76°Mostly Cloudy

Board Members ‘Dismayed’ at Garvey’s Allegations

by ARLnow.com — December 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm 7,341 198 Comments

Three members of the Arlington County Board are speaking out against fellow Board member Libby Garvey.

In a statement released to reporters Saturday afternoon (below), Board Chair Mary Hynes and members Jay Fisette and Walter Tejada said they were “dismayed” that Garvey released an internal email she sent to them regarding what she saw as a possible conflict of interest in Board member Chris Zimmerman’s business dealings.

The Board is set to vote Monday on adoption of Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), which would allow the county to seek a public-private partnership for its streetcar project. Garvey asked whether Zimmerman should recuse himself, since he recently started doing consulting work for AECOM, a large planning, design and construction conglomerate that has worked on numerous streetcar and light rail project.

Hynes, Fisette and Tejada say that Zimmerman properly disclosed his work, and that Garvey’s “allegation that Mr. Zimmerman has a conflict of interest… has no basis in Virginia law.”

We are dismayed by recently-elected County Board member Libby Garvey’s public release of her email correspondence to us dated December 5. Her allegation that Mr. Zimmerman has a conflict of interest when it comes to voting on a change to our purchasing procedures for transportation projects has no basis in Virginia law or in fact – as the County Attorney has clearly laid out.

Mrs. Garvey strives to connect the Board’s consideration of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) to the possibility of a future conflict due to Mr. Zimmerman’s recent work with AECom Canada East as a consultant on projects limited by his contract to the greater Montreal area. Being a County Board member is classified as a “part-time” job and each of us has, from time to time, done other work for which we have been paid. Each of us has disclosed that income as required by Virginia law. Mr. Zimmerman’s October letter is a reflection of his commitment to transparency, filed with the Board Clerk and given to each of us in advance of any legal requirement so that all could be aware of his limited contract with AECom Canada East.

The proposal to consider the PPTA guidelines has been up on the County website since November 9. Consideration by the County Board, scheduled for late November, was delayed to December 10 at Mrs. Garvey’s request with an invitation for outstanding issues and questions to be identified for staff and Board review. To date, the Board has received two letters — both supportive of adopting the guidelines.

In an effort to provide greater clarity to the community, the Board has drafted and made public a resolution for consideration on December 10, that accompanies the PPTA guidelines and gives further direction to the Manager. This resolution requires the Manager to provide information about any unsolicited proposals to the Board at key junctures – including posting them on the County website – and to implement a plan for public review should any proposal be deemed worthy of further consideration. Because the PPTA can be used for any transportation facility, the public review would be tailored to the specific project. All of these procedures are consistent with Arlington’s practice of checks and balances to protect the integrity of our processes.

We have every confidence that this level of transparency will provide the Board, County staff and interested Arlingtonians with the information they need to consider whether any PPTA proposal meets our goals in a way that is fiscally prudent and operationally efficient. Despite Ms. Garvey’s allegations, Monday’s proposed action presents no conflict of interest for County Board members and, again, have no basis in Virginia law.

Mary Hynes
Walter Tejada
Jay Fisette

Print
  • Louise

    This is helpful. Glad they put it out there.

    • Enough Already

      Zimmie is corrupt, go Libby for doing the right thing

  • Justin

    Not a big fan of the street car project. It is a dubious use of taxpayer resources. There are plenty of parks, schools, sidewalks that could use upgrading.

    • self obsessed

      I’m not a big fan of the new i-phone or MacDoanlds big macs

      • Josh S

        And here, I’ll admit it publicly – I’m not a fan of the Redskins or the Nats.

        • Ay

          Homo

          • sunflower

            not a fan of homophobes….

    • Jason

      I’m not sure about the street car, but I don’t like the way that Libby is working this angle. This seems completely out of line.

  • Clarendon H

    If Zimmerman were doing work for AeCOM that could include Arlington, I’d agree that he should recuse himself. But the fact that his consulting contract is limited to Montreal makes this issue ridiculous.

    It’s fine if Ms. Garvey is opposed to the streetcar, but he shouldn’t be throwing her fellow members under the bus to stop it.

    • Greg

      You’re naive and have a lack of understanding how the world works. He is consulting for them because they hope for something in return.

      Garvey, it seems, is the only one with any integrity.

    • BlueSmurf

      Montreal??? What does Zimmie know about Montreal??? Why in the world would they pay him for his knowledge in Montreal??? Think about it.

    • Josh S

      I won’t go as far as Greg, but it doesn’t matter if Zimmerman would only be working on Montreal issues. It’s still the same company – employing someone who has a chance to employ them (essentially). If, when such votes happen in the future, Zimmerman doesn’t recuse himself, then there is a problem. Until then, there is possibly the appearance of a problem, but it’s probably a bit overblown. And those doing the overblowing probably have an axe to grind. Or are inexperienced.

      • vic

        Josh and Greg have it right… whether or not Mr. Zimmerman is able to be objective is no longer the point. He has an undenied connection to the company to gain from his vote… he should recuse himself from that vote.

    • vic

      that conclusion is ludicrous; Ms. garvey is being prudent and we should support her in tat effort. Public officials have to be free of any taint of corruption (Caesar’s wife and all that, for you classicists), the fact that he worked for the company is enough to color his vote and he SHOULD recuse himself from the vote.

    • Bill

      He’s still collecting a check from the company, whether it’s for work in Montreal or not. Money is fungible. This is a potential conflict of interest, and he should recuse himself. I now wonder how isolated a situation this is?

  • Skeptical

    How is the limitation of his contract to Montreal a bulwark against conflict of interest if the same company which might make $$ off of Arlington’s transportation decisions is paying him? In the time honored phrase, money is fungible.

    • Don’t Tell Anyone

      Shhhhhh, you weren’t supposed to point out the obvious to anyone.

  • brendan

    biggest uproar in the last ten years of the arlington county board… somewhere shared an email. get out the drudge siren.

