WJLA and NewsChannel 8 for Sale — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) has been offered for sale by Allbritton Communications. The company is seeking to sell WJLA and its companion cable channel NewsChannel 8 in order to continue investing in new media, like its Politico website and newspaper. Disney, owner of the ABC television network, is thought to be a likely buyer. [WBJ, Washington Post, Politico]
Brink, Lopez Announce Reelection Bids — Dels. Bob Brink and Alfonso Lopez announced their bids for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. As part of his speech, Lopez made fun of a Republican effort in the state legislature to study the creation of a Virginia-based currency. Lopez joked that he wanted his face on the Virginia $5 bill and Brink’s on the $10 bill, so that “in Virginia it would cost a Brink and a Lopez to buy a pizza.” [Blue Virginia]
‘Over the Edge’ Fundraiser in Crystal City — Today, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., people will be rappelling 15 stories down the Hilton Crystal City at 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway as part of a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Among those scheduled to go “over the edge” today is Washington Nationals mascot Screech. The fundraiser will also run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). [Event Calendar, Special Olympics Virginia]
County Sells $206 Million in Bonds — Arlington County sold $206 million in bonds on Tuesday. The bonds were sold at a low 2.5 percent interest rate. The refunding of older bonds under the low rate will save the county about $5 million. [Arlington County]
Police Looking for Wallet Thief — Arlington police are looking for a man who allegedly stole a victim’s wallet in the Clarendon area last month. [ACPD]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Absentee Voting Bill Passes State Senate — The state Senate passed legislation that would allow residents age 65 and older to vote by absentee ballot without having to give an excuse. Currently, Virginians can only vote absentee if they meet one or more of the requirements on a list of reasons for not being able to make it to the polls on election day. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) introduced similar legislation that failed in the House of Delegates. [Washington Post]
Water Main Issues Continue — Repairs on the broken 30 inch water main at Arlington Blvd and S. Irving Street are expected to take several more days. While draining the pipe on Sunday, a significant pressure drop occurred. Customers may experience low water pressure during peak times (6:00-9:00 a.m and 5:00-9:00 p.m.) and are asked to minimize water use during those times.
Landrum Extends Ray’s Free Burger Special — Owner Michael Landrum has decided to extend the Inauguration special he had been offering at Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd) after closing Ray’s Hell Burger across the street. Customers can get one free “Li’l Devils” burger from 11:30 a.m. until the last burger is given away. “We realized that our office neighbors didn’t get a chance to participate, so we wanted to extend it another day to give them a chance,” Landrum told ARLnow.com. It is suggested that customers receiving a free burger donate $5, which will go to local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Modeled after the federal DREAM Act, Lopez’s bill (HB 1934) would provide in-state tuition at public Virginia universities for undocumented students who graduated from a Virginia high school or GED program, provided they attest to filing an application to become a permanent U.S. resident. The bill would also requires that the student and/or a parent has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years.
“A number of talented immigrant students who grow up here and graduate from Virginia high schools are undocumented — through no fault of their own,” Lopez said. “At best, they may be able to take our significant investment in their K-12 education to another state. At worst, they may decide to drop out of high school because college is not a realistic goal.”
“Virginia should be joining states such as Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma in passing the DREAM Act and opening this narrow window of opportunity for students,” he continued. “These States understand that encouraging college access and opportunities reduces high school dropout rates and saves long term costs and public benefits spending for the community.”
Lopez introduced the legislation on Wednesday after vowing last year to introduce the bill “every year until it becomes the law of the Commonwealth.”
“I am encouraged by the prospects for HB 1934 this year,” Lopez told ARLnow.com. “More importantly, I remain strongly committed to seeing that undocumented children are given the opportunity to continue their education.”
HB 1934 is now awaiting a vote in the House of Delegates Education committee.
Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot whose judicial nomination was supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), failed to receive the 51 votes necessary in the 100-member House of Delegates. Del. Bob Marshall (R), who led the charge against Thorne-Begland’s nomination, cited his public opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy 20 years ago, while still in the Navy, and his expressed support for same-sex marriage.
