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
Backyard Chicken Debate Rages On — Egg-laying hens aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, according to an Arlington resident whose neighbor had an illegal chicken coop. “I can tell you that I thought we had excessive flies, we had rodents; the chickens do make noise and there is a smell,” Darryl Hobbs told WUSA9 at a community discussion about backyard chicken raising last night. Chicken supporters dispute claims that their coops are unsanitary, and say that egg-laying hens produce a steady stream of healthy, tasty and sustainable food. [WUSA 9]
Shoplifting Suspect Flees Down Metro Tracks — Metro trains were temporarily shut down near the Pentagon City station Tuesday night after a shoplifting suspect jumped on the tracks in an attempt to get away. The man, who’s accused of shoplifting from the Nordstom’s in Pentagon City, was eventually caught by Metro Transit Police. [NBC Washington]
Hope Wants Insurance Exchange — Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) is one of the Democratic lawmakers hoping to pass a law to create a state-run health insurance exchange during the new General Assembly session in Richmond. All states are to have an insurance exchange in place by the end of 2013 under the Obama health care plan. “It will allow small businesses and individuals the opportunity to leverage similar to or even greater resources than that of large employers, using that clout to drive better pricing, choices and quality,” Hope said. [Roanoke Times]
Yoga, Pilates, Spinning in Clarendon — Mind the Mat, a new yoga and Pilates studio, opened in Clarendon this week. The studio, at 3300B Fairfax Drive, is offering free classes this week. Meanwhile Revolve, an indoor cycling studio that opened at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon late last year, is holding its official grand opening celebration tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Correction to Item Yesterday — A Morning Notes item yesterday erroneously stated that County Board member Walter Tejada was seeking the creation of a proposed Office of Latino Affairs in Arlington. In fact it’s BU-GATA, a tenants-rights organization, that is proposing the office’s creation. Tejada told ARLnow.com that he supports improving services for Latino residents, but doesn’t think the creation of a separate county department is necessarily the best way to go about it. “I don’t think it’s the thing to do,” he said. ARLnow.com regrets the error.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Del. Patrick Hope (D) joined Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott and about 20 ACPD officers at Pentagon City mall over the weekend for the third-annual Be Brave and Shave fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
Hope, who was scheduled to speak at the Sunday afternoon event, surprised the audience when he revealed that he was going to have his meticulously-maintained coif shaved off to help raise money and awareness.
Be Brave and Shave is the signature event of Heroes Against Childhood Cancer, which raises money for cancer research at Children’s National Medical Center. Since its founding in 2009, Be Brave and Shave events have raised some $1.5 million for the cancer programs at Children’s, making it possible for the hospital to hire its first professor of oncology. The organization is hoping to raise enough money to hire another pediatric cancer researcher in the near future.
“The medical team at Children’s is performing miracles everyday in the lives of children facing this dreaded disease,” Hope said in a statement. “We need to aggressively pursue innovative research and therapies and cure childhood cancers once and for all. I’m so honored to associate myself with Children’s and hope in some small way I can help raise awareness.”
Hope wasn’t the only notable local who went above and beyond the call of duty at the fundraiser, held this year in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City food court. Chief Scott got his rank-and-file officers fired up when he announced that he would not only shave his head, but he’d also shave his mustache for the first time in 25 years. The mustache alone brought in $400 in donations, according to Det. Matt Owens.
“The response from our department is quite gratifying,” Scott said later, in a statement. “While about 20 officers had their hair shaved or cut off, many more participated in fundraising and donations. I think it is wonderful to be part of an organization that feels so strongly about giving back to the children in our community.”
Learn more about donating to Heroes Against Childhood Cancer here.
Courtesy photos. See more photos from the event on Flickr.
Northern Virginia residents were exposed to “dangerous” levels of smog on 33 days last year, the report said. There were also “3 ‘red-alert’ days, when the air quality was so poor that anyone could experience adverse health effects,” according to a press release.
The report was released locally by Environment America offshoot Environment Virginia. Rep. Jim Moran and Del. Patrick Hope were among the speakers at a press conference yesterday at the Langston-Brown Community Center in Arlington.
Environmental Virginia spokeswoman Sarah Hyman said the report is troubling for local residents — particularly children and the elderly, who are a higher risk of adverse health effects from air pollution.
“Virginians deserve clean air. But on far too many days, people in the D.C. Metro area, including Northern Virginia, are exposed to dangerous smog pollution,” Hyman said. “For the sake of our children, we must make every day a safe day to breathe.”
Hyman went on to criticize the Obama administration’s decision to put off updating the Environmental Protection Agency’s national smog pollution standards until at least 2013.
“We must make every day a safe day to breathe,” Hyman said. “Unfortunately, rather than acting decisively to protect our kids from dangerous air pollution, President Obama chose to kick the can down the road. Virginia’s kids, senior citizens and those suffering from respiratory problems will suffer as a consequence and certainly deserve better.”
An American Lung Association study released in April said the D.C. area has the 14th worst smog levels in the country.
Photo courtesy Anne Hughes/Office of Rep. Jim Moran
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is pressing for the ban after Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope succeeded in getting the state Department of Corrections to codify its pre-existing prohibition on the shackling of female inmates during and immediately after labor. The newly-implemented policy only applies to state prisons, however, not to local and regional correctional facilities.
