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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: A ‘Swiss-cheese mandate’ (for the moment)

Editor’s Notebook: A ‘Swiss-cheese mandate’ (for the moment)

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Before anyone gets his/her (or somewhere in between) noses out of joint, let me say I’m not going to be too blame-y of the Arlington government for what transpired below.

I get where they are coming from, even I think there were, mmmmmm, a tad linguistically disingenuous.

Arlington officials last week put out a press release that repeated several times there would now be a vaccine “mandate” imposed on all county-government employees, school employees, contractors, interns . . . even volunteers in programs run by the government.

One presumes the county leadership wanted to get ahead of the curve of other localities in doing this, perhaps for health reasons, perhaps for PR reasons. Probably a mix of the two.

However, when is a “mandate” not really a “mandate”? When it has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

After checking – it’s called “Reporting 101” but so few in the press corps[e] practice it any more – I ferreted out that county officials, for now, acknowledge that any employee that doesn’t want to get vaccinated doesn’t have to. If they decline, they would have to get tested once a week at gub’mint expense, but would face no other sanction.

I say “for now” in the previous paragraph because I’ve got a hunch that once the FDA formally approves one or more vaccines, then the county government could end up tightening its requirements and only allow exemptions for health and religious reasons, which under federal law it has to do anyway.

I can understand what the communicators and communicatrixes in the Arlington government PR machinery were attempting to do: spread the mantra that vaccination is the way to go for county employees (and yours truly is pro-vaccine) … while not leaving the government open to trouble owing to the still-experimental-until-the-FDA-says-otherwise nature of the vaccine.

Stay tuned. And Arlington County Board, enjoy the time you have left before all these employees are unionized and some of them are militantly, defiantly so. Smart move (cough) allowing that to happen; I know you think you have that situation under control, but, well . . .

START THE COUNTDOWN: Excitement builds as it’s just a week until the start of public school in Fairfax County and two weeks in Arlington.

Hopefully the students are excited about getting back in class, but for we adults, perhaps the word should be “nervousness” – the question being whether these school systems actually are going to go through with starting up in-person learning, and if they do, will they hit the “eject” button at the first sign of trouble?

You’d think that if they couldn’t make this work after all this time, there’d be a revolution among the public. But if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that Northern Virginians appear to be some of the most docile, acquiescent creatures on the planet.

Many of us – way too many of us – seem to accept any imposition that runs afoul of sanity and common sense, so long it’s passed down from higher-ups.

What say you, ghost of John Lennon? Strange days, indeed – most peculiar, mama.

SOMETIMES ‘LUCK OF THE IRISH’ REALLY MEANS BEING LUCKY: Yours truly went to his usual spot – the Midas at the intersection of Lee (but not for long) Highway and Washington Boulevard – Friday morning to get an oil change.

With the car now approaching 8 years old (albeit with less than 70,000 miles), any time spent in a repair shop is a chance for them to find $omething ami$$.

This time? Except reminding me that my tire-pressure-monitoring system ought to be fixed (as it has for 3 years now), the ol’ buckaroo got a clean bill of health from the staff.

My wallet says “thank you.”

– Scott McCaffrey

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