Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smoked Out!

Readers, the Growler has once again been vindicated.

In this morning's Washington Post, the lead story in the Metro section is about Fairfax County's investigation into housing executive Herb Cooper-Levy for allegedly forging a zoning document to secure more than $700,000 in public loans, including not only County funds but also money from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

Post reporter Derek Kravitz's article reveals Mr. Cooper-Levy's agency, Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp. (RPJ), is threatened with a three-year ban on receiving Fairfax County contracts unless he is removed from his post.

As long-time followers of this blog may remember, several years ago the Growler outed Mr. Cooper-Levy for his apparent pay-for-play arrangement with the City of Alexandria. While many other residents expressed serious concern about the Braddock Metro Small Area Plan, he testified and wrote passionate letters to the Alexandria Gazette defending the plan while receiving some $10 million in City loans for RPJ acquisitions.

At the time, the Growler didn't think he passed the smell test and it appears that the Cranky One's suspicions were correct.

The bigger question raised by this incident, however, is to what degree Alexandria's leadership is a tiny and incestuous oligarchy in which the anointed players pat each other on the back in return for City favors and big bucks.

Mr. Cooper-Levy was a long-time ally with Planning Commissioner John Komoroske on the informal "Braddock Action Team" that promoted high density development here to take the pressure off Potomac Yard — a move born of Mr. Komoroske's joined-at-the-hip bond with Eric Wagner, the man who led the charge to dumb down the Yard and was rewarded with the Chairmanship of the Planning Commission.

The "BRAT" team also championed keeping public housing concentrated here — no surprise since Mr. Cooper-Levy is a former ARHA employee who shocked observers when he opposed redevelopment of the "Berg" with profane language in public forums.

If this case is now in the hands of Alexandria prosecutors (as the Post article states) will they cut Mr. Cooper-Levy a break? And will he keep his spot on Alexandria's Affordable Housing Committee, which is about to start work on the the City's Master Housing Plan next month? And if he loses his position at RPJ will the City — which is becoming notorious for recycling retired or fired officials — bail him out with a job?

If the answer to any question above is affirmative, chalk it to business as usual in Alexandria.