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The Right Note: All That’s Right and Wrong in Arlington

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

GOP county board candidate Mark KellyIt was an honor for me to attend a fundraising event for the USS Arlington last week. The new Navy vessel, capable of carrying over 800 marines into battle, or humanitarian supplies to an area of the world in need, will be commissioned this Spring. It was built in honor of the tragic events of September 11th, and follows the USS New York and USS Somerset out to sea.

Former Republican Senator John Warner was escorted into the room by Democratic Congressman Jim Moran. Warner, who will celebrate his 86th birthday later this month, recalled the events of 9-11 and received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Everyone rallied around the project as way to honor those who died at the Pentagon, the Arlington first responders who rushed into the devastation, and the sailors who will call the USS Arlington home for decades to come.

I had good conversations with Paul Ferguson, Theo Stamos and Noah Simon — elected Democrats whom I did not vote for, and in Ferguson’s case, ran against. I was seated next to Delegate Patrick Hope who greeted me with a “nice to see you again Mark.”

In short, no partisanship was on display — just a community joined together for the common good. The evening represented what was right about Arlington.

Only one County Board member was in attendance — Chairman Tejada. While we did not have a chance to talk, if we would have, I would have probably asked him a simple question:

Why did you push through a previously unannounced raise for three top county staff in the final minute of the Board meeting earlier in the week?

Each raise will cost taxpayers around $10,000. While the total amount is certainly not going to break the bank, it is another unfortunate example of just how tone deaf our Board can be.

The U.S. economy is at best stagnant, at worst headed to a double dip recession. The region is preparing for the federal government to make cuts under the sequester agreed to by President Obama and Congress in August of 2011. The Board is preparing to raise taxes to cover up to $50 million they hope to spend in the budget over anticipated revenues.

Yet, the Board saw fit to give sizable raises to the County Manager, County Attorney and Clerk — two of whom already make over $200,000 per year.

And this is a perfect example of all that is wrong in Arlington.

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


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