Brace Yourselves, Arlingtonians, for SJW Law Enforcement

Liam Bissainthe’s nightmare has come true (see his blog post here), and Arlington voters nominated Parisa Dehghani-Tafti yesterday as the Democratic Party’s nominee to run for Commonwealth Attorney. In ultra-blue Arlington County (76% Clinton, 16.7% Trump), the Democratic nomination is tantamount to election. Now Arlington will become a petri dish for progressive theories on law enforcement.

To get an idea of Deghani-Tafti’s priorities, here is a statement the George Soros-backed candidate issued last month, according to ARLNow:

I’m for impartiality. Even though rare in our community, use-of-force incidents require impartial review. I’m also a reformer and any time you run as a reformer you get pushback but pushback means we get to talk about the issues. My opponent has fought reform at every turn. Now she has decided to go negative because it distracts from her record of failing to adequately support victims, including survivors of sexual violence — a record of opposing cash bail reform, opposing voting rights for returning citizens, opposing using diversion instead of incarceration for individuals with mental illness, opposing expungement of minor infractions, opposing civil asset forfeiture reform, and opposing transparency and impartiality. I will continue to focus on these issues in the campaign and once elected because that’s what makes everyone safe.

The great thing about America is that it is still (even with an overbearing federal government) a laboratory for democracy.

Personally, I think Dehghani-Tafti’s nostrums are a recipe for disaster. The “broken windows” theory suggests that expunging minor infractions will contribute to an atmosphere of lawlessness that will increase crime. Her policies could well lead to Arlington becoming San Francisco-on-the-Potomac, ridden with petty crime, homelessness, and feces- and needle-infested public spaces. But, then, I’m not all-knowing and all-wise. I acknowledge the possibility, however remote, that I might be wrong. Compared to progressives, I’m downright humble. So, I say, by all means, let Dehghani-Tafti give her ideas a try and let’s see how they work.

I’d go a step further. Let Dehghani-Tafti carry out her entire agenda. No half measures. No letting her come back and saying that her policies failed because she had to compromise. Let’s make Arlington a true experiment in public policy. However unlikely, Virginia may have something positive to learn. Perhaps a leftist vision of social justice is compatible with maintaining public safety. Conversely, perhaps we’ll learn that SJW policies lead to lawlessness and suffering. Whatever the result, let’s have clarity about what works and what doesn’t.

Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I live in Henrico County. I have no skin in the game. If she fails, that’s someone else’s problem, not mine.

Update: Steven Spiker offers a much more positive appraisal of Dehghani-Tafti on Bearing Drift. He likes her emphasis on transparency and data-driven policy, an emphasis I have to agree with. A reasonable case also can be made for reducing the use of cash bail and reforming civil asset forfeiture. The dog whistle that I responded to was this: “opposing expungement of minor infractions.” I guess it depends on how you define “minor infractions.”

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14 responses to “Brace Yourselves, Arlingtonians, for SJW Law Enforcement

  1. Yes, it will be interesting to watch how someone who has no experience as a prosecutor will work out. I like her focus on reforming cash bail and asset forfeiture and diverting mentally ill folks from jail. In all these areas, she will need the cooperation of the courts, but judges often defer to recommendations of the CA. But, being a novice in this area, she is will need to earn their respect first..

    • Arlington has voted in a demagogue for Commonwealth Attorney. Now, it’s “Game On.” Either way, Arlington will get exactly what it deserves.

  2. To her credit, experience on the defense side does count in the criminal justice system. It just usually works the other way, with a prosecutor then becoming a defense lawyer. The new Fairfax nominee with similar views and similar mega-liberal national backing apparently did work as a federal prosecutor at one point. But both were elected based on their goals, their vision, and it isn’t the traditional “law and order” vision.

    I think that outcome in those two local races is by far the most important from Tuesday, with the most long-term implications. That is because of their stated goals, and also because the Outside Money clearly tipped both races. “Very Interesting….” to borrow a line from Laugh In. As noted in another comment string, the Californication of Virginia continues apace. Waiting for the liberals to join me now in that campaign on donation limits…..waiting…..waiting….hello, anybody there? Oh, right, your money is righteous and only corporate dollars are evil.

    • It just seems to potentially worsen the overall divisiveness issue we have in America. As a Country, we are destined to boomerang from one extreme to the other. As a state, the blue may get bluer and the red may get redder. Until such time as something different happens.

