On message and out of touch


To the editor:

Last week City Council passed a budget that was almost flat, increasing by less than a third of one percent over last years budget. The budget includes $17 million in cuts and the slight increase in spending went to improving emergency medical services and addressing rising enrollment in our schools. Despite this, Republican Frank Fannon and Independent Alicia Hughes voted against the budget. 

Fannon claims our freedoms are being taken away and, even though he went against his own campaign pledge and pushed to increase the real estate property tax from 90.3 cents to 95 cents, when it came time for a final vote he opted to retain his freedom rather than fully fund our schools, police officers and fire fighters. 

This is not dissimilar from the rhetoric coming out of Richmond, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) recently lamented our decreasing liberty as he discussed his taxpayer-funded lawsuits against the federal government over health care and the Environmental Protection Agencys finding that climate change poses a threat to people. In fact, during the height of budget season in April, Fannon went out of his way to promote Cuccinelli when he visited Alexandria. On his website he encouraged all to attend the attorney generals speech in Old Town where he discussed his lawsuit over health care reform. 

Fresh off of her vote in November to reject federal stimulus dollars to expand Head Start, provide job training to displaced workers and provide emergency rent relief to residents in danger of becoming homeless, Alicia Hughes continued down this same path during the budget deliberations and proposed slashing funding to the citys affordable home ownership program. 

Hughes, too, is receiving attention from Richmond, having just been named to Gov. Bob McDonnells (R) Government Reform Commission. The commission is tasked with finding ways to streamline and restructure our state government. 

McDonnells choice of Hughes is a curious one, considering that Hughes has lived in Virginia for less than two years and during that time failed to properly register her vehicle and pay taxes as required by State Code, and has had to pay back taxes to the State of Maryland as a result of improperly receiving tax credits on a property she owns there. These are not exactly the kind of credentials that evoke confidence in the governors commission.

At the end of the day, though, both Fannon and Hughes will claim the mantle of fiscal conservatism. After all, it is that kind of rhetoric that fits on bumper stickers and makes for good campaign promises.

Clark Mercer
Chair, Alexandria Democratic Committee