Arlington, VA

A group of civic activists has formed the “Coalition for Arlington Good Government” (CAGG) to push back against an effort to change Arlington’s form of government.

The group’s goal is “to inform Arlington residents about the negative impacts of the proposal behind the petition drive.”

CAGG has set up a Facebook page with the slogan “Decline to Sign” and is in the process of launching a website.

The coalition’s co-chairs are Bill Bozman, Judy Connally, Alan Howze and Kris McLaughlin.

More from CAGG’s press release, after the jump.

ARLINGTON COALITION FORMS TO DISPEL MYTHS, INFORM VOTERS ABOUT ANTI-GOVERNMENT PETITION

Arlington, Va. – Responding to questions and concerns raised by a change-of government petition drive, a grassroots collection of civic leaders and individuals has launched a voter education campaign, called the Coalition for Arlington Good Government (CAGG.)

Coalition co-chairs Bill Bozman, Judy Connally, Alan Howze and Kris McLaughlin and other CAGG supporters aim to inform Arlington residents about the negative impacts of the proposal behind the petition drive, which has been initiated by some Arlington firefighters and police officers who hope to gain more leverage in lobbying for pay and benefits. The Coalition rejects the premise that the best way to address any group’s personal priorities is by jeopardizing Arlington’s entire system of government.

”The petition drive is being driven by a few special interest groups with their own agenda,” said Howze.  “It would force Arlington voters into an all-or-nothing choice and impose on Arlington a form of government only used by four rural counties in Virginia. It is not a good choice for our community and its not the Arlington way.  We encourage Arlington voters to Decline to Sign the petition.”

The Coalition is concerned about the significant collateral damage that would come from a successful petition drive, such as:

– Overturning Arlington’s current system for governing our schools

– Rolling back Arlington’s power to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation

– Gutting Arlington’s powers to provide affordable housing, protect historic buildings and conduct long-term planning

– Forcing the dissolution of Arlington’s combined Health and Human Services department

– Eliminating Arlington’s civil service system and giving County Board members direct patronage authority to hire and fire County employees

Judy Connally, former VA Delegate and School Board Chairman, noted that, “Arlington’s current form of government is unique in Virginia, and keeping it is fundamental to protecting the special powers we have been able to carve out in Richmond. I can’t imagine that a single issue could ever justify this kind of extreme reaction. All Arlington families need to understand how serious the risks are.”

Added Kris McLaughlin, former president of the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance, “People leading this petition drive should have given consideration to the many gays and lesbians who live and work here. With all the frightening rhetoric coming out of Richmond, I rely on Arlington’s unique established powers to remain a progressive leader on equality and human rights. I would never gamble that away on a petition.“

The Coalition has established a Facebook page with the simple message, “Decline to Sign!” Its mission states, in part: We do not need to change our entire form of government just to get higher pay for public safety employees. Changing our form of government would have broad and negative effects. We will not sign a petition to immediately force a referendum vote.

Bill Bozman, past chair of the Alliance for Housing Solutions and former member of the Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, observed, “It’s no accident that Arlington is a statewide leader in affordable housing and tenant policies, including helping our teachers, police and firefighters to buy affordable homes here. In these areas, the fundamental programs we enjoy today would be destroyed by the change of government proposal. Given my background of 30 plus years in the federal civil service, I am also appalled that this proposal would eliminate our Civil Service Commission, vastly increasing the risks of political patronage in Arlington’s hiring process.”

As part of its efforts to engage grassroots organizations and concerned individuals, the Coalition will soon launch a website to aid Arlington voters in learning more about the true impacts of this change-of-government approach to special interest disputes.

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