Letter: Business As Usual?

Letter: Business As Usual?

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

So you want to be elected/re-elected to Alexandria Council and Mayor. I would like to suggest some of the qualifications needed in order to be "hired for these jobs."

  1. Must have side bar conversations with one or two of your colleagues while citizens are speaking, showing complete disrespect to citizens who take the time to attend meetings and have their voices heard.

  2. Must stand up for eminent domain, no matter what the proposed development project.

  3. Pretend you are listening when citizens speak with alternative suggestions for development proposals even though you know how you're going to vote. Think BSAP/BRAC/Waterfront/Metro Stop at Potomac Yard/lights at T.C. Williams.

  4. Must state that you have concerns about an issue and feel it’s not a good project, but go ahead and vote for it anyway, Think Alzheimer's Unit proposal next to Woodbine Nursing Home. The only person who understood the danger of this re-zoning was Vice Mayor Silberberg, who voted "No." In some respects we can compare Vice Mayor Silberberg to Arlington County Supervisor Libby Garvey who was the only member of Arlington's County Board to oppose the Columbia Pike Street Car and voted against her fellow Democrats on the County Board. Both Ms. Silberberg and Ms.Garvey proved that they had the courage to vote "No."

  5. Budget issues. Continue to tell Alexandria residents that we have major financing problems for the past several years with a decrease in commercial tax base, increase in ACPS budget along with increase in property taxes for homeowners to handle next year's $31 million deficit. Whine and complain that you want to do what's best for all Alexandria citizens, but vote to keep too many assistant city managers on board wherein the city manager’s office only needs 1-2 assistants. Remember, we do have department heads managing their departments.

  6. Must have served on the Alexandria City Council for at least 18-plus years not knowing when its time to step down. Think Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) from my home state who knew it was time for her to retire.

  7. Continue to fund non-proft housing groups with major loans. Think ADHC wherein the council gave them a $14 million loan (taxpayer monies) several years ago and monies have not yet started to be repaid. At least ARHA, Alexandria's Housing Authority have paid back all of their loans and recently presented Mayor/Council with a check for $700,000.

  8. Pretend you like renters. Use Affordable Housing talking points as your cover to let renters know you want us to remain in Alexandria. The new apartment developments that have sprung up start with an efficiency rent of $1,500. "Affordable Housing" refers to folks earning at least $50,000-plus a year.

  9. Continue to have taxpayers pay six figure salaries to Alexandria Development Economic Partnership senior staff who are tasked with increasing business development to Alexandria. They have failed completely in their mission. If they have been successful, then our commercial tax base wouldn't be in the tank.

Clearly, this year's election for mayor and council are important and hopefully Alexandria voters will see the need to elect folks who understand financing and are fiscally responsible; understand where planning developments can continue in Alexandria; keep small businesses growing; importance of a regional transportation plan and true accountability and transparency. Granted Alexandria is a "Democratic" town, but the demographics are clearly changing and citizens who have rarely been involved with city politics are now speaking out due to whatever developments impact their neighborhoods. This is positive and it’s time for some changes to occur. Isn't this what are current elected officials have been planning for various neighborhoods throughout Alexandria without really listening to neighbors concerns and dictating what city hall wants rather then listening to citizens’ alternative suggestions? Bring on term limits or district elections for City Council and an appointed School Board.

So, let the games begin. It’s election time and the question is: Are our current elected officials up to the task of being re-elected or will it be business as usual?

Annabelle Fisher