Thorne-Begland is “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda,” Marshall said in a press release. “Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state’ constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, argued that Thorne-Begland was rejected solely on the basis of being openly gay. He also condemned the state Senate leadership for dodging a vote on the nomination.
“The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged,” Ebbin told the Washington Post. “It’s also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn’t even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote.”
On Twitter, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), who along with Del. Patrick Hope (D) was among the 33 “yes” votes for Thorne-Begland, Tweeted about the vote in real time early yesterday morning.
“Shameful,” Lopez said. “Virginia and Mr. Thorne-Begland deserved better. I have a feeling the Commonwealth will be in national headlines again.”
Del. Bob Brink and Del. David Englin, Democrats who both represent portions of Arlington, were among the 26 lawmakers who did not cast a vote on Thorne-Begland.
Update at 1:55 p.m. — Del. Marshall and Sen. Barbara Favola (D) appeared on NewsChannel 8′s NewsTalk program this morning to discuss the judicial vote.
Update at 3:35 p.m. — Del. Brink has issued a statement to ARLnow.com regarding his absence from the voting.
Due to previously scheduled travel out of the country, I was absent for the May 14 session of the House — the first session I’ve missed in my 15 years as Delegate. The House minutes reflect that I was granted a leave of absence for this reason.
Tracy is my friend. For several weeks, after the right-wing threat to his nomination became known, along with other concerned members of the General Assembly including my colleague Adam Ebbin, we strategized on the steps needed to get him confirmed. I deeply regret that we were unsuccessful.
The rejection of this eminently well qualified lawyer, in addition to its unfairness to him, is a loss to Virginia’s justice system and another black mark on Virginia’s reputation.
It goes without saying that I would have vigorously supported and voted for Tracy if I had been present.
Photo via Office of Sen. Adam Ebbin
Newly-elected delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) has introduced a bill that would provide prenatal care for recent legal immigrants.
Low-income women in their first five years of lawful residence in the United States are eligible for a number of pregnancy services under Virginia’s Medicaid system, including payment of labor and delivery costs and costs associated with the child once he or she is born. Prenatal costs, however, are not covered. Del. Lopez’s bill would change that.
“Prenatal care can reduce maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weights, and other preventable problems,” Lopez said in a statement. “Women who receive no prenatal care are three and a half times more likely to have a low birth weight baby and nearly three times as likely to give birth prematurely as other pregnant women.”
“For every dollar we spend on prenatal care, it is estimated that we will get back 150% of the funding due to reduced neonatal costs,” Lopez noted. “Providing this coverage is both the right thing to do and the fiscally responsible thing to do. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Delegates to join me in supporting this legislation.”
Similar legislation has been introduced by Richmond-area delegate John O’Bannon (R) and Sen Adam Ebbin (D).
Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola has decisively won the acrimonious race for the 31st District state Senate seat. With all precincts reporting, Favola has captured 65 percent of the vote to Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s 35 percent. Favola will face a well-funded Republican challenger, Caren Merrick, in November.
Del. Adam Ebbin, meanwhile, has squeaked by Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka in the three-way race for the 30th District state Senate seat. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Ebbin has 39 percent of the vote to Kupricka’s 36 percent and Arlington school board member Libby Garvey’s 25 percent. Ebbin will face Republican hopeful Timothy McGhee in November.
Alfonso Lopez will be the 49th District’s next House of Delegates member, succeeding the victorious Ebbin. Lopez defeated Stephanie Clifford 66 percent to 34 percent with all precincts reporting. Lopez will be running unopposed in the fall.
Finally, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be getting a bigger office. Stamos handily fended off defense attorney David Deane in the race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington. Stamos captured 82 percent of the vote to Deane’s 18 percent. Stamos does not have a challenger in the general election.
Arlington elections officials say that 10.3 percent of the county’s active registered voters cast a ballot during today’s election.
“Not so bad for [a] predicted slow primary day [with an] earthquake,” officials said via Twitter.