    • brendan

      *someone

      • James Kerr

        in summertime

  • Taylor

    So they’re upset that Garvey broke their cherished Code of Silence… their job of approving pet projects would be so much easier with pests like this “recently-elected County Board member.”

    If only more Board members would treat the public with respect like Ms. Garvey appears to be doing, our County would be a lot better run.

    This letter from the long-term politicians only makes me more skeptical of their true motives.

    • FedUp

      +10

    • KalashniKEV

      +1000

    • BlueSmurf

      +1

    • Josh S

      Your indignation would be more appropriate if there was more substance to Garvey’s “news” / “allegations” / “announcement” / I don’t know exactly what to call it – it’s certainly none of those things……

    • Terry

      Yes because Arlington county is doing so poorly. So poorly run. AAA bond ratings, constant budget surplus, low unemployment and high standard of living. OH NEVER!! Worst run county in the country for sure.

  • Elliot Ness

    Simple issue: Zimmie is getting paid by a company that promotes private-public partnership. Zimmie pushes for private-public partnership. Zimmie should not be involved in Arlington’s decision to adopt (or not adopt) private-public partnership guidelines.

    A bribe is a bribe.

    • Road Diet

      +1

    • drax

      Conflict of interest and bribe are two very different things.

    • Josh S

      Amateur G-man?

      It ain’t a bribe. First, presumably Zimmerman is actually providing services to the company that has hired him as a consultant. Second, Zimmerman is incapable of delivering, single-handedly, direct benefits to that company vis a vis work with Arlington.

  • Pikester

    Frankly, I’m dismayed that the rest of the county board doesn’t seem to appreciate the concern about conflict of interest, nor do they seem to be concerned about the growing public dissatisfaction with the streetcar, both in lack of transparency and the increasing cost. Their dismay comes the unusual amount of sunlight that is being shone on how they do business, and as an Arlington taxpayer (and resident of the Pike) I’m very grateful for Libby Garvey’s leadership.

    • Jim Webster

      “…growing public dissatisfaction with the streetcar…”? Where’s the evidence? The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization recently reiterated its support.
      The Arlington branch of the Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan Brigade (nattering nabobs of negativism) may dissent, but it’s a forward-looking project consistent with the view of a large majority of Arlingtonians.

      • http://Jane Jane

        If you are so sure that Arlington taxpayers want this street car, put it to a vote.

        • Fuzzy

          +1. I think Arlington voters might actually vote No for the first time in 30 years if we were given the chance. Honestly, who outside of people without cars living on or near Columbia Pike would be in favor of this waste of taxpayer money?

          • 5555624

            “People without cars living on or near Columbia Pike” already have ways of getting around, which includes taking the bus. The street car is for those who won’t take the bus and those people probably haven’t moved here or haven’t given up their car yet.

          • Pike Rider

            I live off Columbia PIke without a car and I oppose it! I need more buses to more places more often, streetcar won’t help me. Most people who live here moved here – rather than close to Metro – because “rail” wasn’t an important part of their lives (either because they prefer their cars or aren’t afraid of buses). Streetcar will change that equation for very, very few people, with much much higher costs.

          • drax

            Once the streetcar is built, you won’t need buses as often because more things you need will be built on the Pike. And when you do need a bus, it will still be there.

        • KalashniKEV

          Awwww… SCHNAP!

          They aren’t required to give that power, so why would they? They’re far better off just approving each others whims and desires “unanimously” and using public funds to carry out their greatest childhood fantasies.

          • drax

            You mean they are elected representatives empowered to make decisions by a democratic process? The horror!

          • Pike Rider

            @ drax My friends who live in DC or Ballston won’t live on the Pike Streetcar line, not will existing favorite restaurants. Yes, buses will still be there on Columbia Pike (isn’t that a defect of that plan, not a virtue?). Weekend service remains terrible to get to many places on a bus, which is a much higher priority to make car-free living better on the Pike.

        • drax

          You can’t run a county by having referenda on everything.

          • treemonkey5000

            This sounds like a clear case of conflict of interest to me.

            The fact that the other board members are “DISMAYED” by the release of this information is perhaps even more troubling, and seriously makes me question the way business is done here in Arlington. Plus, the long-winded statement signed by Hynes, Fisette and Tejada sounds contrived, and I certainly didn’t sympathize with their reasoning on how being a Board Member is their “PART-TIME JOB.”

            I am glad Garvey brought this consulting position to light.

            Good for Garvey.

            I’m with Garvey on this one.

          • DCBuff

            But we can, and should, put significant and extremely costly infrastructure changes up for a vote. That hardly qualifies as “everything.” Yawn.

          • drax

            Define “significant” and “extremely costly” then. Careful, you might lose a few referenda on roads and highways in Arlington.

        • Josh S

          That’s not how our system of government works…..

        • Foggy Dew

          Seriously, all you “Put this to a vote, put that to a vote” people, what part of the word republic don’t you understand? All of these projects you complain endlessly about were put to a vote when the current (and former) county boards were elected. If it were up to you there’d be no Metro or Interstate highways since they’d all be bogged down in the red tape of public referenda. If you don’t like the projects go down to the board of elections and sign yourself up as a candidate in the next county board election. Untill then, shut up about putting every damn thing the county wants to to to a public vote.

          • Josh S

            +1

      • DCBuff

        And where is your evidence that the trolley is “consistent with the view of a large majority of Arlingtonians?” Wow, that is pretty impressive to call out someone else for lacking “evidence” concerning the public’s view, then claim you somehow know the public’s view without providing any support yourself. And, CIPRO or whatever represents a very small and economically tied group that may or may not be Arlingtonians at all.

    • Burb

      This is why we need an Inspector General for Arlington. It’s incredible that a government with this much money and power does not have one.

