By Michael Campilongo, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
Mayor Allison Silberberg’s proposal to improve the way Alexandria addresses city government ethics has merit. It deserves support from city council to match the importance voters attached to it in the recent mayoral campaign. Some tried to write it off as a way to gain political advantage in a tough campaign. The fact remains that Silberberg was only showing strong leadership, as she recognized a deep concern of the voters.
Her belief is primarily that public decisions must be made as much as possible in the light of day, so the people that local government serves have full confidence that decisions are made with no unseen — or unaccountable — outside influence. As the reformer Louis D. Brandeis wrote in the December 20, 1913 edition of Harper’s Weekly: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
Our new mayor’s interest in transparency puts her in a long line of reform advocates. Her concern is not that local processes are terrible and should be revamped. Rather, governmental openness always should be encouraged and — whenever possible — strengthened. Silberberg’s proposal to study and recommend improvements can accomplish that. She continued the sunlight metaphor herself in her remarks at the city council installation ceremony.
I look forward to seeing earnest, practical results from this study.