Hynes Optimistic About County Despite Possible Federal Cutbacks

by Katie Pyzyk June 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm 3,826 68 Comments

During her 2012 State of the County address yesterday (see video, above), Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes took time to point out the county’s stability, and to soothe fears about negative effects Arlington may experience due to federal budget cuts.

She said even in light of America’s recent recession, the county remains financially strong, as evidenced by the retention of its AAA bond rating.

“It’s a true measure of managing our money well and making great investments,” said Hynes. “Arlington is economically vibrant. We’ve weathered this recent recession rather well when you look across the country.”

Despite the current stability, Hynes recognized that uncertainty with the federal government could have an impact on Arlington in the future.

“We have depended on a growing federal government to create opportunities,” Hynes said. “This formula has worked to date, but we all know it could change as Congress grapples and comes to terms with the federal deficit.”

Arlington recently has felt the pinch from the federal government due to a loss of workers from the Defense Department’s recent round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) moves.

“We know that our office buildings’ largest tenant is the federal government,” Hynes said. “BRAC taught us that we need to be prepared for potentially fewer federal tenants and more vacant space.”

Hynes noted that moves were made to counteract the loss of workers through BRAC. For example, plans to strengthen Crystal City with new investments, and securing headquarters for big names like Deloitte, Boeing and DARPA.

“Unfortunately, assuming the future will be like the past doesn’t prepare us to address all the challenges that we’re going to face in the next few years,” said Hynes. “We need to take stock, anticipate the continuing and new challenges that will confront us, and make them opportunities rather than the threats they could become if we didn’t attend to them.”

In addition to the possibility of a shrinking federal government, Hynes listed terror threats and population growth as the other issues rounding out Arlington’s top three challenges. But she stressed that even with such significant trials, the county consistently takes charge of its assets and pulls through.

“None of it is easy, but it is doable,” Hynes said. “We’re blessed to live in this community with all of its challenges. It is still one of the very best places to live in America.”

During the State of the County speech, Hynes also touched on hot-button topics like Artisphere — the County Board is monitoring the cultural center’s quarterly financial reports, she said — and the Columbia Pike streetcar. It’s unlikely that the public will get to vote on the streetcar plan via a bond referendum in the fall, Hynes said.

  • Corey

    She’s right to be optimistic. There is zero serious chance that federal spending will decrease or stagnate in any real way. Zero.

    • BreakPause02

      Not with base-lining.

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        Federal Spending has never decreased year over year in the history of the US Govt – the panic is just that, panic.

        • beard-faced liar

          Just because something has not happened does not mean it will not happen.

    • beard-faced liar

      The farce is strong with this one.

  • Piker

    The eff is she wearing?

    • CrystalCityBite

      It’s the wallpaper fabric, only reversed. Now that’s coordination!

    • meh..

      Fatigues… suburban political combat issue…

    • ArLater

      Its VIBRANT!

    • AllenB

      Why the eff is that even part of the discussion?

      • nom de guerre

        You have been here before so you know that there is nothing that is off limits.

        • malaka

          …and the correct response invokes clowns

          • nom de guerre

            I have been kindly advised by others to abandon that response. Others will have to take up the slack.

          • Tabby_TwoTone

            The special today at Chop’t is a kale and mesclun greens medley drizzled with truffle oil and name tags.

          • nom de guerre

            I think the addition of garlic infused broccoli rabe, shaved parmesan reggiano, balsamic vinegar and dark rye croutons would make for a wonderful marriage of flavors.

            Will the name tags be a chiffonade or roughly chopped?

          • drax

            How rude of you not to inform us of the hours in which you would be abandoning that response.

          • nom de guerre

            I must have omitted your name in the email blast that I sent out today @ 1325 hours indicating the discontinuation of That’s a
            _ _ _ _ _ question, bro. My bad.

      • speonjosh

        Yeah, I recognize the whole “why do we comment on female politicians’ looks and we don’t comment on male politicians’ looks and this means we’re sexist” argument. And I think it has some validity.

        But, damn. Doesn’t she have people?

        “Uh, Mary, what the eff is that?”
        “This? I thought it was cute.”
        “Uh, no. It’s not. It’s distracting and it makes you look like a nutjob. Take it off.”

        • KalashniKEV

          “Take it off.”

          NOW we’re talking!!!

        • AvocadoGreen

          If she had “people” there would be a whole other discussion thread on that!

          • Josh S

            A husband? Daughter? Secretary?