      • Josh S

        I’m not sure an inspector General would get involved in this particular scenario, but I do agree wholeheartedly that an IG or county auditor would be a very good thing. I suspect, though, that it is the state that prevents this from happening.

    • Josh S

      I think they appreciate the concern, they just believe that the situation has been handled appropriately up to this point and so don’t see why the uproar at this particular time. I tend to agree with that point of view. It appears that Zimmerman has not actually done anything wrong up to this point. He has alerted the board of his dealings with this company. It appears that things were already in place to prevent an actual tained vote on his part from ever taking part.
      It’s not as if this sort of thing is new. This is why administrative law exists. Again, there is no reason to believe the system isn’t working or wouldn’t work. So the uproar is a bit premature.

  • Liam

    Finally, a board member that is speaking out against the corruption in Arlington and standing up for the concerns of the citizens. If we could just get two more members to question some of the Board’s decisions and not just rubber stamp them, we would actually have a functional government that represents the people instead of the current dictatorship that does whatever it wants with no regard for what the citizens think.

    • Jim Webster

      Liam: “… what the citizens think”? Have you checked the annual election returns for County Board for the last dozen or more years? Mostly 60, 65, 70 percent majorities for the incumbents. That’s what the citizens think, I submit.

      • drax

        +1,000

        It’s fine to have an opinion, but to claim that most people share your opinion despite evidence to the contrary is not.

      • DCBuff

        Since Garvey received a similar majority of the vote, as an incumbent, that might be what the citizens think.

        • JohnB

          I predict that she will receive a primary challenge and lose next time around.

    • Josh S

      Careful not to conflate what *you* think with what *the citizens* think.

      A simple review of the various opinions being expressed by various citizens on this board might tip you off to that.

  • Jim Webster

    I supported Libby Garvey twice for the county board (and earlier in a race for the House of Delegates and School Board campaigns) because I thought I saw in her a progressive public servant who would carry on the tradition of Arlington’s (mostly) consistent path of remarkably enlightened local government since I moved here 43 years ago next month.
    To approximate a quotation from former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, apologizing after disclosure that he was holding breakfasts with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign, “I don’t often make mistakes, but when I do, it’s a doozy.”
    I admit my error in judgment.

    • Fuzzy

      Let’s hope many Arlingtonians make the same mistake each election. While we’re at it, I’d like voters to make the same mistake with whoever runs against Zimmerman, Fisette and Tejada next election

    • KalashniKEV

      “remarkably enlightened local government”

      LOL!

    • drax

      Politicians have breakfasts with lobbyists who contribute to their campaign all the time.

      Bentsen was just admitting “guilt” because someone noticed and made a thing out of it.

      • Josh S

        Just because it happens all the time doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

        • drax

          True, but I’m saying it’s acceptable.

  • chris

    This cements my decision not to ever vote for Libby Garvey since she first ran for School Board. She rarely makes sense.

    • Greg

      Are you serious???

    • Libby

      Chris, is that you?

  • bobbytiger

    Actually, I’m “dismayed” that the remaining rubber-stampers are dismayed.

  • Andrew

    Someone on the council works for the streetcar system design firm? How is that ethical at all? What rules permit that kind of thing? Has anyone looked at the price tag on those projects lately. They are very high and getting higher while the Arlington schools are short about 4 elementary schools, for starters. That is money that should be spent on schools not on road blocking schemes to force commerce and busy families to use buses and trams at 4 times the time driving would take. Daylight this mess please!

    • Josh S

      *Ahem* It’s more complicated than that.

  • The Bible

    Christopher Zimmerman is the first anti-Christ.

  • Roquer

    And this is EXACTLY the reason that Arlington should not be governed solely by Democrats. Here we have 3 Democrats allowing a 4th Democrat to corrupt the County Board, and at the same time they criticize a person who brings the corruption to light. These 3 should be on Garvey’s side, not the side of the corruptor. So now we have 4 POS’s on the Board, not all 5 for. Change.

    • Josh S

      What corruption?

    • sotutharlington

      Term limtts …Board member can only serve for 8 years and that is it …Gives more people the chance to run and we are not making the same mistakes over and over again …I tend to think that voters do make a straight ticket vote and they really do not know what is going on in there county or there is really a few that really now what is going on …

      • Josh S

        “Not making the same mistakes over and over again”?

        How would term limits prevent that? Different people can’t make the same mistakes? Of course they can. They can also make mistakes that the incumbent made when they were new but then learned from and didn’t make again….

        I’m not necessarily rejecting term limits out of hand, but I think you have to be careful as to what you think term limits would actually accomplish.

        • southarlington

          Acessory dewelling units , the street car, pool complex, not putting money into schools when they clearly need it , making streets harder to travel on just because they want to forward there agenda ….those are just some the issues that a lot of people have issues and hardly any one listens to people when they raise concerns ….
          Term limits will get different people on there and of course they may make the same mistakes but at least you may have a person listening to you …These people in there now do not listen to some of the voters and approve things just because they can …I want to know if there was a vote on the street car would it pass …let us vote on it like we do for school bonds ….

          • Josh S

            You do vote on it like you vote on school bonds…..

  • John

    Hurrah for transparency, and for Libby !!!

  • conflicted

    Libby Garvey surprises me and now I see she has some integrity. C Zimmerman has a definate conflict of interest here. He should recuse himself. The streetcar is a VERY UNPOPULAR project for neighborhoods along the Pike despite what CPRO says. They are funded by developers and the County.

    • gunperson

      It’s a VERY UNPOPULAR project from the MOST CORRUPT county and I still can’t get PROPER SLICE

  • CW

    If Favola was still on the County Board, her name definitely wouldn’t be on this letter…she would be too busy cashing checks from Advanced Towing to sign it…

  • Kwame

    Take the County Board’s brown flip-flops away and what do you have? The DC Council.

    • drax

      Exaggerate much?

      • Kwame

        No. Not at all.

