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by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm 1,552 0

Albert Kim (to the right of the flag) running in the 2013 Boston MarathonA member of the Arlington County Police Department is talking about his experience at the Boston Marathon on Monday, in light of the bombings that shook the event.

Cpl. Albert Kim has been with ACPD for about 13 years. He’s part of the department’s Tactical Training Unit, which holds the dual purpose of serving as a member of the SWAT team and providing training to other officers.

Kim doesn’t consider himself a marathon runner, he considers himself a triathlete. He was recently selected to compete in the International Triathlon Union championships in London this fall. Occasionally, he participates in marathons because they’re a “lower stress” form of training for him. After having been a spectator at the Boston Marathon last year, this year he decided to run it.

Kim had finished the race before the bombings and was already back in Cambridge, where he was staying, and just about to sit down for dinner at a restaurant. The person he was supposed to dine with is a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where nearly three dozen of the bombing victims were taken for treatment, and immediately was called back to the hospital. Kim said his instinct as a first responder was to do as his dinner partner had done, and head back into the city to assist. But he fought the urge and instead heeded the pleas of local law enforcement officials who asked residents and visitors alike to stay off the streets.

“Being a law enforcement officer, you want to help as much as you can. But at the same time, me not knowing the area, not being familiar with what needs to be done, I would be more of a hindrance,” said Kim. “The best thing I could do was stay out of everyone’s way, not go out, not see what’s going on at the scene, but follow directions. Everyone was being told to stay in place, to not leave their hotel rooms or congregate in groups.”

Like the others in the restaurant, Kim says he stared in disbelief at the scene playing out in front of him on the television.

“Everyone was glued to the television and the first thing I saw on the big screen was a replay of the explosion at the finish line. I was just watching the news and reading the updates. No one’s talking inside the place, everyone’s kind of staring at the television,” said Kim. “I was saddened by what I saw. It was a little bit of confusion too because I think initially everyone was speculating as to what had taken place. My first reaction is, who does something like that? What possess someone to do something like that on such a wonderful day with everyone watching? It’s very disheartening.”

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by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm 416 0

Seoul Food truck serves up Korean cuisineArlington’s food trucks may have an easier time adhering to the law if the County Board adopts changes to an ordinance this weekend. The parking issues that have been plaguing food truck vendors and resulted in legal battles in recent months will come up at Saturday’s board meeting.

Proposed ordinance changes include extending the amount of time food trucks can park in one space from one hour to two hours. Currently, food trucks must move after one hour, but the ordinance wording is vague and doesn’t specify how far the vehicle must move, causing problems with enforcement. That’s another issue board members will examine on Saturday.

Food truck vendors have argued that the 60 minute rule hurts business because they were often forced to move in the middle of a lunch rush, or else face a citation. County staff appears to agree, based on the following excerpt from the staff report:

This time limitation is challenging for vendors and customers when typical lunch hours are between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. A vendor is not able to adequately serve customers and patrons are unable to purchase lunch if their hours don’t correspond. Further, the overwhelming majority (approximately 90 percent) of parking meters within the Metro Station Areas are for at least two (2) hours.

Under the proposed ordinance amendments, the two hour limit would only cover time when vendors are actively selling to customers, not food prep time or clean up time. After a vendor’s time expires, sales would be required to stop and the vehicle would need to be moved to another marked parking space. If the parking area does not have metered spaces, the vehicle would need to be moved at least 25 feet.

Last month, a representative for the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington told ARLnow.com that the organization supports the county’s proposed ordinance changes.

by Mark Kelly — April 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm 720 0

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.

Mark KellyThe new Virginia transportation plan assumes it will receive revenue from online sales taxes captured under proposed legislation currently being considered by Congress. While the plan faces a number of hurdles in Washington, many are wondering how it would work?

Online sales have been largely exempt from taxes based on a Supreme Court case decision requiring a seller to have a physical presence in a state in order to be subject to collecting that state’s sales tax. Instead of trying to overturn this legal precedent, proponents of imposing online sales taxes have deftly moved to the other, largely unknown side, of the tax. It’s known as the use tax.

If you’ve never heard of it, you are not alone. By some estimates, 99 percent of use taxes are not paid. This makes it the type of ineffective government plan that is likely to be a prime candidate for repeal.

What is a use tax? In the simplest terms, residents of Virginia are legally required to pay a tax on any items you purchase that are not currently subject to a sales tax. So, whether you have been shopping tax free at Amazon.com or in Delaware, you technically owe Virginia sales tax on those items.

