Your Views: Lights illuminate larger issue

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To the editor:

City council claims to be looking for funding to keep the lights on the trees on King Street on for 11 months instead of the traditional four. But this is in the budget commencing July 1, which hadn’t been approved yet when your article ran. So why are the lights still on in May when normally they come off at the end of March?

Were some promises quietly made during last year’s campaign about which the winning candidates didn’t tell the public? Where is the funding authority to keep the lights on during April when they were only budgeted for the usual run of Thanksgiving through March coming from?

Keeping the lights on the trees makes sense during the winter when the trees are bare, but when the trees have leaves it is stupid for two reasons: First, the trees have many more leaves than lights and the red oak leaves typical of the trees on King Street are huge leaves many times larger than the lights. When the leaves have filled in, the leaves will obscure the lights.

Also, red oaks are among the last leaves to turn in the autumn and fall off. Taking down the light strings a month before Thanksgiving when the trees still have their leaves is more likely to damage the trees than taking down the strings at the end of March when the trees are still bare. Has city council reckoned and budgeted for the cost of this additional damage to the trees or, as with so many other things city hall does, pretended it away?

Minor as this might seem, it illustrates the transparency issues in how city hall operates and mishandles fiscal affairs.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria

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