The Nov. 12 deadline came and went for the public to submit comments to the Fairfax County Confederate Names Task Force, which was seeking “the public’s feedback” on whether or not stretches of Lee Highway (Route 29) and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway (Route 50) meandering through Fairfax County, Va., should be renamed.
Those major thoroughfares, named for Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson are the latest targets of the implacably aggrieved left’s ravenous revisionist purges of statues and paintings — and of names on buildings and streets — of individuals who don’t measure up to their standards of modern-day moral rectitude.
In a county where liberal Democrats hold a steamrolling supermajority of 9-1 on the Board of Supervisors, it’s likely the cake is already baked: The two towering figures in the state’s and country’s history will probably be relegated to the dustbin of history at the behest of a vanishingly small — but disproportionately loud — number of morally preening prigs.
That the highways have borne the names of Lee and Jackson for 102 and 99 years, respectively, all but unnoticed and unremarked (until now), suggests the task force’s assignment is a case of a solution in search of a problem.
The only question then is whether the task force will actually heed the public input and recommend rejecting the name changes if the majority of the comments submitted opposed them — or will recommend changes regardless, effectively rendering the public comment period nothing more than obligatory window dressing.
A random sample of 75 comments emailed to the task force and reviewed by The Times found those writing opposed the name changes by a margin of nearly 6 to 1.
According to figures compiled by Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, and presented to the Confederate Names Task Force on Oct. 18, there are 171 signs across 14.1 miles of Lee Highway and 55 signs along the 8.43-mile stretch of Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway that the county would need to take down and replace with new signage bearing whatever new names were chosen.
The combined cost of manufacturing new signs and of the labor for road crews to remove the old signs and erect the new ones has been estimated at between $1 million and $4 million, “dependent on the type of sign (a simple street name vs. an overhead sign on a signal mast arm) and what the new names would be (for example, on Lee Hwy signs, a longer name could cost more to replace).” That’s according to the office of county Supervisor Pat Herrity of the Springfield District, the lone Republican on the Fairfax board.
Mr. Herrity’s office told The Washington Times in an email that members of the task force were “repeatedly told by the Chair and the facilitators that it was NOT [emphasis in original] tasked to be concerned about any associated costs, only whether to change the names and if so, provide recommendations as to what to change them to.”
That strongly suggests the task force’s chairwoman and the outside consultant “facilitators” were bent on a predetermined outcome and didn’t want the task force to concern itself with the cost of genuflecting to wokeness. After all, it’s only taxpayers’ money.
But “some members pushed for this [cost] data to be shared,” which is likely the only reason we know the price tag for this unnecessary effort to placate a handful of left-wing activists at all.
That said, the cost estimate strikes us as being on the low side, but even if it’s accurate, the entire exercise still would be a thoroughgoing waste of money.
And it wouldn’t be a waste of money just for Fairfax taxpayers. Mr. Herrity’s office said that Mr. Biesiadny told the task force that “hundreds of businesses” located along Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways would be impacted by the name changes as well, forced to spend hundreds of dollars each to redo “things like stationery, business cards, phone records, and signage in some cases.” That’s the involuntary cost of a prospective forced “change of address,” even though they’re not going anywhere.
The tens of thousands of county residents who live along Lee and Lee-Jackson highways will likewise have their addresses abruptly—and needlessly—changed.
The task force is scheduled to vote Nov. 30 on whether to recommend changing the highways’ names. It’s an easy call: The answer should be “no.”
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