Letter: Don’t Minimize Citizens’ Anger

Letter: Don’t Minimize Citizens’ Anger

To the Editor:

When David Speck (letter to the editor last week) says that if someone isn’t mad at you, you aren’t doing your job right, he implies that it was right for the city to have approved of BRAC-133. If one judges by the number of Alexandrians angered by the construction of this building so far from a metro stop, the city is doing a great job.

By Mr. Speck’s analogy, the town is doing a great job along the river too, if one judges by the number of citizens supporting and engaged in expensive lawsuits over the proposed rezoning of the waterfront. Could it be that this is what Mr. Speck wants us to believe? If you count the number of angry citizens in Alexandria, then by Mr. Speck’s strange logic, yes, the Council is doing a fantastic job.

Mr. Speck also suggests that the city simply does not agree with citizens most of the time, at least not where there is a great deal of disagreement. Unlike his point about the city’s listening skills, his point about the city usually disagreeing with citizens is 100 percent true. After all, they have recently disagreed with citizens over the waterfront rezoning to the tune of many thousands of taxpayer dollars (we don’t know how many because the city refuses to release the complete numbers), and the redevelopment of the West End along Beauregard.

The real story, however, is not Mr. Speck’s peculiar rationalization of the rising anger over debt and development in Alexandria, but that the Council appears quite unconcerned that so many Alexandrians are angered by such decisions. The important point is that we can do better. We should not have to rationalize making citizen angry by saying that doing so is “business as usual” in a town. We should come up with plans that the majority of citizens can get behind, and discuss more openly their pros and cons.

The city does not fundamentally know how to listen to its citizens, or to work with them to develop a shared vision for our future. We need to change that. If I am elected mayor, reaching consensus with residents will be my top priority.

Andrew Macdonald

Independent for Mayor of Alexandria