[Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
We don’t have a particular opinion one way or another whether Arlington County Board members should vote themselves a pay raise – or at least raise the current ceiling on their compensation – as was brought up for discussion last month and potentially will be acted on shortly.
But we do wish they’d have the, ahem, testicular fortitude to simply say they believe they’re worth the extra cash and approve it, rather than setting up a Rube Goldberg-esque “community-engagement process” to try and get the public (or at least those in the public who are engaged in local governance) to try and provide political cover.
And political cover would be helpful: As we said at the start of the year, if County Board members want a pay raise (they can only vote to raise the pay ceiling once every four years, and this is the year), they should have taken action well before the filing deadline for the Democratic nomination for County Board, which these days acts as the de-facto gatekeeper, as the general election has been rendered largely moot.
We know some qualified Democrats who would be willing to take the plunge and run for office if the pay level were higher than the $60,000-ish range of today. Luckily for incumbents Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol, board members kept mum about any pay-raise proposal until after the filing deadline for Democrats (Dorsey and Cristol ended up unopposed), and won’t make a final decision until after the June 11 overall filing deadline. Coincidence? There are never, ever coincidences in politics.
The self-aggrandizement of County Board service did not begin with current five who occupy the positions, but they are not immune from occasionally thinking they are essential to the body politic. (As Charles de Gaulle famously opined: The cemeteries are filled with one-time “indispensable men.”)
So approve your pay raise, or don’t approve your pay raise. But don’t try to bring the public in as cover . . . or plead ignorance of the timing of the proposal. Arlingtonians aren’t that easily fooled by politicians.