The Right Note: What a Week

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.

It is hard to put into words exactly what to make of the past week for Democrats in Richmond. If someone had pitched the storyline to a Hollywood producer, it might have been rejected as too unrealistic.

Lost in the series of breaking news stories is the ongoing effort in the General Assembly to adjust Virginia’s tax code to conform with the new federal tax law. Republicans want to send the excess revenue created by the changes back to Virginians in the form of income tax relief. Democrats want to spend most of the new tax revenue.

Republicans in Richmond also advanced redistricting reform bills through the House and Senate. The House bill would rightly keep elected officials accountable for redistricting decisions rather than pushing off that decision to unelected individuals. If one of the versions makes it through the General Assembly, it would have to be passed again next year before making it to a statewide vote.

Last week, Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) weighed back into the issue of helicopter noise. Beyer sent a letter asking for a federal study of flight times, flight patterns and altitude. It was also suggested that a Republican House majority prevented him from getting very far with the Pentagon in prior attempts to get the Department of Defense to listen to his concerns or his suggestion to just fly a little higher. Of course, flying higher would require helicopters to burn more fuel, and burning more fuel is in direct contradiction to one of Beyer’s other stated goals which is reducing fossil fuel usage.

Also last week, in less than one minute and with no discussion, the County Board approved 3.25 percent pay raises for the county manager, county attorney, clerk and auditor. There was no discussion of raising salaries for these four to an average of $193,000 despite the Board almost certainly preparing to hit taxpayers with a tax rate increase on top of the new property tax assessments.

The Board followed that up by passing, also without discussion, a resolution authorizing the lawsuit to claw back a $200,000 deposit they made on a now defunct land deal. Based on what we know so far, this lawsuit does not seem to have a great chance of success as the period to ask for the money back seems long passed. The Board could be doing so as a strong-arm tactic designed to get something out of the property owners who may wish to avoid legal fees.

Both of these Board items warranted some sort of public discussion.

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