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by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm 710 41 Comments

A redistricting effort by Republicans in the Virginia Senate, which would have resulted in Arlington losing much of its legislative clout in that body, has been defeated.

The state Senate passed the surprise redistricting plan on Jan. 21 by a party-line vote of 20-19, thanks to the absence of Democratic Senator Henry Marsh, a civil rights lawyer who was attending President Obama’s inauguration that day. The unexpected vote drew strong criticism from Democrats and Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

The redistricting plan would have benefited Republicans, turning several Democratic-held districts heavily Republican. It would also have reduced Arlington’s legislative influence, moving veteran state Senator Janet Howell’s district back out of Arlington (she represents part of north Arlington as a result of the 2011 redistricting) and reducing state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s portion of Arlington to a small sliver of south Arlington.

Arlington’s interests would have been represented in the state Senate primarily by Sen. Barbara Favola, the former Arlington County Board member who was elected to the state legislature in 2011.

The redistricting plan, which was tacked on to a bill that was supposed to make small technical changes to House of Delegates districts, was ruled not germane by Republican House Speaker Bill Howell on Wednesday, defeating it.

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm 514 16 Comments

Ray LahoodOutgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will speak at a “school bus celebration” at Arlington’s Tuckahoe Elementary School next week.

The event, on Feb. 12, is being organized by the American School Bus Council for its Love the Bus campaign. The campaign is intended to “raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers who safely transport children to and from school.”

The American School Bus Council is supported in part by school bus manufacturers.

Tuckahoe students will hear speeches from LaHood and local officials about “being respectful to their bus drivers and appreciating the safety, environmental, and congestion mitigation benefits of the yellow school bus.”

The event comes with a bit of irony — Arlington Public Schools ran into controversy at the beginning of the school year when administrators announced that hundreds of students were no longer eligible to ride the bus to school.

The press release about the Love the Bus event, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm 4,724 68 Comments

Ballston Common Mall (photo by Katie Pyzyk)Two security guards at Ballston Common Mall got into a fistfight with each other yesterday, prompting a police response but no reported arrests.

The incident happened just before 4:00 p.m. The security guards, who were employed by the mall itself, both suffered facial lacerations in the fight but no serious injuries, according to police radio traffic.

Though bruised and bloodied, there are no reports of the men being transported to the hospital or being arrested. No police report was filed, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Police responded to the mall’s loading dock for the fight but it’s unclear where exactly in the mall the fight occurred.

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm 2,325 98 Comments

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A car has plowed into the front of a Pizza Hut restaurant on Lee Highway.

Arlington County police and firefighters responded to the Lee Centre shops on the 3300 block of Lee Highway just before 1:00 p.m. for a report of a car into a building. Upon arrival, they found a Honda Fit hatchback that had driven through the front door of the Pizza Hut. Half of the car was in the restaurant, stopped only by the order counter.

The 86-year-old female driver was extricated from the car by firefighters, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. She suffered no visible injuries but was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Amazingly, even though it was lunch time, there were no customers inside the store at the time of the accident. Four employees were inside at the time, according to police, but nobody was hurt.

The car was removed from the building by a tow truck around 1:30 p.m. An Arlington County building inspector has determined that there is no structural damage to the building, but the restaurant will be boarded up until its front facade can be repaired.

Photo courtesy @CAPT258

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm 2,618 19 Comments

Last week a trio of burglars went to a Columbia Pike apartment building looking for big score. They did not find what they were looking for.

On the night of Thursday, Jan. 31, the burglars broke into an apartment only to encounter two residents in the bedroom. They ordered the residents into a bathroom, looked around the apartment, but ended up leaving without taking anything. One of the suspects falsely identified himself as a police officer, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.

IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER, 02/01/13, 4300 block of S. Columbia Pike. At 11:20 pm on January 31, three unknown suspects forced entry into an apartment using a crowbar. Two victims were inside a bedroom within the apartment when the subjects entered the home. One of the suspects threatened the victims with the crowbar and ordered them to go into a bathroom. The suspects searched one of the bedrooms, and at one point a suspect identified himself as a police officer. The suspects eventually left, appearing not to take anything with them. Suspect one is described as a 6’2” tall, 210 lb black male. At the time of the crime he was wearing a gray hoodie, black vest, green pants and black Nike boots. Suspect two is described as a black male between 5’7” and 5’10” tall. At the time of the incident he was wearing all black snow gear, and had a mustache and goatee. Suspect three is described as a black male, 5’7”-5’10” tall, and wearing all black snow gear.

Police believe the burglars were trying to target a specific apartment, but instead broke into the wrong apartment.

