Letter to the Editor: Who hijacked our government?

Letter to the Editor: Who hijacked our government?
Renderings of the Potomac Yard metro from 2016.

To the editor:

At every turn it seems, malfeasance and abuse of public trust is shown to be commonplace in Alexandria’s staff and council. How long is this to be tolerated?

Regarding the shameful current state of the Potomac Yard Metro Station project, we find that the deputy director of the Department of Project Implementation inappropriately signed the federal wetland permit application in February 2018, which included the south entrance, certifying all information as accurate and true, when city officials knew full well that the south entrance had been eliminated in July 2017.

If this isn’t enough, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Deputy City Manager Emily Baker similarly lied to the public in April 2018 by removing and replacing a rendering that depicted one mezzanine – thus showing the south mezzanine had been removed – from a WMATA presentation released on April 9 [2018]… “We have to pull it,” Baker said in an email to [Potomac Yard Metro Manager Jason] Kacamburas at 1:31 p.m. on April 9.

As for Vice Mayor and winner of the Democratic mayoral primary Justin Wilson’s knowledge of the excluded south entrance a year ago: a FOIAed email exchange begs the question of whether Wilson knew about the southern entrance removal before his council colleagues did.

There’s more. Another recent and very much related issue in Alexandria featured yet another outright deception. The deputy director of Transportation & Environmental Services is on record as lying to the public, to city council and to staff at the Jan. 20, 2018 Karig Estates appeal hearing where he emphatically stated that “no intermittent stream exists on the Karig property,” and that T&ES staff and contractors have verified this several times since 2004 by “performing rigorous, multi-step North Carolina and Fairfax County Stream Identification protocols” for the site.

Yet, only after another FOIA in February 2018 and follow-up with the T&ES stormwater management chief was it revealed, and admitted, that no such analyses were ever performed by T&ES or its contractor. Scientific studies of the Karig ravine and watershed with verifiable findings of an intermittent stream spanning the property were, however, performed by the city’s geologic consultant and other highly credible environmental scientists, including other city staff. The intermittent stream issue is key here because if it were to be upheld, development of the ravine and stream could not legally occur.

Obviously, the individuals stating these deliberate falsehoods, whether staff or council, have not served the public or their office properly. All of this is substantiated, on record, and in the hands of interested parties. What remains is how the good people of Alexandria will react when a PYMS public hearing is sneaked in at the last possible moment in September – in other words, more of the new style of government dealings in Alexandria.

-Jimm Roberts, C. Dara, Hal Hardaway, Alexandria