Join Club

The Right Note: Spin Machine on Full Display

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

The post budget spin offered by Arlington officials defies common sense.

As both the general budget and the school budget increased by 6.3%, here is what
Board Chairman Christian Dorsey had to say,

“I would think about this not as government getting smaller, but as government getting

What he should have said:

Arlingtonians should not think of government getting smaller, because it got bigger.

Not to be outdone, Erik Gutshall county leaders went over the budget with a “fine tooth comb” and the result is a budget without “an ounce of fat.”

What he should have said:

A majority of the “savings” we found in the budget were achieved by essentially eliminating vacant staff positions.

Even if you don’t write off the savings as a budget gimmick, the Board spent 99.4% of what it wanted to spend on the county government side of the budget. And, there’s a good bet there is more than one ounce of fat left in it.

While we have come to expect this from a group of people who call spending 6.3% more than last year a “difficult” budget process, Christian Dorsey said something even more disturbing. WMAL aired a clip of Dorsey talking about how Arlingtonians can pay for the 5% tax increase. Dorsey’s reply was to suggest that Arlingtonians “scrub their family budgets.”

What Dorsey is essentially saying:

We didn’t do the hard work. You guys should just suck it up and find a way to pay for it.

Then I was reminded of something Dorsey said earlier this year. In January, he was answering questions about raising the pay of Board Members. Dorsey seemed to suggest that Board Members could scale back their workloads and focus more on big picture responsibilities.

He went on to reflect on some Board Members who dig into the nitty gritty of how the county is run, saying “An individual board member exceeding his responsibility is not helpful.” In other words, when someone else works really hard, it makes the rest of us look bad.

So, the idea that the Board did not really roll up their sleeves and work hard to build a better budget on behalf of taxpayers should not be surprising.

And the failure to rein in spending did not just result in a tax increase on homeowners. The Board also raised taxes on commercial real estate even more. They did this in the face of a commercial vacancy rate that remains high, putting even more upward pressure on the cost of doing business in the county.

All five Board Members have talked about addressing the vacancy rate. The only response thus far is to spend more of our tax dollars to subsidize big employers. $23 million for Amazon and $11.5 million for the DEA are the most recent examples.

What else do they plan to do other than hand out subsidies? Where is the plan?

The bottom line is it is tough to find a single word or phrase that describes this year’s budget process. “Failure” or “head-scratching” come to mind.

No, it’s just “typical.” Unless we change our leaders, we can expect more of the same.

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

Recent Stories

Arlington County will soon start using an automated system developed by Amazon Web Services to answer non-emergency public safety calls. Starting on Thursday (June 1), non-emergency callers to 703-558-2222 will…

It was a dreadful sight for boaters looking forward to a Memorial Day on the water. Early Sunday morning, a significant blaze broke out at Columbia Island Marina, between the…

Morning Notes

Memorial Day in Arlington — “President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who ‘dared all and gave all’ fighting for their country and called on Americans…

Memorial Day is a special time to remember and show appreciation for the courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. It’s also an opportunity to come…

The 44th Leeway Overlee Community Day and Yard
Sale will be along the John Marshall Drive/Ohio Street greenway on
Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The community will be out in
force to exchange information and greetings, sell unneeded household
items, and pick up a few bargains.

About 100 families set up tables for the festivities, which take
place along the six-block stretch of the greenway from near Langston
Blvd. to Washington Blvd. Attendance is free, but
a $10 fee will be collected from individuals and families selling
household items during the event. Ensure that all goods and rubbish are
removed from the greenway by 1 p.m. Leave dogs at home.

For more info, call 703-532-6101. If planning to sell, start labeling
your items for sale NOW! Event will take place as long as there is not
active rain. Rain date is June 10.

Submit your own Announcement here.



Sat, June 3rd I 3:30 pm / Shows 5:50 pm I Kenmore Auditorium I Glencarlyn

The 36th Festival Argentino USA celebrates Argentine Day and Cultural Freedom. The folkloric group Los 4 de Córdoba and 25 more artists from Argentina, World, and Solidarity Tribute, 200 years of friendship between USA and Argentina!.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.

Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers

4th of July Celebration & Fireworks

Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.

Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,


Subscribe to our mailing list