You got it wrong

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You got it wrong
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 To the editor: 

I strongly disagree with your recent editorial “Getting it right” in the January 25 Alexandria Times, applauding the renaming of city streets, saying it was “exactly right.” No, it was exactly wrong, for reasons of both process and product. 

First, the process was flawed. Your editorial points out that, as originally proposed, renaming required a petition signed by a certain number of residents on the street. When there were still “no takers,” as you put it – translation: The people who lived there didn’t much care – City Council, impatient with the residents’ lack of interest, insisted on finding a solution to a problem that only the councilors themselves, their staffs and a small group of activists believed even existed. 

To prevent this from happening again, we must reinstate the former system of electing Council by wards, so that residents of the West End will have a proportionate voice in who represents them. The current Council does not. 

As to the product, the statement that the name changes “will cause residents of those streets no disruption” is false. Those residents will now have to go through the process of changing their street addresses on deeds and other legal documents and bank accounts and stand in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get new drivers’ licenses with their new street addresses, and otherwise disrupt their daily lives. The editorial also says that some new names will be similar to the old names, thereby making it easier for Uber drivers to find the street. By all means, ignore what the residents want, but don’t confuse Uber drivers! 

Finally, there is also a question of proportionality. What City Council did in the 1950s was wrong. The question now is how much disruption must we cause to people living on those streets today to rectify mistakes that were made in the past. 

It is one thing to rename a major roadway that had been named for Jefferson Davis, whom most educated people know was the President of the Confederacy. It is quite another to rename a side street in the West End named for Jubal Early, a name that most people who are not Civil War buffs would not even recognize. How far down do we drill? 

-Roger Ritter, Alexandria 

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