Jim Moran On Demand is now available to thousands local Comcast, Cox and Via Media cable customers. It will feature information and news programming, including in-depth, fireside chat-style policy discussions.
A preview of the channel’s slickly-produced videos is now up on YouTube.
To access the channel on Comcast, go to the On Demand menu, select “Searchlight,” then select “Inside the Beltway,” then “My Government” then “MiCongress.” The technology for the service is provided through a company called iConstituent.
“Given Northern Virginia’s mobile, fast-moving population, this is proactive way to supply information and reach out to new residents on an ongoing basis,” Moran said in a statement. “Now constituents can tune in any time of day to hear the latest on what’s happening in Congress and the community. I’m really excited about it and look forward to hearing people’s feedback.”
Not everybody thinks it’s a good thing, though. Virginia political blogger Ben Tribbett says the channel is “an absolutely horrible idea.”
“Incumbents already have plenty of advantages, without getting their own channel for propaganda on local cable TV,” writes Tribbett, a Democrat. “I understand why the cable companies would do this, to curry favor with incumbents, but it ought to be outlawed.”
Update at 5:30 p.m. — All lanes have reopened.
Update at 4:40 p.m. — One lane is now getting by. Traffic is backed up to Duke Street.
All northbound lanes of I-395 have been shut down due to an accident. Police are on the scene and paramedics are responding for a reported injury.
Traffic is being forced to exit on Glebe Road. Backups are forming quickly.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The disruption has been cleared, WTOP reports.
Update at 3:35 p.m. — There’s smoke on the tracks between Ballston and East Falls Church, Metro spokesperson Cherry-Ann Santos confirms. Currently, there is no impact on service, Santos says. However, riders are being told to expect delays on the Orange Line.
A possible fire has been reported on the Orange Line Metrorail tracks that run parallel to I-66, near the North Harrison Street overpass.
Passersby report white smoke coming from the tracks. Arlington firefighters are en route.
There’s currently heavy traffic on I-66 near the scene.
Update on 6/18 — The proposal to move the library has been withdrawn.
County leaders got an earful about the proposed relocation of the Columbia Pike Branch Library at a town hall meeting last night.
“An angry standing room crowd” holding “signs and banners” loudly engaged library and county officials at the Arlington Career Center, a resident who attended the meeting tells us.
Career Center and Patrick Henry Elementary School students were among those speaking out against the move. Officials in attendance included new County Manager Michael Brown and Library Director Diane Kresh.
The proposal to move the library from Walter Reed Drive to Arlington Mill Drive, further down Columbia Pike, has attracted a torrent of criticism from those who live near the library. One post about the move on the Arlington Library Blog has attracted more than 100 comments, most of them negative.
Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier, who also attended the town hall, had this to say about the meeting:
Last night’s meeting was productive. We will continue this conversation with the community on whether it makes sense to move the Columbia Pike Branch library from its current location on Walter Reed Drive to the Arlington Mill Community Center on Columbia Pike. Staff will continue to listen to the community until the County Manager feels he can make a recommendation to the Board. The decision on the design of Arlington Mill can be made without a final decision on whether the library branch should be moved. We will take as much time as needed to make a good recommendation to the Board on the future of the branch library, a library meant to serve all of Columbia Pike.
The Sun Gazette reports that change-of-government supporters took advantage of the public anger and gathered “several dozen” petition signatures outside the Career Center.
Photo via the Library Blog.
A pedestrian was struck by a Envirocab taxi just before noon today. It happened just outside the Nordstrom at Pentagon City mall.
The cab driver remained on scene and was talking to police. At one point he showed officers a small dent and scratches on the front passenger’s side bumper.
The victim was taken to a local hospital via ambulance. His or her condition is unknown.
The battle over the future of East Falls Church was well underway before the Arlington County Board spent more than two hours on the topic Tuesday night, but the raw emotion behind the neighbor vs. neighbor conflict became especially clear as about 20 speakers took the podium to voice their opinions.
The East Falls Church (EFC) development plan calls for the creation of a “transit town” of neighborhood-oriented retail and restaurants, six to nine-story mixed-use buildings, and pedestrian-oriented walkable and bike-able streetscapes. Development is inevitable, EFC task force chairman Mike Nardolilli says, since the station will soon become the transfer point to Tysons Corner and the Silver Line. Members of the task force spent three years working on the plan and says it mostly incorporates ideas that most residents welcome, based on a neighborhood survey.
