Alexandria Letter: Debate Ethics

Alexandria Letter: Debate Ethics

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

For the second time since the recent local election, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson abetted by his five council mates and the city attorney, have all together hijacked the mayor’s ethics program, thus essentially destroying totally any real meaningful progress toward making Alexandria an ethical model.

What transpired at the council’s latest legislative meeting highlighted Wilson repeatedly pontificating that there was no need to have a public hearing and that whatever the council approved did not need to cover anyone else in our local government, meaning that the city manager, the city attorney, the clerk, the city staff and members of our boards and commissions were all left out of the agreed-to legislation.

What is more important to we the residents is the fact that there is no mechanism currently in place to oversee and rule on ethics infractions by any of the aforementioned individuals. Not once did I hear the council discuss what role an ombudsman, an inspector general or an ethics commission might have in ruling on ethics complaints.

Several weeks ago I wrote that the Federation of Civic Associations would be the right venue to set up an ethics commission. I still believe that to be the case.

What I don’t need is Councilman Wilson sending me any more emails like the one he sent when I previously wrote about this issue. He said “What I do see is you attempting to smear a bunch of public servants with innuendo and suggesting that we are all hiding something. Its unfortunate that you continue to perpetuate something that you know full well is not true.” Mr Wilson, trust and verification is what we citizens are seeking. Provide it or resign. Attempting to suppress my Constitutional right to verbalize this issue will get you nowhere.

During the meeting, the mayor asked several times that the public should be able to present their comments at a public hearing. Unfortunately, all of the council members (the mayor caved under duress) supported spokesman Wilson’s stand on no public hearing and that the legislation had to be voted on that very night as the next public hearing on June 18 is just before the council goes on summer break, therefore the docket is already too large to include this issue. That’s a laughable excuse at best, as the city has periodically conducted special public hearings, therefore this item could and should be debated sometime in the next month before the July/August recess.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet