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Government and People
The John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 225
Washington, DC 20004
December 13, 2004
It is with great regret that I resign from the Executive Office of the Mayor and Neighborhood Action. I can no longer serve Mayor Williams in good faith after the downgrading of Neighborhood Action. The Neighborhood Action initiative was a unique innovation in municipal government that sought to connect the public to the decision-making process.
Neighborhood Action was born out of an aspiration that residents had important thoughts regarding our city’s priorities and that in partnering with residents we could reclaim what Citizen really means – an active resident.
The Neighborhood Action initiative had many accomplishments to boast including staging four successful Citizen Summits (including the Youth Summit) beginning in 1999, a series of ward Summits in 2004 and two successive city-wide strategic plans that engaged and connected government in ways that leveraged both resources and forged a greater common mission.
Neighborhood Action informed as well, the Strategic Neighborhood Action Plans, Neighborhood Service Persistent Problem Area plans, the Comprehensive Plan and sought to forge a better relationship between the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and other civic stakeholders. The Office of Partnerships & Grants Development, District of Columbia Youth Advisory Council, and Serve DC were also key components of the initiative. Two significant projects include the citywide calendar that lists nearly every daily civic event in the District, and Neighborhood College that has added capacity to our residents in acting on their own behalf. I am also proud to note that Neighborhood Action has presented our innovation to more than two-dozen cities and countries seeking a better way to govern. The legacy will live on elsewhere.
Despite our successes we were often at odds with the priorities of the Administration. The Executive Office of Neighborhood Action was often understaffed, prevented from meeting with the Mayor regularly, or in creating greater neighborhood based civic networks. We were also not supported in maintaining our close advisory relationship with the Office of Neighborhood Planning or Neighborhood Services.
While my service in District government has often been frustrating I served with great pride the city of my birth. I believe our city has in a few short years transformed itself into a world-class municipality. I do not believe we can continue to build on this success without a way to engage our citizens and it is for this reason that I must resign my position with the Executive Office of the Mayor.
D. Neil Richardson
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