Dupont ANC votes to censure one of its members amid Safeway debate

Dupont Circle's Safeway is located at 17th and Corcoran streets NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/June 2017)

A member of Dupont Circle’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B was censured by his colleagues last Wednesday for what his fellow commissioners called “discriminatory and disrespectful behavior.”

In a resolution that passed 5-1, ANC 2B said that commissioner Nick DelleDonne had shown a pattern of being disrespectful to colleagues, particularly “toward female ANC Commissioners and representatives of constituent groups.”

DelleDonne — who said in an interview that he plans to contest the censure — has taken particularly strong stands against a proposed alcohol license at the Corcoran Street NW Safeway, which some supporters contend is the real reason he was targeted for censure. He was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations at last week’s meeting before the vote.

The resolution, introduced by Scott Davies, states that DelleDonne “conducted himself inappropriately, communicating disrespectfully with other commissioners in a public forum” in advance of a May transportation committee meeting, “making demands of commissioners.” It also states DelleDonne was “disrespectful and condescending to a fellow ANC Commissioner during the June ANC meeting.” DelleDonne himself was the lone dissenting vote on the censure, though there was one abstention.

The vote came amid tumultuous protests from DelleDonne’s supporters in the community, whom he began rallying upon hearing of the censure plans Tuesday night. A half-dozen audience members stayed until the end of ANC 2B’s Sept. 13 meeting to request that the commission delay its vote until next month.

Nick DelleDonne represents single-member district 2B04 on the Dupont Circle advisory neighborhood commission. (photo courtesy of ANC 2B)

DelleDonne said in an interview that the vote was put on the agenda less than 24 hours before the meeting, and that he would “challenge” the vote’s legality.

At the meeting, ANC 2B chair Nicole McEntee said it was a legitimate agenda item. “While the ANC is required to provide notice for a public meeting, the specific items of the agenda for the meeting don’t have a specific time frame regarding notice,” she said, as opponents shouted.

Commissioners voted 5-2 to close debate on the issue, with DelleDonne and Amy Johnson opposed. Johnson abstained on the censure vote, saying, “I feel like there should be discussion on this.”

Supporters of DelleDonne engaged in a testy back-and-forth with commissioners before the vote. One of them, Kerry Kemp, said he is being targeted because of his positions on the Safeway.

Indeed, part of the censure resolution deals with an Aug. 14 special meeting on the Safeway issue. The resolution states that while the ANC 2B chair asked commissioners to take a neutral stance at the meeting, DelleDonne “very publicly took a position through his attire, conversations, and interactions during the meeting.”

In a news release announcing the Aug. 14 meeting, DelleDonne called it a “Town Hall to protest Safeway alcohol application” and argued that alcohol sales would cut into an already limited grocery selection at the store. His subsequent releases included a discussion of other business ventures associated with Safeway’s parent company Cerberus, quoting a constituent who called the store a “local manifestation of the military industrial complex.”

Kemp said DelleDonne’s behavior at the August meeting was appropriate. “He was trying to represent our point of view, which is ‘food not booze,’” said Kemp. “The other ANC commissioners have made him a pariah.”

In a statement issued after the vote, DelleDonne called the commission “incompetent.”

“I have done nothing but vigorously represent my constituents, and that is what the sponsors of this resolution refuse to acknowledge and understand,” he said.