Your Views: Complete loss of trust in city government

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Your Views: Complete loss of trust in city government
City Council approved a luxury hotel development at 699 Prince Street. (Photo/Google Street View)
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To the editor:

When I talk to Alexandria residents about the city we want, it’s a much different vision than that of the city government. It’s well past time to investigate and report the differences.

Joe Sestak’s July 28 “loss of trust” letter discussed the city’s misrepresentations and Dino Drudi’s Aug. 4 letter showed how our city leaders “put developers’ interests ahead of taxpayers.” These letters highlight how our city government favors developers over residents and residents’ subsequent “loss of trust,” as Sestak said.

Alexandria Times reporting over several years has shed light on an extremely pro-developer and apparently ethically challenged city government.

A March 7, 2019 editorial, “Something stinks along the waterfront,” describes the city’s “bait and switch” tactics.

A Nov. 4, 2021 editorial, “Bridging the trust chasm,” talks of the city “overlooking violated conditions” and a “broken bond of trust.”

In the Jan. 20 editorial, “Just say ‘no’ to developers,” you wrote, “It’s just not a proper function of government … to fund private business ventures.”

On May 20, the Our View editorial, “Destroying Alexandria’s historical character one decision at a time,” states that decisions are “as always, at the behest of developers.”

On one hand, Alexandria can be an attractive city with a great quality of life.

On the other hand, Alexandria is a city undergoing rapid transformation, thanks to the city government-developers rush to higher- rise, higher-density, higher-traffic, higher prices, higher costs, higher taxes for all of us. The city is consistently moving the lines in developers’ favor, often overlooking violated conditions that occur or even misrepresenting the facts, as Sestak details.

When the city administration invests taxpayer dollars in private luxury hotel ventures, that more than crosses ethical, judgment, transparency, role-of-government and public service lines into a vested interest in the developer’s success.

The city-developer relationship in Alexandria demands more scrutiny before it proceeds even farther over the lines of what a city government should be doing and how they should be doing it. There are too many unanswered questions and questionable aspects. The Planning Commission recently paused for more consideration of the Del Ray bonus density amendment; that makes sense for several major development projects.

I’d like to see a panel of residents investigate, get to the facts and report their findings to both the city and residents. I’ve seen enough to convince me that the city government has a very different picture of the future of Alexandria than do residents, and the city is not providing an accurate or complete picture to the public.

If you would like to help me gather the facts, write to me at [email protected]

-John Skibinski, Alexandria

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