Press Club

The Right Note: County Board Parting Shots

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

It would not be 2020 without at least one unexpectedly strange story from our County Board. Last week it was revealed by the Washington Post that Christian Dorsey’s bankruptcy claim was dismissed with prejudice for “an overt act of misrepresentation.”

This is the second time in recent memory that Dorsey has had a very public revelation of difficulty with being forthcoming after last year’s failure to disclose a $10,000 improper campaign contribution. And for the second time in a year, he has received a less than enthusiastic vote of confidence from fellow Arlington County Board members for his continued service. Board Chair Libby Garvey said she backed Mr. Dorsey “despite his personal financial issues.”

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board moved ahead and approved its legislative package. Included in the requests are the ability to lower speed limits below 25 mph and to install speed cameras. This is on top of last week’s revelation that the County Board would use tax increases to fund spending priorities like ranked choice voting and collective bargaining.

Also on the docket was the Board’s move forward to advertise changes to its residential parking program. If you live in a house with a driveway, your ability to park on the street will be cut in half even if parking on your street is never a problem. The program will not take into account if you have multiple generations living together who need access to cars to commute to school or work where Metro is not a viable option. And in order to pay for a program that will issue fewer permits, the proposal would more than double the parking fees. It is another anti-car, completely arbitrary change that will be forced on many unsuspecting Arlingtonians very soon. It should not be passed under the cover of a pandemic.

This is the last column of 2020. Presumably, the next one will be after Arlington County Board Members have made their vision speeches for the New Year. Almost certainly, the speeches will be filled with a look back at the challenging year behind them. And the Board will no doubt paint a picture where they will have no choice but to ask homeowners to pay considerably more to help them “dig out of a hole.”

Between now and then, they should talk to the small business owners who are barely hanging on in the face of COVID restrictions. They should talk to families who have lost jobs and taken pay cuts. And they should talk to parents who are struggling to balance work with helping their kids get through the virtual school day.

Ask them all what their priorities are from their local government. Then the board Members should consider rewriting those speeches and reordering their priorities.

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

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