On the Campaign Trail

On the Campaign Trail

<hr><b>The Preservationist’s Predicament</b>

For Democratic caucus hopeful <b>Boyd Walker</b>, the issue of historic preservation is one that’s close to his heart — and his campaign platform. But it may also be one that causes him the most heartache. In an effort to restore the old Mutual Ice Company’s building at the corner of Commerce Street and Payne Street last year, Walker hired a contractor to renovate the property. But the project landed him in the hot seat when the Board of Architectural Review objected to the removal of a canopy — slapping him with a $25,000 fee, which he is now appealing.

"I hired a contractor who removed plywood and other rotten materials and, without my approval, also removed the historic canopy over the dock," said Walker in a written statement this week about the appeal. "The Board of Architectural Review approved the proposed design, and the only thing I am appealing is the $25,000 dollar fine as it will impair my financial ability to complete the project."

Walker said that he feels an element of revenge may have been at work, considering that the staff recommended a $10,000 fee. He said that the lawsuit he brought against the Board of Architectural Review to halt the demolition of a building in the 1500 block of King Street in 2005 could have clouded the decision-making process of the board members. That’s why he said he filed an appeal to City Council, which is scheduled to for a June 16 public hearing.

"The BAR has a legitimate concern about after-the-fact approvals, which seem to be frequent," said Walker. "But it has no legitimate grounds for setting an example using one person, while several other cases during the same time frame received no fine."


<b>Never Say Never</b>

During a discussion of election reform at City Hall on Saturday, former Republican candidate <b>Pat Troy </b>announced that he would not be standing for election in the future. But <b>Bill Cleveland</b>, who received 249 more votes than Troy in the 500-ballot canvas last week, cautioned the Irish restaurateur against making such a definitive statement.

Speaking as a member of the election-reform committee — from the same City Hall dais he hopes to return to — Cleveland told a story about a recent visit to New York City he made with his wife. Leaning forward and speaking into the microphone for maximum effect, the former vice mayor recalled that while in the Big Apple he observed a man digging through the trash to find a meal. He said he told his wife he could never bring himself to rummage through garbage in such a fashion. But then disaster struck.

"My watch fell into the trash can, and you should have seen me digging through that trash," said Cleveland. "So never say never, Pat."


<b>Setting a Low Standard</b>

In an effort to find a totally neutral moderator for Tuesday night’s candidate forum, Democratic Committee Chairwoman <b>Susan Kellom</b> went no further than a few miles south to locate Del. <b>Kristen Amundson</b> (D-44). The Mount Vernon delegate opened Tuesday night’s proceedings with a reference to recent CNN presidential debates. Although the cable news network wags like to refer to themselves as "the best political team on television," Amundson seemed to suggest the coverage was a bit vacuous.

"At first I was a little nervous about doing this," said Amundson. "So I’d like to thank <b>Wolf Blitzer</b> for setting the bar low enough."


<b>A Quick Study</b>

During a discussion of architecture in Alexandria, Democratic candidate<b> Jim Lay</b> explained that he once gave himself a crash course in the subject — to mixed reviews. The reason he wanted to bone up on the topic was that he was dating a woman whose father was a noted architecture critic. Eager to please the man, Lay said read everything he could get his hands on about the subject in an effort to be conversant on the topic. When Lay finally married the man’s daughter, his new father-in-law told the groom that he was so happy that the day had finally arrived.

"So I can be part of the family?" Lay recalled asking.

"No, so I don’t have to listen to your banter on architecture any more," the father said, according to the candidate.