Yea, though members of the City Council walk through the valley of the shadow of Beauregard, they seem to fear no evil.
West End resident Jack Sullivan thinks that’s a problem. So he arrived at Saturday’s public hearing with the Old Testament reading for the morning: Proverbs 22:16. “One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich, both come to poverty.” At issue is the Beauregard small-area plan, which critics say will displace 10,000 low-income residents in favor of benefiting wealthy landowners who stand to gain millions in the process.
“Face it,” Sullivan told council members. “What this plan does is harm the poor and give to the rich.”
Opponents of the small-area plan now under consideration have been critical of the affordable housing part of the plan, which does not make units available until after 2020. They’ve also raised questions as to how the financing would work because they’re skeptical that the funds will be available. Sullivan said that the low-income residents are being targeted for displacement specifically because they are tenants rather than owners, who tend to have more cache in city politics.
“Scripture promises affliction and loss to those who harm the less fortunate in helping the rich,” Sullivan preached. “Who knows what may befall us in Alexandria if we take this drastic step?”
Hot Words, Cool Gelato
During the heat of battle on the waterfront small-area plan, Citizens for an Alternative Waterfront Plan co-chairman Boyd Walker took aim at city agencies supporting the proposal. This week, those words came back to haunt him.
Wearing his other hat as a businessman, Walker appeared before council members to get a special-use permit to open a gelato shop on Commerce Street. Vice Mayor Kerry Donley suggested that Walker take advantage of the services of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and the Small Business Development Center — two groups he took aim at in a critical blog post during the heat of battle over the waterfront plan.
“I know that you’ve made some disparaging comments about those on your blog,” said Donley. “But you might want to avail yourself of some of those programs.”
“My blog post was probably not appropriate, and I think an apology is appropriate,” said Walker after leaving council chambers. “I certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody.”
Democrats and Republicans are offended. It must be campaign season.
At the end of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Democratic Councilman Rob Krupicka took issue with part of a letter to the editor Republican Councilwoman Alicia Hughes wrote recently that criticized the previous council of voting “to knock down hundreds of units of public housing, replacing them with expensive townhomes around the Charles Houston Recreation Center while purportedly advocating for real affordable housing.”
“I don’t want to comment on why you did it or what your reasons were,” said Krupicka. “What troubles me are not only what I can assume are the political objectives of trying to make an allegation like that, which is blatantly untrue, but it also troubles me because this is a city that cares deeply about affordable housing.”
Hughes defended her letter, noting that the median household income had increased in the city since 2009.
“To make the statement this evening that the piece or the sentiments expressed therein were motivated by political ambition would be a slightly offensive statement made by you this evening to me,” said Hughes. “I don’t think it is inaccurate to state that those projects have been torn down, and you drive by there today and what is in place of them?”