Arlington County and WMATA are launching a “full independent review” of the process and the expenses that led to the $1 million Walter Reed “Super Stop” on Columbia Pike.
The county announced the review in a press release this afternoon, after announcing last week that it was “reassessing” the design and cost of the controversial new bus stop. The stop was designed by Arlington after a two-year community process, then built by WMATA at a cost of more than $1 million.
The county and WMATA have not yet determined who will conduct the independent review of the stop, according to Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius. The findings will be released to the public.
The county press release, after the jump.
The Arlington County Police Department is warning of a scam that’s targeting local residents.
Fraudsters are calling Arlington residents, claiming to be representatives of a utility company, and demanding money for supposed unpaid bills. From a police press release:
Since the beginning of March, over two dozen Arlington County residents have become victims of a utility scam. Victims in these cases have received phone calls from individuals posing as utility company employees. The caller states that the victim has failed to pay utility bills and has an outstanding balance, threatening to shut off the utility services if a payment is not made immediately. Arlington County cases alone have resulted in losses ranging from $200-$1,000.
If you receive a call of this nature, make sure to verify that it is actually your utility company. Residents can do this by directly calling the number on your latest bill or by finding the number on the utility company’s main website. Never use the phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.
After making a verification call, if you find that you were a victim of a scam or were a target, please file an online police report… or call the non emergency police line at 703.558.2222.
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Stockton, California is proceeding in bankruptcy. It is a cautionary tale of a local government who thought the goose would continue to lay golden eggs and allowed themselves to spend more than prudence dictated.
Stockton is about 50 percent larger in population than Arlington and it is the largest city to go bankrupt. Stockton’s debt at the time of filing for Chapter 9 protection was $500 million, approximately half of Arlington’s current debt load. Jefferson County, Alabama is already working through the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in history with approximately $4.2 billion in debt.
What Arlington has compared to other municipalities is the seat of the federal government as its next door neighbor. Arlington was therefore largely shielded from the effects felt in many places during the recession. While the County is not increasing spending at the rate of the last decade, our county officials have actually plowed full speed ahead on capital expenditures and show no desire to slow down.
The County spent $1 million on one dog park while harassing a business owner who wanted to beautify another one for free. The County spent millions on the Artisphere which has not lived up to any of the promises made when the Board agreed to fund the project. Voters approved a parks bond that funded an aquatics center which may cost taxpayers $79 million to construct. And, the boondoggle trolley project, which will almost certainly cost well over the current $250 million price tag, is coming to the Pike.
The current symbol of spending excess in Arlington is the $1 million bus stop on Columbia Pike — a precursor to the trolley project. The price tag is so outrageous that even CNN ran a story on it this week. The County Manager said they would “reassess” these “super stops” before moving forward, but the plan all along was for each of the 24 stops to cost over $850,000 on average.
The County Board should reassess the need for an independent office of Inspector General to audit all county expenditures. The Board has resisted the idea raised first by the Civic Federation consistently, but do we really believe the same county staff that oversaw the projects to begin with will produce an independent analysis? With a billion dollars and climbing in debt, it is time for the Board to embrace this measure of transparency and accountability.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Virginia’s Republican Leaders are continuing their multi-year crusade to stifle the hard-won rights of Virginia’s women.
In my March 19 column, I highlighted the systematic efforts by this year’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, to drive Virginia women’s rights back to the 1950’s.
But Cuccinelli is far from alone. The current Republican Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell—who is eyeing a race for President in 2016–doesn’t want to let Cuccinelli overshadow McDonnell’s own efforts to restrict women’s rights. Last week, McDonnell exercised his gubernatorial authority to modify legislation passed by the Virginia legislature earlier this year.
McDonnell added an amendment to Virginia health care reform legislation that interferes in women’s private medical decisions by prohibiting insurance companies from offering policies that cover safe and legal abortion as a part of Virginia’s health exchange. This is part of McDonnell’s effort to curry favor with the far right wing of his party. McDonnell does not want to be outflanked by Cuccinelli in Republican right wing circles just as jockeying among the 2016 Republican Presidential contenders begins to ramp up.
From 2011’s invasive ultrasound requirements (which made Virginia a laughingstock on late night comedy shows) to burdensome and medically unnecessary health clinic regulations, Virginia’s Republican politicians continue to generate outrage with their attacks on women’s health.
Important and private medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by politicians. Caring for pregnant women means making sure they have all the options they need for all medical possibilities during pregnancy – whether carrying a pregnancy to term or making the decision with their doctor to end a pregnancy.
The federal constitutional right to an abortion is an integral part of basic health care for women, and must be part of comprehensive insurance plans in Virginia. McDonnell’s amendment sets yet another dangerous precedent of political interference into health care decisions by eliminating coverage for care to which he is ideologically opposed—but about which he lacks the medical training to evaluate.
McDonnell and Cuccinelli need to find other ways to cozy up to the far right wing of the Republican Party.
Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Many police departments and taxi companies are still trying to find a suitable replacement for the venerable but discontinued Ford Crown Victoria , but Arlington’s Red Top Cab already chosen its Crown Vic successor: the 2013 Ford Fusion.
