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Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Winning friends, influencing people. Or not.

Editor’s Notebook: Winning friends, influencing people. Or not.

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The late and on many days great Arlington fiscal hawk Tim Wise used to call it “Arlogance,” his moniker for that snide, smug haughtiness that at times could be found emanating from the County Board dais.

Not today, of course. Nope, not today. But in years gone by.

Here is one example. It’s before my time, but the Sept. 12, 1988, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun contains a hum-dinger of the genre.

USAir, which had been based in Arlington since its days as Allegheny Airlines in the 1940s and was a biggie at National Airport, had an itsy-bitsy, in the grand scheme of things, request of the county government. Could the airline put signage atop its corporate headquarters in Arlington, it asked politely.

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Even the airline’s chairman came to make the request. And you know how it ended, don’t you? “Denied [gavel crash] … clerk, call the next item!” (Or something like that.)

For those playing the home game, and yes I had to look this up, the County Board fivesome of 1988 was Ellen Bozman, Albert Eisenberg, William Newman Jr., Mary Margaret Whipple and (as chair) John Milliken. On balance, hardly the most Arlogance-y of County Boards I have known and loved — four out of five of them are/were eminently reasonable folks, and the fifth had moments of reasonableness, too — but I guess they decided rules were rules and an exception would be wrong.

Of course, that was more than 30 years ago and there’s no guarantee that USAir (which became US Airways and then swallowed American Airlines while taking its name) would still be HQ’d in Arlington if county leaders had been a better neighbor. But the headquarters is now in Arizona.

Arlington officials always seemed to have a frenemies relationship with aviation/aerospace firms. Back about 15 years ago, the county came within an inch of losing Boeing as a corporate resident, based on how the Planning Commission was treating the company at it worked through the planning for a major D.C.-area office in Crystal City.

The deal was salvaged only at the last minute, when calmer heads in county leadership prevailed and quietly worked things out.

NOBODY EVER COULD FIGURE HIM OUT: Here’s another one from the archives. The Sept. 11, 1978, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun, to be precise.

According to the paper’s political coverage, onlookers sure were surprised when Democrat Eugene McCarthy attended a Republican state pig roast and “warmly embraced” GOP U.S. Senate nominee John Warner.

Keep in mind that, in that race, Warner was not the guy everybody loved to love that he became later in his long life. He was vilified by Democrats as more than a little to the right of Attila the Hun. And the race between Warner and Democrat Andrew Miller was expected to go right down to the wire, which it did.

What was Eugene McCarthy doing embracing John Warner at a Republican pig roast in the heat of a campaign? Well, he did always follow his own muse and march to his own drummer ….

  • Scott McCaffrey
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