Earlier this week, we asked the two Democratic candidates for the 49th District House of Delegates seat to write a sub-750 word essay on why the district’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Here is the unedited response from Alfonso Lopez:
My name is Alfonso Lopez, and I’m running for Delegate to uphold our community’s values in Richmond.
Over the last several months, I’ve talked with voters across the 49th District, listening to their concerns and their hopes for Virginia’s future. I’ve been inspired by my conversations with residents along Columbia Pike, where I live with my wife and young son, in Nauck and from Pentagon City and Arlington Ridge to Skyline and Bailey’s Crossroads.
Most Northern Virginians want the same common-sense policies from Richmond – more investment in transportation infrastructure and transit, greater support for education and teachers, a sustainable approach to our environment and our economy, and a progressive, socially-responsible commitment to protect the health, well-being and civil rights of everyone in Virginia.
My mom devoted her life to Arlington public schools, helping immigrant children continue their education after high school. My dad came to America at the age of 19 with just $260. He attended Northern Virginia Community College and then took one course a semester until he graduated from George Mason University.
My parents each worked hard to provide for us. And with the help of government programs they got an education, bought a home, and achieved the American dream.
I am running for Delegate today because Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli are destroying the social safety net upon which my parents and so many others have relied.
Our next delegate must be a champion for our Northern Virginia values. They must lead on the issues that others cannot, or will not, take a stand on.
With no Republican contenders in the race, the Democratic primary for the 49th District House of Delegates seat will almost certainly decide who will represent the South Arlington district for the next two years.
When comparing the two candidates, however, one realizes that they are nearly identical on the issues. Both Stephanie Clifford and Alfonso Lopez say they will bring their ”progressive values” to Richmond but will work with lawmakers across the aisle, both are pro-choice and pro-LGBT equality, both support increasing funding for Pre-K education and transit, and both oppose off-shore oil drilling.
“It’s obvious, we are pretty much exactly alike on the issues,” Clifford acknowledged recently. “There’s not a lot of daylight between us, we will vote the same way much of the time, which is why… personality issues are so much more important in this race.”
Those personality differences became a bit more clear earlier this week during a live televised debate sponsored by ARLnow.com and Arlington Independent Media. Asked about the one thing that most separates them from their opponent, Lopez and Clifford had two very different answers.
“I think it comes down to experience,” said Lopez, whose resume includes time as an Obama administration appointee in the Small Business Administration, an appointee with the administration of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, an environmental policy advocate and a leader of local Democratic organizations.
“I’ve been working on these issues that matter to the 49th District for about 20 years,” he said. “It’s not just about building coalitions… it’s having the history, having the years of experience, and knowing the people in Richmond already. I’ve put in the time, I know how to get things done.”
Lopez added that the long list of endorsements he has received shows that he’s ready to go to Richmond.
Clifford, 34, said that while she doesn’t have the experience of Lopez, she has other qualities that make her the best choice for the Democratic nomination.
“I absolutely believe I bring that strong work ethic, the temperment and the perspective that we need to have a very effective delegate, to get down there and work for the real results we need,” she said.
“I’ve walked the entire district twice. I’ve talked to people over and over again about these fundemental issues. People are worried about housing, they’re worried about the education that their kids are receiving, they want to be able to afford to live here,” Clifford said. “People need help, and that’s why I’m stepping up.”
The primary will be held on Aug. 23. See a video of the entire 50-minute debate, after the jump, or watch on Arlington Independent Media (Comcast channel 69 or Verizon channel 38) on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. or Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.
Alfonso Lopez and Stephanie Clifford will face off on live TV (Comcast channel 69 and Verizon channel 38) from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8. The public is encouraged to watch on TV, on the internet or live in-studio. The debate will be held at the AIM studios at 2701 Wilson Blvd #C.
We’ll be asking about 10 questions of the candidates. If there’s a question you want answered, please let us know in the comments.
The 49th District, currently represented by Del. Adam Ebbin, includes much of South Arlington. Ebbin, a Democrat, is running for state Senate.
This year’s primary will be held on Aug. 23.