The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.
Arlington County has approved a permit for the 2014 Clarendon Halloween Crawl, making it the first such event approved under the county’s new pub crawl guidelines.
The Halloween Crawl is set to take place on Saturday (November 1). It’s the first bar crawl permit issued since the County Board decided in July that bar crawls will be classified as “special events” and require a permit.
“As the County Board has said, our goal is to manage these events in a way that ensures the safety of participants and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods and reimburses the County for crawl-related expenses,” said County Manager Barbara Donnellan in a written statement.
The county manager’s office confirmed that under the new regulations, Halloween Crawl organizer Project DC Events is required to reimburse the county for event-related personnel expenses, such as the need for extra police officers. The event organizers currently anticipate around 3,000 people will participate in the crawl, so the county assigned 30 police officers to the area. More police support will be requested should the number of event attendees increase. The county manager’s office estimates the police presence and potential EMT services will cost around $9,000-$15,000.
The county doesn’t foresee the need for additional trash collection services; instead, it’s moving up Clarendon’s regular Monday pickup to Sunday. Just like with the police estimate, more waste management services can be added if necessary.
It will likely take up to two weeks to calculate the final costs and then send Project DC Events a bill. Per the regulations, special events organizers must reimburse the county within 60 days of the issuance of an invoice.
“This is an Arlington-based company and we are very confident we will not have any issues with them,” said Assistant County Manager Wilfredo Calderon.
Here is Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District Micah Edmond’s unedited response:
The congressional race in the 8th District to replace Jim Moran should be about your priorities and your future. You deserve a candidate that spends no time attacking anyone else, no time talking about their political party and no time looking backwards. Instead, you deserve a candidate that talks about an inclusive future. That’s specifically why I didn’t put a political party label on my campaign literature. I believe all that mattered was telling you my vision, my priorities, and my plan to achieve those priorities.
I believe leaders rise above party and should be measured by results rather than popularity or polls. While leaders should have common principles and values rooted in organizations like political parties, they should be willing to abandon party orthodoxy when it pushes for all or nothing extremes over a willingness to compromise on bi-partisan, practical solutions that achieve progress.
I got into this race last year because I was tired of partisanship that blocked results in Congress on both sides of the aisle. Both were willing to accept sequestration as a partisan political issue to campaign on in the mid-term elections rather than embrace a bi-partisan compromises like the President’s Simpson-Bowles Commission and Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, both of which I was happy to serve on as a senior advisor. The failure to enact these compromises proves that while we have real, bi-partisan solutions, we lack real leaders willing to compromise and enact them.
So here is why I would like your vote.
- My vision — I want to make the American Dream achievable again for all people. I want to move past short-term fixes and enact annual budgets that control spending while making investments in our collective national and economic security. Fiscal conservatism and investments in the future are not mutually exclusive. I believe both are necessary to ensure we don’t mortgage away our future.
- Priorities — I want to enact a long-term budget that grows the economy and creates jobs by making regular investments in education, infrastructure and our national defense. I want immediate immigration reforms that transition un-documented workers into a legal status but does not include citizenship. And I want immediate changes that make healthcare more affordable and portable.
- Plan — I favor a 10-year budget plan along the lines of Simpson- Bowles. My plan achieves a 2:1 ratio of cuts to new revenue raised, balances the budget in 5 years and retires a third of the national debt in 10 years. My plan achieves this through four areas: (1) Tax relief for the middle class and small businesses, (2) Tax reform that closes corporate welfare loopholes and ends tax incentives that don’t focus on job creation, small business ownership, education, home ownership and research and development, (3) Entitlement reform that grandfathers the benefits for seniors and veterans either receiving or within a few years of receiving benefits while also enacting changes for all others that reflect the realities of a new labor force including life expectancy and recruiting and retention differences and (4) Enacting a 5-10% cut in federal discretionary spending over ten years that abandons sequestration in favor of allowing agency experts the flexibility to impose cuts.
I would be proud to have your vote and represent the whole 8th district. I have continued to make my campaign forward looking and inclusive. With your support, you can trust me to bring a new vision, a new voice and a new energy to making the American Dream achievable again for all people.
Please visit www.micahedmond.com for more information, or email me at email@example.com.
Here is Libertarian candidate for the 8th Congressional District Jeffrey Carson’s unedited response:
Simply put, you should vote for me because it’s in your best interest to do so.
(But you’re a Libertarian! Aren’t all Libertarians kooks?)
Let’s take a look at the issues, shall we? Let’s take a look at where we might see eye-to-eye. My guess is we’re going to agree on a whole lot more than you think.
Do we agree that it’s wrong to steal from future generations to pay for things today we can’t afford? Do we agree that our $17.9 trillion in debt is a problem we can’t continue to pretend doesn’t exist? Do we agree that it’s about time Congress got its act together and ran a balanced budget?
Do we agree that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that it’s wrong to print $ trillions out of thin air and hand it over to Wall Street in order to enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent? Do we agree that it’s time we eliminated all forms of corporate welfare, and that the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers or doling out favors to this industry or that one?
Do we agree that we shouldn’t constantly be picking fights around every corner of the globe, that putting our service members’ lives at risk for yet another war in the Middle East is not a good idea, and that (high-level) a foreign policy of non-interventionism — by way of free trade, smart diplomacy, and honest friendship — might just be the best way to go?
Do we agree that having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world is not something we Americans should be particularly proud of, and that it’s about time we stopped putting people in prison for using a substance? Do we agree that we should be treating drug use — and in particular, drug abuse — as a public health issue instead of a criminal one? Do we agree that the practice of civil asset forfeiture is about as unconstitutional as it gets and needs to be stopped immediately?
Do we agree that we shouldn’t have to worry about being spied upon by our own government? Do we agree that Benjamin Franklin was right when he said: “Those that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”?
Do we agree that when it comes to our children’s education, parents, teachers, principals, school boards, and local communities should have (much) more of a say than Washington bureaucrats and labor unions?
Do we agree that the opportunity for a better life — the American Dream — should be available to those honest, hardworking people around the world who would choose to come to this great country to pursue it?
Do we agree that individuals and families tend to make better decisions than lobbyists and bureaucrats when it comes to our personal lives and financial affairs?
I’m betting we agree on a whole heck of a lot.
Einstein once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
If you’re concerned about the direction our country is headed — as I am — and if you want to see meaningful change in Washington — as I do — maybe it’s time you tried something new at the ballot box. Maybe it’s time you voted for a Libertarian.
I really am one of the good guys, folks, and I need your help. I’m asking for your support. I’m asking for your vote. I’m asking you to help me restore some sanity to Washington.
Here is Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District Don Beyer’s unedited response:
I was taught growing up that we are each put on this earth to build something larger than ourselves and to serve others. It is with this in mind that I am a candidate for Congress.
I have a proven record on many issues and across many interest groups. And if elected, I will work diligently with constituents and fellow members of Congress to make principled, constructive progress locally, nationally and internationally.
I have been a businessman in Northern Virginia for 40 years, and led the transition team for President Obama at the Department of Commerce. I was Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor for two terms and President Obama’s ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein for four years. I have a long record as a leader in many community nonprofit organizations as well. And I am also the father of four and a grandfather of two.
I want to take all of these experiences to the House of Representatives and, with your help, be an agent for change on the issues that matter most.
I will push for a progressive carbon tax, because I believe climate change is the existential crisis of our time. When I was ambassador, I authorized a carbon footprint assessment of the U.S. embassy, which was a first for a U.S. embassy. Then we reduced it by 40 percent. As a lifelong hiker who has hiked half of the Appalachian Trail and aspires to complete it, I will do all I can to enhance and protect our green spaces in this urban and suburban congressional district.
I will work for gun safety and stand up to the NRA, so that we can put an end to the plague of gun violence. I want to enact reasonable legislation like enhanced background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and banning high capacity magazines. I am stunned that, in the wake of so many gun deaths and tragedies, our country still has not passed such basic measures.
I will always fight for reproductive rights and to keep the government out of personal decisions. As Lieutenant Governor, I blocked parental consent bills dozens of times and I will continue that record in Congress.
I will be an advocate for federal employees, who have borne too much of the country’s budget struggles. We need to make sure they receive the pay increases they are due and get respect, rather than disdain, for their service to the public.
I will apply my business acumen and credentials toward raising the minimum wage and helping the local, as well as the broader Virginia and U.S. economies. Too many working families are falling behind. The middle class is shrinking as the gap between the wealthiest and the poor is growing. I want to do all I can to help these families.
I have spent countless hours volunteering for local and state nonprofits, and the experience informs my understanding of the needs of the most vulnerable in our region. For fourteen years, I chaired Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state’s most successful high school dropout prevention program. I also spent nearly a decade on the board of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. And I was president for three years of Youth for Tomorrow, Joe Gibbs’ home for troubled adolescents.
Our nation was founded with the ideal that everyone deserves a fair chance. This means equal pay for equal work, the right to love whom you choose to love without discrimination, and immigration laws that keep alive the American dream. My years of service abroad representing our country inspire me to fight for the freedoms and rights that make our diverse country great.
I am honored to be your Democratic nominee. I hope to have the opportunity to fight for you in Congress. I ask for your vote in the November 4th congressional election.
This month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the ballot on Election Day to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Nov. 4.
Here is Independent candidate for the 8th Congressional District Gwendolyn Beck’s unedited response:
If you disapprove of Congress, vote for me, Gwendolyn Beck. There are no Independents in the U.S. House of Representatives, and this is the only way to break the dysfunctional gridlock of the two-party system. I am only beholden to you!
I am fiscally responsible, socially inclusive and believe we need a strong national defense. Fiscally responsible means knowing our economic and social policies affect our future and determine our individual and cultural prosperity. We have plenty of money, we just don’t always use it in the right way. Socially inclusive means that everyone matters and should be treated with respect. I will continue to fight for women’s rights, especially our right to choose what is best for our own bodies and for pay equality. I will fight for marriage equality and acceptance of the joy in loving whomever you choose. And, we need a strong defense to ensure we influence the world, rather than the world influencing us.
Running a country as large as the United States of America is complex and it takes many people to successfully accomplish not only defining goals, but putting them into action in a way the makes sense to all of our citizens. As everyone agrees, Congress is broken. We can’t go on like this, and the only way I see to build badly needed coalitions is to not be beholden to one of the two very powerful political parties. If you vote for a Democrat or Republican, no matter how good their resume looks, the dysfunction and gridlock will continue.
Badly needed coalitions can be built, and my campaign has already accomplished this goal as we are made up of disappointed Democrats, moderate Republicans and “middle minded” Independents working together and working hard to achieve our main goal: doing what is right for America.
I strongly believe we need to stop trying balance our budget on the backs of our students, federal workers, military, especially the retirees as a “Promise is a Promise” and pensions should be sacred. We need to focus on solutions to our environment that are cutting-edge, like Fuel Cell Vehicles that have zero emissions and energy storage solutions to enable solar and wind power to flourish [my Democrat opponent says we should tax carbon (to my relief he'll add "emissions" once in a while), but this is an old concept and only the beginning of fixing the problems our planet faces]. We need to fix the Affordable Care Act, immigration, and the tax code. We need to create quality jobs and ensure an excellent education is available to our youth.
As a business woman, I have had two successful careers, one in the financial industry and one in tourism. I rose to Manager of National Sales at Eastern Airlines, and when they ceased operations, moved into Finance in U.S. Government Debt — I understand how our debt works. I’ve written a consumer financial education book and appeared on PBS and Lifetime. I volunteer for the Arlington Agency on Aging, am on the Board of Directors for “Ladies America” and “We Will Survive Cancer.” Our congressional campaign color is “hot pink” to promote cancer awareness. I am a first-generation American on my mother’s side, and about fifth-generation American on my father’s side.
I want you to vote for me because you agree a we don’t have to continue on this downward spiral. I want you to vote for me because you agree America can be a better place. And, I want you to vote for me because there is no other way to accomplish change than to send an Independent to the U.S. House of Representatives. Money doesn’t vote: people vote! Virginia, please take a chance on me.
Here is Republican-endorsed Independent County Board member John Vihstadt’s unedited response:
Dear Fellow Arlingtonian:
Last April, Arlington voters had a real choice at the polls — for a change. Two major candidates; two futures.
Option One: Business as usual.
Option Two: A little balance; an Independent voice.
Thanks to our fusion campaign and unprecedented support from reform-minded Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Independents, 57 percent of Arlington voters elected me as an Independent voice on the otherwise one party County Board. I now seek your vote for a full four year term.
I’m keeping my commitments to you pledged when I first announced my Independent candidacy:
Leveraging My Record. I’m leveraging my 30 years of community service and consensus-building in our public schools, our neighborhoods and across the County to work for everyone.
My record of leadership and alliances as a school bond co-chair, PTA president, in the Civic Federation, on County commissions and on nonprofit boards has provided a firm foundation for immediate effectiveness. I have spoken up where change is needed, while working cooperatively with my colleagues on both the County Board and School Board to build upon what is great about Arlington. I continue to approach every issue in a fair, nonpartisan, pragmatic fashion.
Stressing Shared Priorities. Arlington is at a crossroads. Yes, we must continue to invest in our communities for the long haul, but our tax dollars are not unlimited. There are costs and trade-offs. We cannot say yes to everything, especially all at once. When we try to make everything a priority, nothing is truly a priority.
My positive vision focuses on assigning priority to long-term, fiscally responsible, sustainable investments in our over-crowded public schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, Metro, bus rapid transit and neighborhood quality of life — the true measures of community success — not wasteful and extravagant projects like a $500 million dollar streetcar that will run largely in mixed traffic, million dollar bus stops, an over-budget aquatics center the County still wants to build, or another over-the-top dog park.
Despite the red flag of the DC streetcar fiasco on H Street, the County presses ahead with consulting and engineering contracts and a massive taxpayer-financed PR campaign designed to swing public opinion, while, at the same time, refusing to allow a public vote. Though my Democratic colleague Libby Garvey and I have not yet stopped the streetcar, it is far from a “done deal.” There will be more votes on more contracts and another election next year. Until then, my election is the only referendum available to speak out on this folly.
There has been recent debate about “public land for public good.” I believe that Arlington’s 149 parks and our many recreation centers are the very essence of “public land for public good.” It is counterproductive to locate housing, schools, or other non-parks and non-recreation-related development on increasingly precious parkland and recreational sites. We must better assess how our development decisions are impacting our parks and playing fields, as well as our schools, infrastructure and the diversity and character of our neighborhoods.
My Independent Advantage. I’m providing balance, accountability and a fresh perspective on a County Board that needs another voice, and that must listen to, and account for, a full range of community opinion. I’m asking questions at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, not just nodding my head.
I’m still pushing for a truly independent County auditor to ensure our money is well-spent, and I’ve asked why over 450 employees have a County credit card. I’ve asked why developers contribute to everything BUT to our schools to help handle the families they bring. I’ve made sure we actually debate the streetcar at the Board table, and I’m the only Board member who has spoken up for car sharing services like Uber to operate in Arlington. Finally, we must work with all communities earlier and more transparently on issues ranging from the location of schools and fire stations to neighborhood streets and sidewalks.
Raising issues and questioning authority is not divisive. Lively debate and the exchange of ideas is not wrong. It’s responsible government. And in my view, it’s essential to ensure that Arlington reaches its full potential — for everyone.
Your vote counts, and I need it once more to continue the discussion and results so critical to our collective future — now and after November 4. Please join people from every neighborhood and political party in casting it for me. Visit www.VoteForVihstadt.com to learn more.
Yours for an even better Arlington,
John Vihstadt – Independent
Arlington County Board
Here is Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze’s unedited response:
On November 4th, your vote will help define Arlington’s future. The election is about choosing a vision for our community and the leadership we need as we confront decisions that will affect our county for generations to come.
I am running to bring a new voice to the County Board and new ideas for how to move Arlington forward.
By many measures our community is thriving — with great schools, vibrant neighborhoods, high-quality transit that makes Arlington such an attractive place to live and work.
However, we also face challenges. We need to move quickly to address school overcrowding, strengthen our local economy, focus on affordability, and provide parks and recreational space for residents.
I will bring my experience in business and government to addressing these needs in a fiscally responsible manner that brings the community together without resorting to the politics of division or obstruction.
I represent a new generation of Democratic leadership and I bring a different perspective.
As we address school overcrowding, I would be the only County Board member with children in our schools.
In a county where 60% of all residents are between the ages of 20-50, I would be the only Board member under 55 years of age.
I would bring to the Board my business experience as we address our rising commercial vacancy rate.
Moreover, I am proud to run as a Democrat on a ticket with Senator Mark Warner, who I worked for when he was Governor of Virginia. Our team of Democratic candidates share a commitment to opportunity, equality and prosperity — and to progress, not obstruction.
In contrast, my opponent, who claims to be an Independent, is a lifelong Republican. He actively sought — and received — the endorsement of the Arlington GOP. He has been an active Republican volunteer and has given thousands to anti-choice and anti-environment Republican candidates. His campaign has been funded primarily by Republican donors. Republicans are not supporting an independent voice, but rather attempting to move Arlington away from its progressive principles.
To move our community forward, I am putting my Democratic values and my experience in business and government into action through specific proposals to address key issues in our community:
- Solving school overcrowding by working with the School Board and community to develop short-term solutions and a long-term plan
- Expanding pre-K access to ALL Arlington families
- Setting a target of ZERO pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths due to vehicle accidents
- Providing safe-routes to all our schools
- Saving money and improving services by sharing services between the County and Schools
- Reducing our carbon emissions and making Arlington more resilient to climate change
- Making critical improvements to Metro and creating a modern streetcar system that runs on renewable energy and minimizes construction disruption for neighborhoods and businesses
- Increasing community engagement in solving school overcrowding and through a streetcar referendum
Contrast these detailed plans with my opponent, who has offered no vision for addressing our community’s challenges and has engaged in obstruction instead. Putting politics ahead of the community’s best interests, he voted AGAINST funding to address school overcrowding, to maintain the Metro system, and for our parks.
He even proposes sending $150M in transportation funds back to Richmond rather than using it here in Arlington to improve our economy and quality of life. That is not the leadership we need.
I am ready to deliver innovative, community-based solutions that reflect all our community’s needs and interests. I will not always agree with my fellow Democrats, but I will push hard for real solutions and work to bring our community together without stoking divisiveness.
I will demand accountability and focus on fiscal responsibility, much as I did on the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission where I called in 2013 for a $6.4M tax cut and created a plan to maintain our parks and facilities. I will also support private sector innovation through public investments like ConnectArlington and market innovators such as Uber and Lyft.
I have spent months knocking on thousands of doors and listening to voters like you talk about the issues and the solutions that will help move Arlington forward.
If you are as impatient for solving Arlington’s challenges as I am, I ask for your vote on November 4th. Together we can fulfill a vision of a vibrant, safe, diverse and affordable community. Let’s get to work.
Here is School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen’s unedited response:
I am Barbara Kanninen, and I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe that together we can make Arlington Public Schools the best that they can be.
Our schools and community face complicated issues right now, from meeting capacity needs, to budgeting, to achieving our most important goal: optimizing classroom learning and addressing the needs of our students. I bring an expansive set of experiences to the job of tackling these challenges. I have volunteered in schools and worked with children in Arlington and DC for over 20 years, and I have served on School Board and County Board advisory committees. I am a Ph.D environmental economist, children’s book author, and Democratic activist. These experiences have given me a deep familiarity with data analysis, hundreds of hours with kids and teachers, and a history of working at the community level on grassroots organizing and engagement. I will ask tough questions and dig deeply to find new, creative solutions to our budget and capacity challenges.
