Last week, an opinion piece in Bloomberg View theorized that the Washington area is boring and un-hip “because it’s full of people who work for and around the government.”
Undoubtedly, there are lots of people in the area, and in Arlington in particular, who work for or around the government. And employment estimates bear that out. But does that really tell the full story?
Putting aside whether we’re collectively boring, let’s find out just how many of us are directly connected to the government.
You may have seen the IBM ads on TV talking about “building a smarter planet.” Those ads reference the company’s Smarter Cities Challenge, which seeks to award 50 cities (or counties) in North America with $250,000 to $400,000 in free technology and consulting services to solve a key problem facing each locality.
The company is now hoping that Arlington applies to the program.
“There could be a number of ways for IBM to help in Arlington, from traffic problems to Metro efficiency and safety,” said IBM rep Max Luckey. “The IBM grant could help fund new infrastructure improvements, streamline administration costs, or even help with projects like the Rosslyn Gateway Park redevelopment.”
The solutions provided by IBM are data and technology-driven, but such solutions can be applied to most problems facing local governments, we’re told. Better citizen engagement and improved delivery of services are two other examples of ways in which the Challenge can help.
The deadline for applying to the program is Dec. 31.
If you ran the county government, what problem would you try to solve?
Governor Robert McDonnell has appointed two Arlington lawmakers to his government reform panel.
State Delegate Bob Brink and state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, both Democrats, will join 29 other appointees on the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.
“The Commission members will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s agencies, programs, and services to find out how we can make our state government work better for its owners, the people of Virginia,” Gov. McDonnell said while announcing his selections for the panel. “I look forward to working with these reform-minded leaders to examine how Virginia can better serve the taxpayers.”
In addition to Del. Brink and Sen. Whipple, several top government reform thinkers who live or work in Arlington were appointed to the commission.
One appointee, Bill Eggers, is a government reform expert, a global director for Deloitte Research and the brother of author Dave Eggers.
Maurice P. McTigue, a distinguished visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, and Geoffrey Segal, director of privatization and government reform at the Reason Foundation, were also named to the governor’s commission.
Commission members will hold their first meeting next month.
Arlington Makes AP’s “Least Stressed” List — Arlington has placed 12th on the Associated Press’ list of the 20 least economically stressed counties in the U.S.
County Gov’t Getting Paid By Feds — Arlington County will be reimbursed more than $300,000 for expenses associated with President Obama’s inauguration, the Sun Gazette reports. The county government is now turning its attention to securing about $800,000 in reimbursements from FEMA for December’s “Snowpocalypse” snow storm.
Affordable Housing Lawsuit Dismissed — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the county’s plan to partner with Clarendon’s First Baptist Church for an affordable housing development. More from ABC7.
Health Dept. Asks “How Are We Doing?” — The Arlington County Public Health Division wants public feedback on how it handled its H1N1 vaccination campaign. Fill out the online survey here.
But this is not SimCity 2000. It’s Arlington County. And here, increasing taxes provokes a fairly balanced response between those who think taxes are high enough already and those who take an “increase my taxes, please” approach.
Of the people who spoke at Thursday night’s tax rate hearing, eight asked the board to increase taxes to the maximum advertised rate to prevent cuts to programs and services.
Ten people, a plurality, asked the board to either keep taxes steady or at least not raise taxes to the maximum rate. Find ways to cut expenditures, which rose rapidly during the run-up to the real estate bust, the anti-tax crowd said.
Several pro-tax speakers said they believed they actually represented the majority of Arlington residents. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but what is true is that Arlington’s real estate taxes are not egregiously high when compared to neighboring jurisdictions.
The City of Fall Church’s tax rate is already well above Arlington’s maximum advertised rate. And Fairfax City recently proposed a tax rate identical to Arlington’s maximum rate.
The Arlington board will adopt the final FY 2011 budget on April 24.
Update at 4:30 PM – From Arlington Alert: “Arlington County Libraries, Schools, and Park activities are cancelled & facilities closed through Sunday”
Update at 1:15 PM – Fairfax County government is shutting down at 2:00 PM. Crystal Couture is canceled tonight. One place that’s opening for business instead of closing: Bakeshop is opening its doors at 2.
Arlington County government offices, as well as libraries and recreation facilities, are shutting down at noon today.
Also, the steady stream of weekend cancellations continues. Arlington National Cemetery has announced that it will be closed Saturday and Sunday due to the weather.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday. The Arlington County government will be open, with a liberal leave policy for staff.
The Montessori School of Northern Virginia in Falls Church will also be closed tomorrow. And the Diocese of Arlington’s Catholic Charities Ball has been postponed.