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Arlington Dems Move to Boot Garvey

by Ethan Rothstein | April 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm | No Comments

Vihstadt and Garvey(Updated 3:45 p.m.) The Arlington County Democratic Committee is taking steps to boot streetcar critic and Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey out of the organization.

Local Democrats are upset with Garvey over her outspoken opposition to the streetcar and her support of Republican-endorsed independent John Vihstadt in the County Board special election. Vihstadt defeated Democratic nominee Alan Howze earlier this month. Garvey was elected in 2012 on the Democratic ticket and now in her first full term on the County Board, following a decade and a half on the School Board.

At the committee’s meeting Monday night, Garvey will have a hearing where she can defend her decision to support a non-Democrat and appeal to stay a member of the Arlington Democrats. The hearing will be heard by a special committee made up largely of the ACDC leadership, according to ACDC Chairman Kip Malinosky. Malinosky said he will be presenting the case against Garvey, so he recused himself from the committee.

Malinosky said he’s received more than a dozen complaints about Garvey’s activity — which include a $1,000 donation from her campaign committee and regular emails to her campaign mailing list supporting Vihstadt — and added that he asked her to voluntarily remove herself from the ACDC during the campaign, which she declined.

“It’s crazy to have a voting member of our organization actively working against the purpose of the organization,” Malinosky told ARLnow.com. “You can do anything you want as a Democratic committee member. You can take any position on the streetcar or other issues, but the one thing you cannot do as a member is to endorse, support and assist a non-Democrat against a Democratic nominee. That’s the only thing you can’t do.”

Garvey said that even if she is removed from her position, she will still consider herself a Democrat and, if nothing were to change, would run for re-election in three years as a Democrat without the ACDC’s endorsement.

“We all wear different hats in life,” Garvey told ARLnow.com this morning. “I’m in an odd position because the only reason I’m on the committee is because I’m an elected official and a Democrat. I found myself in a spot where I had two loyalties. I am a member of ACDC and an elected official of Arlington County and I have to represent the voters. I made the decision in the best interest of the voters as I needed to do to fulfill my responsibility to them.”

Garvey said she wanted to have a hearing to explain her rationale for supporting and donating to Vihstadt’s campaign. She said she didn’t want to simply accept leaving the ACDC because she “didn’t want anyone to think that I want to leave ACDC.”

“It’s like in a family, you can have disagreements with members of your family, but you don’t leave your family,” she said. “I’m hoping all of this in the end will make ACDC stronger. I hope it’ll be a healthy thing for all of us. I really have the best interests of ACDC at heart.”

Malinosky said if Garvey wants to stay a member of the ACDC, she’ll have to change course and throw her support behind Howze for the November general election rematch against Vihstadt.

“I would love her to say ‘I’m willing to support Alan Howze and all the Democrats,’” Malinosky said. “If she says that, then welcome back.”

After the jump is the email Malinosky sent to ACDC members:  (more…)

Police: Man Pulls Machete on Dog Bite Victim

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 648 views | No Comments

A Chihuahua (photo by Paul Komarek)Arlington County police are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a machete on someone who was just bitten by his Chihuahua.

The incident happened around 9:00 Friday night at Doctor’s Run Park, in the Douglas Park neighborhood. The male victim had hopped a fence at the park to retrieve a ball when he was bitten by a Chihuahua, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The victim confronted the dog’s owner, who was at the park with a large group of people. The owner of the dog became agitated and tried to punch and kick the victim, Sternbeck said. Then the man allegedly went to his car, retrieved a machete, and threatened the victim with it.

A female acquaintance of the suspect convinced him to put the knife away and leave the scene, Sternbeck said. The victim escaped the confrontation with only minor scratches from the dog bite.

The suspect is described by police as “a Hispanic male, 5’5″, with black hair and brown eyes, and approximately 150 pounds and 40 years old.” Anybody with information about the man or the incident is asked to call Arlington County police at 703-558-2222.

File photo via Paul Komarek/Wikipedia

Developer Breaks Ground on Rosslyn Skyscraper

by Ethan Rothstein | April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 627 views | No Comments

Arlington officials and real estate developer JBG Companies broke ground this morning on the 31-story residential skyscraper at 1823 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn called Central Place.

