About 150 people packed the Arlington County board room in Courthouse Tuesday night to voice concerns about the county’s proposed budget cuts.
Nearly 80 speakers came to the podium during the three hour public hearing. County residents and employees spoke out against proposed cuts to public safety agencies, substance abuse programs, senior centers, and libraries, as well as environmental, educational and recreational programs and facilities.
Resident Andrea Walker started the night off on a humorous note, saying board members should consider “self-preservation” before cutting funding to the Aurora Hills Senior Center, which regularly serves about 100 “cranky seniors.”
Walker was among eight people who spoke out against the plan to cut funding for Aurora Hills’ part-time senior coordinator. The senior programs “are keeping me alive,” said Frank Minichello, 92. Several others spoke in favor of restoring funding to the Lee and Madison senior centers.
Four police officers – including the presidents of the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association and the Arlington Coalition of Police union – received loud applause for their arguments against cutting police funding. More on that here.
Four people, backed by a larger contingent of supporters armed with signs, fliers and buttons, pleaded for the county to increase funding to Arlington’s Doorways for Women and Families crisis shelter, which has seen a significant reduction in private donations.
A number of residents, speaking on behalf of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), asked the board to fund a year-round homeless shelter. Among the speakers was Rev. Richard Cobb, of the Central United Methodist Church, who said homelessness will become an even greater problem in the community after the emergency winter shelter closes on April 1.
Half a dozen people, some speaking with the help of an interpreter, asked the county to continue funding Project Family, which provides free early childhood education and parenting programs in English and in Spanish.
A group of mothers spoke and held up kid-sized t-shirts in support of pre-school and early childhood programs at the Madison Community Center. Shireen Dodini, who participates in a play group at the center, said she knows of seventy families that would be affected if funding is cut.
Three people spoke out against cuts to Gulf Branch Nature Center, which some fear could ultimately lead to its closure. Robert Atkins said cuts to the nature center are untenable, even to a self-described “taxpayer and fiscal conservative.”
Michael Nardolilli, president of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, lamented the “Draconian chop” to funding for natural resources, while a half dozen people in green shirts held homemade signs.
Tricia Freeman, of the Arlington Forest Community Association, asked the county to restore funds to the outdoor amphitheatre at Lubber Run Park. Another speaker, Janet Irwin, said the 1,200 seat facility is being severely neglected.
“It would be a travesty to allow the Lubber Run amphitheatre to deteriorate to a point where it would need to be rebuilt,” Irwin said.
HB Woodlawn senior Benjamin Hubbert presented the board with a student petition against cutting Sunday hours at libraries, saying Sunday is one of the only free days available for busy students. Hubbert also spoke out against cutting periodicals from the libraries.
Other presenters spoke on behalf of Bike Arlington, Encore Stage and Studio, Northern Virginia Community College, and the Clarendon House rehabilitation program, among others.
Sixty-five speakers are already registered for a second budget hearing, scheduled for 7:00 tonight (Wednesday). A public hearing on the proposed tax rate increase will be held Thursday night.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is scheduled to speak at the George Mason University School of Law in Clarendon this evening, but he’ll be getting a not-so-welcome reception from local Democratic lawmakers, gay rights supporters and some GMU student leaders.
Cuccinelli has drawn fire from Democrats for his letter to state universities asserting that anti-discrimination policies for sexual orientation were not supported by state law. More recently, Cuccinelli has been assailed for his effort to block the recently-passed health care reform bill.
A protest, organized on Facebook, is scheduled to take place between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. tonight outside the GMU law school building (3301 Fairfax Drive). State delegate Adam Ebbin (D) and Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette are among the expected speakers.
The protest is “specifically in response to [Cuccinelli's] opinion letter to the Presidents, Rectors and Visitors of Virginia’s Public Colleges and Universities urging them to delete sexual orientation from their nondiscrimination policies,” organizers say.
Follow ARLnow.com for updates on this story.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 13 but postponed due to snow, the drill will simulate an explosion on a Metrorail train in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations. Arlington police and firefighters — along with emergency personnel from Metro and other jurisdictions — will test out new Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles (left), the first motorized rescue carts used by a U.S. transit organization.
The exercise will begin at 1:00 a.m. Sunday, but first responders and volunteer “victims” should arrive at the Rosslyn station around 11:00 p.m. Saturday. The exercise is expected to run until 5:00 a.m.
The Rosslyn station will remain open until the normal closing time, but after 11:00 p.m. Blue Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Courthouse.
The Arlington County Police Department has issued a warning to women who use the W&OD trail. A man has exposed himself at least 11 times on the trail since mid-January, police said today.
The latest incident happened on Monday night around 6:30. A woman was on the trail near North Quincy Street when a man exposed himself, police said. The man is described as a white male wearing dark-colored clothing with a black ski mask over his face.
Police say women should avoid walking or running on the trail alone and should avoid wearing headphones.
Anyone who uses the W & OD Bike trail and observes any suspicious activity is asked to contact police. Police have significantly increased patrols on the bike paths. They also urge people who frequently spend time on bike trails and other secluded areas to be cautious and aware of their surroundings. Women should avoid walking or running alone, and they are encouraged not to use devices such as headphones that prevent hearing someone approach. Police recommend that bike trail users carry cell phones so that they can call police as soon as incidents occur. People should report anyone observed acting in a manner not consistent with other bike trail users, such as loitering in the wooded areas, as suspicious behavior.
Anyone with any information about this case is asked to contact Detective Comer at (703) 228-4243 or Detective Austin at (703) 228-4241.
James Main is living the dream. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that James Main is living MY dream. He’s a small-business owner, first-time homeowner, husband, and soon-to-be father who still has time to perform with his band, Brother Shamus, in venues in the D.C. area and on the East Coast.
Main’s modest and comfortable lifestyle in South Arlington, Va., is the result of more than 20 years of toiling in kitchens, working up the ranks from dishwasher to executive chef and now at the helm of Main Course Personal Chef Service.
After moving to D.C. in 1997, he spent the next several years in kitchens such as D.C.’s Café Saint-Ex and Clarendon’s IOTA Club & Café. Main then decided to go into business for himself as a personal chef.
Arlington leaders will now get to hear what the public has to say about the county’s proposed 2011 budget, which includes a tax increase as well as significant cuts to parks, libraries and community policing.
The Arlington County Board is holding a public budget hearing at 7:00 tonight in the board room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Another public budget hearing will be held at the same time on Wednesday.
A public tax rate hearing with more restrictive rules on public comment will be held at 7:00 Thursday night.
A total of 250 students from from five Arlington elementary schools — Ashlawn, Arlington Science Focus, Claremont, Nottingham and Tuckhoe — will receive highly sought-after tickets to the annual event.
Last year 550 tickets were given to Arlington elementary school students from eleven schools. The White House stipulated that tickets to the 2010 egg roll must be offered to students from schools not selected last year.
The theme for this year’s egg roll — “Ready, Set, Go!” — is intended to encourage kids to lead healthy and active lives. The egg roll is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 5.
It’s that magical time of the year when birds are flying north, trees and flowers are blossoming, and Starbucks is giving away free scones. Yes, today is Free Pastry Day at Starbucks. The offer lasts until 10:30 a.m., or, more likely, when all the pastries are gone.