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The Right Note: Resolutions or Actions?

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

Christian Dorsey made the word “equity” the central theme of his speech to kick off the year as Chairman. On Saturday, the County Board passed an “Equity Resolution.”

And really, who can oppose such a fine sounding word?

When asked to explain what he meant by achieving equity by Arlington Magazine earlier this year, Dorsey pointed to the Chestnut Hills Park expansion and wondered aloud if the Board should have supported it.

But what we didn’t do is ask whether or not that area actually needed a park expansion — whether it was over served, under served or adequately served. We’re making a policy decision to spend money that comes at the expense of doing something somewhere else [with those funds]. I’d prefer that we make decisions with an equity focus upfront.

That sounds good. Equity means the Board should not act without weighing the decision in light of all spending priorities as well as the impact of not spending that money on something else.

In fact, the resolution that was passed Saturday is filled with admirable sounding language. The county will establish a vocabulary, continue the dialogue, collaborate on initiatives, collect data, assess and analyze, develop a framework, and establish targets. There will be reports, and tools, and budget processes.

But outside of this resolution, what has Arlington done to support equity the past nine months?

In April, the Board passed a budget that raises taxes, making it more expensive to live here. As a reminder, Chairman Dorsey suggested people who work hard to pay their bill simply “scrub their family budgets” to pay for it.

The County rolled out a new “streamlined” permitting process that does little to speed up the time it takes to get a permit, which means it still takes just as long to accommodate our housing needs.

On Saturday, the County passed an energy plan which will almost certainly drive up the costs of transportation. And members of the Board have also signaled support for national energy plans which would drive up all energy costs to heat and cool our homes and get to and from work. Moreover, energy costs are factored into every good and service we consume. And, the people hurt most by higher energy costs are the people at the lower end of the economic ladder.

Resolutions and task forces and reports are fine and dandy. As with anything in life, actions speak louder than words.

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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