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Morning Notes

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

  • novasteve

    Keep on voting for the name with (D) after it because money grows on trees. Keep voting for the same guys! no possible problems can occur from this!

    • drax

      Keep on insulting the voters you want to convince!

    • Ivy

      If you look at the the Federal Government spending rates for the last 70 years, you will notice how Presidents with a (R) after their name, have the highest spending and deficits. WHile they love to somehow believe it was names with (D) after them, the facts say otherwise.

  • GoTrolley

    Arlington is doomed to get the trolley now, seeing the Tea Party has been randomly associated with the anti-trolley movement.

    • Hank

      Don’t sell the Arlington County Tea Party short. Its six members are super pissed.

      • Malaka

        I heard they ran out of Earl Grey. No wonder they’re p’d off!

    • Swag

      Can one person really be considered a party?

      • Clarendon

        Well, my little sister used to have tea parties with just her and her imaginary friends (or dolls and stuffed animals).

  • Greg

    They are right about the capital spending, but you still have to be smart about it. We shouldn’t build projects that the community doesn’t want or need. Or that will be a budget drag to maintain in the future.

    But things like upgrades to infrastructure, community centers, schools, etc., clearly should be done now while money is cheap.

    • Bender

      Before engaging upon new construction in an area that is already over-saturated, how about we simply get proper maintenance of existing infrastructure? In at least one stretch, Columbia Pike is practically impassible because of the condition of the road surface.

      Moreover, if we are going to add to capital spending, then the infrastructure that is MOST NEEDED is the infrastructure that will allow for better flow of the movement of people, rather than more projects which actually obstruct and hinder traffic. With our present hyper-density, we have already far exceeded the capacity of our roadways and public transportation is likewise unable to keep up (in addition to being overly costly and time-consuming). Any capital projects which merely add to this over-density only make the problems worse and make Arlington increasingly an unattractive place to live.

      • drax

        Have you looked up the scheduled maintenance for the road surfaces and found that the Pike isn’t included already?

    • GhadZooks

      ha ha ha ha – projects the community doesn’t need or want. The Artisphere comes to mind with its earnings significantly below expectations.

      I can think of some stuff the county really needs but lacks the sack to do.

  • FrenchyB

    “crusade against pubic records practices”

    I hope that’s a typo.

    • jackson

      ACPD charges $573.25 because little combs aren’t cheap.

  • BluemontFred

    Pope needs to read FOIA regulations and guidelines. Governments are authorized to charge for preparing FOIA requests. As someone who regularly prepares them, they can be time entesive to gather the information. Get over it.

    • Pete B

      Fred, federal FOIA backlogs supports your point that it requires scarce staff time to fulfill such requests. And staff costs money. But the evidence here is pretty clear: ACPD is charging dishonestly sky-high fees to discourage FOIA requests. They’re not even giving Pope the goods. It’s a policy as rotten as the dept’s ticket quotas.

      • BluemontFred

        Pete – there is a formula they need to follow.

        • SomeGuy

          BluefmontFred, since you have a firm grasp on this process, please share the details of said formula or the process in general. I’m very curious.

          • tce

            http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+2.2-3704

            § 2.2-3704. Public records to be open to inspection; procedure for requesting records and responding to request; charges; transfer of records for storage, etc.

            —-
            F. A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. The public body may also make a reasonable charge for the cost incurred in supplying records produced from a geographic information system at the request of anyone other than the owner of the land that is the subject of the request. However, such charges shall not exceed the actual cost to the public body in supplying such records, except that the public body may charge, on a pro rata per acre basis, for the cost of creating topographical maps developed by the public body, for such maps or portions thereof, which encompass a contiguous area greater than 50 acres. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen.

            G. Public records maintained by a public body in an electronic data processing system, computer database, or any other structured collection of data shall be made available to a requester at a reasonable cost, not to exceed the actual cost in accordance with subsection F. When electronic or other databases are combined or contain exempt and nonexempt records, the public body may provide access to the exempt records if not otherwise prohibited by law, but shall provide access to the nonexempt records as provided by this chapter.

            Public bodies shall produce nonexempt records maintained in an electronic database in any tangible medium identified by the requester, including, where the public body has the capability, the option of posting the records on a website or delivering the records through an electronic mail address provided by the requester, if that medium is used by the public body in the regular course of business. No public body shall be required to produce records from an electronic database in a format not regularly used by the public body. However, the public body shall make reasonable efforts to provide records in any format under such terms and conditions as agreed between the requester and public body, including the payment of reasonable costs. The excision of exempt fields of information from a database or the conversion of data from one available format to another shall not be deemed the creation, preparation or compilation of a new public record.

