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Polite Applause Gives Way to Shouts at Gun Violence Forum

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 2,868 views | 277 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran's panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee high school

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) What started with polite applause ended with jeers and shouts, as Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) hosted a panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee High School Monday night.

Hundreds turned out at the school’s auditorium for the discussion, with gun supporters — wearing “Guns Save Lives” stickers — outnumbering gun control advocates about 3:2, based on the volume of completing applause points.

Among the panelists on stage with Moran were:

  • David Chapman, a retired ATF Special Agent and advisor to Mayors Against Illegal Guns
  • Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Earl Cook, Alexandria Police Chief
  • Jonathan Lowy, of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
  • Karen Marangi, of Mayors Against Illegal Guns

The event was titled “Preventing Another Newtown: A Conversation on Gun Violence in America,” and the Newtown, Aurora and Tuscon mass shootings were repeatedly referenced.

Rep. Jim Moran's panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee high schoolWhile expressing general support for the Second Amendment right to own firearms, Moran and the panelists made the case for additional gun control measures, including universal background checks, an renewed assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits and mandated reporting of stolen guns. Possible changes to the treatment of those with mental illness were also discussed.

“We hope those of you in the room will really help us to move this, so we can make our communities safer,” Marangi said of some of the gun control legislation that has been proposed in Congress.

Many in the audience, however, were there to voice another opinion. After a generally polite reception for a opening statements by the panelists, the question and answer session brought a different tone.

A majority of speakers spoke strongly in support of gun rights and against additional gun laws, and some expressed fear that the government’s ultimate goal in gun legislation is to gradually ban gun ownership. Moran and the panel’s response to the audience statements and questions often drew boos and shouts.

Rep. Jim Moran's panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee high schoolGun supporters said that firearms make communities safer, not more dangerous, by allowing law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves and those around them.

“Congressman, I know you’re pro-choice, but why aren’t you pro-choice when it comes to self-defense for women?” said one speaker to loud applause. “Why don’t you guys listen to the young rape victims in Colorado when they said that if they had a gun it would have prevented their attacker.”

Other gun supporters called for the elimination of “gun-free zones,” particularly around schools.

“As you can see, there are a lot of people here who are legitimate, law-abiding gun owners,” said a man who asked fellow gun owners to stand, before voicing support for allowing teachers to carry guns. “We would be more than happy to defend innocent lives should a psycho… come into an area to commit an act of violence.”

“I would be opposed to teachers carrying guns in the classroom, and I would not want my children in a classroom where their teacher was carrying a gun,” Moran said in response, to applause from gun control advocates in the audience.

Rep. Jim Moran's panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee high school“I know this community well enough to know that the people standing up in this auditorium are not representative of the majority of the residents, ” he continued, to more applause as well as some jeers.

Moran and the panelists drew the most jeers when they brought up “assault weapons.”

“What does that even mean?” some audience members shouted, about the term. Some speakers — those who stood in line to speak — made the case that the term assault weapon is often used to refer to a gun that might look menacing but isn’t significantly different, functionality-wise, from a standard semiautomatic handgun.

“I don’t agree that there’s a need for individuals to have military-style assault weapons,” Moran retorted. “I don’t believe that we need guns that can hold in excess of ten bullets.”

Adding to the urgency of passing gun control laws, Moran said, is a projection that gun deaths will exceed traffic fatalities by 2015. That expected milestone is partially due to rising gun deaths, but mostly due to advances in car safety that started in the 1970s — safety improvements, he said, that came about after being mandated by law.

Speaking to reporters after the forum, Moran said he expected a negative response from the crowd.

(more…)

Photos: Leadership Arlington’s Monte Carlo Fundraiser

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 723 views | 6 Comments

Leadership Arlington, a local nonprofit that works “to develop trained leaders who are committed to building and strengthening our community,” held its annual Monte Carlo fundraiser at Reagan National Airport over the weekend.

The event drew some 450 people, the group said. Among those pictured above are Leadership Arlington graduates Megan Lake (of Bean Creative), Bobby Wright (of Virginia Heritage Bank), Mary Johnson (of ESI International), Lee Anne McLarty (of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District), Omar Sider (of SuperStar Tickets — and an avid poker player), and respective spouses.

Additional photos can be found on the Leadership Arlington Facebook page. From the group’s press release:

With more than 450 Washington metropolitan community stakeholders in attendance, Leadership Arlington’s eighth annual Monte Carlo Night exceeded expectations. The event was held Saturday, March 9, 2013 at Ronald Reagan National Airport, Historic Terminal “A.” Proceeds from this event support Leadership Arlington’s mission and Youth Program.