        • drax

          Yes. Yes you do.

  • Rick

    So, because it’s not against the law it’s okay? There are a lot of things that are legal but poor decisions… They just addressed that it’s not illegal.

    • drax

      No, something isn’t okay just because it’s legal. It’s important to make the distinction though.

  • LyonParkVoter

    +100 to all those above who correctly identified this as a conflict. Glad to see that CW like myself immediately remembered the same disrespect of voters shown by Favola. But sadly as others also point out, the voters don’t care or seem to understand. What makes this even more outrageous is that the County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said in a memo to the board Thursday that Zimmerman “does not have a conflict of interest” and even worse law that “holding board members to a standard of avoiding an appearance of a conflict of interest creates an untenable ethical standard that is neither required . . . nor practicable.” WHAT? So the very same Board who instituted the Ethics Guidelines that all employees must abide by are not required or practicable? They should all resign, including MacIsaac. What was so difficult for Zimmerman to recuse himself from this one vote? Sadly, no one will remember long enough to vote them all out next election!

    • GC2

      The next step in your logic should be to find out what other “consulting” projects the other Board members have. It sounds like they are all protecting their own right to sweep their conflicts under the rug. Can anyone dig up, or do a FOIA request for other Conflict of Interest memos from the recent board?

    • Josh S

      What vote?

    • drax

      “What was so difficult for Zimmerman to recuse himself from this one vote?”

      See, this is one of the many ways that people get foamy at the mouth over things like this before thinking.

      There hasn’t been a vote yet.

      If and when there’s a vote, and Zimmie doesn’t recuse himself, then maybe you’ll have a point.

      • Chad

        The vote is tonight.

    • southarlington

      Totally agree with the comment ” voters do not seem to care or understand “…People read up on the issues and board members in line voting . Unless this stuff directly effects you( voters) no one will care about who they are voting for except that there is a ” D” by it ….I also think some voters can not imagine voting some other party in elections eventhough they do not like what is happening in there communtiy…If people did pay attention the Board may not look the way it does …

  • jim

    It is a conflict of interest on its face and just shows how sleazy certain of these two bit pols are. Glad Garvey did it.

  • JnA

    Zimmerman, Fisette, and Hynes all have significant conflicts of interest.

  • KalashniKEV

    Are there really people who don’t identify this as a serious conflict of interest?

    I’ve often wondered if some of random characters who come out in support of nonsense here in the comments aren’t the board members themselves, or sock puppets created by a propaganda firm.

    • drax

      The county attorney has ruled that it isn’t, according to state law. Not that I don’t still think it is, but it answers your question. The state law on conflict of interest is probably pretty weak if this isn’t a conflict of interest.

      Your sock puppet comment is just as lame as the claim that people who vote for Democrats don’t think about their vote and just pull the lever for whoever has a “D.” Lame. Get a real argument.

      • DCBuff

        OOh, the lawyer hired by Zimmie and Co. thinks that what Zimmie is doing is okay and you accept that. What a surprise. Yawn.

        • drax

          So now you’re saying the lawyer has a conflict of interest! Awesome! This is going to get easier and easier.

          So you’re saying the county attorney routinely violates his oath of office and gives bad legal advice to the Board so board members can try to get away with things? And that the board members think his advice is final?

          That’s pretty naive.

      • BlueSmurf

        There goes Zimmie again. You’re not fooling anyone with this fake codename of yours.

      • confused

        What is a “sock puppet comment”?

        • sunflower

          try urban dictionary

          • Josh S

            ?
            It’s all in the thread…..

    • paranoid much?

      “random characters who come out in support of nonsense here in the comments aren’t the board members themselves, or sock puppets created by a propaganda firm.”
      Because ARLNOW is sooo influential :)

  • Tom Lang

    Garvey is a hero.

  • Ms. Carter

    Chris Zimmerman is not the only CBM engaged in unethical behavior. Mary Hynes sat on the Board of Bowen McCauley Dance company as their Treasurer while sitting on the Arlington County Board as Chairman. Mary was the Executive Director for the Dance Company. As BMDC Treasurer and Arlington County Board Chairman Mary used her position in Arlington County Government to guarantee Bowen McCauley Dance Company got their grants approved at the Board level. Mary also abused her position, power and authority when she illegally placed the dance company in Kenmore Middle School. Any citizen, teacher, school principal, parent who disagreed with the Dance Company was/are harassed, fired, beaten up – whatever gang behavior Mary and the gang need to employ to continue to lie, cheat and steal from the County coffers. Arlington County Government looks like the “Good Ole Boys’ Gang! All MUST BE VOTED OUT! Append their pics to the Arl Now website so all will know who must be VOTED OUT!

    • drax

      Dancegate?

    • Ted

      Fisette’s domestic partner, Hynes, and Tejada are on the boards of three performing arts groups that altogether receive 38% of the County’s annual grants to performing arts groups.

      Fisette’s domestic partner owns an international management consulting firms whose clients have come repeatedly before the County Board.for approvals of plans and projects.

      • drax

        There’s a fine line between conflict of interest and simply living in and participating in the community you represent. You wouldn’t want someone who has absolutely no interest in the community running it, would you? The county board members all own homes here – should they not set property tax rates because of that?

        Your complaint is especially problematic when you compare it to the poster who is always saying the planning staff all live outside the county. Well, if so, that’s the idea – they are professionals who are hired to do a professional job and not have political interests.

        • KalashniKEV

          You really do have an excuse for everything, don’t you? Are you simply a contrarian, or do you truly side with Evil?

          The County Board is converting public funds into private funds, stuffing their pockets through corruption (yes- corruption. See above), and forcing all manner of garbage down our throats.

          The Kooch should step in and make an example out of one of them. There needs to be punishment.

          • drax

            Eeeeeeevil!