The development, which is expected to be complete in 2017, will have two floors of retail, a 17,00-square-foot public plaza and six levels of parking — three below ground and three above. Once the residential tower, which will be one of, if not the tallest, residential building the D.C. area, is complete, JBG will begin construction on an accompanying office space next door, between N. Lynn and Moore Streets.

“Rosslyn is going to continue to benefit from this type of development,” Rep. Jim Moran (D) said from the podium. “The first time I visited Rosslyn close to 50 years ago, it was a place for pawn shops and prostitutes. Today, it’s a dynamic community. It’s going to be the place where people are going to want to work, live and play.”

Although Wednesday morning marked the official groundbreaking ceremony, construction has been ongoing for months on the project. It’s closed several lanes of N. Lynn Street at different times, causing major backups, as well as the McDonald’s that stood in the spot the apartments will soon be. JBG also removed the skywalks over both streets as part of its agreement with the county to bring foot traffic back to street level.

“I think I was here when we knocked down the Orleans House,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said of the demolition of the restaurant at 1213 Wilson Blvd nearby. “I can’t say which I’m more excited about. It was a landmark and had its place in our history, and the McDonald’s does too, but it’s time to move on.”

The groundbreaking was another in a slew of recent landmarks for Rosslyn after the framework for the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update was approved by the County Board earlier this month. The plan would extend 18th Street through central Rosslyn — including between the two Central Place buildings — and connect Arlington’s core developments with the surrounding parks.

“A project like Central Place really changes the neighborhood,” Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said. “I can tell you, this is what our community wants. We really want a place to hang out and congregate.”

Metro PD Looking for ‘Inappropriate Touching’ Suspect

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 11:15 am | 2,083 views | No Comments

Assault and Battery suspect (photo courtesy MTPD)Metro Transit Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying an Orange Line rider (pictured, left) who they say touched a woman inappropriately.

During the Feb. 12 evening rush hour commute, while on an Orange Line train near the Ballston Metro station, the man “allegedly rubbed the inner thigh of a patron as she sat next to him,” according to police. The crime is being described as “assault and battery.”

“Anyone who is able to identify the individual pictured below is asked to call Metro Transit Police Detectives at (202) 962-2121 and reference case #2014-07734,” MTPD said in a press release.

Garvey Calls Truce in BRT Semantics Battle

by Ethan Rothstein | April 23, 2014 at 11:00 am | 817 views | No Comments

Libby Garvey at the 4/22/14 recessed County Board meetingArlington County Board member Libby Garvey, an outspoken opponent of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar system, called for a truce yesterday on the language surrounding the bus alternative.

Garvey made a presentation during yesterday’s County Board meeting, challenging the return on investment (ROI) study a consultant performed on contract with the county and presented last month.

Garvey said the study makes faulty comparisons, disputed the $3.1 billion ROI claim, said that calling the streetcar a “seamless ride” is nonsensical since a bus would do the same, and claimed it ignored contrary analysis, among other assertions.

After Garvey’s presentation, County Board Chair Jay Fisette challenged streetcar opponents’ claims that bus rapid transit (BRT) would be a preferable solution since dedicated bus lines, widely considered a requirement of a BRT system, are not possible on Columbia Pike. In response, Garvey offered an olive branch of sorts on the language the two sides of the streetcar debate uses.

“On BRT, I’ll make a deal with you,” Garvey said. “We don’t ever talk about BRT here again, we just say ‘streetcar-like bus.’ That’s all we need to say. A streetcar-like bus will do much better on Columbia Pike than a streetcar. Let’s just forget about it. It’s just a canard, it’s silly to talk the way we have on what’s BRT and what’s not. That just gets away [from the point], and I share your frustration.”

Fisette quickly agreed to Garvey’s terms, replying “all right, let’s call a truce on that one.”

The bus system that is feasible on the Pike was referred to by the ROI consultants as “enhanced bus service,” which wouldn’t use a dedicated lane but would have many features of a streetcar, like greater ridership capacity, a sleeker appearance and off-board fare collection.

Garvey’s challenge to the consultant has been echoed by other streetcar critics, who say the study was biased from the start, and its methodology — comparing two streetcar systems and two enhanced bus systems in cities around the country — was lacking. Fisette said the consultants, HR&A Advisors, will be making presentations to several county commissions, and backed them on their claims.