In the coming months and years, we’re going to have to make tough but important decisions. As we look ahead, here are my priorities for our schools:
- Promote critical thinking over standardized testing.
Our kids spend too much time in class prepping for and taking tests. Teachers tell me this takes too much time away from instruction. We need to take a hard look at the testing schedule and process to see which tests are essential to classroom learning.
- Tackle overcrowding with strong leadership, constructive community engagement, and transparent decision-making.
As we work to catch up with the growth in our school population, we need to create a long-term plan that considers instructional needs and programs first, work closely and collaboratively with the County Board and the community to consider the full array of potential school sites, improve community engagement to allow for true dialogue and transparency, and build a safety net of potential temporary solutions.
- Give teachers the support they deserve.
To create an environment in which every child can excel, teachers need support and resources. They also need the flexibility to adjust their teaching approach and pacing to their students’ needs as well as avenues for providing feedback to school principals and county administrators.
- Support children with mentors.
An adult mentor is a developmental asset that contributes to kids’ problem solving, self-esteem, and achievement. I’d like every student in Arlington to know that there is at least one adult in school who knows them, whom they can go to with problems, and who believes in them.
- Continue investing in the arts and strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.
We should strengthen STEM skills through, for example, more hands-on science programs in all elementary schools and more accessible STEM programs across all schools, including the Arlington Career Center. At the same time, students need opportunities to express themselves creatively, so we need to give students at all levels access to a variety of art forms.
- Be budget-minded by prioritizing funding for teachers and classroom learning.
In this time of tight budgets, we need to be both disciplined and principled about spending decisions. My number-one principle is the need to focus on the day-to-day classroom experience and teacher-student relationships, so my budget priorities will be teachers and the resources they need.
This year, as part of my School Board campaign, I canvassed door-to-door in all 52 precincts in Arlington, engaging parents, teachers, and community activists and learning about our school issues neighborhood by neighborhood. These experiences have given me a holistic understanding of our diverse community. Collectively, we have the energy, the brains, and the will to do great things for our kids and our community. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I would be honored to have your vote.
Here is School Board candidate Audrey Clement’s unedited response:
I’m Audrey Clement. I’m running for ARLINGTON SCHOOL BOARD, and I seek your vote. Democratic candidates for local office recently issued a press release promising to deal with Arlington’s enrollment crisis.
But Arlington Public Schools (APS) will not be able to meet the challenge under its recently adopted capital budget, as it projects a 2,500 seat deficit even AFTER spending hundreds of millions of dollars to produce 4,000 additional seats.
To address the crisis, School Board ought to ask the Superintendent some hard questions:
- Why does it cost Arlington $2 million to build a new classroom, when it costs Alexandria $900,000?
- Why does it cost Arlington $50 million to provide a new elementary school when it costs Fairfax County $20 million?
- Why does Arlington spend $5,000 more per pupil per year than Fairfax County?
- Why are voters asked to approve a $105 million school bond without knowing how half the money is going to be spent?
Since eighty percent of the schools’ half-billion-dollar operating budget is funded by local taxes and nearly half of every local tax dollar you pay goes to it, Arlington County Board should ask some hard questions too.
- Why, for example, has the School Board never addressed the 2012 the Virginia Department of Education report which concluded that APS administration is top heavy with eight assistant superintendents to Richmond’s three?
- Why does Federal Graduation Indicator show lower graduation rates for disadvantaged students in Arlington than elsewhere in the state?
County Board member Mary Hynes cast these concerns aside at a recent County Board meeting, saying: “I caution about doing the straight math.” She pointed out that there’s a lot more to a school upgrade than new classrooms, and the high per pupil cost reflects community values. In other words, the School Board must continue business as usual because that’s what the community wants.