          • sunflower

            Kooch—ah, yes….that parogon of virtue

          • sunflower

            parogon = paragon

        • occasionally a fact

          Maybe Ted and that other poster are related. Closely related, perhaps.

    • Josh S

      *backing away slowly…*

  • Ballston Resident

    I’m strongly in favor of the street car project and don’t think Ms. Garvey acted in the best interests of the county.

    However, the county board’s credibility was really hurt when they threatened imminent domain to put the homeless shelter in the new location right next to Woodbury Heights. Their actions were done in secret, behind closed doors, and without ample time for input from the community. They are going through a defacto process now of trying to get public input, but it is too late. They have made their decision, bought the building and putting the homeless shelter into its new location regardless of what the public comments are.

    It will take a long time for the county board to recover from this black eye. They have lost the trust of many citizens in the county because of this — not because of the Ms. Garvey fiasco.

  • Need an IG

    AECOM did not hire Zimmerman because he is som great transportation planner. The guy is an economist by trade. They hired him for the influence he has wielded for them in the past and can continue to provide in the future. This happens all the time with elected officials who transition to the private sector. But you’re supposed to wait until you are out of office, fool!

    • Greg

      ^ someone else who gets it

  • Homeowner

    I strongly support the street car and am perplexed by the parralel universe any one who thinks Zimmie’s behavior is acceptable must be living in.

    • CW

      ^This. I am all for the planned transit project, i would just prefer that the County go about implementing it in a transparent and non-corrupt manner.

    • drax

      The county attorney says there’s no conflict of interest, not legally at least.

      I am still troubled by it, alot, but it’s not like it’s insane to think otherwise.

    • dk (not DK)

      +1

      It appears there is nothing illegal here, but I do think Zimmerman’s situation is, at the very least, questionable. Even the appearance of impropriety is a problem, IMO, especially wrt a controversial issue like the street car.

  • ee

    Maybe it’s time to clean house.

  • drax

    The county attorney says there’s no conflict of interest according to the law.

    On the other hand, it sure looks like there’s a conflict anyway.

    • Repetitive

      Drax, I’m not sure, does the county attorney say that there’s no conflict of interest according to the law? I’m not sure whether that’s been stated yet or not.

  • Concerned Arlingtonian

    The Virginia Statute is clear:

    § 2.2-3103. Prohibited conduct.

    No officer or employee of a state or local governmental or advisory
    agency shall:.

    6. Accept any business or professional opportunity when he knows that
    there is a reasonable likelihood that the opportunity is being
    afforded him to influence him in the performance of his official
    duties;

    Looking at the facts objectively, it is impossible not conclude that Mr. Zimmerman did not know there was at least a reasonable likelihood that the firm in question
    retained Mr. Zimmerman’s services in order to influence Mr. Zimmerman
    in the performance of his official duties as a member of the Arlington
    County Board.

    Mr. Zimmerman should either recuse himself from this matter or resign from the Arlington County Board. A public servant cannot serve two masters.

  • Archer

    The title of this article should be “Board Members Pissed That They’re Being Held Accountable”

    It’s sickening that Hynes, Fisette, and Tejada are willing to go along to get along instead of acting in the public’s best interest. Good on Libby Garvey for showing she has more integrity than the 3 stooges put together.

  • Bettie

    Speaking of conflicts of interest, 1/3 of CPRO’s budget comes from the (overall) pro-trolley County Board. Most neighbors who oppose the project have learned that the $$$s speak, and won’t join/maintain membership. One can debate where majority opinion really is, but CPRO support not very relevant.

    • Josh S

      Gosh, Bettie, your claim to understand what “most” neighbors think sure makes me want to give some money to CPRO, like, today.

  • Ted

    The Zimmerman-controlled County Government won’t even show us what state-of-the-art Bus Rapid Transit looks like. You have to Google ‘Las Vegas ACE Bus’.

    • drax

      They aren’t required to spoon feed you things.

      • John K

        Unless it’s the thing they really really really really want to shove down your throat.

        • drax

          Waaaaah. Elected officials are doing something.

          • John K

            Inactivity is something of which I would actually never accuse Arlington County’s elected officials. Foolish activity, well, now that’s another story….

    • Josh S

      Why would you Google “Las Vegas ACE bus” if you wanted to know what BRT looks like? Wouldn’t you just Google “Bus Rapid Transit?” There are certainly lots and lots of other BRTs around the world…..

  • Damien

    My goodness. I do believe 3 board members are making a HUGE mistake. If they really think the public is going to bow down and accept this statement they have another thing coming. It still would have passed if Zimmie recuse himself, now no matter what they do they have mud on their faces. Way to go Garvey. Don’t mind their bullying. The public is watching and your support is growing. Shine a little light on the murky dealings going on on the county board. We need more people like you.

  • Rosslyn

    Regardless of the conflicts issue (which smells bad, frankly — particularly with the “Montreal” excuse that the relevant member only accepts money from a directly implicated conglomerate for one project and not another), the public anger on the part of three membes regarding the mere disclosure of the potential conflict speaks volumes. This is not a private club. There is no right to keep sketchy, even if legal, actions by Board members private. Before this, I didn’t know the Board member who disclosed this, but I will start paying attention to her. Her stock goes up for this. The others should take a step back and reflect on the public nature of their work.

  • jon

    Its time to gather some group support for this cause…stay tuned. If the vote happens on Monday with Zimmerman voting, its time for true public outrage. We have a core group of 30 so far, and I expect it will grow after Monday.

  • Dave in SArlington

    There are only two possible mitigations to this real COI. Mr. Zimmerman both terminates his contract with AECom Canada East and reuses himself from all future votes. OR .. AECom Canada East cannot directly bid or indirectly support any bid for this project. If either do not occur State or Federal attorneys need to review this NOT the County attorney hired by the Board.

    This is a no brainer COI in the Federal contract space but probably normal operating procedures at the MWAA.

