The Arlington County Board belatedly rang in the New Year last night with a new Democratic board majority, but failed to ring out the old completely as sharp partisan bickering began anew.
No sooner had new Board Chairman Ellen M. Bozman, a Democrat-backed Independent, opened the packed meeting with a a conciliatory nod to GOP members than Republican Walter L. Frankland let loose the first partisan salvo of the year.
Bozman, who was elected chairman after Mary Margaret Whipple defeated Republican Board Chairman Stephen H. Detwiler in the November election, specifically told Republican members that they would not be shunted aside during her administration in the manner that Democrats had felt they were under Detwiler. "All five of us are deeply concerned with continually improving our local government's service to its citizens," Bozman said.
But Frankland quickly characterized the elections that brought the Democrats to power as fraught with possible "political payoffs" and potentially "cruel hoaxes" by the Democrats.
"Citizens will be watching closely to see if promises by Democrats to teachers and others for support during the recent election will be manifested in the new salary scales and fringe-benefit programs which will be a part of future budgets," Frankland said.
"If so, these political payoffs will place yet a higher burden on real property owners . . . and if, as many fear, taxes do rise, our citizens should let their elected officials know how they feel about 'political payoffs,' particularly in times of financial hardship," Frankland said.
"In the last election," Frankland continued, "we saw persons elected by promising more for everyone and ignoring costs except by saying 'perhaps' taxes will have to be raised. This is a particularly cruel hoax" on the elderly and young families.
The Democrats tried to suppress miffed expressions.
"I was surprised because I certainly can't imagine where he got that idea about political payoffs ," Bozman said after the meeting. "Certainly there were no promises given or asked by anybody. Arlington doesn't work that way, that's not the kind of community we are."