I found out about the use tax the hard way when my wife received an item as a gift that was shipped into Virginia from North Carolina. The revenue office acquired the shipping invoice and sent us a tax bill well over a year later. Rather than spending countless hours fighting the charge, we simply paid it, despite not having purchased the item ourselves.

Since then, I have always made a voluntary contribution to the use tax on my annual Virginia tax return. I also have been waiting for a statewide candidate who calls for repealing the use tax as part of their platform.

Now the use tax is proposed as the vehicle for a big revenue increase that will take more money out of our economy. Under the theory that we in Virginia, and in most states, currently owe this use tax anyway, the proponents of federal legislation view this mechanism as a way around the Supreme Court ruling requiring a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes. To do so, the plan would require us to pay the use taxes for Virginia on online sales at the point of sale.

If the federal law enabling use tax collections passes, Richmond should drop the plans to spend it. Instead, we should move to immediately lower the sales and use tax rate in a manner that ensures there is no net increase in revenue. Our Virginia economy would benefit from this approach. It would help all Virginians, and particularly those with lower incomes who need to maximize their buying power.

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

by Peter Rousselot — April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm 1,080 0

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.

Peter RousselotEarlier this year, when Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy unveiled his proposed schools budget, he coined a new phrase to describe school expenditures which he was NOT proposing. He called them “unfunded investments”. George Orwell would have tingled with admiration.

Among Dr. Murphy’s unfunded investments was any money to start foreign language instruction at any Arlington elementary school that is not already offering such instruction. Acknowledging the inequity of the current situation in which some elementary schools offer this instruction while others do not, Dr. Murphy polished his Orwellian credentials by calling these unfunded foreign language programs “lighthouses to places we need to be going”.

Let’s acknowledge right up front that in a schools budget currently exceeding $500,000,000, there are areas in which savings could be achieved and should be achieved. Let’s also accept Dr. Murphy’s estimate that it currently costs about $450,000 per school to add a foreign language program to each of the nine elementary schools that currently lack one. In Arlington’s current budget environment, the best that could be hoped for is that this instruction could be phased in over several years. There is no sign, however, that any such gradual phasing is actually going to occur.

Parents at Tuckahoe Elementary are mounting a last ditch petition drive to ask the County Board to provide such a program in their school. In their petition, the Tuckahoe parents state:

“Tuckahoe students are being denied the important educational opportunity of learning a second language at an early age. 13 out of 22 Arlington elementary schools have this opportunity, including nearby schools such as McKinley, Jamestown, Ashlawn, and Glebe.”

These Tuckahoe parents may not succeed this year, but by taking their case directly to the County Board they have found the right target. It is the misplaced spending priorities of the County Board, not those of the School Board, that are primarily responsible for the unfair and inequitable situation in which these Tuckahoe parents now find themselves.

As I wrote last week, excessive and extravagant spending by the County Board on projects like the Artisphere, the Aquatic Center, the Clarendon dog park, and the Columbia Pike streetcar are directly impacting the ability of Superintendent Patrick Murphy to honor promises to the schools’ community to expand elementary foreign language instruction.

The County Board has dropped a black curtain over the beacon that might otherwise shine from Dr. Murphy’s lighthouse.

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

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm 0

A suspicious substance in a package caused a scare at a government facility in the 700 block of S. Courthouse Road.

A hazmat team from the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the call of a package in the mail room at the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Arlington that reportedly contained a light colored powdery or crystal-type substance. The Arlington County Police Department was also at the scene to offer support.

There was a brief, partial evacuation of the facility while investigators examined the substance. According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl, the substance has since been found to be non-hazardous and crews have cleared the scene.

According to Karl, although the substance is not hazardous, the case will be taken over by Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) for further investigation.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm 1,965 0

Bayou Bakery LogoThe New Orleans Jazz Festival begins next week and that’s often considered the beginning of crawfish season. Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) is holding an event featuring the crustaceans this weekend to kick off the season.

The restaurant is kicking off its Third Annual Crawfish Boil series this Saturday, April 20. A spokeswoman for Bayou Bakery noted that chef David Guas is a Louisisana native and has been cooking crawfish “practically since he was in diapers.”

Visitors can purchase boiled crawfish and peel-and-eat shrimp by the pound, along with sides like corn on the cob. Beer specials will also be available. The event is first-come, first-served, and customers may call in to make sure there is still crawfish available.

