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Letter: Is City Hall Listening?

To the Editor:

Once again Alexandria elected officials and city staff are "playing head games" with citizens and planning their first "community dialogue" meeting with city residents in order to listen to citizens and hear what we have been telling them what we want for the past several years as it relates to development and transportation issues.

The so-called "listening/citizen engagement tour" by members of the city manager's office, City Manager Young, P&Z director Faroll Hamer and other department managers is too late. The November elections are over and all the Democrats won. The issues most of us citizens have raised, i.e., BRAC-133; Waterfront Plan; Beauregard Small Area Plan; metro at Potomac Yard which probably won't happen, along with several major transportation issues have already become a "done deal" by our elected officials, developers and city staff. And to add to this "kumbaya moment/Amway rah rah" session is the fact that City Manager Young is spending $3,000 of taxpayer dollars to have Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Ph.D., former founder of AmericaSpeaks to speak at this first meeting. Don't these folks have better things to do and more constructive ways to spend taxpayer money? Alexandria taxpayers already pay these administrators very high salaries in this small town to do the work at city hall, i.e., over $150,000+ p/yr plus benefits and a generous retirement package.

Unfortunately, citizens have had to listen and have heard the major decisions made by our elected officials with a "rubber stamp" by Ms. Hamer, director of P&Z; Tom Gates, assistant city manager who has been here since Jim Hartmann was city manager and well aware of the BRAC-133 disaster; Rich Baier, TES director, along with other department administrators. If anything, this "community discussion" should be reversed wherein all of our elected officials need to learn how to listen as well as City Manager Young, all other members in the city manager’s office and other department officials. If for some reason they have not been able to hear citizens concerns and suggestions for alternate development/transportation plans, then I suggest they have a hearing test to make sure their hearing is OK, and if not, perhaps it’s time to get a hearing aid and stop with the "political talking points." What we need is a change in attitude and behavior from our mayor and council and all of city staff who refuse to be held accountable. Suggest Alexandria adopt Frank Sinatra's theme song "My Way" because nothing is going to change from this "citizen engagement tour."

Hope you're listening now because city hall is the problem, not the citizens.

Annabelle Fisher

Alexandria