Letter: Ombudsman Should Be Elected

Letter: Ombudsman Should Be Elected

— To the Editor:

For many years I have advocated both orally and in writing that an ombudsman is direly needed in the city of Alexandria to uncover potential fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and corruption. Over the years a number of events have shown that we have a definite need for such an individual. An elected ombudsman, one as independent as the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney, would be able to credibly establish in an unbiased manner the factuality of the divergent reports rendered by the citizens and the police. Above all an ombudsman will operate as the citizen’s intermediary with the city in extraordinary situations where harm or damages are alleged.

This newly created office would operate independently of the City Council. The ombudsman would be elected in a non-partisan manner for a period of at least six years. The job description outlining the prerequisite qualifications would require that the individual possess a high degree of integrity, and professional credentials in the areas of law, accounting, auditing, investigations and public administration. An ombudsman would spend a great deal of his or her time conducting audits and in-depth investigations of the city’s many diverse programs, potentially resulting in millions of dollars of the taxpayer’s money being saved annually.

The city manager has just recently created a new position within the human resources department for an individual to investigate ethics, fraud and grievance complaints. This is not good enough. The position must be an elected position so that any and all complaints are not politically adjudicated. Needless to say the city will be much better served in a number of critical areas the sooner we elect an ombudsman.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet