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by Katie Pyzyk — July 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm 1,699 0

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski on May 9The sexual battery charge against Lt. Col Jeffrey Krusinski — the former chief of the U.S. Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch — has been dropped, but Arlington County prosecutors intend to charge him with regular assault instead.

Police arrested Krusinski in May after an incident that we’re told began near Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, and then carried over to a nearby parking lot. He is accused of grabbing the breasts and buttocks of a woman he didn’t know.

At the time, Krusinski was chief of the Air Force’s program to prevent sexual assault, but he was removed from that position shortly after his arrest. According to the Air Force Times, a female two-star general now leads the branch.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said dropping the sexual assault charge is a procedural move. Prosecutors are seeking a grand jury indictment for the new assault charge on August 19.

The change means the case can now head to Circuit Court instead of General District Court. It prevents a potential extra step in the prosecution, since convictions in the lower court can be appealed to the Circuit Court.

Just as with sexual battery, a charge of assault and battery is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia and carries similar maximum penalties — a fine and up to one year in jail. The main difference is that prosecutors do not have to make the case for lewd behavior or intent.

Krusinski’s attorney, Barry Coburn, released the following statement today:

One of the most critical tasks prosecutors perform is the exercise of prosecutorial discretion: deciding how a case should be charged. Here, the prosecutors in Arlington County have exercised their discretion with care and judgment. While we respectfully disagree with the decision to charge Lt. Col. Krusinski with any offense, and look forward to defending our client at trial, we very much appreciate the care and diligence with which these prosecutors reached the conclusion that a sex offense could not legitimately be charged in this case.

Charging decisions such as this one must be based on the facts and the law of each individual case, not on politics or the desire to have a “teachable moment” concerning issues such as sexual abuse in the military. It is noteworthy that the reason this case became highly publicized was the combination of Col. Krusinski’s job responsibilities in the Air Force and the fact that he initially was arrested for misdemeanor sexual battery. His name and photograph were in virtually every newspaper in the country for these reasons. Now a decision has been reached by careful, responsible prosecutors that that was not the correct charge. This sequence of events hopefully will, in the future, give all of us, particularly persons of great responsibility, pause before we make premature judgments about pending criminal cases before trial, particularly cases involving individuals who have devoted their entire professional lives to military service.

by Katie Pyzyk — July 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm 1,589 0

7-eleven Slurpee Police plan on handing out a lot of tickets to children around Arlington this summer. But the tickets are the kind kids will actually want to receive.

The Arlington County Police Department teamed up with 7-Eleven for “Operation Chill” to reward good behavior. The program allows police to “ticket” Arlington youth spotted doing good deeds — with a coupon for a free small Slurpee good at 7-Eleven stores across the county.

Some of the “offenses” officers might give out a coupon for could be a kid helping another person, wearing a bicycle helmet, picking up trash or participating in other positive community activities.

“We look forward to participating in Operation Chill each year, as these coupons provide an excellent tool for our officers to encourage responsible behavior within our community,” said Chief M. Douglas Scott.

Since the program began in 1995, Arlington County officers have distributed tens of thousands of Slurpee coupons to children.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm 2,091 0

LaserShip van stolen at ExxonA LaserShip delivery van carrying packages from Amazon.com was stolen Thursday afternoon from the parking lot of an Exxon gas station near Rosslyn.

We’re told the driver was near the end of his route and the van had only a handful of packages left inside at the time of the theft. The van was idling in the parking lot when the driver stepped inside the gas station’s convenience store for “a couple of minutes,” a witness said.

While the van was idling, an unidentified suspect allegedly jumped in and speed off onto Clarendon Blvd. Police are now looking for the thief and the white-and-red van.

by Katie Pyzyk — July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm 4,888 0

Car crashes into fence at DMV on Four Mile Run Drive (courtesy photo)

Arlington County Police responded to an accident at the Department of Motor Vehicles (4150 S. Four Mile Run Drive) today, after a car crashed into a fence.

Police say the driver was at the DMV to take a driving test. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., the driver somehow jumped a curb in the parking lot and smashed into the fence.