            H. In any case where a public body determines in advance that charges for producing the requested records are likely to exceed $200, the public body may, before continuing to process the request, require the requester to agree to payment of a deposit not to exceed the amount of the advance determination. The deposit shall be credited toward the final cost of supplying the requested records. The period within which the public body shall respond under this section shall be tolled for the amount of time that elapses between notice of the advance determination and the response of the requester.

            ——-

    • DCBuff

      They can also be time intensive.

      • WeiQiang

        entensive = expensive and intensive. it’s in the ArlNow Blue Book.

      • ACDC Hack

        Spell checking requires an additional fee……..sheesh what some people want for so little !!

  • Hank

    No, that’s correct. Pubic records are invasive, but necessary for any functioning society. It’s important for a local government to have its finger on the pulse of current hair styles of a community’s nether regions.

  • WeiQiang

    “Congressional Prevention Caucus”?? sometimes, i’d like to prevent Congress as well.

  • Garden City

    The Board is right about capital projects. Borrowing costs are extremely low right now, so there is no better time than now to lock the rates in for projects you know you are going to do. But you do need to make sure you’re not doing some things just because it’s cheap to do them right now.

    • CourthouseChris

      Infrastructure investments might be good; less flooded streets and soiled grocery stores. Also, bury some powerlines.

      • drax

        Again, the county doesn’t run or maintain the power system.

        • CourthouseChris

          Didn’t imply it does – however there are incentives that could be utilized in the public-private partnership that is our power distribution system to improve performance. But I understand always-right drax had to get that in there, it’s cool.

    • Here’s a question

      Has there ever been a time when it isn’t a good time to build something under such Keynsian beliefs i.e. when times are bad we should invest because it is cheap and helps the economy, when times are good we have the surplus to spend money.

      Wake me when someone says we shouldn’t be spending (investment is not the right word).

  • Wiz

    I wonder if this pup is eyeing up the raccoon from yesterday’s picture?

  • YTK

    I’m a little worried about Molly– what’s that behind her, the Blob????

  • jode

    “Moran: Vaccinations Save Lives”
    You know what else saves lives, keeping a safe distance from your son.

  • CourthouseChris

    “Tea Party Wants to Weigh in on Streetcar” Ahh yes, let’s all listen in on what the intellectual core of the Republican Party has to say. I shall offer them hearty congratulations if even full sentences are produced.

  • My patch of Arlington

    I’m going to buy a new Ferrari. I know it’s expensive and I don’t have the money, but I know it will be more expensive later.

    • drax

      I’m going to invest in a new, reliable car that will get me to work. I know it’s expensive and I don’t have the money, but I can borrow the money, and getting to my job will pay it off, and then some, in the long run.

      • My patch of Arlington

        Exactly drax. It comes down to what’s needed and what’s not. We need infrastructure improvements / school upkeep etc. That’s what debt should be for when times are tight. Do we need an Aquatics Center?

  • South Awwlington

    Hitching the Tea Party to this argument and using the phrase “educated opinions” and using them in the same sentence. Priceless. Game on.

    • SomeGuy

      It sounds like you’re very enlightened. Please elaborate on your implication that no one in the Tea Party is capable of articulating an educated opinion.

      • South Awwlington

        http://youtu.be/fsEoqm0paww
        http://youtu.be/tGGAgljengs
        http://youtu.be/lUPMjC9mq5Y

        Should I continue or do you get the point? I mean I totally could could, there are hours of it.

        • SomeGuy

          I didn’t bother to click your links because I wanted YOU to use your own words to “elaborate on your implication that no one in the Tea Party is capable of articulating an educated opinion.” Submitting 3 links does not make your case, regardless of what those links contain. Use your words please.

          If you’re trying to argue that a group/organization with over a few dozen participants is likely to have some idiots among its ranks, then I won’t dispute you. Such a case could be made for any group. But you haven’t convinced me that “no one in the Tea Party is capable of articulating an educated opinion,” which is what you implied in your initial post.

  • arlpky5

    What pharma company is lobbying Moran for that message?

    • http://bobsvercl.com bobco85

      Must have been the “eevul” Centers for Disease Control ;)

      Seriously, if the pharmaceutical companies were lobbying Moran, he’d be writing about how we all need to take stuff like Cialis, diet pills, and testosterone pills. Now those products are money-makers!

      • drax

        You haven’t heard? Vaccines are a huge windfall for pharma – so much that they invent flu epidemics just to sell them! I read it on the internet so it must be true.

  • T

    Now that Virginia is going to produce its own currency, do we have to worry about getting the cash for capital projects? This must be legit because the Republicans and the Tea Party are behind it.

  • The Bible

    > Vaccines are a huge windfall for pharma – so much that they invent flu epidemics just to sell them!

    The flu did not exist 100 years ago.

  • http://1organicgardeningsupplies.wordpress.com/ gardener

    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment

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