Elected Leaders Failing Us at So Many Levels

Elected Leaders Failing Us at So Many Levels

Americans are feeling more than a little let down by our government in Washington. The public interest is no longer of interest on Capitol Hill, especially among a group called Republicans. They are led by the thuggish Tea Party crowd in the House of Representatives, bent on nothing but destruction of government. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell with his do-nothing-but-bring-down Barack Obama gang choke the U.S. Senate. They exercise creative new tools such as the one-person “hold” senators daily put on presidential nominations and the one-man silent filibuster used to block any and all legislation. And, seemingly leaderless Democrats cannot figure out how to use a 55 to 45 majority to make the Senate operational. President Obama makes inspiring speeches but is at a loss to get anything through this dysfunctional Congress.

Meanwhile, in Virginia we have a governor running for vice president focused on vaginal probes for pregnant women and, more recently, on eliminating the tax on gasoline, the consumption of which must be reduced. Guv Bob wants to add a $100 surtax on alternative fuel vehicles because—are you ready?—folks who own those gas-saving cars don’t pay a fair share of the gasoline tax, the tax he is eliminating. Then there are Virginia Senate Republicans trying to pull a fast one by redrawing all the Senate districts on Inauguration Day, while Democratic leaders dozed. These acts have but one saving grace to offset their unmitigated stupidity—they furnish too-much-fun-to-imagine joke material for late night television hosts. Indeed, Virginia has become a national laughing stock.

Not to be outdone, our Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and our local supervisor managed to turn our long-awaited rail line from a transport solution into a likely monumental nightmare. This was to be a joint federal, state and local project providing efficient transportation from DC to the airport. Now we have: 1) a poor system design providing great service in and around Tysons Corner, but delaying travelers headed to the airport or DC; 2) a system whose cost has increased sharply over time while federal and state contributions remain fixed. The huge additional tab goes to Dulles Toll Road users, who ultimately will pay $15 to $18 in tolls each day; and, 3) Now, as the train is coming down the tracks five years after the expensive RMAG (Reston Metro Access Group) study’s final report, we learn that virtually none of their recommendations to make traffic flow around the Wiehle Station have been implemented by Fairfax County. An excellent, concise White Paper by the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) indeed reports the recommendations are not likely to be implemented for many more years. The White Paper, “Wiehle Metro Station Access: Congestion Ahead,” says the 2008 RMAG study predicted that even if all recommendations were implemented, there would still be considerable congestion at the station and beyond. Further, the RMAG study assumed the rail line would go all the way to Dulles, not just to the Wiehle Station, now the terminus for the next four years. To see the RCA White Paper, go to www.reston2020.blogspot.com.

Despite a five-year lead-time, Fairfax County has built almost none of the needed infrastructure for an accessible station and to stem a tide of congestion. This is more good stuff for late-night humor, but less so for Reston residents.

How have we let government get so far off the track at all levels?