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Projection: Change-of-Government Effort Has Failed

by ARLnow.com July 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm 2,855 31 Comments

Start writing the eulogies now. The effort to change Arlington’s form of government has failed to attract enough petition signatures to get on the November ballot, ARLnow.com projects.

As of 2:30 this afternoon, election officials had counted 12,621 signatures, out of the 14,350 required by law to get a referendum on the ballot. Election staff are nearly finished with their “second pass” through the 761 petition sheets submitted by the Committee for a Better Arlington. A third pass is unlikely to yield a significant number of additional signatures.

Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg says her staff has completed their second pass over about 700 petition pages. Since about 10,200 signatures were validated during the first pass, that means the second pass is, on average, validating 3.5 additional signatures per page. But with only 61 pages to go, it’s likely that the petition will only have about 12,900 valid signatures going into the third pass, which is expected to start Monday.

“I’d be surprised if we pick up another 100” signatures during the third pass, Lindberg said. With those 100 additional signatures, the petition will be more than 1,350 votes short. This spreadsheet shows just how improbable it would be for the petition to reach the magic 14,350 number from this point out.

It’s not clear what the next step will be for the Committee. In an phone interview last week, a CBA representative did not rule out the possibility of some sort of legal action.

“We’re going to wait for the Registrar to do their count,” the representative said. “Once they make that announcement we will proceed accordingly.”

The Sun Gazette reported this morning that a judge will ultimately rule on whether the measure will make it onto the ballot. No mechanism for appeal exists under state law once the judge has made a decision.

The real question this point is actually how the petition’s failure will affect this year’s county board race between board vice-chairman Chris Zimmerman, Republican Mark Kelly and Green Party candidate Kevin Chisholm. Had the change-of-government referendum made it on the ballot, local Democratic dollars would have poured into the coffers of the Coalition for Arlington Good Government, the organization created to oppose the effort. That could have diverted money that would have otherwise gone to Zimmerman’s campaign.

On the other hand, opposition to the referendum could have driven Democratic turnout in November, in a year when Republican turnout is likely to get a boost from dissatisfaction with the current administration.

  • MB

    Zimmerman will do just fine in the fall. And it’s good to know that we won’t have to waste yet more time and money explaining the BS behind this proposal. A definite win for Arlington.

    • TGEoA

      The COG attempt will happen again next year — with the urban executive style instead.

      • Good Grief

        Oh, let it go, already. They spent $50K and couldn’t get 10% of the voters to *sign* for the darn thing.

        If you want a different form of government, please just move to a city or county that already has it.

        • TGEoA

          Reminds me of all the whiners who said they would leave the country if Bush won a 2nd term. Too bad they didn’t.

    • Let’s Be Free

      I know, what a horrible failure. When it is all said and done we’ll be left with a data base of 13,000 names and addresses, virtually all of whom will vote for anyone but Zimmerman. Yes, that’s an incredible failure. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your money, don’t panic MB, not at all.

      • sandra

        “A data base of 13,000 names and addresses, virtually all of whom will vote for anyone but Zimmerman?” You can’t assume that everyone who signed the petition was against Zimmerman. Everytime I saw the petitioners they claimed the petition was something to help police and firefighters. All that’s left is a database of 13,000 who signed a piece of paper based on misrepresentation. And yes, I signed it. And I’m embarrassed that I fell for the pitch.

        • Anon

          Indeed, and many people signed simply because they are used to signing campaign petitions. They value the opportunity for discourse and will sign nominating petitions for the other party as well as their own.

          Of those 13,000, I predict half will not even vote this year, and of the half that does, statistically more than half of them will vote for the Democratic candidate. Even if they wanted to vote for someone else, the GOP and Greens offer up no reasonable candidate, as usual.

          If you’re going to try to assemble a database of likely voters, you could do a lot better for your $50,000 of union money.

          • Chris

            What about Mark Kelly is not “reasonable”?

  • Rational Utility Maximizer

    The union members who supported the referendum really need to think about who it is who looks out for their interests. They got in bed with the Republicans on this, but guess who wants to renegotiate Metro’s union contract to take away protections for Metro workers? Zimmerman’s Republican challenger! http://kellyforarlington.com/issues/

    Wake up, people. The COG folks put money in the hands of a non-union, non-Arlington shop for printing, and they put even more money in the hands of a signature collection firm that boasts about its efforts to turn states into right-to-work states.

    • Let’s Be Free

      Mr. RUM, as I read your missive conflating the various unions, I was thinking how different public safety employees are from transit workers. Perhaps, I thought, they deserve a better deal because of the dangers that police officers and firefighters face in their everyday work.

      Then it occured to me, with Chris Zimmerman at the helm, empirical fact is that one’s life has been more at risk being a Metro employee than it has been being one of Arlington’s finest or bravest. Something has gone horribly wrong at Metro; there is no leader who has been more thoroughly involved and no more personally responsible for the freefall than its longest serving Board member and repeat Chairman. Chris Zimmerman steered Metro from being one of the safest transit operations in the country to being the most dangerous.

  • Efrem

    And what will the elitist ACDC ruling class and County Board latte lappers be doing this evening? Will they be celebrating with their associated progressive ilk at some upscale Clarendon stuff zone sipping Clos du Bois as they laugh at the downtrodden old folks they force out of Arlington, under class and public safety personnel they constantly disenfranchise? Or will they head to the outskirts of South Arlington, perhaps stopping unannounced at a fire station during roll call, to gather a pulse of what the working class and real people have to deal with? Hell no to the latter.

    These out-of-touch zombie progressive County Board members, most of which never worked a real private sector job in their lives, think they know better than you and me how to run our lives.

    How many of you would allow Chris Zimmerman to manage your 401K and 529 college accouts.

    How many of you would allow Walter Tejada to make major decisions for you as it regards your family and future?

    How many of you would allow Barbara Favola to run your small business if you have one?

    The ACDC and County Board will now ramp up their grip on power by raising taxes and increase spending to win even more favor with the brain dead progressives that constantly vote for them.

    They don’t get it and never will.

    Will failure of the COG petition increase the membership of the ACDC? Hell no.

    But these zombies think it will. Let them think that as much as they want.

    Freedom and liberty will someday prevail.

    • Courthouse Resident

      I am not brain dead. If you can’t recognize how well this county is managed as compared to how poorly some others are in the DC area – maybe we should hook a few wires to your head and see how things are going up there.

      • Burger

        So you position is that because some other couies are so poorly run that Arlington should not even put a referendum to the people to make a decision on the issue. I didn’t like the ulterior motive behind the COG but I definitely thought it is a good idea for the County Board to not essentially be concerned with the viewpoints of the powerful. I think the current board is completely unresponsive to the a majority of the people in Arlington.

        Spending close to a million dollars on a lawsuit to fight expanding 395 and then cutting library hours. Is that responsive government?

        In the fist snow storm in I didn’t see a snow plow on my street until 74 hours after the snow stopped falling. The second big storm, me and my neighbors decided to shovel out entire street to get cars out – this was 48 hours after the snow stopped falling. What is the county board talking about instead of dealing with street plowing…ordinances on sidewalks.

        Most on here cant see the forest door the trees and that the best option would have been for the current power structure but with district style voting. One can just look at the current Congress and see that one party run doesn’t work.

        • Courthouse Resident

          First – yes my position is that this referendum was not a good idea – which would cause Arlington County to eventually not stand out as a well run community. I believe the referendum appearing on a ballot would also easily confuse a less informed voter. While voter turnout this fall won’t be on par with a Presidential election year – there could still be some who never had heard of this petition and would be reading it for the first time while standing at a poll and making a decision.

          For the lawsuit against the 395 HOT Lanes. I myself don’t like seeing tax payer money wasted on frivolous lawsuits. (Pretty much anything Ken Cuccinelli is doing falls on this boat). However, the County is spending a mere drop in the bucket to prevent a very “forced-upon-us” road construction project from proceeding without further proper consideration. I’m glad they are not sitting back and just letting it happen.

          For the snow removal – I’m not sure if you ventured out of Arlington or heard from other people – but every other municipality in the area had the same problems (some had it worse without power for a while). This area just doesn’t get snow like that and so most areas just did the best they could. I’m not applauding Arlington’s snow removal efforts – it was a struggle indeed – but I know that other counties were struggling just as badly or worse.

          Your last paragraph just doesn’t make any sense.

          • A real responsive county board would’ve installed heaters under that guy’s street! 🙂

          • Burger

            Your premise is off. How is a COG any different than the numerous bond proposals that come up for s vote every election. How many times has anyone looked at them? When was the last time a bond proposal was defeated in Arlington? To me there was clearly fear in the establishment’s view at this becoming a referendum issue knowing that most of the clods in Arlington would just vote “yes” and be done with it. There is a good reason there was a number of people out trying to stop the ability of the issue to even become a vote which seems heavy handed in my opinion.

            I was asked for my signature outside of a Safeway but knowing the ulterior motive of increasing unions power in contract negotiations I didn’t sign it though agreed with in principle that the county needs to more local representation via districts then currently how many of the country board all live relatively in a localized region. This was my basic point on my proposal. Keep most of the power with the county manager but have Arlington sliced into districts for representation on the county board – similar in a sense to DC’s Wards and mayor. That would allow for county board members to represent their local districts more effectively but still maintain a great deal of power in the manager so that public unions wouldn’t be able to push negotiations by talking about votes in the next election like they do in Montgomery county.

            Honestly, I enjoy the sheer obliviousness to state this county is well run given it’s ability to raise taxes at a whim and most lemmings will simple sign off on it.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    A few winners in this whole deal.

    1. Arlington residents as far as avoiding the consequences of a bad government structure: County managers can serve to de-politicize and professionalize day-to-day and personnel decisions, and an at large board avoids the obvious evils of ward-based legislating by earmark and self-interest, especially at the school board level. Add in the regulatory and departmental losses that surely would have come, and its clear that we’ve dodged a bullet there.

    2. Republicans in Arlington… maybe: the commentary in the community and response to the petitions themselves indicate that the community could be persuaded to look to the right sort of loyal opposition in government. Of course in order to be taken seriously that candidate would have to be a supporter of things like smart growth, our immigrant community, and the sort of continuing investment that has made Arlington great, only better/smarter/cheaper/more transparent. Of course that means that this candidate would have to pitch their tent in such a way as to keep those folks who clearly don’t share the values of the majority of Arlingtonians outside, and that’s tough to do when so much crazed energy can be easily harvested from the Jim’s, Patrick’s, Efrem’s, John’s, and Mike’s of the world.

    3. Arlnow.com: I’d be curious to see some statistics, but I’m betting that this little chapter in Arlington history has been a pretty good traffic engine overall (though I’m sure it can’t touch that Dog nonsense), and a great kick-off to the political coverage here… it could have easily been a news-free summer in local politics, but has been a much better chance to show off the sort of great, timely work that can be done on a very local blog.

    Losers too.

    1. Arlington Dems. I, for one, don’t believe that this county is cynically being run for the sole benefit of an elite minority of the population… but that impression exists in some corners (even some reasonable ones), and I think that is the fault of unfocused, and occasionally lazy political communication. Just because some of us understand and are behind the Smart Growth and investment-based vision that drives decisions, doesn’t mean that that understanding should be taken as a given. Between the constant turn-over in the resident population and the very long-time horizons that policy is made on, a major effort to explain choices to the entire population even when the easy votes are available on the board or for a bond proposal.

    A good example is the Columbia Pike streetcar project… I understand that this is about starting and anchoring a long path of further investments, inducements, and choices that will slowly help to make Columbia Pike a place to be, instead of a place to go through. But many, many folks just think its about putting a train in the middle of an already congested road. The responsibility for communicating the underlying vision of this and other projects lies with the ACDC, and hopefully a renewal of effort will happen there.

    2. The Police and Fire Unions: this sure hasn’t helped their relationship with the politicians in town, and for what? I’m sure ya’ll could have found a different, less bridge-burny way to bring political pressure to bear on the County Board if you wanted more money. Its not like progressive Arlingtonians are anti-Union. As far as we’re concerned, you can have all the money you want, and if the Dillon Rule allowed such reasonable things, we’d be much more pro-active in terms of building affordable housing so you could afford to live here.

    3. The Greens: some careful campaigning from Ruebner had really built some momentum behind the idea that the Greens could take that role as a loyal-opposition type of position in county politics, but now? Friendly out-of-power dudes who have a penchant for petitions, and who aren’t ready for prime-time.

    I’m sure there are more in either category, but those are the ones that occur to me… sorry for the many words.

  • Efrem

    Re: “supporter of things like……………..our immigrant community.

    You mean a supporter of illegal aliens and Arlington remaining a sanctuary county luring more and more illegals here to slurp at the trough of taxpayer handouts all in the name of progressive social justice?

  • Efrem, you really do seem very angry about the place you live and the way it’s governed. And it’s a very small place (26 square miles — about the size of Dulles Airport).

    So, with thins in mind, I ask the following question non-rhetorically, and non-patronizingly: if it really bothers you enough to get this angry, have you considered moving literally 3 miles down the road to any other jurisdiction? Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Montgomery, Prince George’s, or Washington each are run in different ways by different people and offer a variety of options that would allow you to keep your job and regional community in place.