The problem with business as usual is that the County can no longer afford it. According to a recent Washington Post article, Arlington’s “office market has been in near free fall recently. Between 22 and 23 percent of all the office space in Arlington County — more than 8 million square feet — is vacant. That is nearly triple the rate in 2010.”
As vacancy rates rise commercial tax receipts will erode, forcing County Board to raise residential tax rates to pay for the bonds issued to expand classroom capacity.
Under these circumstances Arlington should elect an independent to School Board who will stretch our tax dollars.
As a 10-year Westover resident and long-time community activist, I routinely urge the County Board to invest in basic services like libraries and schools over wasteful capital projects. With a Ph.D. degree in Political Science and classroom experience as a college instructor, I also strongly support APS’s focus on academic excellence.
Having served the U.S. House subcommittee for congressional oversight of special education programs, I am a strong advocate of remedial education.
If elected, I will work with my School Board colleagues to streamline the budget and guarantee success for all Arlington students. I will also encourage input from the public before key decisions are made. Visit my web site at www.AudreyClement.org and vote CLEMENT on November 4.
La Cote D’Or Cafe in East Falls Church (6876 Lee Highway) reopened last night, after having been closed for a day and a half due to damage from a break-in.
Cris Flores tells ARLnow.com that he was the manager on duty on Monday night. He said sometime after he closed up at 10:00 p.m. and before the first person came in on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., vandals broke into the restaurant.
Flores said wine, liquor, beer and money were stolen from the establishment. The vandals also overturned tables, broke wine glasses and plates, removed food from the refrigerator and scattered it around, and broke wine bottles.
The restaurant closed on Tuesday for the police investigation and for clean-up. They remained closed during breakfast and lunch Wednesday to finish shampooing the carpet, but reopened in time for dinner. Flores estimates that the lost business from being closed, plus all the damage and theft, probably adds up to about a $10,000 loss for the restaurant.
“They did do a lot of damage in the place, it’s not that they just took the money,” said Flores. “But nobody was hurt. That’s the good part.”
Upon reopening for dinner on Wednesday, the restaurant posted a message to customers on its website:
Some of you may have heard about the incident that occurred after we closed on Monday, October 27th. Unfortunately, someone broke into La Cote D’Or and vandalized the establishment. We are happy to say that no one was hurt, and we are reopening tonight for dinner… We thank you very much for your continued support and patronage. We look forward to seeing you all again at your convenience.
The restaurant is open for regular business hours, starting today.
“We’re still trying to get the inventory back to normal, but we are back in business,” said Flores.
Police are investigating the break-in and have not yet named any suspects.
Photo via Google Maps
Patrick Henry Elementary Honored by State — Patrick Henry Elementary School was among 40 schools around the state honored by the Virginia Board of Education for improving the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students. It was named a Highly Distinguished School for exceeding both state and federal benchmarks two years in a row. [WJLA]
Arlington, Falls Church Have State’s Best Jobs Numbers – Arlington and Falls Church tied for the lowest jobless rate in Virginia last month. They both listed a 3.7 percent unemployment rate for September. Arlington’s unemployment rate had been at 4 percent in August. [InsideNova]
Dog Loose at Airport — Among the cases recently handled by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington was a dog loose on the property at Reagan National Airport. The pooch had been reported missing and was reunited with its owner. [Washington Post]
Bike Light and Arm Band Giveaway — All cyclists, runners and walkers who stop by the Crystal City exit of the Mount Vernon Trail tonight from 4:00-6:00 p.m. will receive a free bike light or LED arm/leg band, courtesy of the Crystal City BID. Limit one item per person, while supplies last.
Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict
The achievement will be celebrated tonight at the annual Community Meeting on Homelessness. The public is welcome to attend the event, which will be held at the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association (NRECA) Conference Center (4301 Wilson Blvd) from 7:00-8:30 p.m. John Harvey, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, will be the keynote speaker. He will talk about Virginia’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by the end of next year. Other speakers include County Board members and State Senator Barbara Favola.
County staff worked with nonprofit organizations to find housing for the people selected for 100 Homes. The following programs allowed for the housing:
- Arlington County Permanent Supportive Housing — 63 housed
- Housing Grant or Housing choice voucher — 12 housed
- Veterans (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Voucher) — 11 housed
- Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing — 13 housed
- Mary Marshall Assisted Living Residence — 1 housed
“This is an important milestone in our efforts to prevent and end homelessness,” said County Board Chairman Jay Fisette. “It’s wonderful to see residents, nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, the business community and County government coming together to make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Of the 100 residents housed since the program launched in 2011, 93 continue to live in the housing. Many of them had been on the streets for years and had difficulty accessing and maintaining housing.
“The retention rate has been remarkable,” said Kathy Sibert, president and chief executive officer of Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). “The key to this success is the supportive services that come with the housing. Case managers have done an outstanding job working with the clients to address issues like managing finances, maximizing employment and benefits, and connecting with mental health and substance abuse services.”
Just because the 100 Homes Campaign reached its goal does not mean the push to end homelessness in Arlington is finished. There will be a new initiative announced at tonight’s public meeting, called “Zero: 2016.” Arlington is joining the nationwide effort to end veteran and chronic homelessness.
“The [100 Homes] legacy will live on,” said Arlington Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick. “We learned a lot during the campaign, and partnered with a lot of great nonprofits, and we are carrying forward a lot of the concepts we learned.”
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Bistro 360 quietly opened its doors two weeks ago for a soft opening, but word already has spread quickly.
Customers have trickled in to check out the new restaurant at 1800 Wilson Blvd, in the former Cafe Assorti space, while staff work to get operations running smoothly. The grand opening will be next Wednesday, November 5.
Long time Arlingtonian Art Hauptman owns the new restaurant, as well as Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe on Lee Highway. He noted the Bistro 360 space combines three different settings: a gourmet market, a bistro for more elegant dining and a wine bar for casual drinks and snacks.
“We’re trying to build on the success of Cassatt’s, but in a different format,” Hauptman said. “We want to bring some of the best items from many of the world’s cuisines to Arlington, just as we brought the idea of a New Zealand style cafe 12 years ago. One of the basic ideas is that travel affects food and we want to show that as well.”
Art’s brother, Bob Hauptman, said the diverse menu emphasizes Art’s world travel and includes something for everyone, at a good value.
“We like to say we’re ‘world’s fare at your door.’ You have stuff from around the world right here,” Bob said. “We know it’s different and we think it will work.”
French-born chef Jacques Imperato is an Arlington resident and helped develop the seasonal menus. The bistro menu includes items like Asian glazed duck, tuna tempura, Turkish pide and a lemongrass pork chop. The wine bar serves nibbles like tomato and cheese croquettes, bay scallops ceviche and Georgian cheese bread with egg. Cheese and charcuterie are available in both the bistro and wine bar, as well as the market. The market also will sell some of Bistro 360′s freshly baked breads and small dishes that can be taken home.
The restaurant should add lunch and brunch soon, but right now will focus on dinner. There will be outdoor seating in the spring. Bob noted management also is interested in the possibility of delivery down the road — both for food and wine.
“Come in and give us a try,” Bob said. “Come and enjoy!”
Decal Competition Underway — The annual competition for high school students to design the county’s new vehicle decal has begun. Entries for the 2015-2016 decal are accepted until December 1. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
DIY Network Casting Call — DIY Network is accepting applications from residents of the D.C. metro region for its show “I Want That.” It is not a renovation program, but rather focuses on the best and newest home and garden products. Homeowners within a 30 minute drive from downtown D.C. will be considered. [DIY Network]
Business Conference for Latina Entrepreneurs — The Shirlington Employment and Education Center will host a Latino Women’s Business Development Conference next Saturday, November 8. The goal is to find Latino women interested in starting their own businesses and connecting them with resources to succeed. The program primarily will be in Spanish. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Nathan Jones