How To Really, Really Tick Off Fairfax Taxpayers

Screen shot from WJLA-7 April 4 report.

People don’t understand!  These political leadership jobs are hard! It is a great sacrifice to serve, and it is only fair that the taxpayers contribute to the comfort and convenience of those of us working so hard for their better future.  They can be so ungrateful….

Did that go through Fairfax Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s mind as he watched local WJLA-7 news kick him around like a rag doll yesterday for using a county car on personal business and, worse, political business? Or was it what should have gone through his mind:  How could I be so dumb and greedy and assume nobody would notice or care?

This is not a new story, because it happens often and gets ratted out all the time.  This is not a partisan story, because this behavior crosses all lines. Lack of electoral competition does contribute to this way of thinking. This may not be a fatal blow for Democrat McKay, who as board chairman recently raised his pay from $100,000 to $138,000 per year (as the televised report helpfully reminds us.)

No, this is a “when will they ever learn” story. People who don’t get the privilege of transportation with the entire bill paid by involuntary tax levies, people who must pay the hated car taxes and registration fees and fuel bills on their cars, tend to get irritated when they find out politicians (or any government employees) use public cars for tons of daily private business.

Someone please forward this to the Internal Revenue Service. I know the folks at the Virginia Department of Taxation, and they can check to see if McKay’s valuable perk was declared for tax purposes. It is very much supposed to be.

Years ago as the administrator in the Virginia Attorney General’s office, I was the office point of contact for complaints about our staff to the state’s taxpayer “waste, fraud and abuse” hotline. Many of these complaints involved employees using (misusing) the state cars, and the employees often seemed totally surprised that somebody would report them via the license plate, and then the motor pool records of vehicle use pointed them out as the drivers that day. Only one member of staff had a car assigned (guess who).

In those cases it was usually legitimate business to have the car, so no harm, no foul, unless the complaint was about speeding or reckless behavior. Woe unto anybody who actually embarrassed the office with a traffic citation (and it would be interesting to know if McKay racked up any of those.) Me, I was never in a state car unless somebody else had checked it out. Less risk to drive my own and get mileage.

It is not a fancy car McKay gets to drive. (Is it an EV? Let’s not go there.) That doesn’t matter. Indulge me in another personal reminiscence, but when Dad was city manager in Roanoke, he would occasionally bring home a banged up city-owned surplus army Jeep and park it out front during snow events. After even folks in our own neighborhood kvetched about it, he went back to risking the family car when called out in the weather.

Good story, WJLA.