The Debate Over the Debate

by ARLnow.com May 5, 2010 at 8:09 am 1,612 7 Comments

The Arlington County Democratic Committee is holding a forum about the proposed change to Arlington’s form of government tonight, but the person billed as representing the “pro” side of the debate says he won’t be there.

Mike Staples, president of Arlington’s firefighter union and chairman of the Committee for a Better Arlington, which supports the proposal, says the group is refusing its invitation due to unreasonable terms of participation.

“I’m not coming to a staged debate where the tables are stacked,” Staples said.

Among the terms Staples objects to: the Committee representative would be required answer each question first, giving the opposing side the last word; participants would not have the opportunity to question each other; and the debate would be moderated by the head of the Arlington Democrats, who Staples does not consider a neutral party.

Staples said his group would consider participating under more neutral terms, such as a debate hosted by the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce.

“If we’re going to do a political debate, we should do it the right way,” he said.

While the forum is open to the public, Staples objected to the lack of promotion.

“We would like to have the opportunity to advertise the debate to the general public so it can be seen as an open process, and not simply an altered form of a local Democratic Party meeting,” Staples wrote.

Staples said the committee offered to make an informal presentation to the Democrats, but was turned down and told the party would only consider the debate format.

“We believe this decision was made in bad taste and was orchestrated to put the Committee in poor light,” Staples wrote.

The forum is taking place between 7:00 and 9:00 tonight at the NRECA building (4301 Wilson Blvd). Afterward, the Democrats will hold a vote on whether to support or oppose the measure.

Former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee will represent the “con” side of the debate. Democratic Committee chairman Mike Lieberman says no one else has been lined up to represent the pro-change-of-government side, although they’ll “keep a chair open” for Staples in the unlikely event that he decides to participate after all.

“I honestly think that our debate was going to be fair and neutral,” Lieberman said. “I can’t force their hand to come, but we certainly would love to have them there.”

  • Fair Game

    OK, so who was invited and what was the format when the GOP and Greens took their positions?

  • Eric

    In other words Staples is a chicken! If his proposal were really meant to improve Arlington he’d be eager to present it.

  • Thes

    When the County Attorney explained in his memo how bad this proposal was, the firefighters didn’t address the merits, but merely whined about how the County Attorney was “biased.” And here, given another chance to debate the proposal, the firefighters run away and claim ACDC is “unfair”. Now there are lots of people who already signed the petition and are now learning what it really does — they are asking to have their names removed.

    Why are the firefighters so afraid of the facts? Well, I suppose we know the answer, don’t we?

  • Arlington Observer

    Staples did a debate at the Committee of 100 and got his clock cleaned. He complained then that the “neutral” representative from the Virginia Association of Counties was “biased” because he, like the county attorney, pointed out the undisputed fact that changing governmental form to a rural county board form would mean the loss of numerous authorities.

    As for the complaint about debate rules, this is a charade. The rules (linked in the story) allow for 30 minutes per side with questions from the audience. Essentially the same format as Committee of 100. Is Staples serious about not wanting to go first? He’s the one with the proposal, but apparently he’s afraid to present it. He wants the former County Manager to talk first in a vacuum with nothing to respond to? Really? That’s silliness.

    Fact is the Greens and the GOP never invited any opposition (or likely opposition) to give a counter view. And the Firefighters never bothered to discuss the change of government proposal with the Democrats or county board members before they launched this “petition drive.” Most damning is the fact that they obviously never researched (or simply don’t care) about all the important governmental powers that will be lost if their proposal is enacted.

    And all this because the County Manager didn’t recommend a big enough pay raise? Cry me a river. No wonder people hate unions. This isn’t about a “Better Arlington” at all and never was.

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    Re: “Democrats will hold a vote on whether to support or oppose the measure”

    This is priceless. Everyone knows how the ACDC vote will turnout. Of course Arlington Dims will oppose the measure. The current county board makeup is the only way Dims hold power on the County Board.

    Word is the all Dimcrat Arlington County Board is running scared……..and that is good.

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    • Note to Efrem

      Move away.

      • Efrem Hornbostle

        Mr. Note to Efrem:

        Hey Lib – bite me.

        Liberalism is indeed a mental disorder. Since you cannot defend it you send those that do not believe in your fraud away. News to libs – we are not going away and we are taking back American from you hard left anti-American progressive socialist nitwits. Arlington does not reflect the real pulse of America. It’s nothing more than a libtard cesspool full of do-gooder spread the wealth of all others for the sake of keeping Demcrat minorities on the plantation for the sake of Democrat votes.


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