Press Club

The Right Note: Pay Raise, Amazon & George Soros

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

Thumbs Down. After Chairman Christian Dorsey said earlier this year it was not the right time to consider a pay raise, the Arlington County Board will vote to raise its pay cap tonight. Members will choose between three options. Will it be 10%, 63% or 135%?

One can assume the Board would not vote to raise their salaries up to $129,429, but at least one Board Member, Libby Garvey, will almost certainly make the case for it. Garvey believes the County Board is already a full-time job, not a part-time job.

There is a strong case to be made that we benefit from the perspective of people on the Board who continue to hold down another full-time job. And the idea of turning the County Board into a full-time position has not been thoroughly debated with the public. It would raise a number of interesting questions. Would Board Members be allowed to hold outside jobs? If so, would there be a cap on their outside earned income? Would they provide additional services to constituents to correspond with the pay raise?

The staff report laying out the options revealed that an overwhelming majority of Arlingtonians who participated in the survey urged the Board to stay closer to option 1 than option 3. However, the Board has hinted that they were headed for $80,000 more since they released the news that the pay raise would be on the June agenda.

Assuming the County Board opts for a new cap of $89,851, Board Members would not necessarily get a 63% raise all at once. They could incrementally raise it over the next four, or more, years.

Chairman Dorsey should not have said it was not the right time for a pay raise if he did not intend to keep his word, but here we are. So, the Board should stay part-time and choose option 1. Ten percent is enough to provide a COLA for the next four years until the cap could be revisited again.

Thumbs Up. The Washingtonian takes a deep dive look into how Crystal City landed Amazon H2. The successful bid benefitted from groundwork for the region to compete for tech jobs well before the online retailer announced its competition for another headquarters. And the foundations of the plan were based in part on a 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs. While many of us question the subsidies offered to Amazon, the fact remains that our local economy should diversify and become less reliant on direct federal government spending.

Thumbs Down. Democrat primary voters in Arlington allowed their vote for Commonwealth Attorney to be bought by George Soros. The Soros funded Justice and Public Safety PAC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on misleading communications to attack Theo Stamos. While many Democrats in the county like to view themselves as pragmatic and moderate in their approach to local governance, they may no longer be able to command a majority of primary voters who share that view.

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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