Arlington budget work session

Clockwise from upper left: County Board member Katie Cristol, County Board Chairman Libby Garvey, County Manager Mark Schwartz and County Board member Matt de Ferranti participate in an April 16, 2020, work session.

Arlington leaders continue to push back against accusations they could be doing more to address the COVID-19 crisis within the county’s 26 square miles.

A number of civic-activists used the public-comment period of the County Board’s April 25 meeting (held “virtually” after the government received state authority to do so) to rap officials for not imposing more aggressive regulation of daily life, similar to restrictions in place in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Bernard Berne said the county should serve as a Northern Virginia leader in using regulatory powers to be more aggressive.

“If Arlington does it first, Fairfax and others will probably go along,” he said.

It’s not as simple as that, County Board member Christian Dorsey retorted.

“This is a lot more complicated and difficult than it appears at first blush,” Dorsey said.

Government critics have pointed to wording in the county code that appears to give Arlington leaders wide regulatory powers in a crisis. But that wording does not always align with the actual powers a local government has at its disposal, said County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac.

It is an “overstatement” to say that Arlington has powers to supersede directives from the governor once a statewide state of emergency is proclaimed, MacIsaac says. State law requires localities to operate “under supervision of the governor” in such cases, he said.

The law states “very clearly” that once the governor issues an emergency proclamation – as Gov. Northam did in mid-March – that localities are no longer free agents, Dorsey added.

A number of activists, including perennial County Board candidate Audrey Clement, were critical that the county government on March 13 asked, but did not require, restaurants to close in-person service as the crisis began to ramp up. Four days later, Northam effectively closed restaurants (except for take-out and delivery) for the duration of the crisis.

Despite rules being different in all three jurisdictions that make up the Washington metropolitan area – Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia – regional leaders are working together, County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said.

“We are trying to coordinate,” she said. “We’re really trying to work this through.”

But governments are only one part of the equation, board member Katie Cristol said.

“We are relying on every member of this community, and those who visit it, to make good decisions,” she said.

(4) comments


[thumbdown]to perennial chamber of commerce booster Scott McCaffrey whose support of the status quo and incumbents is legendary. [thumbdown] to the County Board's legendary "Party's Over Here In Arlington" Urbanist infill and social crowding agendas which make more CV-19 deaths a certainty.


Look at what was happening 3 months ago: Congress feuding over impeachment, General Assembly feuding over firearms, Arlington County Board (of Supervisors) feuding over increasing the density of SFH neighborhoods.

Special[thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown] to Board Chair Libby Garvey who was slow to treat CV19 as the deadly epidemic it is. It will get worse because she and her fellow Board Members, and greedy local media VIPs like Scott McCaffrey, have based Arlington's economy in the 21st Century on ever-increasing infill and social crowding. When will it end? When there's an effective vaccine and/or an oral med to prevent CV19.

Scott parroted Christian Dorsey in stating that Northam closed bars and restaurants four days after Arlington's March 13 appeal that he do so. In fact bars and restaurants did not close till 3/24/20 a full week after Saint Patty Day fesitivities which is one of the busiest days of the year for Arlington bars. It's not just that Scott didn't bother to check his facts, It's that he's relying on information from sources that he himself knows aren't reliable.


Arlington badly needs a new local news outlet that doesn't shill for the status quo. Post, ArlNow, and Sun Gazette are anti-democracy and condone, when they don't promote, one-party government.

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