Our View – A Round of Applause?


When theres a systemic problem within the government, stomping it into the underground should never be the way to squash the issue.

In this regard, the City Councils decision to authorize an independent inquiry should be commended. Rather than sweep the SNAFU under the rug, city officials worked together as one entity, deciding to respect the wishes of its residents and move forward with a prodding of its government body the numerous city staff members that mismanaged the ill-communicated disaster that is the Norfolk Southern Corporations occupation of the West End.

But near the end of the Councils discussion that authorized the inquiry, one member rattled off quite a long scroll of positive achievements and initiatives on the citys part as if to counteract the stain that the inquiry may leave on an otherwise admirable government. Granted, the statement was preceded with, In this case in particular, it is very clear that our government served our community poorly, but it should have stopped there.

Another voice from behind the lectern indicated how most cities would not be so responsive. We arent most cities. Our standards are high because this is the most important city in the world. This is the most important city in the world because we live in it and are part of its constant churn.

So yes, the governments decision to put itself under a microscope should be commended, but not as some above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty superman-like congratulation. It should be commended like a student is commended for doing his homework its expected.

Our intention is not to undermine the governments work. We understand that the Council and other government members have jobs that at times must seem daunting. Not to mention the fact that for many, its their moonlight job, in addition to their respective careers and families.

Our intention is to say its okay not the fact that the Norfolk Southern situation was handled poorly, but the fact that mistakes are made. Back pats are unnecessary when youve already begun to start righting the wrongs.

By eventually responding to citizens demands for an inquiry, the city government has taken back a page from its own book of transparency and open mindedness, a page that was sullied when the Council was not informed by its staff of the ethanol transfer facilitys operations. Its also a page Alexandrians are owed after such a malfunction, not one about which citizens should feel guilty.

Openness is what Alexandrians expect and deserve from their government. For the most part, ours is one of cohesiveness, pragmatism and general transparency. We should feel like this is the rule, not the exception.