Scandal envy in Fairfax County
By Robert Schwaninger,
Having spent some time as a quasi-governmental official and volunteer in Fairfax County, I have noted of late a definite omission in our county affairs. Fairfax County has an abysmal lack of graft and corruption. This situation is nearly intolerable and needs to be rectified.
Whereas other jurisdictions can brag about their shadow governments of wheelers and dealers, we’ve got a bunch of public-servant types who are about as interesting as dried milk. And when the national papers splash pictures of politicians caught in one lurid act or another, all we have to put up is Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), who reminds people more of a worldly June Cleaver than Ma Barker.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking to attract drug kingpins to the county. But please. Who takes seriously anyone who claims to have come up the hard way on the mean streets of Vienna? I’ve served for more than six years as commissioner on the Fairfax County Rehabilitation and Housing Authority. We deal with developers, millions of dollars in federal grants and bond issues. But not once has some developer offered me as much as a cookie. No one has promised me a nickel for my vote on any issue (though given its value I’d probably have to make change).
Meanwhile, we read about other guys in other jurisdictions getting rich off their votes. Okay, admittedly we hear about it after they get caught with their wife’s underwear stuffed with C-notes. But the point is that at least those other local governments have a little pizzazz.
It seems to me that almost all of the news stories about Fairfax County deal with schools or some parents group that decides attention needs to be given to left-handed, third-grade oboe players with dyslexia, subjects that are about as gripping and newsworthy as the opening of another Korean restaurant in Annandale. You read more about Fairfax in the real estate section than you do on the front page.
I, therefore, humbly call upon someone — anyone — in county government to give me a decent scandal. Somebody do me and my fellow bored residents a favor and just try a little embezzlement or accept a small kickback or just stuff an office with enough relatives to fill a family reunion.
But, frankly, I have little hope that anything truly newsworthy will come out of Fairfax anytime soon. The voters only vote once, the politicians are all pretty middle class and most people use their turn signals. It’s as though the entire county has been taken over by zombie homeowner associations. But I can dream and hope that somewhere out there in Reston or Centreville is a Big Bill Thompson or a Boss Tweed in the making. We could use a good scandal.
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