  • Jack Tors

    About time someone called out Zimmerman. We all know he’s as crooked as dog’s hind leg. The king has no clothes, dopes.

  • LyonParkVoter

    From the Arlington Code of Ethics that apparently the County’s Attorney MacIsaac thinks does not apply to Board members and can’t be adhered to:

    “Public officials have an obligation to conduct and model ethical behavior in support of the organization’s values, standards and vision. The Arlington County Code of Ethics contains the following core principles of ethical conduct: Adhere to conflict-of-interest rules AND AVOID ACTIVITIES WITH real OR PERCEIVED CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.” This applies to all employees.

    As further background, the Code also states:

    Summary: To ensure the trust and confidence of the public in the administration of government.

    Purpose: Ethics are the core of what we do as public stewards. The Code of Ethics defines a foundation of behavior for all Arlington County employees to ensure public trust.

    Scope: Applies to all County employees.

    Couldn’t be any clearer, of course unless you have no values. By the way, if you want to report an Ethics Violation in Arlington, you can call in and it is submitted to the Board itself! There is no independent Ombudsman. Sadly, even if it were sent to the County’s attorney, he is on record saying that it should be ignored since it can’t be adhered to. Funny, since all Zimmerman had to do was recuse himself. As for the others who backed up Zimmerman, they too should be held accountable. Remember this when they come up for re-election or decide to run for other public office!!!!

    • Ed

      +1 for the research.

    • drax

      But the county attorney was talking about whether he violated state conflict of interest law, not the board’s ethics code, which I don’t think has the force of law but is just an employment standard. So you have accused the county attorney of saying something he didn’t say.

      • LyonParkVoter

        Drax. MacIsaac first said that he didn’t think it violated the law. But, he also stated to the Post regarding the Arlington County COde of Ethics that “holding board members to a standard of avoiding an appearance of a conflict of interest creates an untenable ethical standard that is neither required . . . nor practicable.”

        That is ridiculous. The idea behind a Code of Ethics is that it is a higher standard than the law. That is why we government and businesses have Code of Ethics and teach values. Plenty of things may be legal, but not ethical.

        The bottom line is that since MacIsaac can’t explain away this clear violation of the Code is to try and just say it is too hard to abide by. Ridiculous.

        The mark of true leadership when it comes to being an ethical leader is that it is never sufficient to be right, you must ensure that even the perception of wrongdoing is avoided which is why our Code of Ethics memorializes it.

        Shame on Zimmerman, the rest of the Board Members and MacIsaac.

        • Ed

          That is just complete rubbish. If you take a job with a company that does business with the county, that creates an appearance of a conflict of interest. You are being paid by a company that is being paid with your tax payer’s money.

          That situation is easily avoidable. So in no way could anybody say that the language in the ethics code creates an untenable standard. Just keep your personal income out of the realm of companies profiting from the county. That is very simple.

  • BlueSmurf

    I didn’t vote for Libby and now I regret it!! Go Libby!! Speak the truth!!

  • Jared

    So disappointed with Ms. Hynes. She lost my vote, and I expect many others. Complete failure of leadership to allow this issue to get to this point. At first hint of an appearance of conflict of interest she should have stood for integrity. This entire mess is slimey and Ms. Hynes is equally responsible (as Zimmerman). Makes me wonder how many other things get passed over so each member can scratch the others back. Shame. Shame. Shame!

  • Thomas

    We are watching today’s proceedings…public dismay is growing. Do the right thing county board.

    • RWarren

      Indeed, lots of people up in arms about this over the weekend.

  • Noticing

    Noticing none of the usual supporters and defenders of county board actions have NOT come out to stand up for mr. Zimmerman or ms. Hynes. I suspect they are not willing to publicly support them given how unethical this situation is. Perhaps the silence is louder than the cries of disappointment in these characters.

    • drax

      Noticing your double negative.

      • Noticing

        Oops. Should have double checked; as should have the board on their decision.

        • drax

          Also, the lack of evidence is not evidence. Just FYI.

    • Ballston Resident

      Noticing,

      Unlike you suggest, I stand up for Mr. Zimmerman and Ms. Hynes. Think Libby Garvey has done a disservice to the county. She should have handled this much better and will never get my vote.

      Support the trolley for the Columbia Pike area. It is a good idea.

      • Noticing

        Ummm. Actually I don’t have an opinion one way or another about the trolley. My concern is a board member is being paid by a company that can now (after it passes) come in with an unsolicited bid and create the project. From what I understand the bid will have to be considered and may be accepted without competing bids. The vote will still pass with or without Zimmerman (most likely, unless another board member shifts to integrity). You will still get your trolley. What this allows is a very easy way for the company to come in and claim the project.

        • Ballston Resident

          How can you even suggest that a board member will be paid to come in with an unsolicited bid for a company that hired him (Mr. Zimmerman and AECOM)?

          Give us some specifics or shut your mouth. Think you are stupid.

          • Noticing

            Stupid? Can you read? Where do you read what you are implying I said?
            More a reflection on you I believe.

  • fedworker

    I don’t pretend to understand the workings of our local government. Is there a checks-and-balance mechanism in the Arlington County govn’t? If so, would be interested in hearing how that works.

    • LyonParkVoter

      Sadly, there isn’t. No way to anonymously report to avoid retaliation. If you want to report any violations or other wrongdoing, it is submitted to the Board itself?! So, you can imagine the changes of it actually being investigated or there being any repercussions. You can also report it to MacIsaac, but as you can now see, he doesn’t think the Code of Ethics needs to be abided by since it is an “untenable ethical standard that is neither required . . . nor practicable.” Great message to the rest of Arlington County employees. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the ethics transgressions increase as a result.

  • Voter

    How much did it cost Aecom to buy Zimmerman’s vote?

    “each of us has, from time to time, done other work for which we have been paid” — does this mean your voters have been bought like Zimmerman’s vote has been bought?

