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Trial Date Set as Krusinski Appears in Court

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm | 475 views | No Comments

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, the Air Force sexual assault prevention chief who’s accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, will face trial in July.

With his attorney by his side, a stone-faced Krusinski was arraigned in Arlington General District Court this afternoon. Defense attorney Sheryl Shane argued for a later trial date, citing the need to track down and talk to witnesses, but the judge denied the request, instead setting a trial date of Thursday, July 18.

When Krusinski exited the courthouse after today’s hearing, he was mobbed by reporters and photographers from local and national news outlets. Despite a barrage of questions from microphone-toting TV reporters, he said nothing as he got into the back seat of a dark-colored BMW, which quickly drove off.

Krusinski was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program on Monday after ARLnow.com first reported that he had been arrested, accused of drunkenly grabbing the breasts and buttocks of a woman he didn’t know in a Crystal City parking lot.

The case became national headline news, leading to statements from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Obama, and contributing to a renewed debate about how to deal with the widespread problem of sexual assault in the military.

The charge of sexual battery that Krusinski faces carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. Prosecutor Cari Steele, an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, declined to say whether she will seek the maximum sentence in the case.

Peter’s Take: AFAC Provides Vital Community Services

by Peter Rousselot | May 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm | 765 views | No Comments

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 RousselotIt’s important every so often to take a step back and recognize organizations that provide vital services to our community.

AFAC—the Arlington Food Assistance Center—is one of these organizations.

AFAC is a non-profit founded over 20 years ago to distribute food and groceries to Arlington residents who cannot afford to purchase enough food to meet their basic needs. Any family seeking such assistance must have a referral from a local church, school, social service agency, or Arlington County government agency.

AFAC currently serves approximately 1,600 families. About 40 percent of its clients are children. Among these are homeless children. The Arlington Public School system estimates that there are as many as 300 homeless children attending schools in the County at any one time. They live in transient housing, often with no food or kitchens available. Their main meal of the day is at the school they attend.

The other main categories of AFAC’s clients include:

  • elderly residents with high medical expenses
  • those with mental or emotional disabilities
  • eligible applicants for food stamps who have not yet begun to receive them
  • those suffering from illness or disability who lack sick leave employment benefits

AFAC depends on different kinds of volunteer assistance to sustain its programs. In 2012, volunteers provided AFAC with over 25,000 hours of their time. This saved AFAC at least $500,000 in staffing costs, and enabled AFAC to direct these savings to help eligible families. Organizing food drives, and encouraging other Arlington organizations to become AFAC community partners, are two of the principal ways in which to volunteer.

AFAC organizes and administers a series of genuine safety net programs, helping needy individuals and families avoid hunger when they truly have no other viable option.

To learn more about AFAC, and how you might be able to help, visit www.afac.org.

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

The Right Note: Make Virginia Number One

by Mark Kelly | May 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 858 views | No Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column 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 United States continues to battle Japan for the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. It is not a place in the world rankings we should aspire to hold if we want to remain the global economic leader for generations to come. While our unemployment rate is inching down, too many Americans have simply given up looking for work. So, it is incumbent upon elected officials to create a pro-growth environment at every level of government.

This week Virginia gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli outlined his Economic Growth & Virginia Jobs Plan. It touches on a number of items, but I wanted to highlight three:

First, the plan calls for capping state government spending growth at no more than the rate of population plus inflation. This is a common sense measure that would give legislators in Richmond a reasonable budget to work with every two years. Hopefully, the idea would be given the force and effect of law rather than simply be stated as a goal.

Second, the plan would reduce the corporate income tax rate to 4 percent, which would make Virginia’s rate one of the most attractive in the country. Certainly, one of the ways, other than savings from a cap in spending growth, to accommodate the tax rate reduction is by heeding Cuccinelli’s call to curtail special interest tax breaks. Leveling the playing field for all businesses in Virginia makes sense.

Third, the plan would create a Small Business Tax Relief Commission. One of the goals of this commission is to reduce or eliminate the BPOL tax. As noted last week, BPOL is a tax on gross receipts, not income. This tax particularly hurts businesses with the slimmest profit margins.

Making jobs and the economy his first specific policy rollout sends a strong signal about the highest priority of the Cuccinelli campaign. For comparison, Terry McAuliffe’s website does feature an issue section with a page on jobs or the economy. His sole economic growth policy position is that we should invest in the creation of “green jobs”, which probably means taxpayer funded special interest incentives. McAuliffe has maintained this priority even after a string of negative reports on his GreenTech Automotive venture. Based on GreenTech, and failed companies like Solyndra, Virginians should be wary of any government attempts to pick winners and losers.

Competition for businesses, and the jobs they bring, will continue between states. We should expect our next governor to have a plan to make Virginia number one in private sector job creation.

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

Events Around Arlington for Neighborhood Day

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 962 views | No Comments

saturday-4Saturday, May 11 is Neighborhood Day in Arlington, and the county and community groups are organizing a slew of events to help get residents out and about.

