For a change, it was the omission of Alexandria Police Chief Charles Strobel's name that drew attention.
In the past two years, Strobel's name has figured prominently in city affairs as he was investigated (twice), indicted and, finally, acquitted of perjury and obstructing justice in connection with a drug probe. Last night, he was to have been given a public service award, for which he was picked by the mayor, city manager and several other community leaders.
But the Port Packet, the weekly Alexandria newspaper that had raised allegations about the chief and which sponsors the award, balked. For the first time in the seven years it has given the award, which is accompanied by a $500 U.S. Savings Bond and plaque, the paper decided to ignore the recommendation.
Instead, Packet Editor Patricia Durkin called out the names of three other award winners at last night's City Council meeting: Recreation Director Joseph Hensley, Housing Relocation Officer Shirley Davis and John D. Collins III, transportation advocate for the handicapped.
But matters did not stop there.
"Actually, there were four awards," Mayor James P. Moran Jr. told the surprised audience. "There was one other person who was unanimously voted to the public service awards . . . Charlie Strobel."
Moran said the Chamber of Commerce plans to give Strobel a substitute award.
In another matter, Leesburg lawyer John Flannery, who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate in Virginia's 10th Congressional District last year, said Moran had improperly voted to terminate the property lease of Potomac Transmission, a gasoline station at 3600 Jefferson Davis Hwy. occupying city-owned land.
Flannery said that because an owner of adjacent property contributed $200 to Moran's campaign and would likely benefit from the planned razing of the gas station, Moran should have excused himself.
Moran denied any impropriety, and the city attorney said it does not appear that Moran voted improperly because the vote did not address the future use of the property.
"It's rubbish and should be treated as such," Moran said of Flannery's accusation.
Flannery said Moran's "personal interest" guided his vote.
The council appointed three new School Board members: attorney Melvin Miller, school budget advisory committee member Leslie Hagan, and former John Adams PTA president Virginia Adams. The three succeed members Lou Cook, Mary Jane Nugent and Rhonda Hill.