Join Club

The Right Note: The ‘Dorsey Standard’

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

Last week, I questioned the political wisdom of newly minted Arlington County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey’s comments regarding just how hard, or not hard, a Board member should work.

Dorsey pondered aloud just what a member’s role should be and questioned whether it was a good thing for someone serving on the Board to go above and beyond the call of duty. He called this hard work “not helpful.”

Last week’s column also noted that the County Board loves to talk about tough budget choices facing them. After years of wearing out the phrase and having money leftover to spend at the end of the year, this year they apparently really mean it. They are searching for as much as $70 million to close their annual “gap.” Schools, Metro, Medicaid expansion and Amazon are all putting pressure on budget decisions for FY 2020.

The more you hear Board members bemoan the budget, the more remarkable it is that the chairman of the Board facing “tough choices” can suggest Board members should take a step back from their workload. If the choices are truly that difficult, it demands more of your time and attention than ever before, not less.

Dorsey’s “work less, delegate more” approach was front and center at last Saturday’s board meeting when it came to light that costs are once again creeping up on the new Long Bridge aquatics facility. A new dollar figure was slipped into a Board report on the audio-visual contract for the project that was on the consent agenda on Saturday. The report noted a $3.2 million increase in so-called “soft costs” for the facility.

John Vihstadt, who was a lone voice in opposition to moving forward with the project, is no longer around to officially dig into the details, but he is still asking county staff about it and talking about it on social media. It may have been his inquiries that caused Katie Cristol to pull it from the Board’s “rocket docket” Saturday in order to have a discussion tonight. Otherwise, it would not have warranted even a single minute of debate from the Board under Chairman Dorsey’s agenda.

Hopefully, tonight Christian Dorsey will let us know why he did not want to have a public discussion on this. Maybe he will explain that he is content to just give the County Manager another blank check. (In November, the Board approved a $2 million slush fund for the County Manager as part of the closeout appropriation.)

Of course, Democrats have regularly required taxpayers to give the Board more of their money under the guise of a budget crunch without paying a political price as a party. The amount of time Dorsey dedicates to doing so may not matter, so the “work less” approach may make sense.

He certainly seems to be banking on voters to send him back to the Board this November no matter what he says, or does, or doesn’t want to do.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

Recent Stories

Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 21133 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

This past week saw 22 homes sold in Arlington. The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $275,000 while the most expensive was…

Many parents of children at Key Elementary School are outraged at the way a possible threat of gun violence by a student was handled by administrators.

We could tell you how great CarCare To Go is. We could tell you about how they are transforming the way people care for their cars with free valet pick-up…

The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.

The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar,

About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by


Subscribe to our mailing list