers.
Yesterday, in a surprise move, Shaw residents filed a complaint with the city auditor “alleging questionable allocation of thousands of DC taxpayer dollars.”
“The era of cronyism, mistreatment and disrespect of residents, and misallocation of funds is over,” says Cary Silverman, president of the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association, in a news release. “Shaw residents will no longer stand for this type of blatant abuse of power.”
In their complaint, residents have dug up and detailed years of ANC impropriety and questionable spending. It requests special attention be paid to the 18 computers and other equipment given to neighborhood organizations that have close ties to Thorpe, Curtis, and current commissioner Doris Brooks. Those organizations are Thorpe’s East Central Civic Association, Rhode Island Avenue through P Street Neighborhood Association (which the complaint alleges to be a fictional organization), COPE (which does “red-hat” patrols), and the Gibson Plaza Tenant Association (where Curtis resides).
The complaint alleges that on paper, there are over a dozen computers floating somewhere around Shaw, but no one knows where they are or what they’re being used for. According to residents, the organizations that received the equipment fail to post meeting agendas, minutes, or newsletters. Furthermore, the organizations do not use a Web site, e-mail, or anything else that would demand the use of a computer.
“Given the number or computers supposedly purchased for public use, the residents and students of our neighborhoods should legitimately expect to have a public access computer lab readily available for their use,” the release states. “Of course they do not.”