Arlington’s State Lawmakers Unanimously Oppose Referendum

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm 2,365 21 Comments

Arlington’s entire delegation to the General Assembly in Richmond has come out against a proposal that would change the county’s form of government.

In a letter to Arlington County voters, lawmakers argue that changing from a county manager form of government, to a form that gives more executive powers to the county board, “could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington’s interests in Richmond.”

The letter is signed by state senators Mary Margaret Whipple and Patsy Ticer, delegates Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope, and a number of former state lawmakers — all Democrats.

A group, the Committee for a Better Arlington, is attempting to collect more than 14,000 signatures by July 15 in order to put the change-of-government proposal to voters in the form of a referendum.

The lawmakers’ letter, after the jump.


General Assembly


June 1, 2010


Signatures are being gathered to place on the ballot a referendum that would require Arlington County to adopt a new form of government structure. Based on our experience in the General Assembly, we oppose this effort. It could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington’s interests in Richmond.

Arlington is unique among Virginia counties and cities. We are the only jurisdiction to have adopted the “County Manager Plan” of government, and a separate section in the Code of Virginia sets out Arlington’s powers and responsibilities.

Over the years, we and our predecessors in the General Assembly have succeeded in securing special powers for Arlington that reflect both the needs of an urban, diverse population, and our values as an inclusive, forward-looking community. For instance:

● Arlington’s requirements for child day care operations are far more stringent than statewide standards in terms of staffing ratios, personnel qualifications, etc.

● Arlington’s Human Rights Ordinance uniquely gives us the power to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

● Arlington’s Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance enables us to expand the stock of critically needed affordable housing in the County.

These and other authorities would be placed in jeopardy if Arlington were forced to abandon its current governing structure. The referendum would require us to adopt a form of government that is used by four rural, sparsely populated counties in far southwestern Virginia — jurisdictions with which Arlington has virtually nothing in common. Any change to this new form of government would need the concurrence of those counties.

In the coming years, Arlington faces great challenges — and even greater opportunities — in Richmond. The Arlington delegation will be better able to meet those challenges and capitalize on those opportunities if we aren’t required to expend our resources trying to regain existing powers and authorities. For these reasons, we oppose the “Change of Government” referendum.

Patsy Ticer
Senator, 30th District

Mary Margaret Whipple
Senator, 31st District

Adam Ebbin
Delegate, 49th District

Patrick Hope
Delegate, 47th District

Bob Brink
Delegate, 48th District

David Englin
Delegate, 45th District

Judy Connally
Delegate, 48th District

Ed Holland
Senator, 31st District

Karen Darner
Delegate, 49th District

Al Eisenberg
Delegate, 47th District

  • ArlingtonAaron

    Good… I’m glad these folks are speaking out. Obviously the signature campaign is struggling, and maybe we can soon put this terrible idea behind us, forever.

    • Mike

      If this campaign is struggling, then why the effort to stop it?

      • Michael English

        “If this campaign is struggling, then why the effort to stop it?”

        Because, obviously, if you oppose the campaign’s aims, it makes sense to not sit on your ass while it gathers votes in its favor.

        Incidentally, I am amazed at the number of people on the post who seem to conflate not liking the Democrats in power with the system of government in the county. If your goal is to weaken the ability of its elected officials to enact policies you dislike, then how can you argue that the reform is for the sake of democracy? Surely it would be more accurate to say “we want to make the Arlington Democrats more beholden to the Republican House of Delegates in Richmond”.

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    Reference: “Arlington is unique among Virginia counties and cities. We are the only jurisdiction to have adopted the “County Manager Plan” of government, and a separate section in the Code of Virginia sets out Arlington’s powers and responsibilities”

    Indeed, it’s time for Arlington to become part of America. What is so unique about Arlington that separates it from the rest of America? None of the current County Board members could run a Jiffy Lube let alone a Starbucks that only caters to brain dead liberals. Why can’t Arlington be governed in fashion with the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia? The only thing unique about Arlington is that fact that it’s run by brain dead liberals that vote for a cadre of brain dead liberals to run it. This is all smoke and mirrors. A statement from the entire liberal Arlington Democratic delegation about anything is no differnet than 10 babies crying in unison because they all have loaded diapers. These people are full of fear because that are finally being judged by the common folks they’ve used for years simply for votes.

    The Arlington Democratic Committee is full of liberal misfits that have their heads so far up Chris Zimmerman’s a$$, he’s placed a window in his belly so that they all can find their way home from their tofu and granola parties.

    Get a grip Arlington liberals, your days are numbered!

    • spiff

      Efrem Hornbostle
      Why do you want this to happen?