    • lorenzo

      Shes got a clown fashion sense

      • Virginia Squared

        “That’s a clown jacket, bro”

        • Josh S

          This can be Bryce’s job in the off season – fashion consultant.

    • KalashniKEV

      They look like some kind of third world Socialist dictator fatigues…

      • Joan Fountain

        Well, you claim the County Board is a socialist dictatorship, so it makes sense, I suppose.

      • marie antoinette


    • Rick

      I am confident the couch upholstery used to make that shirt did not suffer as it was removed and re-purposed.

      • nom de guerre

        My money says it is a pantsuit that was “rescued” from the couch.

  • don

    Feds are going to keep shedding contractors and employees, County is getting too expensive to live and operate a business in, too much new and proposed infrastructure that has be be bonded, maintained, replaced. They can’t keep fooling the rating agencies forever.

    • Keith

      Vacancy rate is already up, Yo.

    • Bubblicious

      Agreed. Time to cut spending now, rather than wait until we have to raise taxes and go out in to the bond market to borrow more. Mary Hines does not understand economics 101 nor does she want to accept that she is now becoming directly responsible for Arlington’s decline should she continue spending at this rate.

      We’ve been ‘lucky’ to be supported by Federal spending, but that luck is going to run out sooner than later.

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        Well – the white house isnt going anywhere. Neither is the Capital nor the Pentagon. I think this area may not grow as fast as it was, but to say things will be a disaster is just tea party scare tactics.

        • beard-faced liar

          Sorry to say that math is not political.

  • Patrick

    But I thought according to the ACB’s supporters that people and businesses moved to Arlington b/c it is such a well governed and managed place (i.e the Arlington way), and that it had nothing to do with the federal government?

    • Jason S.

      We here that often around here, as if you could take Arlington and drop into some valley in the middle of Montana and the results would be damned near identical.

    • JohnB

      Arlington has been dealt a great set of cards compared to the rest of the country, but compare Arlington with other jurisdictions bordering DC to control for the effect of the Federal Government and you’ll come to the conclusion that Arlington has played a better hand with the same cards. Well, maybe you won’t, but I have and that’s the crux of the argument.

      • Clarendon

        I agree, but there are places in the US that have their own advantages. Oil, Nat Gas, Coal revenues, beautiful beaches or mountains, great ports, etc. The federal gov is our advantage.

        • drax

          Yep. Every town has an economy. Arlington has the feds. Nobody is saying that our economy is due to good management, just our good management.

  • South Awwlington

    Be nice. She’s a straight shooter compared to the others…

    Did anyone bother to watch the recess meeting yesterday?

    What’s with Walter? It’s like pla

    • South Awwlington

      It’s like plaque frees in his brain momentarily, he partially forms a sentence, inquires if the new bird bath at Penrose has Affordable Housing and then fades back to black.

      That’s your next Board Chair people.

      • malaka

        ha that’s so fu

        • South Awwlington

          We could do better with our elected representation. I don’t think anyone would argue that point.

      • KalashniKEV


        He’s already on the record in favor of Criminality and selective enforcement of laws.

    • Bubblicious

      Telling people that Arlington is going to be just fine is not shooting straight. Either she has bad advisers or she’s not being honest.

  • Doubt it

    Hynes is not very convincing. The fact is that the Federal government has to cut spending significantly over the next several years and Arlington will take a big hit as a result. Regardless of whether or not Arlington has a AAA rating and can temporarily borrow against future tax revenues to spend today, Arlington has to scale back its budget in order to avoid raising taxes during a time when residents may finally start to feel the hit from the recession that has plagued the rest of the country.

    For every $7 of Federal government spending we only see about $1 of GDP growth. That is simply not a mathematically sustainable figure, especially considering our current national debt as measured by Federal, state, local government, private household, corporate and financial system (see FIRE economy) debt.

    While I want to be optimistic and say that everything is going to be just fine, we need to look no further than Europe or Japan to see what the future of this kind of spending holds for us — bearing in mind that they are in the more advanced stages of this debt crisis.

    Europe’s post industrial economies are sagging under the weight of their debt, their pension system is struggling to keep up and the bond yields on some of the extremely indebted countries are soaring, causing their governments to struggle to be able to even make the interest payments on their debt.

    Japan has struggled with about 25 years of lost economic progress after their own housing bubble burst, with the Nikkei index never regaining, or even getting close to its highs — and while some may argue they have a high standard of living, I’d counter that by saying that living in a 500sqft apartment that costs 30-50% of one’s salary is not exactly living it up.

