Your Views: Macdonald is a community organizer, not a politician


To the editor:
Jacqueline Condakes criticizes Andrew Macdonald for not being in the room during most of the Alexandria Planning Departments presentation of waterfront plans to the Alexandria City Council on June 11 (Is Macdonald using the waterfront plan for political gains? June 30, 2011). I was there, listening to the planning director and her staff from 9:30 a.m. until around noon when I had to leave.
Unlike Ms. Condakes, the presentation did not make me feel that the city is anywhere near a waterfront solution. Their plan costs $52 million by their estimate and the alternative costs $220 million.  Neither cost estimate appears to have much basis in fact. 
Many Alexandrians, including members of the Coalition for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, believe it is possible to have true compromise. We do not expect the waterfront to be entirely parks and museums; we just believe there must be more of these components than city planners recommend. To say we were anywhere near this solution on June 11 or today is just not true. Much more needs to be done than mere tweaking.
As for Andrew Macdonald, he has been acting like a community organizer, not a candidate. He went door to door handing out flyers and recruiting other people, mostly newcomers to civic involvement, to oppose the planning departments waterfront plan.  After that, he and Boyd Walker organized an impressive demonstration and march to City Hall. Any organizer of a demonstration needs to meet and talk with the people who turned out. Without this extra effort, the demonstration serves no more purpose than does a flash mob. I assume that is what Andrew was doing in the hall outside Council Chambers.
The next council election is more than a year away. No prospective candidate goes door to door more than a year before the election. Given the notoriously short memories of the American electorate nationwide, that would be just a waste of time and energy.