The Right Note: The Washington Monument Is Closing?

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

When faced with the need to find budget savings, budget writers have been known to cut one of the most popular budget line items in hopes of avoiding the cuts altogether. It is known as the “Washington Monument Strategy.”

If the National Park Service needed to make a cut, they could simply propose closing the Washington Monument to visitors. News crews would catch disappointed tourists on the National Mall and ask them how they feel about the site being closed, creating a public relations nightmare. Capitol Hill offices would be flooded with phone calls. To stem the tide, funding would be restored.

Our friends at the Progressive Voice opined this week against the proposed cut to the Equity and Excellence position at Wakefield High School. There is a good chance that the Superintendent’s staff was fairly certain when proposing such a cut that it will not be in the final budget.

Proposing cuts like this one is designed to help create a public outcry against cuts. The public is led to believe that all the fat has been cut in the budget, so we must either go to the bone or raise taxes to pay for it. It is also why we constantly hear the terms “tight budget times” and “shortfalls” and “difficult choices” despite rising revenues. The goal is that taxpayers will accept paying more in taxes to “save” critical needs.

The County Manager did the same thing in his budget. The County Board budget hearing went on for nearly three and a half hours last week as citizens called for restoring cuts. And, the resignation to pay more was in full effect as the tax rate hearing drew only a handful of Arlingtonians to speak against the full rate increase.

John Vihstadt did make an appearance at the tax rate hearing to speak against going above the County Manager’s recommendation. Vihstadt encouraged Board Members to roll up their sleeves and go back to work to find a way to keep the tax rate from rising further. Vihstadt’s message: rising equity in your home doesn’t pay the bills. In other words, if your household income isn’t rising by 6% in 2019, your family budget will be worse off if the County Board adopts the advertised tax rate.

In many places, raising taxes year after year would result in office holders being swept out of office. But in Arlington, the Washington Monument Strategy works and party loyalty prevails.

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

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Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns

Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.

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Light Up Arlington – Clarendon Menorah Lighting

Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!

Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration

Experience the festival of lights!!

*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah

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National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist


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