    At any rate, it will be good to flush the excess from the system as real asset prices, such as real estate, stocks and other assets will become more affordable so today’s lost generation of overly indebted college students can have a chance at grabbing a piece of the pie. If they aren’t afforded that opportunity we’ll be in a much bigger mess since there will be very few people out there to consume at the levels previous generations have. Just my $0.02.

    • speonjosh

      I would argue that it is not a fact that the government must cut spending. In addition, I would argue that we have an above average number of the 1% in our midst and they have shown themselves over the last thirty years to be extraordinarily good at gathering and protecting money. If the nation’s economic climate gets worse than it is now, Arlington will be one of the few places to continue to do well.

      • Bubblicious

        You’re right, the government doesn’t HAVE to cut spending. It can work with the Fed to have more asset purchasing programs to artificially lower interest rates and put bonds on to their balance sheet for even more short term oriented debt-driven consumption — at the cost of course of infuriating our foreign creditors as the dollar’s strength continues to evaporate.

        The 1% is not here to protect the middle class, as evidenced by the massive fleecing we have seen over the past 30 years where nominal inflation adjusted wages have declined, while the cost of living as increased and employment has been harder to obtain.

        The DC area is in a bubble, and that bubble is supported by an unprecedented amount of debt-driven Federal spending. $0.37 of every dollar the government spends is borrowed — and looking forward we have over $80T of unfunded liabilities that cannot be funded entirely by debt.

        Unfortunately it’s time to accept reality — that we need to tighten our belts, especially at the Federal government, inside the highly leveraged financial system and as consumers. There is no long term alternative. Kicking the can down the road is not a solution.

        • Josh S

          If we agree that the 1% is going to take care of itself, then who is going to help the rest? And how would cutting federal spending help the 99%? It wouldn’t. Not today, not tomorrow. Instead of allowing the wealth to accumulate and remain in the hands of the 1%, why not use the power of the federal government to reallocate some of those trillions into investments that will benefit everyone? (Renewable energy, education, infrastructure, etc.)

        • JohnB

          You can’t pay off debt without growth.

          • beard-faced liar

            You also cannot indebt yourself out of debt.

    • ACDC Hack

      About the only thing that I would add is that my hunch is that it will unfold kind of like a car wreck in slow motion…..the reality of the situation will not hit the county board for a couple of years.
      They will continue to operate as though it were still 1999…..

    • JohnB

      I disagree.

    • Agreed

      I think this is very well said and thought out.

      The reality is that Ballston – Rosslyn corridor development skyrocketed after 9/11 due to unprecedented government spending, largely to combat terrorism. This is obviously supported by the fact that most of the Arlington skyline has been built in the 2000’s.

      There is absolutely no way that rate of growth is sustainable, and as the wars in Iraq / Afghanistan are completed, and the war on terrorism becomes more efficent, you will see the spending that has supported Arlington’s contractors start to dry up. This is already happening.

      The first sign will be more vacant office space, followed by declining home prices.

      With that, Arlington would then have an unprecedented opportunity to diversify itself. It would be great to see more Fortune 500 locate themselves in Arlington outside of the obvious defense contractors.

      • KalashniKEV

        That’s the kind of DIVERSITY we need!

  • Elmer

    As one who has previously in arlnow.com “comments” raised the issue of the county’s dependence on continued massive federal spending for fiscal viability and been dismissed and ridiculed as being a “chicken little”…
    I feel her pain.

    • Bubblicious

      It’s much easier to believe that everything is going to be okay, no matter how naive one has to be to accept such a notion. Unfortunately for those that subscribe to this ideal illusory reality, the economy does not care what people want to believe or what they need.

  • Mary-Austin

    As Maxine Waters said: “The Tea Party can go to h**l”

    • KalashniKEV

      …and her husband was all like, “Can I have a $12M bailout for my company, OneUnited Bank?” and the kids were all like, “Mooooom… can you steer another $1M contracts our way?”

      • drax

        She’s the MOST CORRUPT congresswoman.

        • KalashniKEV

          I’m not making this up- she was on the list of MOST CORRUPT members of congress in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011.

          Ref: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

        • Mary-Austin

          Agreed she is pretty messed up but I’m with her on this one.

          • beard-faced liar

            Its not a tea party issue. They are also part of the problem.

    • Elmer

      Maxine’s eloquence is surpassed only by her ill-fitting wigs.

  • Faye Jissette

    lol arlnow won’t let me say tea(b)agger.

  • CW

    Wow when the pic first popped up I thought she was wearing modern (90’s era) German Army fatigues.

    • beard-faced liar



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