In Celebration of Gottlieb Simon

The Nose

44

Dear Readers, it has been long months since The Nose has put pen to paper. Yet, after fortifying himself with a brown medicinal libation, inspired by recent events, he has girded his loins to wade again into the Wilson’s Building’s turbulent cesspool.

While DC maybe politically kneecapped by the prejudices of its Congressional minders who shrilly sing hosannas to the founders of our republic while simultaneously denying District citizens the most essential of civil rights, within the tiny confines of this polity, democracy flourishes with the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) enshrined at its heart.

Reporting on ANC meetings is not for the fair weather correspondent. Topics range from the most mundane of matters such as the placement of curb cuts to the esoteric heights of Planned Unit Developments. Their works is further complicated by the many district agencies clamoring for free air time and loquaciousness of commissioners. Remaining awake through these lengthy, oft tedious, proceedings to gather a few nuggets of interest requires the consumption of vast quantities of Oreos washed down with liberal amounts of Diet Coke.

Yet, one cannot help but salute these unsung heroes. Overworked, advisory neighborhood commissioners form the lowest rank of the District elected. They police our polity ensuring it remains in the famous words of one Ward 6 pol, “A Livable-Walkable City.” As important, their meetings provide an important forum where citizens can accessibly voice their concerns. The only benefit to serving as a commissioner is a placard warding off the District’s rapacious meter maids.

For more than two decades, Gottlieb “The Cyclist” Simon has served as the director of The Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. In the pre pandemic age, he could be found cycling from one meeting to another dodging the SUVs of the vicious suburban commuters that clog the city’s roadways.

Employing a very dry wit and exercising enormous self-restraint, The Cyclist famously shepherded his charges by means of gentle chiding and incisive wisdom. Most importantly, he put in place essential financial safeguards to ensure that commissioners did not splurge public dollars on crayons and adult beverages. Serving as parliamentarian, he oversaw countless elections, adjudicating any disputes with the skills of a proverbial Solomon, although, this poor writer has never witnessed him presiding over of the division of an infant.

Imagine The Nose’s surprise when he received an official communication from the office of At-Large Councilmember Robert “Candidate for Life” White (D) informing him of The Cyclist’s retirement. This sudden, unexpected missive left both The Nose and many commissioners scratching their heads. What was more surprising in White’s letter was the absence of any details involving an official send off.

Has civilization in the District descended so low that elected officials cannot properly recognize the legacies of hardworking civil servants?

Do its finances no longer allow the purchase of commendatory placards?

Have the keys to the city been misplaced?

Has The Candidate for Life forgotten the simple phrase, “Thank You for Your Service?”

Quite frankly, in the opinion of this poor scrivener, anyone who has sat through as many commission proceedings as The Cyclist over the course of several decades, should either be canonized or knighted. While Councilmember White does not possess such authority, a simple Council resolution might do the trick.

In its absence, The Nose asks his Dear Readers to don their aluminum beanies. Imagine the District’s politicians, ANC commissioners, his fellow scriveners and political wags all gathered in the smoky, upper bar of the old Hawk’n’Dove to celebrate The Cyclist’s retirement. Suddenly, the clear, dulcet tenor of Councilmember Charles “Boy Scout” Allen pipes up. To famous tune from Oklahoma, Allen sings out:

Pore Gottlieb has resigned,
Pore Gottlieb Simon has resigned,
All gather ’round his empty desk and cry
He had a heart of gold
And he wasn’t very old
Oh why did such a public servant have to resign?

Pore Gottlieb is gone
Pore Gottlieb Simon is gone,
He’s biking off oh so peaceful and serene

(The Audience Joins In): “And serene!”

He’s can finally rest
Leaving his official cell on his desk
ANC finances have never been so clean!

Then a grizzled ANC commissioner stands up on his hind legs to intone:

“Folks, we are gathered here to moan
And groan over the departure of our former director,
Who resigned and rode off on his bicycle leaving us bereft.”

Then there’d be weepin’ and wailin’…
From audience. Then he’d say:

“Gottlieb was the most hardworking man in this here District.
People used to think he was a simple bureaucrat and they called
him dispensable and a detailed bean counter.”

“But the commissioners that really knowed him.”

“Knowed that under that bike helmet he always wore.”

“There beat a heart as big as the entire District
As big as the Big Chair.
Gottlieb Simon loved his Advisory Neighborhood Commissions
And he loved his commissioners, every one.”

In The Nose’s humble opinion, The Candidate for Life should host a retirement party for Simon. Recognizing the countless miles the director logged in his pursuit of the public good, might earn White a few votes.