The day’s events include family festivals, pet walks, 5K races and community service opportunities.

“There’s something happening for everyone in Arlington on Neighborhood Day,” says the county’s Neighborhood Day web page. “Neighborhood Day’s goal has always been to help Arlingtonians make connections with neighbors. ”

Nearly a dozen events are planned on Saturday, including:

Saturday’s weather is expected to be warm with possible scattered showers.

Arlington’s Homeless Population Increases

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2013 at 11:50 am | No Comments

Changes in the regional homeless population(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) The number of homeless individuals in Arlington County increased 6 percent between 2012 and 2013, but the homeless population is still lower than it was in 2010, according to a newly-released study.

The annual Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments homelessness report revealed that the homeless count in Arlington increased from 451 in 2012 to 479 in 2013. During that same period, the Washington region saw a 2.4 percent decrease in its homeless population, led by a 22 percent drop in Alexandria, a 12 percent drop in Fairfax County, and a 1 percent drop in the District of Columbia.

Details about Arlington's homeless populationArlington’s homeless population had decreased the past two years, from a peak of 531 homeless individuals in 2010. This year, Arlington has the second highest homelessness ratio — 2.2 homeless persons per 1,000 residents — of any local jurisdiction except D.C., where there are 10.9 homeless persons per 1,000 residents.

Arlington’s latest homeless count was performed on January 30, 2013.

The rise in the local homeless population is happening despite Arlington’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, which was first published in 2006. That plan includes supportive services and rental assistance for homeless individuals, and the opening of the new homeless shelter and services center in Courthouse.

Other vital statistics about Arlington’s homeless population from the MWCOG study include:

  • Arlington has 70 homeless families, comprised of 88 adults and 123 kids
  • There are 14 homeless veterans in Arlington, down from 24 in 2012
  • There were 198 homeless individuals placed in permanent housing in fiscal year 2012
  • There were 49 disabled homeless individuals placed in permanent supportive housing in fiscal year 2012
  • The number of “chronically homeless” individuals is down from 175 in 2012 to 156 in 2013
  • The numbers of homeless individuals classified with chronic substance abuse problems and severe mental illness are 99 and 45, respectively

“The great news is in the County’s success with chronically homeless individuals, where we went from 175 to 156,” said Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick, in an email sent Thursday afternoon. “These are the people living on the street who are at risk of dying if they don’t get help. This is the target population for our 100 Homes initiative, and we are really pleased with the results to date of getting these Arlingtonians off the street and into stable housing.”

“The Point-in-Time is one lens for looking at the state of homelessness and it gives us some good information,” Larrick continued. “We have other lenses that provide more depth and breadth. What they are showing us is that moving people quickly into housing and providing necessary supports is what results in the best outcomes. Programs like Permanent Supportive Housing and Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing use this strategy. And that will be a key strategy at the new Homeless Services Center when it opens in late 2014. With its year-round beds and on-site services, the new center will greatly enhance our ability to get people on the path to stable housing.”

Video: Arlington’s Magistrate Office

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2013 at 10:05 am | 451 views | No Comments

A new video produced by Arlington County explains how the local Office of the Magistrate works.

Magistrates are independent judicial officers who determine whether probable cause exists for criminal complaints by law enforcement officers and members of the public.

“Magistrate duties include issuing various types of processes such as arrest warrants, summonses, bonds, search warrants, and medical detention orders,” according to the county’s website. “Magistrates also conduct bail hearings in instances in which an individual is arrested on a warrant charging him or her with a criminal offense. Magistrates provide services 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Arlington magistrate’s office is located at 2020 15th Street N., on the ground floor of the county jail.

The young woman seen being arrested and locked up in the video, for the record, was an intern in the police department’s media relations and public affairs office, not an actual criminal.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2013 at 9:00 am | 1,028 views | No Comments

"Spring" by Wolfkann

Arraignment for Air Force Officer — Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the airman who was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program after being accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in an Arlington County courtroom. While the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney office is prosecuting the case, the Air Force has the option of bringing its own case against Krusinski. [Associated Press]

CivFed Opposes Tree Removal at Cemetery — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted Tuesday to oppose a plan to remove 800 trees at Arlington National Cemetery in order to make way for about 30,000 in-ground burial spots and niche spaces. The resolution asks Arlington’s congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to stop the plan and asks the County Board to officially support the legislation. [Sun Gazette]

Four Students Earn Nat’l Merit Scholarships — Four Arlington students have been awarded National Merit Scholarships. The students receiving the $2,500 scholarships are: Ariel Bobbett and Elizabeth Roy of Washington-Lee High School, Nicole Orttung of Yorktown High School, and Robert C. Wharton of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [Arlington Public Schools]

Day One of School Board Caucus — The first day of the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus for School Board will take place tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Drew Model Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.). The second day of party voting will take place on Saturday. Incumbent James Lander is facing off against challenger Barbara Kanninen for the Democratic endorsement. [Arlington Democrats]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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