What differentiates FAN from ANC?

After reading Michael King’s “Neighborhoods vs. Neighborhoods?” article, I’ve been thinking a bit about the reasons I joined FAN. First and foremost, I felt that FAN was a more representative, democratic body that is open to all residents of Austin neighborhoods. Nevertheless, there seems to be a good amount of FUD from the ANC side about what FAN is (see below), and I think we have an opportunity to clear that up. People have said that FAN is “anti-democratic”, yet I’ve recently learned of some undemocratic practices of ANC-affiliated NAs. For example: JHNA doesn’t allow renters to vote, and many other non-FAN NAs have membership fees as a requirement to vote. That is undemocratic, illustrating the difficulty of being both an advocacy/political organization and a representative body whose foremost goal is being the voice of the people. These groups have made their choice.

But I’d like to step back and consider our own membership requirements, specifically those stated at About – Friends of Austin Neighborhoods. We list a membership fee but later state that membership is currently free. Why not just strike that language altogether for now? Also, we ask the mandatory question “Will you champion the FAN vision at FAN Vision Statement

Is this strictly necessary? I always saw FAN not as an advocacy organization (although it does do that) but as a representative body which followed the will of its members. It seems to stand in conflict with the vision of “[encouraging] participation by the full diversity of neighborhood stakeholders”. It blunts any criticism of ANC for its recent rejection of DANA.

In any case, this is something to consider at the next board meeting.

FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt):

Chronicle publisher and Hyde Park resident Nick Barbaro suggests FoHP’s real agenda is defending commercial STRs, and that the “Friends” groups are “operating in support of those who ‘see Austin as a commodity, not a community.’ I think they’re master-planned for a specific agenda, I think they’re anti-democratic, deceptive, and, oh yes, wrong on the issues.”

Ingle didn’t stop there, saying she had “heard” that FAN is “funded by the Koch Brothers,” the fossil-fuel billionaires underwriting much national right-wing politics. Does she have any evidence for such an outlandish charge? “It’s a rumor that I’ve heard,” she said. “I’m just passing it along.” Nevertheless, she concluded, “I just wish people could get along a little better.”

NPCTs and the issue of fair representation:

Thank you for initiating this discussion openly on the forum. Correct me if I’m wrong, @mark.mccartney, but I gleaned two suggestions from your opening post:

  1. Remove the reference to possible FAN membership fees.
  2. Remove the requirement that members support for the FAN vision.

The About page of the website had mentioned membership fees, but it was easy to remove that reference.

The by-laws do, however, reference possible membership fees and the requirement to support the FAN vision. Amending the by-laws requires a vote of the membership (“assembly of delegates”).

Prior to such a vote, I suggest a transparent and thorough discussion here in the forum about the suggestions you’ve made, as well as any specific wording changes to the by-laws that you or others would suggest.

This topic is also on the agenda for the board meeting this Wednesday, and anyone is welcome to attend.

I live in Highland and despite our NA’s bylaws saying everyone is a member just by living in within the neighborhood boundaries, you have to pay to be a voting member. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind this and question the legality of it. There is no way for the NA to conduct their business with the city without affecting non paying (voting) members’ property so I think everyone should have a vote. Despite my protests about this, the NA raised it’s membership fees last year and there is a minuscule percentage of our population who are voting members.I would think some of our council members have to know about this situation across the city. They should really make sure that if the city is going to recognize a NA, then all of it’s residents have a vote.

What do you see as the city “recognizing” a neighborhood association, @matthew? Currently, neighborhood associations have no formal role in city processes. (Neighborhood planning contact teams, on the other hand, do have a formal role, and FAN’s membership has weighed in on that topic.) As far as I know, all the city does to recognize neighborhood associations is to document their existence in the Austin community registry.