The patio party begins at 5:00 p.m. and a New Orleans-style jazz quartet will begin playing at 5:30 p.m. It will wrap up around 7:30 p.m. The crawfish boils are scheduled for every Saturday through crawfish season, which typically ends in early June.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 11:00 am 581 0

A CubeSat device (photo via Wikipedia)(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Students at St. Thomas More Cathedral School (STM) are taking part in what has been dubbed “Mission Possible.” It’s a rare opportunity build a satellite and launch it into orbit.

According to an article published this week by Satnews.com, students will get assistance from a NASA Mission Manager in building a CubeSat, which is a miniature satellite used for space research. The satellite will collect data to be used for school research in math and science.

STM computer teacher Melissa Pore is helping to manage the project. She said yesterday was the official kick off and construction should begin in about two weeks.

“The really unique part about it is making the projects tie in to what’s already expected in the classroom, and giving that real world simulation for the kids,” Pore said. “Every student will have a part and will touch a piece of the hardware, whether they’re screwing in a bolt or putting together an onboard camera, they will all have a part.”

One of the things the satellite is expected to do is to take wide angle photos of small asteroids, of Earth and of St. Thomas More Cathedral School.

More than 60 high schools and universities participate in the CubeSat program, but STM would be the country’s first Pre-K through 8th grade elementary school to participate. The goal is to launch the CubeSat in late 2014.

STM received a donation of $10,000 to assist with the satellite launch from ATK Space Systems. The school has also received equipment such as solar panels and cameras from space industry donors. Anyone interested in donating additional resources or time to the project should contact Melissa Pore at mpore@stmschool.org.

CubeSat photo via Wikipedia

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 10:10 am 1,577 0

Proposed Army Navy Drive bicycle track plan(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) At its meeting this Saturday (April 20), the County Board is scheduled to vote on moving forward to create a bicycle track on Army Navy Drive.

Due to the way the street moves drivers onto, off of and around I-395, it’s considered “inhospitable” for pedestrians and cyclists. A plan has been in the works for years to create a separate track for cyclists and to reconfigure the street to improve travel between the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City.

According to the county staff report, the project would reconfigure 3,300 feet of Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street. It would provide shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, improve pedestrian space and construct a separate two-way bicycle track. The redesign is also intended to make room for the future streetcar line.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, Arlington County was granted Public Lands Highway Funds to make trail improvements. In FY 2012, the county was awarded a grant by the Federal Highway Administration to transform Army Navy Drive into a Complete Street. Designing the project is expected use the $706,000 of grants, and the County Board will vote on whether or not to accept and appropriate the funding for the project. It will then require additional funding for construction.

“This project aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program to expand safe travel options for all modes of transportation along our roadways,” said the county staff report. “The proposed cycle track will be one of the first in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

County staff did not report any issues with the plan and recommends the County Board approve it on Saturday.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2013 at 8:55 am 2,433 0

Crocuses in north Arlington

Reporter Verbally Assaulted, Mooned While Investigating Arlington Arrest — A WJLA reporter was met with hostility while looking into the case of two daycare workers arrested near Weenie Beenie for reckless endangerment of children. The two women are accused of driving seven children in a vehicle without securing them in safety restraints. The reporter discovered notices posted on the daycare’s door informing parents that it had been shut down. A woman who said she was a neighbor took down the notices with the cameras rolling, engaged in a verbal assault on the crew and then mooned the camera. [WJLA]

Trash and Hazardous Material Recycling Event on Saturday — The biannual Arlington Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) will take place this Saturday, April 20, at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Residents are able to bring items such as hazardous materials, metals, bicycles and electronics to be recycled or disposed of. The full list of accepted items is available online.

Man Rescued After Falling onto Metro Tracks — A man fell onto the tracks at the Pentagon City Metro station last week and was rescued by two bystanders. The man reportedly walked right off the train platform while texting on his cell phone as a train was approaching. A bystander in his 70s, along with his daughter, pulled the man to safety before the train arrived. [Washington Post]

Rosslyn ABC Store Closes — The Virginia ABC store at 1731 Wilson Blvd. has closed. A Virginia ABC spokeswoman told ARLnow.com last month that the store would not be renewing its lease, which expires April 30.

Streetcar Critics Keep Watch on Financing — The Arlington County Republican Committee vows to keep watch on county officials to make sure they follow the rules when finalizing the project’s financing package. The group opposes the streetcar plan and contends the County Board will go to any lengths to secure financing in order to avoid a voter referendum on the issue. Last week, the federal government declined the joint funding application from Arlington and Fairfax counties for the project. [Sun Gazette]

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