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Monday, March 27, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Another from the ‘swim in your own lane’ file

Editor’s Notebook: Another from the ‘swim in your own lane’ file

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When, exactly, did local governments in Northern Virginia begin having their own foreign policies?

Being the curmudgeonly crank (or cranky curmudgeon) that I am, I’m a little unnerved by the article penned by our own Brian Trompeter that notes the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in an effort to donate 100 out-of-warranty ballistic vests to Ukraine.

It’s apparently part of a statewide push, although the details are a tad murky: A spokesman for the sheriff’s office didn’t know exactly who would be getting the body armor lo those thousands of miles away, but could sort it out among themselves,

As for whether the Fairfax sheriff’s office ought to be picking sides in a conflict, the spokesman said: “The decision to support Ukraine is not controversial – we support democracy and oppose genocide.”


Very sanctimonious, but is it good policy? Hmmmmm, trying to select winners and losers on the world stage can be a tricky business that can come back to bite. In this world of Al Gore’s amazing Internet, nothing, even something as minor as this, goes unseen by the intelligence agencies of the world.

And based on the reporting, it looks like the body armor being sent to Ukraine otherwise would have been donated to public-safety agencies across the U.S. that don’t have the funding to purchase new equipment. (Not all localities can pillage the populace for tax dollars like Northern Virginia localities can, after all.)

Everybody should feel bad for what the Ukrainian people are going through. And if people want to donate funds or humanitarian supplies, amen to that. But ballistic-vest donations? Seems they would just as likely end up on combatants and innocent victims. And that should raise some eyebrows here at home.

WHEN IN DOUBT, JUST BRIBE ’EM: For those with long memories or interest in local history – that leaves out almost the entire Northern Virginia press corps[e], but I digress – here’s a fun fact from the April 9, 1965, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun.

Fairfax County’s school leadership had been dragging its feet on integrating classrooms. The effort began rather lethargically about 1960, and at the time, Fairfax officials promised that they’d conclude the process sometime around 1980. Talk about slow-walking the issue!

But this week in 1965, the federal government did what the federal government does best: It showered cash on a local government, so long as said government agreed to do what the federal government wanted.

Reporting from that day shows that the feds planned to hand over $53,500 (not much today, but a tidy sum back then) to the school system to help “facilitate orderly integration” of Fairfax schools.

In other words: We’ll send you the moolah if you speed up the process.

It must have worked; when yours truly entered Fairfax’s public schools in the late 1970s, they certainly looked fully integrated to me.

– Scott McCaffrey

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