Two days later, police say the same burglars came back to the same apartment building, but broke into a different apartment — the apartment they were trying to target in the first place.

“They were looking for a big score based upon the resident’s occupation,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who declined to reveal additional details. “But they didn’t get it.”

Instead of finding a large sum of cash, or some other item of significant value, the burglars came up almost empty handed. Possibly out of frustration, police say, the thieves took a couple items of negligible value.

As the crime report notes, they also rudely left the door open after they exited the apartment.

BURGLARY, 02/03/13, 4300 block of Columbia Pike. Between 8:30 pm on February 2 and 3:37 am on February 3, an unknown subject(s) forced entry into an apartment and stole several items. The subject(s) also ransacked the apartment and left the door ajar as they exited. There is no suspect(s) description.

The rest of this week’s Arlington County crime report, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 11:00 am 1,884 93 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

GOP county board candidate Mark KellyIt was an honor for me to attend a fundraising event for the USS Arlington last week. The new Navy vessel, capable of carrying over 800 marines into battle, or humanitarian supplies to an area of the world in need, will be commissioned this Spring. It was built in honor of the tragic events of September 11th, and follows the USS New York and USS Somerset out to sea.

Former Republican Senator John Warner was escorted into the room by Democratic Congressman Jim Moran. Warner, who will celebrate his 86th birthday later this month, recalled the events of 9-11 and received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Everyone rallied around the project as way to honor those who died at the Pentagon, the Arlington first responders who rushed into the devastation, and the sailors who will call the USS Arlington home for decades to come.

I had good conversations with Paul Ferguson, Theo Stamos and Noah Simon — elected Democrats whom I did not vote for, and in Ferguson’s case, ran against. I was seated next to Delegate Patrick Hope who greeted me with a “nice to see you again Mark.”

In short, no partisanship was on display — just a community joined together for the common good. The evening represented what was right about Arlington.

Only one County Board member was in attendance — Chairman Tejada. While we did not have a chance to talk, if we would have, I would have probably asked him a simple question:

Why did you push through a previously unannounced raise for three top county staff in the final minute of the Board meeting earlier in the week?

Each raise will cost taxpayers around $10,000. While the total amount is certainly not going to break the bank, it is another unfortunate example of just how tone deaf our Board can be.

The U.S. economy is at best stagnant, at worst headed to a double dip recession. The region is preparing for the federal government to make cuts under the sequester agreed to by President Obama and Congress in August of 2011. The Board is preparing to raise taxes to cover up to $50 million they hope to spend in the budget over anticipated revenues.

Yet, the Board saw fit to give sizable raises to the County Manager, County Attorney and Clerk — two of whom already make over $200,000 per year.

And this is a perfect example of all that is wrong in Arlington.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 9:45 am 1,125 46 Comments

Molly the Dog by Ddimick

Board Members Want More Capital Projects — Arlington County Board members don’t want to stop new capital spending projects, saying that “now is not the time to stop investing in the future of the community.” Board members say that interest rates are low and the construction market is competitive  making new building projects cheaper than they might be in the future. [Sun Gazette]

Reporter Peeved About FOIA Fees — Connection Newspapers reporter Michael Lee Pope is continuing his crusade against public records practices at the Arlington County Police Department. This time around, Pope notes that the police department has charged or threaten to charge between $31.16 and $573.25 for his Freedom of Information Act requests. Pope writes that “Arlington County’s system of nickel-and-diming the public and the press serves as a barrier to public access.” [Arlington Connection]

Tea Party Wants to Weigh in on Streetcar — The Arlington County Tea Party says it wants to make a presentation at the upcoming March 27 community forum on the planned Columbia Pike streetcar. At least one other anti-streetcar organization has made a similar request. [Sun Gazette]

Moran: Vaccinations Save Lives — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is encouraging constituents to get vaccinated. “As Chairman of the Congressional Prevention Caucus, I understand the important role prevention plays in reducing contagious diseases,” Moran wrote in his weekly newspaper column. “Due to the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2009, most health insurance companies, including Medicare, are now required to cover recommended vaccinations… with no out of pocket cost. Increased coverage for preventive measures is a significant step towards a health care system that truly improves the health of the American people.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2013 at 8:50 am 0

Wine:30 Thursday
Whole Foods Market (2700 Wilson Blvd)
Today, Feb. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Whether you’re single or attached, let Whole Foods Market, Arlington inspire your inner cupid! Join us this Thursday for a “Food for the Mood” themed event. Enjoy 5 plates of food, 5 sips of wine for only $5 at this pre-Valentin’s Day event.

This week’s pairing list includes food like avocado sushi and sugar dipped strawberries.

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