  • John Fontain

    I’ll go ahead and stick my neck out and predict that this marks the beginning of the end of the political careers of several of our Board members.

    It’s unbelievable how blind they are to Zimmerman’s lack of independence in appearance. A professional transporation consultancy firm hires an economist to help them with transporation consultancy? Give me a break.

    • BlueSmurf

      In Montreal!!

  • drax

    From the updated ArlNow story:

    “Arlington County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac tells ARLnow.com he doesn’t see any reason Zimmerman would need to recuse himself. He pointed out that the vote pertains to adopting guidelines, not awarding a contract. Because no contract is being awarded and there’s no financial benefit to Zimmerman, he says there’s no conflict of interest.”

  • South Awwlington

    I am more “dismayed” that the remaining County Board members felt the need to publicly chastise one of their own who has concerns over an upcoming vote.

    I am 100% pro-streetcar and Mr. Zimmerman needs to realize he could be jeopardizing one of the very things he cares most about.

    Yes, the County Board is defined as a part-time job and I totally expect our Board to be able to support their families in a way that could not conflict with the business of the Board. The way MacIsaac interprets a conflict of interest is very specific, more so than most employers who are very broad in their definition of conflict when considering part-time (moon-lighting) employment.

    • I know right

      The conflict of interest legislation is pretty narrowly tailored. Zimmerman would have to have a direct financial interest in the actual issue being voted on.

      But WRT the ethics issue and the appearance of a conflict, there is no doubt in my mind that he is over the line already. Being paid a salary by a company that is involved (past and present) with county government business is wrong. Being paid by a company with active contracts being administered by the county is wrong.

      Get a second job selling wine, or importing figs. Anything besides the big dog streetcar consultant that is pushing to build his own pet project. It is absolutely ridiculous.

      • drax

        I think you’re right.

        Unfortunately, your reasonable opinion is swamped by a few mouth-foamers yelling “illegal!” and “corruption!”

        • South Awwlington

          Well of course it is, but you know who they are and so do I.

          We do a lot of good in Arlington. Let’s not muddy it.

        • Josh S

          I second this sentiment.

          (Including agreeing that there is an appearance of conflict of interest that may have already gone too far. Despite the nitty gritty details of it all, it may already be that the only tack that Zimmerman can take is to back out of his contract with AECOM.)

  • TuesdaysChild

    Wow. Jay is really far gone if he cannot see the problem with Zimmer’s activities.

  • Greg

    I can see how the other Board members might disagree on the substance of the conflict issue. But it’s disappointing that they take issue with Garvey’s public dissemination of the information. Isn’t this the concern that many of us have with the Board. That they are too close.

    I’m glad Garvey is there. It’s good to have someone to shake things up a bit.

  • novasteve

    You people are crazy if you think there will be consequences like not getting reelected for any of these board members. Name followed by (D) will ensure they remain in power.

    • drax

      Yes, we know, all Democratic voters in Arlington are blind idiots who only vote for whoever has a D next to their name. You’ve expressed your arrogant opinion several times.

  • LyonParkVoter

    Can someone please attend tonight’smeeting and ask that each Board Member clearly state their position:

    “The Arlington Code of Ethics states that ‘Public officials have an obligation to conduct and model ethical behavior in support of the organization’s values, standards and vision. These include adhering to conflict-of-interest rules AND AVOID ACTIVITIES WITH real OR PERCEIVED CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. Could each of you please clearly state on the record your position, without trying to hide behind the County attorney on whether you believe that holding board members to a standard of avoiding an appearance of a conflict of interest creates an untenable ethical standard that is neither required . . . nor practicable? If you disagree, then please explain why you have not requested that Mr. Zimmerman recuse himself?”

    Time to shine a bright spotlight on these unethical Board members. Since they only care about their future political aspirations, I will bet that they will change their position or weasle out of having to answer Yes or No,

    Trying to juggle my schedule around to see if I can make it, but don’t think I can get out before 4:30pm to submit the speaker slip. However, hope someone else asks the same if I can’t.

    • South Awwlington

      Meatloaf Monday and the County Board meeting…I can’t wait. It’s like the best thing on Cable tonight!

  • Paul

    It shouldn’t be that hard to find five qualified citizens who aren’t employed by county contractors, grantees, would-be county contractors, or would-be grantees.

  • Another voter

    Yeah, and while you’re at it, can you also ask each Board member if they think it’s ethical to send letters to the press smearing someone’s reputation when you don’t agree with their stand on the streetcar?

    • Marco

      Excuse me?! Garvey said publicly that she gave them time to respond to her letter before it went public. The board chose to ignore it and her. Smear campaign on fellow board members? It sounds to me like power hungry, bullies not taking Garvey seriously. I applaud her courage and hope she continues to Arlington citizens know of improprieties that the board refuses to address.

    • LyonParkVoter

      Another voter — what is unethical about shining a spotlight on wrongdoing by talking to the press? The press is our Fourth Pillar and is supposed to be the ultimate check in a checks and balance system. Here, the system is broken. No other Board member was willing to do the right thing. The County Attorney also blessed Board members ignoring the Code of Ethics that applies to all Country employees. Instead of serving as a an example, they all decided to remain silent and allow the violation — typically to avoid having others out them for their transgressions.

      Clearly Garvey attempted to get the other Board members to abide by the Code of Ethics. When that failed, there was no other option — as hard as it may have been. It takes someone with Values to be willing to stand up and speak out than to keep quiet. What would you do that would actually be effective?

      • Another voter

        LPV, my concern is that there hasn’t been any wrongdoing, but Ms. Garvey attempted to get her way by sending that letter. From my reading, it sounds like she wanted to delay the vote on that parrtnership, and when her colleagues didn’t agree she implied that Zimmerman was corrupt. So what if they had agreed to delay that vote? Would she just keep on threatening to send letters until she got her way on everything? Is THAT ethical, if no wrongdoing has occurred?