Police are not able to release many details about what happened because the investigation into the incident is still ongoing. For now, it has not been determined if the driver will be charged.

Nobody was hurt in the incident.

Courtesy photo

by Katie Pyzyk — July 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm 796 0

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 “Our Town” grant awards totaling more than $4.7 million, and an Arlington project is among the recipients.

Arlington Economic Development-Arlington Public Art has been granted $75,000 to develop a public art project in the planned Nauck Town Square, which is intended to be the anchor for the Nauck Village Center. The County Board must give final approval for the grant as a formality, and that’s expected in September.

“The residents of the Nauck Community are truly thankful to the National Endowment of the Arts for their grant to assist us in planning a Town Square where all can enjoy its benefits and especially learn the history of Arlington County’s oldest African American community dating back to 1844,” said Nauck Civic Association President Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.

The NEA received 254 applications from across the country for this year’s Our Town grants. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.

“It’s very competitive. We’re very excited to be one of 59 chosen from across the country,” said Public Art Administrator Angela Adams.

The Lucky Seven store, which closed after a fire last year, previously occupied the site but was torn down earlier this year. The county had purchased the property at 2406 S. Shirlington Road in 2010 for $1.4 million.

The square eventually will take up the entire block between 24th Road South and South Shirlington Road. The county website says, “It will serve as a gathering place for residents to host a variety of community events and an area to showcase the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage with its collection of public art.”

Arlington Public Art has commissioned landscape architect and artist Walter Hood to devise the plaza’s final design. Hood will engage Nauck residents and community leaders in the design process to create a plaza that tells the story of the Nauck community and its heritage. Adams credits Hood’s involvement as one of the reasons the NEA considered Arlington for the grant.

“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” said Adams. “The Nauck community has waited a long time for this.”

Community meetings to discuss the design of the project are expected to start this fall and go into next year. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

“The County is looking forward to engaging Nauck residents and community leaders in the process of designing the plaza and art elements,” said Helen Duong with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm 1,824 0

Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez (photo via ACPD)The Alexandria woman accused of fatally locking her 8-month-old son in a hot car earlier this month had her bond set at $25,000 in Arlington County Circuit Court on Thursday morning.

Zoraida Magal Conde Hernandez, 32, reached an agreement with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to have supervised visits with her four other children. She is not allowed unsupervised contact.

The Alexandria Department of Community & Human Services agreed to allow the supervised visits and to conduct a mental health evaluation, complete with a risk assessment, before Conde Hernandez is allowed back in her home.

Conde Hernandez was arrested July 6 after police say she forgot her child in her car, in the sweltering heat, for six hours while she was at work . The car was parked on the 200 block of S. Glebe Road.

She “noticed the baby was left inside his car seat when she arrived at a daycare to pick up one of her other children,” according to the Arlington County Police Department. “The baby was unresponsive and she immediately drove to Inova Alexandria hospital, where the child was pronounced dead a short time later.”

Hernandez is charged with felony child neglect. Her case was appealed to the Circuit Court for the bond hearing, and the next steps will take place in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Photo via ACPD

by Peter Rousselot — July 18, 2013 at 11:15 am 1,357 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 RousselotAs the County slow walks the “independent, third-party review” of the infamous $1 million Super Stop, recently released documents under Virginia FOIA reveal an even bigger fiasco than first reported.

We now know that in 2003, the County contracted with the consulting firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) for Super Stop design work then estimated to cost about $470,000. For that kind of money, the County staff was entitled to go back and forth with HOK on minutiae, but on basics like protection from the rain nobody seemed to be paying attention. The focus on minute details and the contractor’s responsibility for “construction administration” refute the County Board’s attempt to shift blame to WMATA.

Now, the County Board has promised an independent, third-party review of what happened. That is exactly what we need. But, incredibly, a May 2013 internal County staff memorandum proposes that the same consulting firm (HOK) that created the Super Stop design be rehired to do this review.

Here is the County staff’s logic: “The intent of this work is to only have design modifications made, whereas if a different design firm were used, the concern is that an entire re-design would take place which would increase the project costs and schedule.”

