To the Editor:
I am beginning to wonder if our small, deep-in-debt city is taking on the smarmy political patina of Chicago or, worse, of Detroit. The bullies running Alexandria, foremost Mayor Euille and council member Justin Wilson, have recruited another member to their cabal: School Board president Karen Graf.
To this cabal of elected officials, she brings a fine Chicago style. The recent T C Williams football field lighting feasibility study she funded, with your money, was worse than the quintessential Chicago study commissioned some years ago. Although their respective focus was different, their similarities are striking. For example, the Chicago study, like Ms Graf’s, occurred during the reign of an imperial Democratic mayor who, like our mayor, believed that his vision was better than everyone else’s.
And, like Ms. Graf’s study, the Chicago feasibility study was a wasteful use of public money that produced a preordained finding. Get this: The Chicago study, for $90,000, revealed snow shovels are the best way to remove snow. Ms. Graf’s feasibility study was less costly but no less a travesty. Her study concluded putting lights on T.C. Williams’ football field would illuminate it at night.
Night lights at T.C. Williams have become the latest manifestation of what’s wrong in Alexandria. You would think that of all people, Ms Graf, would be pulling out all the stops to improve the academic achievements of the thousands of students in our scholastically challenged school system. Instead, she is cleaving to the mayor who wants to make night lights at T.C. Williams his legacy.
Opposing him, Mr. Wilson and Ms. Graf is the much abused Woods community whose homes are cheek to jowl to the T.C. Williams football field. In the pre-civil rights era, members of this venerable African American community were paid pennies on the dollar to vacate their homes so the city could assemble enough land on which to build T.C. Williams and its football field.
To salve the wound from being forced from their homes, this historically disrespected community was promised the T.C. Williams athletic field would never be lighted. Now, years later, we have another mayor who wants to run roughshod over the Woods community. Underscoring his ambition, he declared in a recent city council discussion about night lights at T.C. Williams, “Agreements are meant to be broken.”
Astounding remark, I agree. But this time, the long bullied African American Woods community, which dates to the civil war era, is standing their ground. If you want join them, then at least send an email or letter to the mayor, Justin Wilson and to Karen Graf insisting they keep night lights off T.C. Williams athletic fields. Don’t let these bullies triumph anymore. And if you are an attorney, especially one connected to the NAACP, the Woods community wants your counsel.