How much engagement should we expect of our County Board Members?

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 It’s been two months now since the surfacing of Christian Dorsey’s financial problems and some campaign reporting issues. He made the declaration that he is still committed to serving Arlington. “My personal financial issues do not in any way impinge upon my ability to work with staff and with our community to find practical, innovative solutions to all these issues,” Dorsey added. “I love this County, and I will continue to work hard to ensure it remains one of the greatest places on the planet to live, work and rear a family.”

However, I haven’t seen much of Dorsey since the scandal and when he’s chosen to attend a meeting, it’s been a quick appearance. Most recently, at the joint meeting of Amazon-impacted civic associations with Amazon and JBG, Dorsey was noticeably missing – if he showed up, he wasn’t participating in any meaningful way. As the board liaison to these civic associations and the incredible impact that the Amazon arrival has on Arlington, as well as, the documented lack of appropriate staff engagement in these neighborhoods, one would think that Dorsey should be onsite to hear the communities’ issues and engage in the conversation. And, when Dorsey has made public comments, one questions whether he may also have a slight conflict of interest. First, with the unpaid referees debacle asking for patience working with a vendor who has yet to pay referees a year out and then with the affordable housing initiative.

Katie Cristol has been much more measured in her comments and staying out of the fray. She has created clear boundaries and, with but a look, makes a person think twice before asking for a meeting or engaging her in conversation. Katie has been completely off my radar and in reviewing recent board comments has been relatively silent. 

There’s no doubt that the County Board role is a big job with lots of critics. However, let’s not forget that the County Board voted themselves a significant pay raise in June 2019. This pay raise gives them the comparable FULL time median salary for the PART time gig. And, that the County Board role is a choice; no one is forcing these folks to run and each of them have the capacity to make several times what they could make on serving on the board. 

This calls to question – what should the expectation be of our county board members in participation in the conversation and understanding the nuances of the conversation at a deeper level? Perhaps, it is simply that candidates are so available pre-election that there is a vacuum after they win. However, the larger issue remains, how much engagement should we expect of our County Board Members?

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A safe place to share…

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Dear Arlway-ers –

Why are author names not required for submissions while some submissions do include names?

The Arlington Way is at its heart, a whistle blowing website. Only at the specific request of the submitter, will AW include names. The website is the result of years of feeling that there was no safe place to share the information that is being illuminated among neighbors. Local news outlets including ArlNow, the Washington Post, and the Sun Gazette, as well as the Arlington Magazine, have failed to adequately investigate and expose the consequences of the poor planning and engagement by the Arlington County Government.

When Arlington RESIDENTS have tried to engage to make processes and decisions better or voice concerns, they have been ignored, shunned, and bullied into silence. And ultimately, too many have ceased to participate. Despite repeated outreach to County Board members and the County Manager, nothing has been done to create a truly safe environment for residents to air the errors of the Arlington County government.

The OECD outlines whistle-blower protection as:
“integral to fostering transparency, promoting integrity, and detecting misconduct. Past cases demonstrate that corruption, fraud, and wrongdoing, as well as health and safety violations, are much more likely to occur in organisations that are closed and secretive. In many cases, employees will be aware of the wrongdoing, but feel unable to say anything for fear of reprisals, concern about acting against the organization’s culture, or lack of confidence that the matter will be taken seriously. The negative implications of this are far-reaching for both organisations and society as a whole. Effective [whistle-blower] protection supports employees in blowing the whistle on corruption, fraud or wrongdoing.”

Thus, in the hopes of creating a safe place for those that have “other” ideas on how Arlington can work, have been vilified when Arlington County’s flawed processes have wreaked havoc on the community [as they anticipated], or need to share their story, The Arlington Way website seeks to create a repository where the patterns of misconduct can be collected, aired, and hopefully bring change to a community where formal pathways have been unsuccessful.

You will note that we have tweaked our tagline to be “the whistle blowers’ site” to more accurately reflect the intentions of the site.

We are looking forward to hearing your story; tell us what has been happening in your community, big and small. https://thearlingtonway.org/blog-submission/

Onward,
AW

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