“As people of faith, the members of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture recognize that restricting women prisoners during childbirth strips away the dignity from the sacred moment of a new life entering the world, desecrates the sanctity of both birth and life, and endangers the health and well-being of both mother and child,” the group said in a statement. “The cruel and inhumane practice of shackling in Virginia is a problem beyond the jurisdiction of the [Department of Corrections]. Virginia should join the 13 states that have enacted legislation to prohibit this barbaric practice. ”
Hope wants to do just that.
“Getting the Department of Corrections leading the way is a great thing,” he said. “They’re making [the policy] department wide… They’re sending a message that, I hope, the local and regional jails will mirror.”
Hope says that he will now ask local and regional facilities to change their policies internally, before pressing for legislation next year. Hope tried to sponsor an anti-shackling bill this year, but it failed to get out of a House of Delegates committee.
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the county jail, says it does not shackle pregnant inmates during labor, and only handcuffs one hand to the rail of the hospital bed during postpartum recovery, according to a recent article by The Crime Report. An inmate who gave birth 11 years ago, however, told the publication that she was shackled during the entire 12-hour delivery.
“Virginia cannot declare a victory in putting an end to the appalling practice of shackling of women inmates during childbirth until the Virginia General Assembly passes a law prohibiting it in all jails and prisons, at all levels, across the state,” the National Religious Campaign Against Torture said.
Hope introduced a bill earlier this year to ban the practice. The bill was defeated but supporters were able to pressure the department to change its internal policies without the need for legislation.
Here’s the press release from Hope’s office announcing the planned change in policy.
The Virginia Department of Corrections is planning to implement regulations to prohibit the shackling of pregnant inmates in Virginia’s prisons. The regulation is modeled after legislation (HB 1488) introduced by Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) in the 2011 legislative session and supported by the following organizations: the American Medical Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Virginia Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Legal Aid Justice Center, ACLU of Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice-Virginia, Planned Parenthood-Virginia, VA CURE, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Specifically, the regulations prohibit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates during labor, delivery, or post-partum recovery. Front-end handcuffs may be used but only during transport. Additional restraints may be used if a determination is made that the inmate poses a danger to herself or others. The regulations take the additional step in requiring documentation when additional restraints are used.
Delegate Hope worked with Virginia Department of Corrections Director, Harold Clarke, for several months on this in-depth policy and offered high praise saying, “Director Clarke recognized the importance of spelling out a policy that protects the health of the mother and her unborn child. He deserves a lot of credit for taking this significant, bold step.” Delegate Hope continued, “This policy sets the tone for other correctional facilities such as our county and regional jails to follow suit. I hope they will also spell out similar regulations.” The Department of Corrections only has jurisdiction over Virginia’s prisons.
With this regulation, Virginia’s prison system joins ten other states — California, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – who have banned the practice. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service also have policies that block the shackling of inmates during childbirth.
Hope is running for reelection to the House of Delegates this year. He faces Independent Green Party candidate Jennifer Stanley.
Few details about the event were revealed ahead of time, but with the announcement featuring remarks by County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman and local lawmaker Del. Patrick Hope, one could reasonably assume that the bulk of the new event was to take place in Arlington, right?
The “Dominion Trail Mix” Labor Day community event will largely take place in Loudoun County, as it turns out. “The Great Skedaddle” — a bike, run, walk event along the W&OD Trail — and “TrailFest” — an outdoor festival featuring pop-country group Gloriana — will both take place at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn.
A third Trail Mix event — the “Hail the Trail” clean-up event — will take place at
eight nine different stations along the trail on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 3. According to the newly-updated Trail Mix web site, the station closest to Arlington will be located at Veterans Common at 507 Little Falls Street in Falls Church. The event will encourage volunteers to pick up trash, perform kiosk maintenance, weed and plant along the trail.
Among those on hand for this morning’s announcement were Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell, Dominion CEO Paul Koonce and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Executive Director Paul Gilbert.
“Having stated in the early weeks of March that I would only make a decision after having an opportunity to actually see the newly drawn 31st Senate District lines, I have reluctantly decided, at this time, not to run for the open Senate seat,” Hope said in a statement. “I intend to seek re-election to the House. Running an effective campaign with the geographical diversity of the new district would take me away from spending quality time with my young family.”
“I’m humbled by the literally hundreds of voters living in the new 31st District who pledged support and encouraged me to run, but my first obligation must be to my family,” he continued. “Spending the time it would take to be victorious in a competitive primary and general election is too high a price for me to have to pay; however, I will not rule out a run for higher office at a future date.”
The redrawn 31st state Senate district, if approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell and the U.S. Department of Justice, will extend from North Arlington up into Fairfax and Loudoun counties, with the Potomac River as an eastern border. Currently, County Board member Barbara Favola is the only Democrat to announce her candidacy for the seat, which was vacated by the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple.
Hope’s decision, however, clears a path for another potential candidate to enter the race. Political consultant and blogger Ben Tribbett, who has been flirting with the idea of running for public office, issued a statement today that stopped short of announcing himself as a candidate, but suggested that he’s at least seriously considering it.
In his first term in office, Patrick Hope has established an outstanding record of progressive activism. I was very much looking forward to being one of Patrick’s strongest supporters if he had decided to seek the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 31st Senate District. I look forward to an opportunity in the future to support Hope for higher office.
Now that Patrick Hope has decided not to seek this Senate nomination, a large number of his supporters and other Virginia Democrats have urged me to run. The voters in this Senate district deserve a strong progressive voice in the Virginia Senate, and they also deserve someone who will address local community concerns in all three counties within this district. If I decide to run, I am confident I will provide them with that voice.