To the Editor:
Tuesday’s Alexandria elections’ results featured the winning mayoral candidate. Allison Silberberg (63 percent) who prevailed because she and she alone had the courage to “just say no” to deliberate neighborhood and precinct triangulation, egregious conflicts of interest, and a City Hall that consistently put outside developers ahead of citizen-residents and community stakeholders.
The five City Council incumbents (Del Pepper, Paul Smedberg, John Chapman, Justin Wilson, and Tim Lovain) who voters returned to office jumped at the post-election photo opportunity with Mayor-elect Silberberg to collectively hold a broom, a metaphor for sweeping out the old in favor of the new. Not so fast. Alexandria’s people finally regained a mayor on their side while a one-party political machine reclaimed the City Council with the exception of newcomer Willie Bailey who actually talks like a real Democrat.
For the past eight years, none of the returned council members thought it wise or fair to vote against the mayor’s Waterfront Development Plan even though most of them don’t actually live there. Instead, they dutifully listened to constituents’ outrage, moved on with platitudes and finger-wagging and rubber-stamped Bill Euille’s “Developer Party” vision of city government.
“When I make decisions, it has nothing to do with whether or how much a developer contributed,” the outgoing mayor declared after developers contributed most, if not all, of the $200,000-plus garnered by Euille’s recent write-in campaign. Declaring no conflict of interest from his privileged vantage point, Mayor Euille consistently voted for projects that his campaign donors sponsored and even dumped his home-base political party despite a previous pledge not to because of fear of losing power and influence over Alexandria’s infrastructure. The patronage cookie-jar proved stronger than any call to loyalty.
Just prior to this week’s elections, outgoing Mayor Euille first disclosed that he had received campaign donations from CityInterests, Inc. and Rooney Properties who are developing the bitterly contested Robinson North Terminal site but did not feel there was any conflict of interest and therefore “freely” voted in favor of the proposal.
It would be really helpful to know the complete list of Alexandria investments that Bill Euille privately selected to invest in through his “conflict-free” approach to having it both ways during his public office tenure and especially those that elicited lawsuits from his constituents. Now that he is finally out of office almost, like the shadow of Lord of the Ring’s Mordor lifting from Middle Earth, perhaps the newly constituted City Council with its metaphorical broom would consider citizen refunds.
This would be appropriate since the city treasury was strategically deployed under Bill Euille to prevail in court, in Council Chambers, and in boardrooms while those who were taxed like “dumb clients” were misrepresented and disenfranchised. Until Alexandria discards its at-large system, which is infamous for perpetuating single group (e.g. political party, social sector, special interest) dominance, similar incestuous and self-dealing chokeholds will be hard to break.