Letter to the Editor: Alexandria Ignoring Own Advisory Groups?

Letter to the Editor: Alexandria Ignoring Own Advisory Groups?

To the Editor:

A great number of Alexandria’s citizens have already voiced their concerns as to the City Council’s decision to move the Appomattox statue from its current position at the intersection at Washington and Prince to a little grass patch fronting the Lyceum. This would more than likely reposition the statue facing east, and not south, which is where the sympathies of Alexandria were directed.

However, the real issue is that the City Council paid little attention to the advice of the appointed citizen task force, which recommended that the statue not be relocated. Unfortunately, the City Council unanimously struck down this portion of the overall recommendation of the task force. Obviously, this begs the question of why task forces are appointed at all if their recommendations are regularly ignored? It appears that these task forces are merely a pro forma method of dealing with sensitive issues, but not a factor in decision-making.

Another instance of ignoring a task force recommendation was in 2009, after two City Council members (Justin Wilson and Tim Lovain) lost their seats. These individuals then recommended that the municipal election be moved to November. To vet this recommendation, the mayor at that time (Bill Euille) appointed a citizen task force, which subsequently recommended that the municipal election should not be moved from May to November. However, Council members Wilson and Lovain persisted in moving the election date and, to no one’s great surprise, these members are back, thanks to a novel form of gerrymandering.

Unfortunately, I could cite other examples of task force recommendations that were ignored. In a city such as Alexandria, where the population is extremely well educated and experienced (especially in the roles that government plays), this begs the question of why the City Council never seems to heed the advice of members who were selected for experience and expertise. What’s up with ignoring the task force recommendations, Alexandria?

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet