Iron Ladies of Old Town
The controversial waterfront small-area plan may have squeaked through City Hall on a five-to-two vote last month, but a final resolution could be months away. That’s because a handful of opponents are girding for a fight, although the time and location have yet to be worked out.
At the center of the action are three Alexandria residents supporters have taken to calling the “Iron Ladies of Old Town,” April Burke, Marie Kux and Beth Gibney. They own property adjacent to the rezoned properties and are among the hundreds of people who signed a protest petition requesting that a supermajority of six votes should be required to pass the plan, which increased density at three sites on the waterfront. Along with two other Alexandria residents who do not own property adjacent to the rezoned properties, Mark Mueller and waterfront plan work group member Bert Ely, the gang of five has hired attorney Roy Shannon to lead the charge.
But their course has yet to be charted.
One scenario would involve going directly to Alexandria Circuit Court, arguing that the group has already filed an appeal of a determination that the protest petition requesting a supermajority is not valid. Shannon attempted to present the appeal to Planning Director Faroll Hamer during the waterfront public hearing, but city officials say the government is not “open for business” during public hearings. Shannon could argue that the appeal was rightfully presented but city officials refused to accept it because it could have delayed the vote. Another scenario would be to present the appeal to planning officials once again and wait for a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals.
“We’re about to begin a major fundraising effort on their behalf to help raise money for the legal bills,” said former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald, a co-chairman of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan. “We obviously disagree with the vote, and this is our way of staying involved with the issue.”
Baker’s New Gig
Although he’s been flirting with a campaign for City Council for months, former Police Chief David Baker has decided against throwing his hat into the ring this year. Baker said it was a difficult decision, but one that was prompted by his new gig at Goodwin House, where he has been promoted from director of security to director of operations. During a brief interview in his new office, which includes some mementos from his time as the city’s top cop, Baker said
“I knew when I took this job that it meant I wouldn’t be able to run for the City Council,” he said. “It was a tough decision, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Baker cuts a distinctive figure at Goodwin House, a retirement facility on the city’s West End. The former chief has always been a meticulously dresser, and his old uniform has been replaced by a crisp business suit. Supporters at City Hall liked to say that Baker looked as though he had been sent from central casting to star in a police drama. Now he seems entirely at ease directing operations at Goodwin House, a job that was created specifically for Baker.
“I would have run as someone who understands government from the inside out,” he said, adding that he may still consider a campaign in the future. “I suppose there’s always the next election cycle.”
Here’s a tip for all the government workers out there — don’t double dip. Take it from 52-year-old Jeffrey Armstrong of South Riding who held concurrent jobs at the United Nations and the National Labor Relations Board. Last week, the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria sentenced him to 18 months in prison for taking more than $100,000 in salary payments by fraudulently holding two jobs at once.
According to evidence presented at the trial, Armstrong concealed his dual employment from both employers by submitting incomplete forms and taking medical leave from one job while he was working the other.