But according to one man, supporters of the plan are “passive sheep,” the task force wants “to limit our freedom,” and the proposed narrowing of Sycamore Street is “idiotic.” That invective, and any other criticism of the plan, was greeted by loud applause from like-minded folks in the audience, who were clearly in the majority.
Critics said they weren’t adequately informed about the planning, complained that development would destroy the character of their largely low-density residential neighborhood, and worried that it would bring maladies like traffic, crime and pollution.
Development is “unneeded and unnecessary,” and the planning that has gone into it is a “sham process” one person said. “We do not want to turn our residential neighborhood into another Ballston,” said another. Several people called for an environmental impact study.
On the other side, one man was so overcome by frustration with the plan’s critics that he was, at one point, literally rendered speechless at the podium. He blasted fellow residents who believe that “everything should stop” when they move to a neighborhood.
He said that when he first moved to Arlington 58 years ago, before Metro and before I-66, East Falls Church had the kind of retail core that the development plan is trying to facilitate. Compared to the building of I-66, he said, “this is a minor change.”
“Over the years I’ve seen Arlington go through many changes and every change is controversial,” the man said. “There is always somebody who’s going to object… This is a good plan, not perfect, but it’s still a good plan.”
Other “smart growth” advocates lauded the plan, while another contingent at the meeting said the plan didn’t go far enough.
Michelle Winters, acting chair of the Arlington Housing Commission, said the plan does not have the density needed to support affordable housing and other the desired retail amenities appropriate for what will soon become the Metro transfer point to Tysons Corner on the Silver Line. She and other development advocates would like to see something more akin to the higher-density Virginia Tech East Falls Church Metro Plan, which was released in 2004.
Despite all the controversy and the raised emotions, the plan — even if approved by the board — is only a “framework,” which would guide development. The board would still have to approve individual developments through its usual process.
“This in no way is going to preclude the very rigorous debate the community will have,” board member Barbara Favola said. “The board will ultimately be able to decide on specific projects that fit within this framework. That’s a very key point.”
And in fact, the real battle may be yet to come. VDOT owns two-thirds of the five acre commuter parking lot that’s at the heart of the development plan. The proposal calls for most of the lot’s several hundred spaces to be eliminated to make way for 450,000 to 600,000 square feet of mixed-use development.
However, VDOT, which is expected to reveal its thoughts on the plan in August, views the lot as “a regional asset for mobility, not just for Arlington but for residents that live along the I-66 corridor,” according to county officials. About 80 percent of the parking is used by people from outside Arlington.
Two days after reporting that Buffalo Wild Wings will be bringing some nightlife to Crystal City, we can report that D.C. pizza chain Pizza Autentica will be one of BW3′s new neighbors.
Pizza Autentica, run by prolific casual restaurateur Hakan Ilhan, has leased a space in the same building at 23rd Street and Crystal Drive as Buffalo Wild Wings. In downtown D.C., Pizza Autentica is primarily a lunchtime destination. There’s no word so far whether this new location will also serve a nighttime crowd.
Don’t expect the gourmet, wood-fired treatment at Pizza Autentica, but it will be nice to have an above-ground pizza place in an increasingly vibrant portion of Crystal City.
Hey Look, There’s Nightlife in Pentagon City — When the shoppers go home for the day, the mice come out to play. At least that’s what one graveyard shift employee at the Pentagon City mall told WJLA (ABC 7). She reported seeing as many as ten mice scurrying around the food court at night. She even captured some cell phone video of the rodents inside the new Yogen Fruz frozen yogurt stand. WJLA says their story prompted a visit from an Arlington County health inspector. We’re sorry to hear that the inspector had to take a break from tackling the county’s rampant lack of bread packaging in order to address a trivial rodent problem.
WUSA9 Attends Change-of-Government Debate – If you’ve been following the back-and-forth over the proposed change to Arlington’s form of government, you won’t learn anything new from this story. WUSA9′s Brittany Morehouse went to last night’s change-of-government debate at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department and found a passionate but polite crowd. Morehouse summarized the arguments made by both sides, then described the genesis of the ballot initiative. “The issue stems from a beef between fire and police unions and the County Manager,” she said.
More Revelations in Wake Of Arlington Cemetery Scandal — Arlington National Cemetery spent more than $5 million on computerizing its antiquated records system with little to show for it, according to Salon.com. The site reports that criminal investigators have looked into questionable contracts authorized by Arlington National Cemetery Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham. Also this morning, the Washington Post is reporting that it has found several gravestones of unknown origin lining the banks of a small creek on the cemetery grounds. The cemetery says it’s investigating the finding.