        • LyonParkVoter

          Hard to know what Ms. Garvey would have done. But, correctly pointing out a violation of the Ethics Guidelines is not unethical and fair game.

          The bottom line is that Zimmerman could have easily avoided all of this. All he had to do is to respond that as a Board member and County leader he must set the example to all employees and abide by the Ethics Code which dictates that all employees should avoid even a perceived conflict of interest and as such he is recusing himself.

          He did not do that.

          What was the purpose of saying that he will decide if and when he should recuse himself? Instead we now have a situation where we have lost addiitonal trust in our elected officials which is of course the main purpose of the Code. The other Board members exacerbated the situation by defending Zimmerman’s position instead of speaking up and MacIsaac sealed the deal by stating that the Board doesn’t have to abide by it.

          What is even more ridiculous is that there were more than enough votes to pass even with Zimmerman recusing himself. But, damage is done. Hopefully enough voters will recall and send a message. But, this is more of the same. Just like Favola accepting campaing contributions from Advance Towing and then approving towing fee increases four days later. Until we voters finally vote these guys out, nothing will change.

          Wish I could have gotten out of work early enough to ask each Board member to state on the record if there is a perceived conflict and if Board members should be required to abide by the Code of Ethics.

  • Willy

    There is no corruption. There is no scandal. There probably is an ethical issue if he stays involved. More importantly there is a moral issue and an issue of integrity.

    The streetcar may or may not be the right thing to build. But the bottom line is integrity and doing the right thing. Mr. Zimmerman should not be involved in any discussion or any votes that have to do with the street car.

    There plenty of other members of the board who can decide this issue.

  • Not sure

    +100

  • Another voter

    Marco, I therefore revise my question to be if the board members think it is ethical to smear a person’s reputation when you feel that you are being ignored?

  • LyonParkVoter

    Another voter. To smear would mean that someone is stating something that is false and unsubstantiated. The facts are clear. At best, there is a perceived conflict of interest which under the Code of Ethics all employees are supposed to avoid. How is Zimmerman not violating this when he himself admits that it could be a problem and will decide when he thinks he may need to recuse himself?

    If you meant “expose”, that would be more accurate. Then again, there is nothing unethical about exposing such unethical conduct to the public. In fact, ethics would encourage you to take action instead of staying silent. An act of omission can make one as guilty as commission.

    Are you condoning this behavior? Do you agree that Board members shouldn’t abide by the Code of Ethics? As our County leaders, they should be setting the example.

    • Another voter

      LPV, I agree with you 100% that all our leaders should abide by a code of ethics and should most definitely set an example of integrity. I am troubled by this mob mentality that has been unleashed by Ms. Garvey’s allegations that were made to force an action according to her wishes. One must be very careful when attempting to smear another’s name, that such action was warranted. Once a reputation has been unjustly smeared, the damage cannot be undone. I hope she is sure that wrongdoing has been done.

      • southarlington

        They are all like that when one does not fall in line …same on the school board….it is like they are bullying her . Great to know that people voted for this behavior ….

      • LyonParkVoter

        Another voter. See comment above. All could have been avoided with Zimmerman stating immediately that he would recuse himself instead of playing coy, etc.. Or for others to stay, “Well, technically, he hasn’t voted yet.” Why wait? The fact that he already disclosed showed that he knew there could be a perceived conflict. The logical and only next step is to say I will recuse myself. Guess, his ego got the best of him?

        I am more upset at Tejada, Fisette, Hynes and MacIsaac. Their actions are inexcusable. I suspect they didn’t want to speak up or risk Zimmerman exposing their transgressions. Hopefully others will now expose and shed some light on them. Given an opportunity I can’t wait to ask each.

        • drax

          Why wait? You mean why wait to vote? Because the vote hasn’t happened yet.

          Or do you mean stating he would recuse himself? Has he stated he won’t yet? Or just not said anything until the actual vote? (Maybe he has, but I haven’t seen it, if you have, show me please).

          The vote isn’t an issue until he either comes out and says what he plans to do, or when the vote happens and he does it.

        • Another voter

          Yeah, let’s see what other letters Ms. Garvey can come up to cast doubt on the reputations of her other colleagues. Ok, enough of this for me.

  • LyonParkVoter
  • southarlington

    “The Board is set to vote Monday on adoption of Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), which would allow the county to seek a public-private partnership for its streetcar project. Garvey asked whether Zimmerman should recuse himself, since he recently started doing consulting work for AECOM, a large planning, design and construction conglomerate that has worked on numerous streetcar and light rail project.

    Hynes, Fisette and Tejada say that Zimmerman properly disclosed his work, and that Garvey’s “allegation that Mr. Zimmerman has a conflict of interest… has no basis in Virginia law.”

    Here is what has been said about Zimmerman and as you can see he is voting tonigt unless he recuses himself but in previous story on here he said” he will not because he does not see a issue with woring for them “

  • John S

    OMG are you watching the meeting? Hynes is a B.S. artist!!

    • drax

      Nobody actually watches or goes to the meetings. They come here, read the headline and half the first sentence, and assume the rest of the facts and inner thoughts of everyone involved, and then post accordingly.

  • Jared

    He voted. Who is taking bets on the unsolicited bid for the streetcar arriving in the very near future. Slimey.

  • southarlington

    What do you except from voters that only care about a D by their name ….and do not really care about the issues …

  • LyonParkVoter

    Earlier this year, the Center for Public Integrity ranked Virginia as the fourth-worst state in the country regarding open government and anti-corruption laws and practices — receiving, along the way, failing grades in public access to information and ethics enforcement.

  • OL

    Kudos to you Libby! Zimmerman is a blatant crook, and that the others on the board would act to denounce you bringing a completely valid point to light is shameful and casts doubt on their agenda. No wonder Virginia is 4th in corruption! Keep fighting for us Libby!

×

Subscribe to our mailing list