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The Right Note: Common Sense and Transparency

by Mark Kelly — June 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm 566 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyThe County finally launched its review of the $1 million Super Stop. The review will wrap up near the end of the year and promises to find a lower-cost alternative for the other planned stops.

The review will contract with three firms. One will review the design. Another will review the finances and performance of the original contract. These first two beg the question, why did we not make finding a better design that kept people dry when it rains and resulted in a lower-cost alternative a priority before we started the project?

In what can only be described as absurd, the County also announced it would pay $7,500 to a firm who will survey users of the Super Stop. Only in Arlington would the review of how to keep costs down on a project include spending $7,500 to see how bus riders feel about it.

It signals that County leaders are not the least bit serious about this review from a cost perspective. Had ridicule from national news not rained down on this project, the County would have most likely never agreed to undertake any study of its costs. Really, what’s a million dollars among friends and neighbors anyway?

The first Super Stop built in anticipation of the Columbia Pike trolley line gives us fair warning about what the real costs of building, operating and maintaining this project really will be. Worse, it gives us fair warning about our County Board’s lack of concern in keeping costs at a reasonable level.

It should also make us stop and ask, what other money is the County wasting? It goes back to my earlier call for 100% spending transparency. Put the County’s checkbook online. It is our money. We need to see how all of it is being spent.

The technology is affordable and readily available. A simple, searchable website could be stood up quickly and easily. Private data and information can be protected. In fact, we could most certainly stand it up for far less money than was wasted on the bus stop or what we will spend on the review.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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