      • Yes, and every day now that latter heretofore unthinkable possibility seems ever closer to probable, absent some huge surprise, as push comes ever close to violent shove.

  3. I support limits on campaign contributions, as long as all categories are covered and there is meaningful enforcement. the problem is that it is hard to enforce in the face of Supreme Court decisions. The best that we probably do would be to require all PACs and “dark money” groups to reveal their sources of funding. Now that liberals like Soros and Tom Steyer have gotten involved and use their money for candidates they prefer, conservatives are now calling for campaign finance reform. They were not so upset when the Koch brothers were spreading money around and building up a network of large contributors to conservative causes. (By the way, I think the Koch brothers were also supporting criminal justice reform, sort of like Soros.)

  4. I think Arlington is electing the government they want and I further think that there are a lot of folks who live there who want safety and security in their communities and are not going to put up with lawlessness and that’s the great thing about elections. If she screws up – she won’t survive.

    The main thing is that “progressives” DO CARE about social and criminal justice – as opposed to giving it lip service like we see in other places but when push comes to shove – they fall back on illicit ideas like “broken windows” while just “wishing” for criminal justice reforms.

    It’s called putting your money where your mouth is – in this case – with Soros money…….

    the great “divide”? yes.. and people WILL CHOOSE if they want to live and work in a place like Arlington or a place that talks criminal justice reforms but walks.

  5. “Putting your money where your mouth is” means paying the costs that result from what you ask for. Arlington is coasting now on decades of livability decisions built around a core asset: low density housing with good transportation access to downtown DC and, increasingly, to downtown Arlington itself (once an unimaginable concept). Suddenly the local politicians want to ramp up the urbanization quotient with huge new employment and higher education expansion, driving demand ever higher for that low density housing, with only token nods to new low income units. The residents in those low density neighborhoods are not going to give them up quietly; they are going to continue to insist on zoning that maintains (mostly) that low density, while embracing the rest of the urban package. The result? San Francisco East. The livable city that nobody can afford to live in except the super-rich. Eventually somebody has to pay the tab for all that inefficiency, and Soros won’t be there to pay the property tax bill.

    • Very true. Arlington is akin to NW DC, except the latter had an escape valve across empty spaces west up the Potomac River though Potomac out to Poolesville, Md. Now that has been saturated, so the heat in NW DC builds again.

      But Arlington has its own different kind of escape valve. It has the potential for residential density going sky high in a highly beneficial way. Why? It’s uniquely configured to maximize high rise benefit over cost, creating more public wealth to spread around, just like Ballston-Rosslyn Corridor has been doing now for 40 years. Arlington needs to get much richer, not poorer. This requires innovative zoning to break todays straight-jackets.

    • I do not understand the categorization of Arlington as “low density”. It has the highest density in Virginia (8,309/sq mi)–easily surpassing Richmond ( 3,292) Norfolk (4,488), Alexandria (4,800), and Fairfax County (2,921). Of course, it does not approach the density of New York City (27,016) or Philadelphia (11,233), but it does exceed the densities of Baltimore (7,657) and Pittsburgh (5,540).
      Of course, Arlington’s “escape valve” will be Fairfax County.

      • I agree with Dick – we’ve got a heavy, heavy double standard going on here……

        And heckfire, one could argue that Arlington was the prior “escape valve” of DC, no?

  6. “Of course, Arlington’s “escape valve” will be Fairfax County.” Dick, you obviously don’t drive the Capital Beltway, it’s a wall of gridlock that has been benefiting Arlington County growth for now 40 years, a gift that keeps on giving. Now Arlington density needs to go sky high so county revenues again explode skyward like with RB corridor.

    • Thus, under this high rise residential approach, Arlington County becomes Fairfax’s much needed escape valve, since Fairfax has build itself into another wall on its western border as well. So Fairfax finds itself suffocating between two walls east and west, gridlock on one, historic Piedmont lands on other, with 1-95 in gridlock on its 3rd side, and the Potomac gorge on its 4th side. Through its own horrid planning, Fairfax now has boxed itself into it’s own self imposed cul de sac.

      • This scheme to break open today’s low density residential straight jacket in Arlington County can be achieved through creative up-zoning of selected properties combined with density transfers for cumulative affect facilitated by structures built with modular mid and high rise components, all properly arranged and mixed with new mixed use commercial uses along various new lines of mass transit, and openings of new access points within these pods of new development.

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