  • Skeptical

    This message will shortly be followed by one from somebody who believes that “heartless conservative” is an indivisible epithet and that all Republicans have horns and spade-shaped tails.

    Is there some nice, padded room where we can immure all the people who think they have made a point by yelling an epithet? Then maybe the rest of us could get something productive done.

    • Just Ignore Efram

      He never has anything constructive to add and apparently just likes the sound of his own shrill voice. My two year old has sounder critical reasoning skills and better manners. You know what he is going to say before you even read it so don’t waste the effort.

  • Mike

    What a friggin joke.

    Day care centers standards??? Don’t tell me Fairfax County is leaps and bounds behind Arlington on this hot topic. They use the state standards and there is no outcry from the public.

    And if Arlington “loses” this power to prevent discrimination on sexual orientation it is nigh near impossible that that they are going to START discriminating.

    And their final comment is just short of calling our fellow Virginians a bunch of inbred hicks.

    I’ve got one word for the authors of this letter. SNOBS!

    • Thes



      What Fairfax County can do is IRRELEVANT, since it has the “Urban County Executive Form” of government, not the “County Board Form” proposed by the Republicans in this petition drive.

      The “County Board Form” is designed for four rural counties in southwestern Virginia. Its day-care rules are designed for communities in which most land is devoted to farming, and where hiring 16 year olds to be in charge of large numbers of stranger’s children may be the best that they can do, even if they are not inbred hicks.

      Fairfax, like Arlington, DOES HAVE special authorities in this area (see Virginia Code section 15.2-914). But the petition drive will not give us Fairfax’s Urban County Executive Form.

      Your comment is a great example why the petition drive is so idiotic, and shows exactly why its supporters are ill-informed.

      • Mike

        This daycare issue is a red herring. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!

        Virginia follows the Dillon rule. Does anyone think the General Assembly doesn’t modify the rules under the various Charters operate? This happens all the time (Virginia isn’t the only Dillon state) and is modified by using population data to tailor the regulation.

        This is just a red herring being thrown out by the Democrats to keep their stooges in power so they can continue such wonderful government ideas like train sets and bath houses while cutting back on parks and libraries.

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    How can § 15.2-914 apply to the COUNTY of Arlington?

    § 15.2-914. Regulation of child-care services and facilities in certain counties and cities. Any (i) county that has adopted the urban county executive form of government, (ii) city adjacent to a county that has adopted the urban county executive form of government, or (iii) city which is completely surrounded by such county may by ordinance provide for the regulation and licensing of persons who provide child-care services for compensation and for the regulation and licensing of child-care facilities.any commercial or residential structure which is used to provide child-care services.

    1. Arlington is currently under the County Manager Plan of government, not the urban county executive form of government.

    2. Arlington is not a city adjacent to a county that has adopted the urban county executive form of government. Arlington is a county.

    3. City which is completely surrounded by such county. Again Arlington is not a city, it’s a county.

    So it appears that § 15.2-914 DOES NOT apply to Arlington COUNTY even though brain dead liberal lawyers are telling us it does.

    Second, in regards to the fear that the Arlington change-in-government measure will lessen tolerance towards gays, lesbians and transgenders, out here in our southern Virginia county that Arlington liberals often cite, the farm animals tend to have figured out what mother nature intended for males and females and we never see species of the same sex hump each other in our pristine and vibrant pastures. Perhaps if your folks in Arlington figured this out, you wouldn’t need $140 million in taxpayer monies to fund Jay Fisettes gay, lesbian and transgender bath house.

  • John Antonelli

    I have been doing the collecting of signatures for this and I can tell you, minus a few mean folks everyone has been signing and all have been very supportive.

    This is really about Democracy. Only approx. 15% of Arlington elects our County Board in those off year elections. Not Democracy. Not Democracy and not diversity when the majority of the people who serve on our County Board live in the same zip code. And it is really not Democracy when the real election for County Board is a Democratic Firehouse primary that is held at most in two polling places and requires that you agree to vote for the winner in teh genral election as a condition of being able to cast a ballot in the primary election.

  • John Antonelli

    Even if the scare tactics about child care centers and human rights ordinances are true (and that is dubious at best), enabling legislation is easily passed to correct any technical glitches.

  • Bob Boucher

    The real election for the County Board in Arlington is the election. Arlington’s voters select a member of the County Board every single year, in all sorts of electoral climates. If the Democratic nominee wins 60+% of the vote every single year in such a compact jurisdiction, that means the alternative message simply doesn’t resonate. The best chance the alternate slate had was in 2007, when two seats were up and the opponents could vote “with a bullet” for a single candidate. Yet even there, Tejada and Hynes combined won over 63% of the vote.

