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The Right Note: Quick Hits

by Mark Kelly January 29, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyWe may never know the content of the conversation between Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes that caused them to ultimately arrive at their votes to cancel the Columbia Pike trolley. However, it looks like the Board may still be split 3-2.

By all accounts, Democrat Libby Garvey should be up for Board Chair or Vice Chair. She was elected in a 2012 special election when Mary Hynes last chaired the Board. Hynes was followed in the middle seat by Tejada, then Fisette. Yet, Garvey was passed over this year to give those spots to Hynes and Tejada.

With Tejada’s announcement yesterday that he would not seek re-election, it is possible the move was a final nod to his service from his colleagues. It certainly explains why he remained defiant over his trolley vote. But, it is worth watching whether Democrats will ever accept Garvey back into the fold.

It is also worth noting that the father of the trolley, Chris Zimmerman, has remained strangely silent on its demise. Maybe Zimmerman saw the writing on the wall before he left the Board a year ago. He certainly was astute enough to jump off the Metro Board before it began a series of drastic rate hikes and service reductions.

Speaking of considering your political future, next week’s meeting of Arlington Democrats may see Hynes announce her electoral intentions for 2015. Her reversal on the trolley points to another run, particularly since Tejada’s pending departure opens up a seat for ambitious Democrats looking to run.

One Republican relayed to me recently that he thought it would be tough for a non-Democrat to win another race in Arlington without the trolley and the aquatics center to run against. My response: three of the same people who thought those projects were a good idea are still there — at least for the rest of this year. So, the penchant for putting the taxpayers on the hook for vanity projects still holds a majority on the Board. Voters were satisfied with the Vihstadt test run on the Board and elected him to a full term. They may be ready for another independent voice.

The County Board agreed to a revenue sharing agreement with the School Board. It reads like a lot of common sense, but it is not groundbreaking. Schools, public safety, roads and other basic infrastructure needs are the key spending priorities for any local budget. At around $22,000 per child, when you don’t “exclude” certain spending, maybe we ought to focus more time talking about how the schools are spending the dollars they already receive.

And finally, if you live near Reagan National Airport, you watched the County narrow a portion of S. Eads Street from two lanes in each direction to one. If the Board’s goal was to create more traffic congestion during rush hour and cause drivers to consider making use of neighborhood streets instead of a more major thoroughfare, then congratulations are in order.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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