Council Notebook

Council Notebook

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

They fought like cats and dogs. They pounded their fists of the dais at City Hall. On several occasions, they raised their voices at each other. Now, the lame duck members of the Alexandria City Council are headed for the exits, drawing a curtain on the most contentious group of elected officials in recent memory.

The council may be remembered most for having two elected Republicans, a rarity in Alexandria. That bipartisan divide led to several clashes on everything from taxes to transportation. Outgoing Republicans Frank Fannon and Alicia Hughes were often on the losing side of the debate, but they were willing to form a loyal opposition that provided a sense of conflict that does not exist when the Democrats have a monopoly on leadership. Now Fannon and Hughes are stepping aside after having lost the election.

“When a congressman doesn’t get reelected, he goes home,” said Fannon. “But when a councilman doesn’t get reelected, there’s nowhere for him to go.”

Hughes and Fannon both hinted that voters might be seeing them again.

“One thing we all have in common,” said Hughes, “is that we know what it’s like to win some, and we know what it’s like to lose some.”

“The good thing about living in Virginia,” said Fannon, “is that there’s an election every year.”

Idiot Rule Number 1

What’s in a resolution?

Council adopts ceremonial resolutions at almost every meeting, proclaiming a “Good Weather Day” for a parade or celebrating the success of a municipal venture. But rarely do the documents have as much punch as the ones council members presented to themselves this week.

As part of the festivities honoring the outgoing members, members of City Council approved two resolutions that offered more than a list of civic engagement.

“WHEREAS, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley has never been known to be the silent type, and has been known to begin his conversations with “Number 1” and then sometimes never getting to Numbers 2 or 3.”

And then there was this one:

“WHEREAS, Councilman David Speck is known for the ‘Idiot Rule’ — When making decisions, especially land-use decisions, there is always pressure to do the politically expedient or popular thing. The real test is to ask, will someone 20 years from now drive by a project or look at a decision and say, “Jeez, what idiot approved that?’”

Naughty and Nice

He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s been naughty and nice.

No, it’s not Santa Claus. It’s City Manager Rashad Young. One of his year-end duties is to check attendance records for all 59 of the city’s boards, committees, commissions and task forces. City code requires that all appointees attend at least 75 percent of meetings. Perhaps that makes Young the Grinch That Stole the Appointment, but somebody’s got to do it.

“Each of the persons has been notified by letter of their attendance record,” explained Young in a memorandum.

When all the arithmetic was completed, 17 people got the boot — including former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald, who attended only 70 percent of the meetings called by the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission. Three of the ejected members attended none of the meetings. Others attended between 20 percent and 70 percent of the meetings — not enough to fulfill them mandate.

“These persons may reapply for reappointment with other new applicants when the positions are advertised by the City Clerk,” added Young.

Members of the Real Estate Board had the biggest commitment, with 25 meetings in the last year, while of the Building Board of Appeals didn’t meet at all. Seventeen boards and commissions have yet to submit a roster of attendance reports.

— Michael Lee Pope