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Letter: Lack of Transparency

Letter to the Editor:

— At the last meeting of the Federation of Civic Associations, I was flabbergasted that a long-time and well-respected city employee had been tapped by the city manager to present a new concept which endorsed putting food trucks on our already overly crowded streets. As the concept was being presented I muttered aloud that this concept must have been incepted during one of the council’s executive sessions. As expected, I got a dirty look in return; however less than five minutes later it was pointed out by the speaker that the concept was actually discussed at the council’s annual retreat. Ah ha, just as I expected, again no transparency. A couple of days later I called one of the deputy city managers to find out how I could access the minutes of the retreat. You guessed it, no minutes of the retreat are available, so I can’t pin the tail of the donkey on any specific councilman …. Regardless, the fact that this initiative is going straight to council sometime in September with one public hearing is absolutely egregious.

Not one member of the Federation spoke in favor of this initiative. In fact, all of those who did speak said that it’s a bad idea. In Old Town, and this program is also scheduled to take place in Del Rey and the West End, there are about 100 restaurants from the river to the rails. We just don’t need a large number of food trucks taking away more of our parking spaces and competing with our already established restaurants. Just look at the food trucks in D.C. and you see utter chaos. Can you imagine a number of these food trucks parked on the 100 block of North Royal across the street from Gadsby’s Tavern, one of our city’s premier historic attractions? Who by the way is going to monitor these trucks for sanitation? It sure isn’t going to be our defunct health department who for years has failed to take action against the motorcycles on King Street who blow their toxic fumes all over the food of our outdoor diners.

This whole exercise is akin to the council members scheming to revote on the Waterfront Plan during an executive session. It’s another breach of the public’s trust by our elected officials. This truly reflects what happens when you have all seven council members representing the same political affiliation. The end product then is: Why even convene a meeting?

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet

Alexandria