Key quotes from Walter Tejada’s speech yesterday at the Arlington County Board meeting. I strongly endorse and agree with all of them.
*”What is the future of this county? When we say that long-term planning is the hallmark of Arlington County, I think there is a past tense now…it WAS the hallmark of Arlington County.”
*”What does it mean to have a master plan? Does it mean anything?”
*”What has happened now is it’s been shown that negative campaigning and being opposed and against, denigrating something, works. And I think…we can make all the pledges of the moment that we want, Mr. Vihstadt, and we can, Ms. Garvey, denigrate all you want and oppose, but the bottom line is a lot of people, a lot of time and work and effort and millions of dollars…has gone down the drain...lots of hard work from staff….over 15 years in the making.”
*”We had people who expected that we would follow up to that which we had pledged that we were going to do. And we have failed, this government has failed.. Citizens who spent time in a multitude of meetings…all wasted because of negative campaigning and lots of misinformation out there in the community.”
*”OK, let’s move to the future, let’s put it in the past…collect ourselves, let’s go forward…fine fine, we can make all the statements we want about that. But it’s not enough, it is simply not enough…”
*”Are we heading in a different direction? It’s a genuine question…It looks like in the minds of some people that is the case. Are we going to turn our back on transit plans? I think the answer is ‘yes’ based on what has happened so far. ”
*”Our credibility is in really bad shape right now. Talking to our regional partners, right now, it’s not good. People put their necks out on the line for us, and this county government has let them down.”
*”There are a lot of vacancies as a result of BRAC…reductions in federal policies…We have to reinvent ourselves…and one of the significant elements to have a modern transit system is out the window now…Are we turning our backs to diversity? I think the answer might be ‘yes’ as well..”
*”When this decision to abandon the streetcar was made, $90 million went (snaps fingers) up in the air…disappeared..”
*(Asks how we’re going to get people to volunteer in planning the future, given that we just finished completely wasting their time, so Arlington’s “credibility is in question”) “We’re going to roll up our sleeves, because we’re not going to engage in the easy part, which is to denigrate, attack, be negative, oppose. Eh, we all can do that well at any time.”
*(Notes that Arlington is one of the best places in the world) “The high quality of life we enjoy in this county…has come because of long-term planning and sticking to those plans that has made it happen.”
*”I hope…we are actually serious about rolling up our sleeves and working hard to make transit options in the southern part of the county, just as the northern part of the county benefited from heavy rail and the investment we made in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.” (APPLAUSE)
Great stuff; if Walter Tejada decides to run for reelection, let me just state right now that I will strongly support him!
P.S. I just finished reading the superb book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, written by “Suburban Nation” co-author Jeff Speck, and I’m now even more convinced that Arlington made a huge mistake in ditching the streetcar. I tweeted at Speck and asked him what he thought. His response: “Quite disappointed of course. Short sighted politics.” So true.