Editor: How sad! Judging from the full-page advertisement sponsored by “Concerned Arlington County Homeowners” in recent issues of the Sun Gazette, it seems Arlington civic life has degenerated to the point that some disgruntled residents apparently feel comfortable engaging anonymously in public mudslinging and fear-mongering.

I hope all Arlingtonians will see this ad about the impact of the draft Affordable Housing Master Plan for what it is: a rejection of the opportunities for constructive civic engagement in Arlington in favor of a cynical attempt to achieve an objective at whatever cost to our collective civic life.

It certainly is appropriate for homeowners, tenants, business owners, employees and other stakeholders in Arlington to raise their concerns about the draft Affordable Housing Master Plan, as with any other local government proposal. A number of residents did this in person at the recent County Board public hearing, and the board listened and delayed further action to allow time for more community discussion.

Several writers have raised concerns under their own names on the pages of this newspaper, which provides opportunities for those of us who agree or disagree to engage in conversation with them. This ad provides no such opportunity, given that its individual sponsors are nameless.

 At the same time, it engages in fear-mongering, with uncorroborated predictions about the impact of the draft plan, insinuations about the intentions of the many residents and staff who have worked on the plan, and an attempt to engender the very distrust in public officials that has so poisoned community dialogue in other areas. Arlington should be better than this.

Do take advantage of opportunities to comment, including public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Board in September. But do also emphatically reject these accusations from people who apparently didn’t feel confident enough to list their names and own their attacks.

If we want transparency and accountability from our County Board, we in the public must be transparent and accountable, as well.

Marjorie Green, Arlington

(1) comment

Dave Schutz

Thank you for the nice things you are saying about those of us who are wading into this discussion under our own names (actually, I guess I am in the category of, people who TRY to operate under our own names, since Mr. McC transmuted the ancient and honorable name of 'Schutz' into 'Shutz' in editing my letter which appeared in this issue).

I think you are quite right that discourse is better when people own their comments. I've talked about this with two people who expressed admiration that I was outspoken, but said that they were fearful that their ability to weigh in on other issues in the County would be damaged if they went public on this. I encouraged them to get into the sunshine. Arlington is not a place where people will put polonium in your tea if you express views!

The hugely successful model of Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit, which I see as a real David-and-Goliath success story of citizen opposition to something for which the powers that be had done their best overcome all doubt, was based on an open process.

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