County staff wants to hire (or rather re-hire) the fox to guard the henhouse. Hopefully, it’s not too late for someone to overrule this staff recommendation and get the independent review we were promised.

The continuing $1 million Super Stop fiasco is yet another red flag for the $310 million Columbia Pike streetcar proposal. The Federal Transit Administration concluded that the County Board underestimated this proposal’s cost by $60 million, and therefore Arlington and Fairfax counties were not entitled to the $75 million grant for which they had applied under the federal “Small Starts” program. The contractor who developed the cost estimate that was off by $60 million was AECOM, and Arlington paid them millions of dollars for that work.

The County has promised, but not yet delivered, a truly-independent review of a one million dollar Super Stop.
There are at least 310 times more reasons for the County to make and deliver on the same promise regarding the proposed streetcar.

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

by Mark Kelly — July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am 405 0

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 KellyLast week, the Arlington School Board approved a plan to begin publishing a written explanation to go along with its budget. Laying out clearly defined rationale will provide the public with important information, but it will also help the Board evaluate the budget as it is being formed. As someone who regularly calls for more transparency and accountability from our local government, I believe this is a positive step in the right direction.

This is certainly one part good government transparency, one part heading off as many questions as possible on specific line items, and one part ensuring the budget is carried out by the Superintendent in the way the Board intended. Whatever the impetus was for providing the information, any time taxpayers get a more complete picture of how and why their money is being spent, it is a good thing. Board Member Noah Simon deserves credit for moving the ball forward with his colleagues.

The next step to ensure accountability for the budget is for the School Board to require the Superintendent to put the “check register” online, at least monthly. The Board members can certainly access this information, but if they want public accountability, words and explanations before the money is actually spent will not ultimately be enough.

By providing near real-time accountability for spending, parents would better be able to assess the priorities of the school system. Teachers would be able to see how much money makes it to the classroom versus being lost somewhere in the administration. The taxpayers would be able to identify whether or not the money is being spent wisely. And, the big winners would ultimately be the students when they receive maximum educational value of school spending.

One explanation that will hopefully be provided next year is how the Superintendent reports the per pupil spending numbers. As I wrote earlier this year, the actual per pupil spending and reported per pupil spending do not seem to add up. The per pupil number reported in the proposed budget was roughly $3,354 less than the actual per pupil spending, according to my back of the envelope calculation.

In Arlington, I doubt there would be enough public pushback over the higher number to cause an outcry for a lower schools budget. However, at university level costs of over $22,000 per student, it does warrant an actual explanation. I look forward to reading it.

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

by Katie Pyzyk — July 18, 2013 at 9:40 am 5,393 0

A high profile property has gone on the market near Rosslyn. Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green has put his condo up for sale.

The loft style condo in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood is at 1615 Queen Street N. and has a full listing in the ARLnow.com real estate section. The two bedroom, 2.5 bathroom property has 2,041 square feet and lists an asking price of $1,595,000.

There are two master suites, a wine room, a two-story veranda and parking for two cars. The seller recently spent $300,000 in upgrades for the condo.

According to the listing, the buyer will “also get bragging rights.” Interested buyers can contact Casey Margenau with Re/max Distinctive Real Estate, Inc. at 703-821-1840.

Anyone thinking they can stop in to try getting a glimpse of Green should think again. According to the Washington Post, Green has already bought another home and moved out.

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2013 at 8:30 am 1,473 0

Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore)

Board Ponders Affordable Housing on Pike — County Board members are still deciding how best to pay for the 6,200 units of affordable housing they have pledged to maintain on Columbia Pike. One option is to use Tax Increment Financing, using the growth of real estate values (through redevelopment on the Pike) to fund affordable housing. However, a majority of Board members remain skeptical of that plan. [Sun Gazette]

Silver Line Delayed – The initial opening of the Silver Line has been delayed by eight weeks to allow for additional safety and performance testing. It was previously expected that the first phase of the Metro line, which will run to Reston and Tysons Corner, would open in late December. [MWAA]

Free Milkshakes Today — To help local residents beat the heat, Z-Burger will be offering free milkshakes today from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. to all who come in to the restaurant and use the password “ZHeatwave.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore

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