    What really perplexes me is the notion that the General Assembly would simply pass “enabling legislation” to allow Arlington to continue forth with the various provisions they had been granted under the current form of government. Why the General Assembly would do this? Wouldn’t it be preferable for the GA to simply say “no” to some policy requests, and to install a high price to other ones?

    As I read the proponents’ arguments, the only rationale I can see for why the GA would reinstall the concessions Arlington has won for our unique form of government is simply that it would be a courtesy bestowed to us.

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    Dear Brain dead Liberal:

    “What really perplexes me is the notion that the General Assembly would simply pass “enabling legislation” to allow Arlington to continue forth with the various provisions they had been granted under the current form of government”

    § 15.2-914 DOES NOT APPLY TO ARLINGTON AS STATED ABOVE. If it does, it is not according to the law.

    I understand that brain dead liberals do not understand the law very well but you all need to get your collective heads out of the sand.

    What’s next, passage of the change-of-government vote will no longer allow hemp toilet paper in Arlington?

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    The liberal goon Arlington County Board is revealing what tolerance means to them. Here is the true “Arlington Way”:

    Who Defends the Rights of Citizens to Sign Petitions?

    Hi Yupette,

    I am employed by Arlington County. I also signed the ‘change of government petition’. We have a right to sign petitions, afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution. Who would I contact if I am demoted or fired for signing the petition?

    Kim – DHS

  • James Henretta

    I have two points to make:

    1. It appears that this referendum is being financially supported by certain groups of Arlington County employees. For the $15,000 donation by Arlington Coalition of Police Officers, see: http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/money_in_details/3036?donor_id=190100 Why this support? Well, a brochure handed out by the Committee for Better Arlington tells us why: “that the County Manager has put forth budgets that have cut funding for Arlington Firefighters. . .and Law Enforcement every year for the past three years.” So, the attack on the County Manager is in fact an attack by Special Interest groups that want a bigger slice of the Arlington budget–your tax dollars. Follow the money!

    2. Arlington is run by a Democratic Party Machine with a particular ideological agenda. Eliminating the City Manager form of government will NOT change that; however, electing the County Board by districts MAY challenge this corrosive one-party domination. I therefore support a referendum that creates district elections and may encourage real diversity among our elected officials. But let’s be honest, folks. The only way to end one-party government is to vote for candidates who are not hand-picked by the Democratic Party Machine. THAT IS THE KEY–not changing the City Manager form of government. Do It!

  • Chris Slatt

    I know this is an old article – but with many people searching for information on the Change of Government proposal and this article coming back frequently on Google, I wanted to set the record straight on the Child Care provisions.

    Efrem is correct that 15.2-914 does not apply to Arlington
    The section of code that does the exact same thing for Arlington is 15.2-741

    The point that “Thes” was originally making is that while Arlington can currently regulate Child Care providers (thanks to 15.2-914) and Fairfax can do the same (thanks to 15.2-914), if we switch to a County Board form of government, we will NOT be able to. There is no provision in the Virginia code that extends this power to counties with the County Board form of government – if you’d like to take a look for yourself, the County Board form of government is laid out in 15.2-400 through 15.2-418.

    • John Antonelli

      Chris this issue of child care regulation is a red herring. Are the children in southern Virginia any less worthy of or less protected or deserve less protection than the children in Arlington. No. Are children dying unnecessarily in southern Virginia? No. Arlington will protect its children just as it does now either by using the means used in southern VA or by enabling legislation. Its fine to sign

  • Skeptical

    If you’re going to update this article with a correction of Efrem’s post, I’d like to add a note that the “Arlington Yupette” blog that he quotes is a known scam by a very disgruntled county resident who writes nearly every comment himself over a made-up name, including the one Efrem posted above. Reading down a few pages of the thing will convince you, if you can stomach it. I signed the COG petition myself, but this kind of backing it doesn’t need.

  • Mmi Stratton

    This is a power grab on the part of Republicans.
    The signature-collecting sure is struggling! There is a guy outside the Cherrydale Safeway who asks people, “Will you sign a petition against cuts to police and firefighters?” (TOTALLY misleading). I was about to sign, when who steps forward but Bea Arthur (Arlington’s sheriff–yes! She does her own grocery shopping). She asked the fellow if he was a firefighter or cop (no) and then proceeded to explain to me that this petition was the change of government petition, which I had heard about, was against, and would never had signed if it had not been mis-represented as a “cut to firefighters and police”. Hey, guys–call something what it is. People are just going to be pissed off if they find out they’ve been lied to.


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