Two weeks ago, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz sent a letter to the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) announcing that he was removing members from the BAC, assigning a new member and making him chair. This seemingly prompted one long-term member, Randy Swart, to resign. Then the January meeting was cancelled one working day before it was to occur when the BAC was locked out of their usual, and official, location.
Just FYI, the Arlington BAC has been unilaterally locked out of its usual/official @ArlingtonVA loc for tonight's previously scheduled meeting. Members and other interested parties are invited to convene at 7pm at Clarendon Presbyterian Church/1305 N Jackson St tonight. #bikeDC— Mark Blacknell (@Blacknell) January 8, 2018
Swart didn't say the letter from Schwartz is what led him to resign, but his resignation came the next day and thanked the Manager for the letter, so it certainly seems that way.
Schwartz said that he intended to remove members who had "rarely or never attended,” which doesn't seem like an unreasonable position to take; but no one on the BAC was consulted or informed of this before hand. And the members to be removed weren't listed in the letter. This seems a little bit sloppy and treats the BAC (my opinion here) with a lack of respect - not so much as volunteer partners with the County, but as something more like contractors.
Regardless, Schwartz isn't allowed to appoint the chair. The charter says that the members choose their own chair (this is true in DC too), though there are reports that the Manager intends to change the charter too. Again, the BAC has had no discussions with the Manager about this.
Further complicating things is that the person Schwartz named in his letter to be appointed and made chair, Edgar Gil Rico who is well regarded by the BAC, reportedly declined the appointment.
Almost all of this, the dismissal of half the BAC, change in chair, change in charter, cancellation of the January meeting has been done without communication before hand, without explanation after ward and without answering any of the BAC''s questions. It's all a bit odd and discouraging.
The shocker is that I've always thought the Arlington BAC was the best run one in the area - and I run the DC one! So I'm not at all sure what is going on. The goal of getting active members who represent a diverse set of people is certainly a noble one, but I feel like the execution here is lacking.
Hopefully this will all get squared away in short order.
Arlington BAC leaders Megan Jones and Gillian Burgess