The theme of the evening was “Monte Carlo Night Goes to Paris.” Guests were transported to an elegant Parisian soirée without having to leave the DC area. Patrons were treated to an exciting array of activities from a silent auction benefiting the Leadership Arlington Youth Program to Monte Carlo casino-style gaming tables. Mark Ingrao, President of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, graduate of the inaugural Leadership Arlington Signature Program Class of 1999 and member of the Leadership Arlington Board of Regents, led guests through an exciting live auction as the evening neared its end.

“We were thrilled to receive such amazing support from the community for this year’s Monte Carlo Night,” said Betsy Frantz, President & CEO of Leadership Arlington. “This event is critical to the success of the Youth Program and mission of the organization. We appreciate the collaboration of leaders from the area validating our organization.”

Each year, the “who’s who” in the business, nonprofit and public sectors enjoy the opportunity to connect with other key leaders in our community in a fun and elegant environment at Monte Carlo Night, and this year was no exception.

Photos courtesy Leadership Arlington

Peter’s Take: Aquatic Center, Dog Park Costs are Extravagant

by Peter Rousselot | March 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 2,144 views | 89 Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

In last week’s column, I explained why Arlington needs to develop a core services approach to deal with its budget. Several commenters offered helpful suggestions as to how Arlington ought to define a core services approach.

For example:

  • “Another way to look at the role of government revolves around the phrase ‘Basic Human Needs.’ Things like the Artisphere, other arts and cultural projects, fancy swimming pools, and dog parks need to take a back seat to education, public safety, assistance to the needy.” -Willy
  • “Focus on the core and spend in other [areas] only as funds permit. But equally as important, spend wisely on everything.” -John Fontain
  • “It’s stuff that you would think is almost too self-evident to need mentioning. But when you see the cuts proposed, you have to wonder. Sure, there is some room for debate about what is core, and the published example from California is just one example.” -Flux

Of course, there are refinements, adjustments and other details that Arlington needs to address in order to adopt a core services approach to its budget.

For example:

  • Core services such as police, fire, and schools should not be immune from cuts. As “John Fontain” says, Arlington should “spend wisely on everything”. But, programs and services in core areas such as these should be given greater protection from cuts than programs in more peripheral areas.
  • Contrary to the views of another commenter last week, I certainly do not believe that Arlington should stop funding parks or libraries. These are critical functions of our local government and justify very substantial continuing investment.

Where Arlington has missed the mark is by spending, or proposing to spend, extravagant amounts of money in areas relating to, for example, public recreation. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it is important for Arlington to provide facilities like swimming pools and dog parks. But, I also believe it is extravagant to construct an $82 million Aquatics Center or a $1.7 million dog park.

In the end, Arlington needs to adopt a core services approach to budgeting because such an approach will provide a publicly articulated and understood set of values by which budget proposals can be measured.

A core services approach to budgeting should only be adopted by the County Board after an appropriate process of community engagement.

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Board Approves New Apartment Tower in Fort Myer Heights

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm | 13 Comments

Rendering of the newly-approved Pierce Queen apartment towerThe Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved a new 12-story apartment tower as part of an affordable housing development in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.

The project will redevelop five existing garden apartment buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments, along 16th Street and between N. Pierce and Queen Streets. The buildings currently contain 50 market rate affordable apartments, that rent from $1,057 to $1,390. Three would be torn down to make way for the 181-unit apartment tower, and two would be renovated and reconfigured to contain 12 three-bedroom units.

Of the 193 total units in the complex, 76 would be reserved as committed affordable housing for 60 years. As a condition of approval, the tower will be built to LEED Silver sustainability specifications. Other community benefits include a $75,000 public art contribution designated exclusively for the Fort Myer Heights area, and preservation of the two garden apartment buildings, which are considered historic by the county.

Approval of the project has been delayed due to a number of issues with the developers’ application for Affordable Housing Investment Funds from the county. Those issues were largely resolved since the Board deferred consideration of the project last month, according to a staff report. The Board voted separately last night to approve $6.8 million in AHIF funds for the project.

The developers, Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, will now apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. If that application is successful — a decision is expected in June — the project is expected to be built by fall 2015.

The county plans to iron out details of a Tenant Assistance Fund after the tax credits are awarded. The fund would help current Pierce Queen residents, who would be forced to relocate for at least two years during construction, from fall 2013 to project completion.

