Editor: Forty-four years ago, I came to this country with nothing. I have paid taxes in Arlington County for 40 years. I worked for MCI Telecommunications for 10 years, then opened ASAP Screen Printing. It survived the 1987 crash, 2000 crash, 9/11 disaster, the 2008 crash and, God willing, will make it through this as well.

ASAP Screen Printing is a small business.Yet the Arlington County government did not find the company small enough to deserve assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead providing grants to the likes of Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Hotel Pentagon, Subway (all of them) and Jimmy John’s (all of them).

The distribution of the Arlington grant funding is in line with the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP). The PPP was first paid to Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, etc., then paid to the little guys. The Arlington grant committee followed the same rule; this is political at best.

Charles Monroe was an Arlington County Board member beginning in the late 1990s, becoming chairman in 2003 before dying during his tenure. Charles was also one of my students at Tae Kwon Do Fellowship (a local Arlington tae kwon do school for more than 37 years).  He was one of my first students to earn a black belt. I had a lot in common with him and that is exactly why we had lots of lunches, talks and telephone chats.

Charles Monroe and I had one thing in common; “fighting.” He was black and I was a foreigner; he was a lawyer, I was an engineer; and we were both parents. His goal was to make Arlington work for the people of the county, rather than serve political interests. He truly believed that the only way to make a difference in politics is at the county level. He always said that “in order to change anything in the country, we must start in the county.”

With this note, I call on Arlington County to live up to the promise of serving the people, as Charles Monroe wished he could do.

Mohammad Shiekhy, Arlington

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