Happy 2019! A new year, a clean slate, a new Congress — and a lot of unfinished business. The extended federal government shutdown is not anticipated to affect provision of Fairfax County services, but it does affect many, many Mason District residents who serve every day as non-partisan federal employees simply trying to do their jobs. But the spat initiated by Donald Trump, the president who said he would “take the mantle; I will be the one to shut it down,” affects more than our neighbors and friends. It further damages the trust that citizens place in their government. It creates potential disruption to our national security. And it makes our allies and enemies alike wonder what crazy antics are ahead from this president, who proudly wears the ever more dangerous mantle of disruption.
As I write this first column of 2019, the shutdown is ten days old, with no sign of ending when the new Congress takes office. The longest federal shutdown was 21 days — from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996 — when Bill Clinton was president. Ironically, the Great Blizzard of ’96 began on Jan. 6, with nearly 40 inches of snow falling on the metropolitan region during a two-day period, which closed nearly all governments — federal, state, and local — for another week. With New Year’s resolutions upon us, let’s hope for little or no snow, and a rational conclusion to the shutdown.
Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, here’s an easy one that doesn’t require losing weight or going to the gym. If you are walking at night, please wear something white or light colored, or have reflective tape on jackets or shoes, so that drivers can see you. A 16-year-old pedestrian was killed during the weekend, this time in Reston. It was 5:40 in the early evening, but dark, and the driver left the scene of the crash. At any time of the day or night, cross only at marked crosswalks. Too often, the police investigation of an accident involving a pedestrian determines that that pedestrian was not in the crosswalk, and was wearing dark clothing. In 2017, there were 189 pedestrian crashes in Fairfax County, resulting in five fatalities. As of Nov. 30, there were 124 pedestrian crashes, with 15 fatalities. Fewer crashes, but three times the fatalities — please don’t be a statistic in the New Year.
Finally, for more than 20 years, I had the privilege of working closely with Fairfax County Attorney David Bobzien. David was the county’s lead counselor from 1993 to 2016, and provided expert legal advice to the Board of Supervisors on criminal, civil, and ethical issues. He recruited many young lawyers to work the County Attorney’s office, and mentored them as their career paths brought them to leadership in the office. David retired in 2016, and could be proud of the legacy he left — incredible knowledge of the law, ethical, and gracious in all situations. Sadly, David passed away on Sunday after a battle with leukemia that made his retirement all too short. David is survived by his wife, Cathy, two sons, four grandchildren, and thousands of county employees who loved and respected him.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.