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Letter: Committee of 100 no longer an independent voice

Body has eschewed independent, vigorous discussion of Arlington issues

To the editor: Recently, I received an e-mail asking me to make a financial contribution to the Arlington Committee of 100, to help the organization achieve its “mission of fostering open, inclusive and vigorous discussions about how local, regional and national issues affect Arlington.”

No, I won’t be contributing.

Although I enjoyed Committee of 100 events for years, my recent experience has shown that it, like a growing list of other Arlington civic groups (and the county government itself), chooses to silence diverse views or outright avoid debate, contrary to its well-needed mission. 

For example, in November 2022 the Committee of 100’s leadership canceled its Missing Middle discussion just a couple of days before the scheduled event, but refused to give any public explanation of why they were canceling a discussion of the most contentious and divisive issue in Arlington at that time. I sent the organization multiple requests, but they continued to refuse to provide a public explanation.  

At another Committee of 100 event, which was conducted online in mid-2021, I submitted a brief, one-sentence question to pose to the panelists. The Committee of 100 host could have posted my question so the panelists could have seen it as written, or could have read it as written. Instead, the host reworded my question to eliminate two critical pieces of information to which I wanted the panelists to respond. 

In both of these cases, a “cone of silence” descended to keep people from hearing anything that might challenge county orthodoxy. And this is just one example of many (e.g., the county government slow-walking responses, stonewalling requests for information and refusing to make all the Missing Middle Community Conversations open to the public in 2022).

“Open, inclusive and vigorous discussions”? Hardly.  

 Bill Roos, Arlington