I could have sworn that Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola, now a candidate for the 31st Senate District Democratic nomination, has been telling people that she doesn’t take money from interests with business before the Arlington County Board. As we know, of course, Favola’s campaign is being heavily funded by Arlington real estate interests, on whose projects Favola has voted multiple times in the past, and very well could vote again in the future.
But be that as it may; we’ve been over that real estate example again and again, and we’re probably all getting tired of it by now.
So, let’s move on to a different example: this one in which Barbara Favola received a significant sum ($2,500) of money from an industry (towing) and specifically from a company – Advanced Towing Company, which apparently is not fined for violations in Arlington County) – just 5 days before a crucial vote on an important change in fees and other rules governing that industry and to that company.
Please click to “embiggen” both images. First is a screen shot of the $2,500 donation from Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill to Barbara Favola on April 21, 2011.
Next is a screenshot of Barbara Favola’s “aye” vote – actually, she seconded the motion – 5 days after the donation, on April 26, 2011, for the changes in towing fees and rules.
Finally, see here for a detailed story on the vote, including the fascinating detail that “the local towing industry will pocket about a quarter-million dollars in additional revenue each year.” The article also has a quote from Walter Tejada, who voted no, calling this “‘a very significant hit’ for those on fixed incomes.”
So, bottom line: Barbara Favola received $2,500 from a towing company, then 5 days later voted for changes in Arlington County fees that netted that company a significant chunk of “about a quarter-million dollars in additional revenue each year.” Can we say, “the appearance of impropriety?” Can we say, “this is EXACTLY why Arlington County board members aren’t supposed to take donations like this?” Argh.
UPDATE: Just to get an idea of what people in Arlington think of Advanced Towing, check out Yelp. Typical comment: “Let me join hands with the other wronged souls who pledge alligiance to an eternal vow of justified hatred of the evil enterprise otherwise known as Advanced Towing.”