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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: ‘Business As Usual’
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: ‘Business As Usual’

Many had hoped Mayor Silberberg’s election three years ago — considered in many quarters to be an upset — would have brought about a sincere reassessment of “business as usual” at city hall. She has sincerely sought suitable compromises in the spirit of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nahum Goldmann, whereby each party to a dispute gets something and no party gets or loses everything of importance, while her council colleagues continue ramrodding things through over the objections from affected residents, waiving and even trashing the protections land use rules provide. Their notion of “compromise” is throwing a few trivial crumbs at neighbors, while developers get almost every special consideration, while hers is seeking a respectful balance.

Mayor Silberberg sometimes stood up to some of her staunchest supporting by backing projects they opposed such as a quarter-billion dollar new Metro station and a tall hotel towering over two-story townhouses, while her council colleagues have not in living memory encountered a developer’s project they didn’t approve.

Mayor Silberberg has been criticized as against affordable housing because she understood Ramsey Homes’ historical significance. In one of the rare instances her colleagues deferred to her leadership, she wrought a compromise on Ramsey Homes that got the neighbors who objected to withdraw their lawsuit, thereby promoting affordable housing on that site. Some of her colleagues have served on the council longer than she has, while the number of affordable housing units has dropped by many thousands because they missed opportunities to preserve it by, for example, purchasing Hunting Towers.

One watches what transpires at City Council as if in theater of the absurd, suspecting “affordable housing” is merely a smokescreen for concessions to developers. One hears rhetoric about the importance of having having police officers and firefighters can afford from the same folks who passed, over Mayor Silberberg’s sole dissent, a record tax increase, but who underpay police and firefighters at the bottom of the regional scale. Record tax increases for no specific purpose followed by no tax increase for police and firefighters fair pay illustrates a “groupthink” which has lost touch with reality.

We need six entirely new city council members to stand with Mayor Silberberg for the next three years.

Dino Drudi

Alexandria