Peter’s Take is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
This is my final ARLnow Peter’s Take column.
As announced earlier this month, ARLnow.com will be adopting a new approach to presenting opinions. I look forward to their new approach.
In January 2013, ARLnow published my first Peter’s Take column. Never in my wildest imagination did I foresee that it would publish over 360 more of my columns over a 9-year period. Thanks, ARLnow!
In my first column, I explained that “my take on the subjects I’ll be writing about will depart sometimes from the party line.” I’ve tried to follow this approach.
In this column, I’ll provide my perspective on some continuing issues.
Arlington Public Schools
I wrote dozens of columns about APS. I continue to be highly critical of APS’s excessive reliance on devices and virtual learning. APS staff is in thrall to Big Ed Tech. The Ed Tech empire continues to reap millions of our tax dollars from APS’s inappropriate uses of technology to supplant in-person, human interactions between students and teachers. Arlington’s elected School Board should vote to roll back APS staff’s excessive reliance on devices and virtual learning, and direct APS staff to strike a reasonable balance in device use.
In addition, the School Board should vote to adopt a formal policy that in-person instruction should drive APS facilities planning–not the other way around. After adoption by the School Board, the County Board also should vote to adopt this policy regarding APS facilities. And, APS’s facilities should prioritize instructional functionality, not dazzling architectural design headlines.
Arlington County Government
I wrote scores of columns about the Arlington County government. The specific subjects varied, but certain themes continue severely to hamper our local government’s effectiveness.
One theme is the unfortunate refusal of current County Board members to oversee more aggressively the policies and practices of the County Manager and staff, claiming that doing so would impinge on the Manager’s legal prerogatives. Often with respect to the same issue, the Manager claims that his hands are tied because he is only executing County Board policy.
Contrary to what current County Board members assert, this excessive deference to Manager and staff is not required by our form of government. The change that’s needed is a change in the attitudes of County Board members regarding how they interpret their own roles. (For different reasons, some changes in our current form of government also are desirable.)
Then there’s the so-called “Arlington Way”. In the vast majority of cases, what the Arlington Way means in practice is the deployment of County government’s massive public engagement organization to reach County government’s predetermined outcomes by seeking resident input on issues that are defined in a way deliberately designed to reach those outcomes. Beware the words “no decisions have been made.” The County Board should vote to direct the Manager to use his staff and his massive public engagement organization in only objective, un-biased, community-sensitive ways.
APS and Arlington County government’s dysfunctional relationship
For reasons I explained earlier this fall, APS and the Arlington County government continue to have a dysfunctional budget relationship. That means that the overall policy relationship between these two public entities also is dysfunctional because, although budgets reflect policy priorities, the budgets of these two entities are not being determined in a way which adequately reflect the Arlington community’s overall policy priorities.
Ethics and campaign finance reform
I wrote many columns about ethics and campaign finance reform in Virginia and Arlington. Far too little progress has occurred. I continue to advocate that Arlington:
- Place state ethics and campaign finance reform on Arlington County’s annual Virginia legislative priority list. Why hasn’t our County Board ever done this?
- Dedicate at least 2 full-time professionally qualified County staff members to assist Arlington’s Independent Auditor to reduce the enormous backlog of audits that have been proposed. This is the minimum staffing needed for the Independent Auditor in a $1.5 billion public enterprise.
- Develop, publish, and widely promote a comprehensive list of Arlington ethics rules.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!
In the new year, let’s renew our commitment to celebrate and utilize the wealth of diverse talent we have in our community.
Peter Rousselot previously served as Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission (FAAC) to the Arlington County Board and as Co-Chair of the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI) to the Arlington School Board. He is also a former Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) and a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). He currently serves as a board member of the Together Virginia PAC-a political action committee dedicated to identifying, helping and advising Democratic candidates in rural Virginia.
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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done.
Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.
2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Private School Fair
Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and