To the Editor:
This letter was triggered when I heard the three mayor candidates tell an audience last Thursday, which included me, why they should be mayor. Donley’s and Euille’s Potomac Yard metro views are embedded in concrete. No amount of reason will dissuade them from this very costly project. Euille declared the City Council will approve the Potomac Yard Metro on May 20. My take: It's a fool's errand.
The Potomac Yard Metro being presented to the public for comment is emblematic of what’s wrong with our city governance. Here’s what’s afoot: In the next four weeks, you — the gentle public — are being presented with any number of forums and council hearings during which you can express your approval or disapproval of this massive project, the most costly in Alexandria’s long history, and potentially our financial undoing. But here’s what’s phony about this political theater: your views matter not one whit.
Our current mayor publically declared the City Council will approve the new metro on May 20. It’s a done deal. And because you have no say in the matter, their decision is going to burden you, your progeny and theirs too with a massive debt. If that isn’t bad enough, the costly project is likely going to be overseen by one of three individuals seeking to be our next mayor: Candidates Euille, Donley or Silberberg.
On an individual basis, these are nice, civic minded people, but when given the public’s purse strings, they morph into high-dais overlords who believe their visions are incarnate and their right to spend your money is inviolate. As you watch this Potomac Yard Metro train wreck a-happening, keep in mind that candidates Euille and Donley have revealed themselves to be renegade over-spenders. Their habit is so bad that for the last eight years our city has spent more money than it has received in revenue. Good money managers they are not.
Worse: Candidates Euille and Donley, in the respective capacities as current and former mayor, are twin pillars of gold plated, project overruns. Think T. C. Williams and Jefferson-Houston. These two schools’ construction costs exceeded their already pricey budgets.
But here’s what’s really awful about the Potomac Yard Metro: It’s being sold not because it’s good for current residents, but because it’s expected to be a faucet spewing money into city coffers. This is because residents and businesses expected to locate near this new metro station are going to find themselves in special tax districts requiring them to pay more tax than you and I pay.
Look here: all revenue projections are guesstimates, but the ones for the Potomac Yard Metro station are awful; they are nothing but numerical cotton candy. Consider this: Alexandria already has plenty of commercial vacancies near existing metros. Now, the city will have us believe businesses will move to specially created, high-tax districts in the Potomac Yard. Higher taxes are simply not enticements for any venture.
But this reality does not comport with the visions of metro lucre held by mayoral candidates Euille and Donley. They are known poor money managers while the third candidate (Silberberg) is an unknown. But all three are alike in one respect: None have explained Potomac Yard metro station debt repayment options in the more likely event its rosy revenue projections fall short.