1. They absolutely, positively should NOT back off on the streetcar project. All the evidence indicates that this is a huge winner for Arlington, generating billions of dollars in development and enough tax revenue to more than pay for the streetcar. If that’s not a “no brainer,” I don’t know what it is. Also, politically, backing off the streetcar at this point will just look politically craven, phony, etc, after all the strong arguments made by the Board and by Alan Howze in favor of the project. Flip-flopping now, after a low-turnout special election, would be a lose-lose any way you look at it.
2. They absolutely, positively SHOULD forcefully counter the disinformation, distortions, and outright lies about the streetcar project. For instance, the claim that the streetcar has taken away from “core services” is utterly absurd, since the county hasn’t even spent any money (other than a small amount in studying it) on the streetcar yet — so how could it have taken away funds from anything else? Also, in the future, the streetcar will NOT take money away from “core services,” since it will a) have a dedicated funding source that isn’t “fungible” with other things; and b) again, it will bring in enough new revenues to MORE than pay for itself. Finally: if anything, the streetcar will – ceteris parabis – results in lower tax rates for Arlingtonians, not higher ones. The list goes on and on…call out the lies!
3. The Board absolutely, positively SHOULD examine the way it does business. The perceptions of “arrogance,” “insularity,” “non-communicativeness” and “opacity” are most definitely NOT figments of people’s imaginations. Heck, I’ve experienced them many times myself. So did Cord Thomas, who told the story about how hard it was to get a simple response from County officials, when he was offering to create jobs and economic activity in Arlington County. That’s unacceptable. It’s also unacceptable that the Clarendon businesses assessment fiasco reported by ArlNow back in February has STILL not been seriously addressed. Also, why on earth aren’t those assessments available online, for all Arlingtonians to see, on a real-time basis? And why can’t reporters get any answers from the Director of Real Estate Assessments in Arlington County? I tried weeks ago, for instance, and never heard back. Why not?
4. Alan Howze needs to give people reasons to vote FOR him. That includes calling out – angrily/passionately when justified – Arlington County government when it’s seriously off course, as with the assessment fiasco. It also includes giving voters a vision for what he might bring to the board, for instance from his experience at IBM. As an Arlington Democratic friend of mine said yesterday: “How about making the county a wi-fi hot spot? turning crystal city into a tech incubator? working with his old boss Warner to bring tech businesses here. upgrading county computer systems so people have an easier time doing x, y, z. Gimme something. Honest to god that was what he came up with. GPSs on snowplows.”
5. Any Democrat who says that we should chill out because we’ll “win easily” in November, when Mark Warner is on the ballot and turnout is way up, needs to stop talking. Immediately. And everyone else needs to stop listening to them if they DO talk. Seriously, that’s one of the stupidest and most arrogant/clueless things I’ve ever heard in my life. Whether in sports, business, politics, or any other field, the LAST thing you want to do is take your opponent lightly (especially when said opponent just kicked your a**), to assume you’re going to win (which is exactly when you are most likely to lose!), and in general to take your pedal off the metal. Instead, assume we’re a run or two down in the final innings of the baseball game, and play like your future career in the major leagues depends on how you perform in the final weeks/months of the season! I’d also argue that the argument’s just fundamentally flawed, that just because turnout will be higher, that those voters will go overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate for County Board. To the contrary, I’d argue that if voters could easily split their ballots, going for Mark Warner, the Democratic nominee for House of Representatives, and John Vihstadt for County Board (especially if he performs well from now through election day in November). Assuming anything else is simply political malpractice of the highest order.