Opinion Your Views — 18 April 2013
Here’s an idea: Let’s vote on it

To the editor:
The recent letter by James Pelkofski decrying the Alexandria Times’ waterfront coverage (“The Times shows its true colors with waterfront plan coverage,” April 4) was articulate confusion. Believing the Times has no right to an editorial opinion that differs from the thundering herd was bad enough. But even sadder was his failing to appreciate that the waterfront argument is not about the goal — it’s about using greater density as the means to achieve it.

Adding density to generate additional tax revenue has awful consequences for the quality of life for all Alexandrians, especially for those residing near the waterfront. Just as there are physical limits to all defined spaces, whether buildings or wine glasses, there also are limits to how many cars can park on the streets near the river.

And in spite of all the ostensible research that led to the city’s divisive waterfront proposal, when I asked a city employee providing staff support to the waterfront commission about flooding and parking, he knew nothing about either. So much for enabling informed residents.

Mr. Pelkofski’s smug remarks, however, did raise an idea that computer technology may now enable us to take advantage of. When he erroneously argued the recent city council election was a waterfront referendum, I wondered why not have a real referendum? And not only on the waterfront — have them on any major topic. For example, how about the budget proposal crafted by the city manager that will raise property taxes?

You would think a creative and visionary city council would want to at least determine if there is a web-based method to occasionally assess taxpayers’ desires. I guarantee that speaking to them in a public hearing is a waste of time even if it’s good theater. But having a vote-by-web, even an advisory one, might actually dissuade them from their preordained decisions.

- Jim Roberts
Alexandria

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. California-style referenda and “direct democracy”? No thanks.

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