Far from being a generic, workhorse fleet vehicle, the 2013 Fusion is actually a stylish car that’s setting sales records. Red Top, which has 58 older Fusion models in its fleet, says the newly-redesigned Fusion (starting MSRP: $21,900) is ideal for taxi use.
“Our 2013 Ford Fusions use aerodynamic styling and advanced engineering to provide exceptional gas mileage and a reduced carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort or safety,” the company said in its March newsletter. “Comfortable seating for five, a surprising commodious trunk, with rear seats that can fold down to accommodate items like skis, make for a very versatile taxicab.”
Red Top marketing director Von Pelot says the company has 20 new Fusions in its fleet of 350 cabs, and plans to add 30 more this year.
“We expect the Fusion to be our primary replacement vehicle for the Red Top fleet at this time,” Pelot said. He said that familiarity with Ford, an economical price, and safety were also factors when choosing a new fleet vehicle.
“The design of the 2013 also virtually eliminates ‘blind spots’ with windows strategically placed to provide almost 360 degrees of visibility,” he said. “Also, the 2013 Ford Fusion earned the highest five-star safety rating in federal crash tests, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
The car has been well-received by both taxi passengers and drivers.
“As a taxicab company, we have two sets of customers, our drivers — our ‘front seat customers’ — and our passengers,” he said. “We are receiving very positive reviews from the drivers who love the handling, lack of blind spots, fuel economy and really cool look of the 2013 Fusion. Our passengers like the comfort, and trunk size (those who use us for trips to the airport or shopping).”
Pelot said he’s not aware of any other local cab companies that are using the 2013 Fusion. Ford has not responded to a request for comment.
A new restaurant from Wilson Tavern owner Reese Gardner is coming to Shirlington.
“Copperwood Tavern” will be opening in the former Bistro Bistro space at 4021 Campbell Avenue. The restaurant’s elaborate interior will be an updated take on an old logging tavern, Gardner told ARLnow.com in February. Old saws and moonshine bottles will adorn the walls.
The restaurant will be more upscale than Wilson Tavern, and will serve American small plates, some 30 draft beers, and 30 craft bourbons, we were told. Interior construction began on Feb. 10 and Gardener was hoping to open at some point in July.
Washingtonian reports that Copperwood Tavern will seat 115 and will have a Sunday brunch buffet.
Parents Weigh in on School Boundary Proposal — A group of about two dozen parents spoke out about proposed changes to elementary school boundaries at an Arlington School Board hearing last night. While some parents asked that their children be kept in their current schools, Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s plan seemed to have more community support than previous attempts to redraw school boundaries. [Sun Gazette, Patch, Arlington Mercury]
DJO Softball Still Ranked #3 — Bishop O’Connell’s softball team is still ranked #3 in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com. The team is currently 6-0 on the season, and has outscored opponents 69-1. Bishop O’Connell will play two away games in Cumberland, Md. this weekend. [MaxPreps]
Crystal Towers Sells for Record Amount — Archstone Crystal Towers in Crystal City has sold for a regional record $322.25 million. The 912-unit apartment complex was purchased by Dweck Properties. [GlobeSt.com]
County Commissions Push for Alternate Cemetery Plan — Arlington’s Urban Forestry Commission and the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board are both encouraging an alternate expansion plan for Arlington National Cemetery. Local conservationists have criticized the current plan because it will result in hundreds of older trees being cut down. The plan being pushed by the Arlington groups would preserve many of the trees while adding thousands of additional burial sites. [Arlington Mercury]
Design Suggestions for Super Stop — A local designer is weighing in with suggestions for improving the $1 million “Super Stop” at Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive. The stop’s layout, seating and canopy should all be redesigned, says designer David Panarelli. Arlington County is currently “reassessing” the design and cost of the much-maligned bus stop. [Open the Window]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) A 24-year-old Alexandria man shot himself outside Union Jack’s (671 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston last night.
The shooting happened around 1:00 a.m. According to police, the man was having “domestic dispute” with his girlfriend inside the restaurant. He then walked outside, took out a gun, fired several shots in the air, and then shot himself in the head, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
About 30 people witnessed the shooting, Sternbeck said. At least one bystander attempted CPR.
The man was rushed to the hospital and is currently alive and on life support, in very critical condition. He was not pronounced dead, as earlier reported.
This was at least the second time this year that a major police incident happened at the restaurant. Union Jack’s was the scene of a brawl that resulted in two arrests in February.
Photos courtesy Misty Alvarez
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) A two alarm fire destroyed a house and sent two children to the hospital this morning.
The fire was reported at a home on the 2000 block of S. Lincoln Street, in the Nauck neighborhood, around 7:45 a.m. Two children who were inside the home were transported to Children’s Hospital for possible smoke inhalation. The fire was extinguished around 8:15 a.m.
Firefighters from Arlington and Alexandria responded to the blaze. The family that owns the home is being assisted by the Red Cross.
Fire photos courtesy @CAPT258 and Daniel Fitch