Council Notebook

Council Notebook

Council Notebook

<sh>A Plan for Pets

<bt>With the 9-11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina still fresh scars on the American psyche, Alexandria has been trying to upgrade its disaster preparedness. Public-safety officials have received a bevy of new toys and city workers have been sent to a multitude of training programs. But has the city really learned from the recent past? Councilwoman Del Pepper wants to know.

As Councilman Ludwig Gaines was presenting a proclamation declaring September as National Preparedness Month, Pepper took the opportunity to ask a question that is near and dear to the hearts of many Alexandrians.

“Are we making plans for pets?” she asked.

“We’re looking at all contingencies,” he responded.

“All right,” she said. “We’re going to count on it.”

<sh>Sexy Water

<bt>Creating a sense of urgency about environmental issues can be difficult, but knowing what to do in the midst of an environmental crisis can mean the difference between preservation and destruction. That’s why Councilman Rob Krupicka wants to create what he calls an “environmental master plan” for Alexandria.

“I know it’s not the sexiest thing in the world,” Krupicka said at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. “But when you have a foot of water in your basement, it becomes sexy real fast.”

Krupicka said the city’s Environmental Policy Commission could create an umbrella plan for improving the city’s environment and monitoring its ongoing progress. He said that such a plan could state goals and set a policy framework to achieve them. City officials plan to docket the item for October, when City Council members could vote on the concept.

<sh>Battling Illegal Guns

<bt>Gun violence is a serious problem in America, with illegal firearms killing thousands of innocent victims every year. But punishing those who traffic illegal guns and rooting out dealers who knowingly sell them to straw purchasers is a challenge for city governments. That’s why a handful of municipalities from across the country have decided to band together in a nationwide effort to combat illegal guns.

The “Mayor’s Initiative Against Illegal Guns” began with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg several years ago. Since then, several cities have joined the fight: Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, the city of Alexandria joined their ranks as the City Council voted unanimously to become signatories to Bloomberg’s initiative.

“Alexandria’s recent spate of shooting incidents, especially those including teenagers, have created concerns for all of us,” wrote City Manager Jim Hartmann in his recommendation to join the initiative. “As a result of the concern about illegal guns, staff is exploring alternatives such as gun turn-in programs to encourage those in possession of such guns to turn them in.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Byran Porter, who prosecutes gun crimes at the city courthouse, said that people should report when their guns are stolen, so authorities can track them when they are found. He also said that potential criminals should be aware of Virginia’s mandatory minimum sentences.

“If you have a previous felony and you use an illegal gun during a drug deal, you’re going to get at least 10 years,” Porter said.

<1b>— Michael Lee Pope