Leonard Ford: Some Alexandria City Councilmen just plain rude

With two new Alexandria City council members taking office on Dec. 1, I was hoping that this “new blood” would be the beginning of a fresh start to a better relationship between the city’s Executive Branch (Mayor) and its Legislative Branch (City Council). However, that hasn’t happened, and I’m totally disappointed.

Instead of trying to work together and move this city forward, Mayor Roy and several of the black council members have been at odds with one another about several issues that have led to some verbal exchanges or battles between them during the last few council meetings. In my opinion, it was not Roy who initiated these verbal exchanges, but rather it was the black council members who incited them. Again, I’m only speaking of several of the black council members, not all of them. And believe me, I’m not the only one who sees it that way.

Many individuals, from what they observed by either attending council meetings or by watching the meetings on the city’s government access Channel 4, have stated to me that these verbal exchanges by the council members gives the public a picture of men who are argumentative, disrespectful, and infuriated when they don’t get answers or explanations that suit their liking. It puts yet another black eye on the city and council.

Don’t get me wrong. If I felt that I was getting the run around from someone, I would be a little upset, but not to the point that I would let my emotions get the best of me that would cause me to talk over someone, interrupt them when they are speaking, talk to them loudly, or demand that they do this or that instead of putting it in a request. All of those things have happened at some of the meetings, and it was not on the administration’s part. I have watched the council meetings, and there have been times when Mayor Roy or City Attorney Chuck Johnson were at the podium to answer a question or give an explanation to something that was asked of them. However, while answering or explaining what they had to say, they were constantly interrupted and bombarded with yet more questions without having the opportunity to answer or explain what was first asked of them. That’s down right rude, and it shouldn’t be happening, especially from professional men.

It is understandable that there have been some difficulties in sorting out the boundaries of powers and responsibilities between the Mayor and some members of the City Council. This has led to many contentious disputes that has hampered Mayor Roy’s ability to deal with the problems that Alexandria is facing. My concern is whether these council members can let go of the animosity, avoid micromanaging, and focus on their jobs, which is providing policy direction for the city. The relationship between Mayor Roy and members of the City Council has gotten so bad that Roy’s administration has resorted to correspondence with the City Council through written correspondence (letters/memos). And it all came about, according to Kay Michiels, Alexandria’s chief operating officer, due to a perceived lack of respect, a lack of basic professional courtesy, and rancor and false accusations towards Roy and his administration by some members of the council.

It’s a shame for the city of Alexandria to be governed this way. In a smoothly functioning city government, the division of powers (Executive Branch/Legislative Branch) provides needed checks and balances that benefits all concerned. There must be communication between the two branches. Parties on both sides have much to gain by working together for the residents of their city and not against each other. Good government does not begin with petty grievances, legal disputes, and uncooperativeness. It begins with lively debate, mutual respect, and a spirit of cooperation.

I believe that it is high time for all of this political grandstanding that has and is occurring at city council meetings to end. The Mayor and his administration and the City Council needs to get their stuff together. Alexandria’s citizens deserve much better behavior from its government.

In closing, I call to mind the words of President Obama that was part of his inauguration speech. “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

And here in Alexandria, we definitely need to set aside the childish things that are taking place in our City Council meetings.

4 Responses

  1. Ditto! I also voted for someone and endorsed the other one thinking that they would be the innovation and influence that this city needs to propel it forward. I guess that I’ve been proven wrong and now I’m having a bad case of voters remorse because of them and Governor Piyush Jindal.

  2. DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    BY DYLAN THOMAS

  3. Mr. Ford what this poem is saying is that nothing is ever gained without some type of struggle. History has showed that you must agitate, agitate and agitate to shake up the system.

  4. Gary, thanks for commenting on my article. I know that it takes struggle to accomplish things sometimes, but struggle does not always have to involved being just plain downright rude. I can disagree with you, but I can do it in a nice way. We can both disagree, but we can do it nicely with respect towards one another.

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