    It may be unfair to pass this initial prejudicial judgment, but I’m inclined to think that you don’t like who runs any of those places either.

    • Questioner

      I’m curious as to whether Efrem even lives in Arlington–a quick web search reveals that he also likes to post on an anti-immigrant blog that focuses on Prince William County politics.

  • TGEoA

    What is it with all of this “if you don’t like it, move” stuff anyways? Only cowards run away.

  • Amit

    why do we want Arlington run like the Metro? so we can keep paying more for diminishing service?

    • I agree, we should get more in services while paying less in taxes! I demand something for nothing, and the Arlington GOP is just the party to promise it to me.

      • TEGEoA

        So says the fools that think “green” jobs will be good for the economy. Planing a trip to Spain anytime soon?

  • Questioner

    None of the arguments being advanced above (like Burger’s, for instance) support a change of government–they simply support not voting for the people in power if you don’t like them. County Manager or no County Manager, the Board is going to balance the needs of the community in the same way. If you don’t like their priorities, then vote them out. The thing that proves that they DO represent the majority of Arlingtonians is the fact that the COG folks had to lie to get signatures, and even then couldn’t get enough!

    • Just the Facts

      Another fact that show the majority of (voting) Arlingtonians like the way the County is run is that incumbents get at least 60% of the vote each year. If there truly was a groundswell of citizen anger sweeping Arlington, wouldn’t you think any other candidate could at least break the 40% mark?

      This is the one cold, hard fact that the COG folks kept ignoring. Try as they might to paint Arlington as a hotbed of anti-incumbent fervor, it just ain’t true. For the most part, Arlingtonians like the way the local government is run.

      My free advice to the grumblerumps who keep complaining about what a sh*tty government we have: try building a broad-based coalition around a quality opposition candidate and work to get him/her elected. You have a chance to do this ONCE A YEAR. Get somewhat close to an electoral victory and quit wasting time and (a ridiculous amount of) money on doomed-from-the-start petitions.

  • Walk the talk

    Efrem…if you are so against the Board and the ACDC then why don’t you run for the Board? You talk and talk but I don’t see any action from you. No one (ACDC) is preventing anyone from running for the Board. If you think there needs to be change, stand up and do something about it or shut up.

    • Anthony

      Efrem doesn’t live here. He’s probably the same guy from PW County who writes letters to the Sun Gazette. He used to live in Arlington, I believe. Probably couldn’t stand all those “illegal aliens”, so he moved.

  • Puzzled

    What made me angry was my own experience with this effort. I followed my wife into Safeway one morning and saw her sign a petition at the entrance while I was parking, so asked her what it was all about and she replied that the nice man was taking signatures to help support the firefighters.

    So I came out to sign up for this good cause and was handed the clipboard. Fortunately I had a little time to read through it and realized that it was some very convoluted petition about changing the form of government for the County.

    I asked the gentleman who was asking folks to sign what that had to do with the firefighters and he couldn’t give me an answer, so I said thanks… but no thanks.

    I just wonder how many of those who actually did sign even knew what the referendum was about.

  • Arlingtony

    I signed the petition even though I had no intention of voting in favor of the referendum. I did so in hopes that this idiocy would be buried in November. The form of government proposed was ridiculous for an urban county with a tiny geographical area. When I tried to discuss the details of the proposal with the several signature gatherers I met throughout the county at such places as the Lyon Village Giant and the Courthouse farmer’s market, it was futile. They knew nothing about the details of the proposal such as the number and names of counties in Virginia where the form of government being proposed had worked effectively. Their response to my remarks about the inappropriateness of the form of government being proposed was a shrug-no substantive response. I am sorry that this will not be buried in November.

  • Novanglus

    I’m a Republican who thinks this change of government would be a HORRIBLE idea. It’s unlikely that any of the new wards would be majority Republican. Instead, it would give a ward-based Democratic board more direct control over day-to-day decisions of the county staff.

    Efrem asks three very good questions:
    “How many of you would allow Chris Zimmerman to manage your 401K and 529 college accouts. How many of you would allow Walter Tejada to make major decisions for you as it regards your family and future? How many of you would allow Barbara Favola to run your small business if you have one?”

    My answer to those questions is an emphatic NO. But if the proposed change went into effect, those same democratic board members would have the power to directly manage our county’s investments, decide social services cases, or decide which business occupancy permits should be approved or rejected. Under the County Manager form, those decisions are made by professional staffers, many of whom are Republicans.


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