County Board Chair Walter Tejada applauded the developers for working with the county and the community to make changes to the project since it was first proposed. The county’s Site Plan Review Committee previously raised concerns about the project’s design, which led to changes like an increased building height taper, building entrance design modifications, a redesigned courtyard and the elimination of above-grade parking.

“The project is improved enough that i’m glad to support it,” Tejada said.

Former ‘Lucky Seven’ to Become Nauck Town Square

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 11:15 am | 1,601 views | 26 Comments

The former Lucky Seven store in Nauck, closed since a fire last summer, was recently torn down and will eventually become part of a park.

Before the fire, in 2010, the property (2406 S. Shirlington Road) was purchased by Arlington County for $1.4 million, according to property records. The purchase followed a public process in 2006 to design a “Nauck Town Square,” a central public gathering place for the community that complements the developing Nauck Village Center commercial district on Shirlington Road.

The “town square” would incorporate the existing green space on the block, the Lucky Seven property and a still-privately-owned property at 2400 S. Shirlington Road. The county is now in discussions with the owner of that property about a possible acquisition, according to Chikwe Njoku, the county’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program Coordinator.

The current design for the Nauck Town Square includes “a public plaza with outdoor seating, landscaped areas with a water feature, decorative lighting, public art, and displays featuring the history of the community,” according to the county website. It will also feature either an open-air pavilion or an enclosed public multipurpose facility, for hosting entertainment and community events.

“Once completed, this Square will encompass the entire block and host a variety of community events both formal and informal,” the county said. “Additionally, it will provide an outdoor location for public art, Nauck interpretative historical elements, and outdoor entertainment.”

Njoku said it’s impossible to know exactly when the project will move forward, since it depends on the purchase of private property. He also said that the plans for the town square are likely to be “slightly different” than those conceived in 2006.

“There is no official timeline for this project yet since we are still in discussions with the owners on the acquisition of the final parcel,” Njoku said. “However, we are planning to engage the community this Fall and revisit the design that was developed as part of the Nauck Town Square Charrette. We will have a better idea of the project timeline by the time we start that process.”

Sweet Leaf Cafe Coming to Courthouse

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 10:10 am | 1,859 views | 21 Comments

Sweet Leaf Cafe in Vienna (photo via Facebook) Hikaru Sushi (photo via Google Maps)

Sweet Leaf Cafe, a local coffee-sandwich-and-salad shop with locations in McLean and Vienna, will soon be coming to Courthouse.

Building permits are up at the former Hikaru Sushi space at 2200 Wilson Blvd, one block from the Courthouse Metro. At that location, Sweet Leaf will be competing with a nearby Starbucks and Java Shack for cafe customers, but will fill something of a salad void following the closure of Rabbit Salad and Grill in Clarendon.

Sweet Leaf’s menu includes breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cupcakes and other pastries, tea, coffee and espresso drinks.

Owned by Arita and Andre Matini, Sweat Leaf Cafe first opened in McLean when the siblings were just 22 and 27, according to the restaurant’s website. The Vienna location opened in 2011.

One local business owner, who didn’t want his name used for this article, lauded Sweet Leaf and its owners.

“I think it will be f–king awesome for this neighborhood,” he said. “That’s one of the places we need around here, I think it’s great news and they’re really great people.”

Photos via Facebook, Google Maps

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 9:00 am | 1,910 views | 52 Comments

The demolition of the former Navy Annex on Columbia Pike

Arlington Man Sues Uber — An Arlington man is suing Uber, the online car service reservation company, after he says a driver verbally abused him, spit on him and kicked him out of the car last year. The driver allegedly told the man that he “hates Americans and homosexuals.” [WTOP]

Parents Speak Out Against Boundary Plan — Parents spoke out against proposed elementary school boundary changes at a meeting organized by Arlington Public Schools last night. Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to present his boundary change recommendation to the School Board on March 21. [Patch]

D.C. Area High on Home ‘Affordability’ — Homes in the D.C. area are more affordable than the national average, according to new figures from the National Association of Home Builders. Of the homes sold in the last quarter of 2012, 78.7 percent could be considered “affordable” to those making the area median income of $105,700, compared to the national average of 74.1 percent. [Sun Gazette]

WWII Spy to Be Buried at ANC — A highly decorated, Swiss-born World War II spy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this month. The family of Rene Joyeuse was initially denied a burial at the cemetery, but the military reversed its decision after a letter-writing campaign by intelligence service veterans. [WJLA, NY Daily News]

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