While last night’s Manassas City Council meeting was the subject of a big VCDL protest over second amendment rights, a critical zoning enforcement plan presented by Andy Harrover got badly weakened by the City Council and went largely unnoticed. Councilman Harrover’s proposal, which got discussed and vetted over at My Side Of The Fence was intended to enact a comprehensive proactive zoning enforcement plan which would combat blight, improve livability and enhance neighborhood preservation. The council discussed the plan briefly, and then crafted a substitute which seriously weakened what could have otherwise been a very effective and demonstrably fair means of confronting this issue. Instead, Manassas residents saw the council duck.
Councilmembers Aveni and Randolph joined Harrover in support of the plan, with Way, Parrish and Smith opposed. Mayor Douglas Waldron broke the tie, and the substitute which removed any proactive measures was enacted. I expect Councilman Smith to consistently disappoint, and it’s not terribly unusual to see Vice Mayor Parrish do this as well. Newly minted Councilman Jonathan Way, who promoted himself as a conservative and declared his steadfast committment to effectively tackling this issue when he ran for the appointment to fill Jackson Miller’s vacant seat, apparently is a lot less committed and a far less conservative than he had presented himself to be. That is a huge disappointment, and Manassas residents should be loudly complaining for his running as a conservative but governing as a squishy moderate who lacks the philosophical anchor of principle to keep from drifing wherever the wind happens to blow on a particular day.
I’m going to give Mayor Waldron a pass here, since the way he tends to govern is to vote to change as little as possible unless there’s a clear consensus on the council to make changes. I don’t interpret his vote as a reluctance to improve zoning enforcement, but as a reluctance to support change in general absent a clear consensus that the council wants that change. Although I would have liked the Mayor to support Councilman Harrover’s proposal as introduced, his voting style seems to be rooted more in consensus management rather than legislative priority. That’s been a consistent part of his tenure, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
With this action, Steve Smith keeps digging the hole he’s firmly ensconced himself within, Jonathan Way decides to borrow Smith’s shovel, and Parrish continues to demonstrate political irrelevance. The real legislative leadership on the Council clearly is being demonstrated by Marc Avenu and Andy Harrover, along with independent Steven Randolph. Mayor Waldron’s role of herding these folks towards consensus is likely quite a challenge, but as the political ramifications of decisions like these become more clear, perhaps it will become easier. There will be another election in 2008, and if Parrish, Way and Smith want to have any hope of remaining on office, they better clean up their acts quickly.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
You can follow the discussion through the Comments feed.