(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) One would expect that most demonstrations outside IRS headquarters in D.C. involve calls for lower taxes. This afternoon, however, congressional candidate Del. Patrick Hope (D) held a press conference outside the IRS to call for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Hope, who’s one of 10 Democratic candidates running for the congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), said he supports the budget put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which raises taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 per year and creates a new, higher tax bracket for those making more than $1 million. It would also close corporate tax loopholes and tax individuals making more than $100 million annually at 48 percent.
The budget also would eliminate the tax difference between long-term capital gains income and regular income from salaries and wages. It also would reverse the effects of the sequester, which would mean more jobs for federal workers. Hope circulated a petition trying to draw support for what he calls the “Millionaire’s Tax,” and said he gathered 33,000 signatures.
A tax hike on the wealthy “solves our revenue problem very simply, by bringing in more revenue,” Hope said. “Our future is at stake in the upcoming Congress. Will we pass a grand bargain that cuts our social safety net? Or will we close the loopholes and demand the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans pay their fair share? That’s what the 2014 election will be about all over the United States — and that is where we have our biggest differences in our primary in the 8th District.”
The higher tax rate could hit residents of the district Hope seeks to represent particularly hard. Arlington has consistently ranked among the five richest counties in America in recent years, even landing at No. 1 by some metrics. Hope’s campaign, however, argues that a relatively small number of Arlington residents are in the very high income bracket that would be impacted by the Millionaire’s Tax.
Hope, a resident of Arlington’s Buckingham neighborhood, also released his tax returns and called upon his opponents in the June 10 congressional primary to do the same. Hope, who works as a healthcare attorney in addition to his part-time duties as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, earned $231,197 last year — $197,621 from work as a lobbyist for a nonprofit healthcare association, $28,176 from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $5,400 from Johns Hopkins University. He paid $38,645 in federal taxes, or 16.7 percent.
“Transparency is something that is very important in politics,” Hope said. “The people we seek to represent deserve to know everything about us.”
Resolution Honors Arlington’s First Female Judge — The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution honoring Eleanor Spence Dobson, Arlington’s first female judge. Dobson served in the General District Court from 1982 to 1997. She passed away on September 18, 2013. The resolution honoring Dobson was sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D). Another Hope-sponsored resolution, honoring the late Arlington civic activist Robert Atkins, is scheduled to come to the House floor on Friday. [Sun Gazette]
Chick-fil-A ‘Date Knight’ Returns — Missed your chance to go on a medieval-themed fast food date with your mom last year? Good news: Chick-fil-A is once again holding its Mother-Son Date Knight at Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Blvd). The food court eatery is one of the participating Chick-fil-A locations nationwide that are hosting the whimsical event. As of last night there were still a dozen reservations available for the event, which is being held the evening of Monday, Feb. 10. The Crystal City Chick-fil-A location has already sold out of its Date Knight reservations. [Chick-fil-A]
Starr Hill Brewing Tasting Tonight — Virginia brewery Starr Hill will be holding a complimentary tasting tonight. The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave). Reservations are required. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Bikeshare Supplier Files for Bankruptcy — Bixi, the Canadian company that makes the bikes and equipment utilized by the Capital Bikeshare system, has filed for bankruptcy. Alta Bicycle Share, which runs the Capital Bikeshare system says it’s focused on making sure the system continues to operate “without interruption.” [Washington Business Journal, Capital Bikeshare]
Hope to Enter Congressional Race — Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) is planning to run for the retiring Rep. Jim Moran’s congressional seat. He’s expected to make the announcement today. [Washington Post]
Rader Clinic Recovering from Flood Damage — The Rader Clinic at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is back up and running after a “water accident” that caused flood damage yesterday. [Facebook]
Arlington Energy Plan Wins Award — Arlington County’s Community Energy Plan has been recognized by the American Planning Association with a “2014 National Planning Achievement Award in Environmental Planning.” [Arlington County]
ARLnow Reaches 20K Twitter Followers — In the midst of snow coverage this week, ARLnow.com reached its 20,000th Twitter follower. The follower count now stands at 20,085. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Rosslyn BID’s New Website — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District launched a new website yesterday. The launch comes at about the same time as a new BID logo and after the BID hired a new executive director this year. The website currently features a Q&A with the Executive Chef of soon-to-be-opened Heavy Seas Alehouse. [Rosslyn BID]
A Facebook Page For Discussing Arlington History — I grew up in Arlington, VA, a Facebook page for Arlington history, has garnered more than 10,500 “likes.” The posts can range from discussions about the old Parkington shopping center and the putt-putt course at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road, to current local news and sports scores. Page administrator Eric Dobson said sometimes the comments get “offensive,” and he’s forced to delete them, but they mostly stay positive. [Falls Church News-Press]
Washington Post Profiles Chris Zimmerman — Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who is stepping down next month, “is one of the reasons that the dark days of Columbia Pike and other streets in Arlington are brighter and livelier, with more pedestrians and dining choices,” writes the Post’s Patricia Sullivan. The article touches on the Columbia Pike streetcar line, quoting head of Arlingtonians For Sensible Transit Peter Rousselot as saying Zimmerman “has insufficient sensitivity to the cost of some things he has labeled smart.” [Washington Post]
Del. Hope Seeks House of Delegates Weapons Ban — Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) will introduce legislation that will ban firearms from the floor of the House of Delegates. Hope acknowledges the bill has little hope of passing the Republican-controlled House, but was inspired to do so after Del. Joe Morrissey brought an AK-47 on the floor during a debate this year. [Sun Gazette]
This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).
Here is the unedited response from 47th District candidate Patrick Hope (D):
Over the past two years, Virginia has begun to shed its proud reputation as one of the best states to start a business and raise a family. Instead, we have become a state less welcoming to gays and lesbians, minorities, and women and more interested in legislating divisive social issues rather than improving our economy and creating jobs. The partisanship seen across the Potomac River has already filtered its ugly ways into the Virginia General Assembly. I believe we need to reverse course.
Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring and the entire Democratic ticket represent change that will refocus Virginia’s attention toward investing more in our public schools and universities, ensuring an adequate transportation infrastructure, guaranteeing our most vulnerable residents have access to affordable health care and services, and protecting our environment and natural resources. By making these smart investments, while keeping taxes and regulation low, Virginia will once again be a welcoming place for businesses and families.
My personal focus will be ensuring Virginia fully implements the Affordable Care Act and continues to reform its Medicaid program to guarantee quality health care at lower costs. My attention will also be on seeking reforms to our prison system to make it more cost efficient and to make sure offenders who need treatment receive it, helping to avoid incarceration in the first place. And finally, I will continue to be the voice for those most in need – those with physical and mental disabilities, our children, and older adults.
This vision for the Commonwealth is one that reflects our Arlington values and it is one that motivates me daily to continue my public service for you. I sincerely hope to earn your vote on Tuesday, November 5th. For more information, please visit my website at www.HopeforVirginia.org.
Thousands Apply to Live in New Affordable Building — Since it started accepting applications on Aug. 27, the new 122-unit Arlington Mill Residences affordable apartment complex has received applications from more than 3,600 people. Nonprofit developer Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is expected to hold a lottery later this week to determine which of the qualified applicants will get an apartment. [Washington Post]
New Randolph Elementary Track — A dedication ceremony was held on Friday for a new track at Randolph Elementary School. The track was built with $40,436 raised by the Randolph PTA and Randolph Principal Renee Bostick. As part of Friday’s event, the Wakefield High School marching band led students, school staff and parents on a inaugural lap around the track. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lawmakers Laud Progress on Solitary Confinement — Local Democratic state lawmakers Patrick Hope and Adam Ebbin say Virginia has been making progress in reducing the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement. While the state is “off to a good start,” Hope and Ebbin say more work must be done to provide mental health services to prisoners to ensure they don’t wind up back in solitary. [Washington Post]
Weekend High School Football — Wakefield High School opened its football season with a win against Marshall. The team was winless last year. Meanwhile, Washington-Lee defeated McLean and Bishop O’Connell defeated Bishop Ireton. Yorktown snapped its 28-game regular season winning streak with a loss to Langley. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J Sonder
Issues like the Columbia Pike streetcar and the housing authority referendum were at the forefront last night during the Arlington Civic Federation’s annual candidates’ forum.
The debate between County Board member Jay Fisette and Green Party challenger Audrey Clement was the night’s most divisive, with Clement challenging the streetcar project and the Board’s fiscal policies.
“I pledge to raise no taxes,” Clement said, “Repeal last year’s tax increase… and authorize an inspector general for the county’s budget.”
Clement again voiced her support for the referendum to create a housing authority, which Fisette and other Board members oppose. Fisette defended the Board’s actions, asserting that the tax increases were largely to pay for the increase in school enrollment and the streetcar “fulfills the vision of the revitalization of Columbia Pike.”
“I will ensure that Arlington continues to be a community that respects the differences among us,” he said. “I believe that there’s more to do, and I have more to give.”
Six races were represented during the forum: Fisette’s Board seat, James Lander’s School Board seat, and the 45th, 47th, 48th, and 49th District races for the House of Delegates. Lander and Del. Robert Brink (D-48) are running unopposed, and each gave two-minute speeches and took one question from the floor. Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) did not have an opponent to debate at the forum after it was revealed that independent candidate Jeffrey Engle was not in attendance.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and Libertarian challenger Laura Delhomme — participating in her first debate — fielded questions about affordable housing, wind energy and their thoughts on the Republican state ticket. No Republican is running for any seat, state or local, in Arlington.
“I’m not a socially liberal Republican, I’m not a fiscally conservative Democrat,” said Delhomme, who suggested repealing the state income tax and the Virginia Marriage Amendment.
Hope advocated for transferring more of Virginia’s energy from coal and natural gas to wind power and discussed how difficult it was to make progress in the General Assembly.
“In my first four years in office, I’ve learned that change can be very difficult,” Hope said. “Getting government out of our bedrooms and our doctor’s offices has divided our state and our parties.”
In the final debate of the night, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), running in his first re-election bid, and Independent Green Party candidate Terrence Modglin, showed the starkest disagreement, particularly on abortion. Modglin supports greater restrictions on abortion.
“I think the laws and regulations enacted, the intent of them was to, regardless of what the language was, reduce the number of abortions in Virginia and I think that’s a good thing in terms of public policy,” Modglin said.
Following Modglin’s response, Lopez looked slightly taken aback. He shook his head before he responded.
“A woman’s right to choose is non-negotiable,” Lopez said. “The [transvaginal ultrasound] legislation put up…was a travesty. It made us a laughing stock on the national stage. I will definitely fight these backdoor ways of reducing a person’s access to contraception.”
Election Day is on Nov. 5. The forum, held at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel auditorium, is organized every year as the unofficial start to Arlington’s fall campaign season.
Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
Hope was recently appointed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety, which was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The task force has been charged with making recommendations regarding improvements to school safety practices at K-12 schools and at colleges and universities. Such improvements may include expanded use of school resource officers or security guards, new state or local programs or policies, and improvements to Virginia’s mental health system.
From 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, interested parents, students and residents are invited to discuss school safety with Del. Hope at the Wakefield High School auditorium (4901 S. Chesterfield Road). Hope will give an update about the work of the task force and listen to concerns and recommendations from the audience.
Hope said the discussion will be wide-ranging, and may incorporate topics beyond the scope of the task force. For instance, the task force was not charged with making recommendation regarding firearm policies, but Hope said guns may still be discussed.
“I don’t see how you can talk about safety in classrooms without talking about gun control… It’s a little like talking about trying to cure lung cancer, but you can’t talk about smoking,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “If you really want to solve the problem, you can’t leave gun control aside.”
Hope said he will likely hold at least one more town hall meeting before the task force concludes its work this summer. The task force’s relatively short time frame, he said, is the reason the controversial topic of gun control was not included in its agenda.
Two state lawmakers who represent parts of Arlington have proposed a gun safety legislation package in the Virginia General Assembly.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Patrick Hope, both Democrats, introduced bills that would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” require universal background checks on gun purchases, require gun owners to report stolen firearms, and restrict weapon sales to the mentally ill. To drive home the point, the lawmakers recorded two videos (above and below, after the jump) showing them buying a handgun without a background check and buying a high-capacity magazine at a recent gun show in Chantilly, Va.
The legislation was introduced Wednesday, a day before President Obama proposed legislation to require universal background checks, ban high capacity magazines, and ban assault-style weapons.
The gun control bills face an uphill battle in the Republican-controled state legislature; Hope and Ebbin called on Virginia residents to contact their legislators in support of the legislation.
From a press release:
Virginia State Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) have introduced a package of gun safety legislation to require universal background checks on prospective firearms purchasers (SB 1232 / HB 2025), close the gun show loophole, and tighten restrictions on the sale of weapons to the mentally ill (SB 1109 / HB 2221).
SB 1109 and HB 2221 would make it a Class 6 felony to sell firearms to persons found mentally incapacitated or who have been involuntarily admitted.
Ebbin also introduced legislation to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms (SB 965) and to outlaw firearms in legislative buildings (SB 1012).
“We easily purchased a handgun at a Virginia gun show, without undergoing a background check. Sadly, nearly 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check. In the interest of community safety, it’s not too much to ask for responsible gun purchasers to undergo a background check to screen for criminal history or history of serious mental illness,” the two wrote in a joint statement.
The lawmakers discussed their visit to a gun show in a January 15th news conference at the Virginia Capitol. Hope showed the High Standard Sentinel Revolver he bought for $175; because he purchased the gun from a private dealer, he did not have to undergo a background check to screen for a criminal record. “Today, a felon with a violent past can walk into a gun show or go on the Internet and buy any gun with no questions asked,” Hope said. “A law we could pass today, requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, would have an almost immediate impact on gun safety. No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check.”
Displaying a 30-round ammunition magazine he purchased for $20, Ebbin said, “Buying a 30-round magazine should not be as easy as buying a candy bar.” He noted that a 30-round magazine was used in the recent Newtown, Connecticut tragedy that left 26 dead.
Citing the need to pass SB 965, Ebbin said, “When a gun is stolen, a deadly weapon is in criminal hands—a combination we all want to avoid. Reporting lost or stolen guns can help police avert a tragedy.”
Hope and Ebbin called on Virginians to contact their legislators in support of the gun safety legislation.
Girls entering the sixth grade in Virginia are already required to get vaccinated for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. By law, parents can opt out of the HPV immunization, if they wish. Still, the measure isn’t without controversy — Republicans in the General Assembly nearly succeeded in lifting the mandate last year.
Hope’s bill would simply remove two words — “for females” — from the mandate, thus requiring boys to receive the vaccines too. Hope said he realizes his bill is not likely to see the light of day on the House of Delegates, but proposed it because it’s consistent with current medical best practices. In boys, the HPV vaccine can prevent certain types of genital warts and cancers, and prevent them from spreading the disease to girls, who can suffer more serious consequences from contracting it.
“Given last session where a majority of House Republicans wanted to gut existing law that simply recommends girls receive the vaccine, this legislation will be met with extreme opposition,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “But there is absolutely no controversy within the medical community: Immunizing boys against HPV will help save lives.”
“As the father of three young girls, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them,” Hope continued. “I just hope we can let the expertise of the medical community guide our policy decisions and not let politics get in the way.”
By a 5-4 decision, announced this morning, the Supreme Court has upheld President’ Obama heath care law. Numerous local and state officials and candidates are now weighing in on the high court’s ruling.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) called the decision a “blow to freedom.”
Today’s Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America. The PPACA will create a costly and cumbersome system that will impair our country’s ability to recover from these challenging economic times, infringes on our citizen’s liberties, will harm small businesses, and will impose dramatic unfunded mandates on Virginia and all states. Simply put, this is a blow to freedom. America needs market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less.
Virginia will evaluate the steps necessary to comply with the law. While we have awaited this decision, planners have been working to identify necessary resources and issues to be addressed to ensure Virginia implements this flawed law in the most effective and least costly and burdensome way possible. In coming months, Virginia’s healthcare leaders will work to develop the best possible system to meet the healthcare needs of our citizens. It remains my hope that we will elect a new President and Senate so that the existing law will be repealed and states will be given the freedom they need to implement healthcare solutions that work best for their citizens. We will evaluate the opinion in detail in the days ahead and determine what policies are proper for the people of Virginia.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) applauded the ruling, saying the Affordable Care Act will result in “life-saving reforms.”
Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed what Democrats and President Obama have known for two years; the Affordable Care Act stands on firm constitutional grounds.
People across the country are already benefiting from reforms in the Affordable Care Act, including 6.6 million young people who can stay on their parents’ insurance, 105 million Americans who no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage, and 5.3 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ who have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.
Though today’s ruling provides assurance as the Administration phases in life-saving reforms including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue their efforts to dismantle critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We must continue fighting these efforts in the House of Representatives to repeal ACA.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 represented a giant leap forward to not only make our health care system work better for Americans of any age, race, gender, or income level, but to rescue our economy from the suffocating grip of spiraling health care costs. We spend nearly 18 percent of our entire economy on health care – twice what every other industrialized nation pays. The Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit while improving access to, and the quality of, care for all Americans.
Washington has been struggling to deliver meaningful health care reform for more than six decades. Today’s ruling means the United States can finally see its way closer to delivering on that promise for all Americans.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), a leading opponent of the health care law, said today is “a dark day for American liberty.” He is planning to hold a press conference at noon today in Richmond to discuss the decision.
After 21 years in business, Rosslyn Renaissance (RR) will cease to exist and its urban design work will be taken over by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID).
RR was created by the Arlington County Board in 1991, and lists its mission as “to work with residential, commercial, cultural, and government communities to realize Rosslyn’s potential as a distinctive urban environment through a focus on urban design and development.”
“Rosslyn Renaissance has helped to lay the foundation for Rosslyn’s future growth,” said Board President Jeffrey L. Kovach in a press release. “The BID will build upon and continue RR’s work, planning for Rosslyn today and in the future.”
RR’s work has helped with accomplishments such as securing a donated space for Artisphere, adding 98 additional affordable housing units and installing a pedestrian esplanade to Key Bridge.
“RR board members were the drivers to create the BID in 2003, and that is among the greatest of RR’s accomplishments,” said BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy. “The new organizational structure will bring us full circle. It is a graduation of sorts for the two groups – to Rosslyn’s benefit.”
The BID board has created an Urban Design Committee, which will incorporate all members of the Rosslyn Renaissance committee.
The two organizations will host a tribute event tonight in the main ballroom of the Key Bridge Marriott. The event is scheduled to include remarks from Rep. Jim Moran, Del. Patrick Hope and County Board Chair Mary Hynes. Board members and founders of Rosslyn Renaissance will also be recognized during the tribute.
Fmr. CIA Officer Charged — Former CIA officer and current Arlington resident John Kiriakou, 47, was charged yesterday with repeatedly leaking classified information to journalists. Kiriakou is best known for his 2007 interview with ABC News in which he described the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda operative. [Washington Post]
Cigarette Tax Bill Dies in General Assembly — A bill proposed by Del. Patrick Hope (D) that would have raised Virginia’s cigarette tax from 30 cents to the national average of $1.45 has died a quick and unsurprising death in a House of Delegates subcommittee. [Sun Gazette]
Senator’s Arlington Condo for Sale — Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) has put his swanky Arlington condo up for sale in advance of his reelection campaign. The condo, which is reportedly on the market for nearly $2 million, is located in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood and overlooks the Iwo Jima memorial. [US News & World Report]
Hope Proposes Cigarette Tax Hike — Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) is planning to introduce a bill that would increase Virginia’s relatively low cigarette tax. Unlike past years when Hope has proposed a cigarette tax hike only to have it promptly killed by Republicans, Hope is now proposing that revenue from the tax go directly to car tax relief, rather than to anti-smoking programs or Medicaid funding. [WTVR]
Record Profit for Virginia ABC — Virginia’s state-owned ABC liquor stores and restaurant wholesale business saw record sales and a record profit in fiscal year 2011. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says it recorded an all-time high profit of $121 million last fiscal year, amid record demand for wine, liquor and mixers at stores and from restaurants. The state’s top-selling liquor, meanwhile, is Jack Daniels. [Associated Press]
Lime Fresh Now Open in Clarendon — Lime Fresh Mexican Grill officially opened in Clarendon on Monday. The restaurant, at 2900 Wilson Boulevard, is the first D.C. location for the Florida-based chain. Another Lime Fresh location is planned for Pentagon Row. The chain originally got its start in 2004 as a restaurant on Miami’s South Beach. The Clarendon Lime Fresh location will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week.
Lyon Park Community Center Renovations — The County Board is expected to consider a use permit in March for planned renovations to the Lyon Park Community Center. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Alex