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Friday, December 9, 2022
Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but away we go

Editor’s Notebook: Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but away we go

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The Fairfax County School Board hired itself a new superintendent last week, but only after three of the 12 School Board members voted against it.

Were Fairfax an actual two-party political system, this would not be particularly newsworthy. But the fact is, all 12 School Board members sit encased in, to various degrees, the progressive bubble. The fact that three of them said, whoa, this needs to be vetted a bit more is, well, interesting.

Good luck to the incoming superintendent, although it seems the selection criteria wasn’t exactly focused on picking someone who knew how to increase academic performance, which one used to presume was the reason for the existence of the school system. No longer.

The newbie’s predecessor, the departing Scott Brabrand, some years back was plucked from obscurity (sorry, folks in Lynchburg from whence he came, but it is what it is) and brought up to big ol’ Fairfax, presumably because the School Board here wanted a pliable leader too cowed to attempt to actually want to run things.

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Brabrand on occasion tried to exert leadership – remember his valiant if ultimately futile efforts to actually keep kids in school in 2020?– but it was an uphill battle all the way. And he finally decided to get out while the getting was good.

As one who lived through, first as a student and then as a young and earnest reporter (junior grade), the era of Robert “Bud” Spillane as Fairfax’s superintendent (the Al Haig of school leaders), the more recent ones have been, sad to say, a pale comparison.

Ol’ Bud didn’t take crap from anybody – but most especially not from School Board members. His motto seemed to be (paraphrasing here) “you can always fire me, but until you do, sit down, pipe down and let me run things.”

Good times. But it’s unlikely we will see them again in our lifetimes. Nobody who actually wants to run a school system would actually want to come to Fairfax these days.

WILD TIMES IN THE POLICE REPORT: As the one who types up the weekly Arlington police-notes roundup, I get to see what’s happening in the People’s Republic of A-town, crime-wise. And the report that’ll be in this week’s edition has quite a bunch of reasonably serious crimes involved.

A couple of weeks ago, Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark reached out to commonwealth’s attorney to get comments about the growing online blowback to her office’s (my words, not his) soft-on-criminals approach.

The commonwealth’s attorney, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, attempted to extricate herself by noting that her office doesn’t tell the police department which crimes to charge and which not to.

Fair enough, but the reality is that with the police department woefully understaffed (gee, wonder how THAT happened???), choices have to be made, and it seems the police poobahs have decided (again, my interpretation, not Charlie’s) not to focus their attention on crimes that they know are going to be low to no priorities of the prosecutors. And can you blame them? Nope.

As the wise Sun Gazette editorial page has said on multiple occasions, this is nothing new. We’ve had the soft-on-criminals approach before in Northern Virginia; ultimately it gets out of hand and either the prosecutors are booted by the public, or they decide to take a harder line before that happens. Lather-rinse-repeat.

Too bad that the public has to suffer as this cycle plays out once again.

– Scott McCaffrey

Editor’s Notebook: Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but away we go

The Fairfax County School Board hired itself a new superintendent last week, but only after three of the 12 School Board members voted against it.

Were Fairfax an actual two-party political system, this would not be particularly newsworthy. But the fact is, all 12 School Board members sit encased in, to various degrees, the progressive bubble. The fact that three of them said, whoa, this needs to be vetted a bit more is, well, interesting.

Good luck to the incoming superintendent, although it seems the selection criteria wasn’t exactly focused on picking someone who knew how to increase academic performance, which one used to presume was the reason for the existence of the school system. No longer.

The newbie’s predecessor, the departing Scott Brabrand, some years back was plucked from obscurity (sorry, folks in Lynchburg from whence he came, but it is what it is) and brought up to big ol’ Fairfax, presumably because the School Board here wanted a pliable leader too cowed to attempt to actually want to run things.

Brabrand on occasion tried to exert leadership – remember his valiant if ultimately futile efforts to actually keep kids in school in 2020?– but it was an uphill battle all the way. And he finally decided to get out while the getting was good.

As one who lived through, first as a student and then as a young and earnest reporter (junior grade), the era of Robert “Bud” Spillane as Fairfax’s superintendent (the Al Haig of school leaders), the more recent ones have been, sad to say, a pale comparison.

Ol’ Bud didn’t take crap from anybody – but most especially not from School Board members. His motto seemed to be (paraphrasing here) “you can always fire me, but until you do, sit down, pipe down and let me run things.”

Good times. But it’s unlikely we will see them again in our lifetimes. Nobody who actually wants to run a school system would actually want to come to Fairfax these days.

WILD TIMES IN THE POLICE REPORT: As the one who types up the weekly Arlington police-notes roundup, I get to see what’s happening in the People’s Republic of A-town, crime-wise. And the report that’ll be in this week’s edition has quite a bunch of reasonably serious crimes involved.

A couple of weeks ago, Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark reached out to commonwealth’s attorney to get comments about the growing online blowback to her office’s (my words, not his) soft-on-criminals approach.

The commonwealth’s attorney, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, attempted to extricate herself by noting that her office doesn’t tell the police department which crimes to charge and which not to.

Fair enough, but the reality is that with the police department woefully understaffed (gee, wonder how THAT happened???), choices have to be made, and it seems the police poobahs have decided (again, my interpretation, not Charlie’s) not to focus their attention on crimes that they know are going to be low to no priorities of the prosecutors. And can you blame them? Nope.

As the wise Sun Gazette editorial page has said on multiple occasions, this is nothing new. We’ve had the soft-on-criminals approach before in Northern Virginia; ultimately it gets out of hand and either the prosecutors are booted by the public, or they decide to take a harder line before that happens. Lather-rinse-repeat.

Too bad that the public has to suffer as this cycle plays out once again.

– Scott McCaffrey

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