“I’m not saying [the study's detractors] don’t have some good points or couldn’t use clarifications to better understand how the consultants went about their work,” he said, “but I take issue with discrediting the work of these consultants overall.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | 565 views | No Comments

Dogwood flowers in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]

Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]

County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]

Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]

Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

County Board Passes $1.15 Billion Budget

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 9:10 am | 939 views | No Comments

County Board 2014 budget adoptionThe Arlington County Board adopted a $1.15 billion budget Tuesday night.

The Fiscal Year 2015 budget trims one cent from the county’s real estate tax rate while — thanks to a rise in property assessments — adding funds for schools, road paving and high speed fiber optic infrastructure. It also maintains service levels in other areas of county government.

The real estate tax rate is now $0.996 per $100 in assessed value, bringing the annual county tax burden on the average Arlington homeowner to $7,327.

The budget includes merit pay raises for county employees, which the County Board added back into the budget after an outcry from police and firefighter employee associations.

The Board, including newly-elected member John Vihstadt, voted unanimously for the budget. Vihstadt, who was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, said he was pleased with the tax rate reduction and did not want “to let the perfect be the enemy of the good” in budget deliberations.

Two other Board members echoed that sentiment in voting for the budget. Libby Garvey said she didn’t approve of the budget’s cut to mental health services for prison inmates (a grant that funded an employee for that task had run out) and accused the Board of squirreling away transportation money in various funds with the intention of, at some point, using it for streetcar projects, which she opposes.

Walter Tejada spoke out against budget guidance that directs the county manager to study the possibility of privatization and outsourcing Volunteer Arlington, which promotes and coordinates volunteer opportunities.

Other budget guidance for the manager (which was added by the Board outside the normal public budget process) included:

  • A request for a report by the end of the year on the financial sustainability of Artisphere
  • Enhancement of the county’s internal audit functions and the establishment of a fraud and waste hotline
  • Improved parking ticket adjudication for tickets issued in error
  • A plan for a phased implementation of staffing increase for the county’s police, fire and other public safety departments

The county’s press release on the budget passage, after the jump.

(more…)

Arlington Runners Compete in Boston Marathon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm | 1,895 views | No Comments

Boston Marathon logoOn Monday, 102 runners from Arlington crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

It was the first running of what many view as the world’s premier distance race since last year’s race was marred by the bombings that killed three and left hundreds injured.

Michael Wardian was the top finisher from Arlington, finishing in 2:23:32, good for third in the 40-44-year-old men’s division and 44th overall. Wardian, who turned 40 on April 12, won the North Pole marathon by nearly an hour less than two weeks ago and completed two other races — the GW Parkway 10 Miler and a 5K — between then and Monday.

Michael Wardian in the 2014 Boston Marathon (photo courtesy Jenna Downey)Wardian is an elite runner who runs dozens of races each year, but he said this year’s Boston Marathon was unique – the excitement level among the spectators was off the charts.

People are screaming and the energy is so amazing,” he said. “For me it was super emotional coming down the final stretch and crossing the finish line. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was such a special day and a great day to be a runner.”

“The whole reason I got into running 20 years ago was to get into the Boston Marathon,” he said. “It’s an honor to just be a part of it.”

Arlington’s top female finisher was Clarendon resident Kayley Byrne, 26, who finished in 3:09:05, putting her in 322nd among all women and 267th in her division.

Kayley Byrne and her fiancee at the 2014 Boston Marathon (photo courtesy Kayley Byrne)Byrne, a William and Mary alum who’s getting married in August, ran the marathon for the third time in a row — and for the second time with her mother, Carol. The two ran the Boston Marathon last year and Carol finished just 7 minutes before the bombs went off. Carol was uninjured, but shaken up.

Afterward, Byrne recalls watching the news coverage in their hotel room, stunned at how such a joyous event had turned so tragic so quickly. Then they made a pledge.

“We were like — we have to go back,” she said.

Byrne said running the 26.2 mile course this year “was completely inspirational.”

“There were people lining the course the entire way,” she told ARLnow.com. “Everyone was wearing Boston Strong shirts. It wasn’t so much about the race but a celebration of Boston and of running. There was a huge sense of community throughout the entire race and the entire weekend.”

Wardian’s next race will be the picturesque Big Sur marathon in California on Sunday. Byrne said she’s “feeling pretty beat up today,” but is looking forward to some day competing in the two World Marathon Majors she has yet to run, London and Berlin.

After the jump, in order of finish, are Arlington’s top 20 finishers in Boston from Monday.

(more…)

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