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.
In the battle of endorsements, the current divisions among Democratic candidates are quite clear. Del. Adam Ebbin has the support of fellow state delegates. Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka has the support of fellow Alexandria officials. And Arlington School Board Chair Libby Garvey has the endorsement of Ticer herself.
Ebbin officially announced the endorsement of ten members of the House of Delegates from Northern Virginia this morning. Those supporting him include local Dels. Bob Brink and Patrick Hope.
“Adam Ebbin is ready to be the next Senator from District 30,” Brink said today in a statement. “With his experience in the House, he will be prepared to hit the ground running on day one.”
“A founding member of the Progressive Caucus, Adam Ebbin has a record that speaks for itself,” said Hope. “He’s a leader Northern Virginians will be able to count on in the Senate.”
The primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.
Del. Bob Brink, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the state Senate seat of the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, announced this morning that he will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Brink released the following statement regarding his decision this morning.
In the days since Senator Mary Margaret Whipple announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly, I have been weighing the possibility of running for the seat she has held with such distinction since 1996. I am gratified that many people have encouraged me to seek the Senate nomination, and it would be a tremendous honor to succeed Mary Margaret in the Senate. However, I have decided that I can best serve Arlingtonians by remaining in the House of Delegates.
This has been a tough year for Arlington in Richmond. Despite the unified efforts of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation, important measures that were aimed at bolstering the County’s economy, protecting its interests, and upholding its values, met a hostile reception. Next year the entire Arlington delegation, including the new Senator from the 31st District, must be prepared to work at restoring the trust and respect for the County that it deserves and that so many have sought to achieve.
Eyes now turn to Del. Patrick Hope, another possible candidate who was expected to defer to Brink should he have decided to run. Hope would face county board member Barbara Favola in the Democratic primary.
Dels. Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope are all listed as members of the group.
“Progressive values are Virginia values,” Hope said in a press release announcing the caucus’ formation. “The Progressive Caucus serves to fight for the interests of the average citizen and to educate the public on Progressive issues.”
“While Virginia can be slow to change, we have to keep pace with the times when it comes to issues like stem cell research, global warming and society’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians,” said Ebbin. “As progressives, it is important that we stand together as we work to move Virginia forward.”
“It’s time for progressive legislators to organize and work together to advance the progressive values that we share, so we can keep our Commonwealth moving toward that day when every person – including the poor, the elderly, the week, the dispossessed – has a fair shake and an equal shot at the American dream,” Englin said.
Conspicuously absent from the group is Arlington’s state senator, Mary Margaret Whipple.
(Updated at 8:00 a.m. on 2/9/11) A bill that would have prohibited the shackling of pregnant inmates during labor and postpartum recovery has failed in a Virginia House of Delegates committee.
The legislation, proposed by Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D), had the support of medical, civil rights and religious groups. It would have prevented the restraint of pregnant prisoners during labor and recovery, except in cases where jail administrators felt the prisoner posed a flight risk or a danger to herself or others.
There may be a silver lining for bill supporters, however.
According to Hope, the chairwoman of the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee, Del. Beverly Sherwood (R), will be writing a letter to the Virginia Department of Corrections requesting they look into whether the department should change the policy on restraining pregnant inmates. Such a change could accomplish what Hope wanted to achieve without the need for legislation.
“If you ultimately get the [Department of Corrections] to act, it’s a win to me, so I’m very pleased,” Hope said. “I don’t judge my success by the number of bills I get passed into law.”
As expected, the renewal of a hotel tax surcharge that is responsible for generating Arlington’s nearly $1 million per year tourism promotion budget was all-but-killed in a House subcommittee this morning. The bill, introduced by Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D), was passed by indefinitely — meaning the House version dead unless a member who voted against it changes his or her mind.
An identical bill introduced by Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple passed the Senate last week, however, meaning that the tax renewal will get another shot in House committee. It’s yet to be seen whether the outcome will be any different.
Other bills by Arlington lawmakers have met with mixed results.
Two bills introduced by Del. Brink have managed to pass the Republican-controlled House, however. The bills “address the irregularities discovered during the signature gathering process” for last year’s failed effort to change Arlington’s form of government.
One bill, HB 1646, calls for the name and address of a petition signature gatherer to be present on both sides of the petition form. The other bill, HB 1670, says that “a notary shall not perform any notarial act… that presents a conflict between his personal interest and his official duty.”
One bill passed unanimously, the other passed with only one ‘no’ vote. They will now be taken up by the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
Another Fairfax County Republican is taking a legislative swipe at Arlington.
Del. Dave Albo has introduced a bill, HB 1421, that would prevent Virginia localities from restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” Any locality that does not comply with the order would risk losing state funding.
Ablo admitted that the bill is “directly targeted at Arlington,” according to a quote attributed to Arlington Del. Patrick Hope (D) by the Blue Virginia blog. Last year Arlington attempted, unsuccessfully, to opt-out of the federal Secure Communities immigration program.
Both bills have been approved in subcommittee and are now up for a vote by the full Courts of Justice Committee. Hope is a member of the committee and voted against the immigration bills in subcommittee last week.
“These proposals basically fall into two categories: bills that will add an undue burden and unfunded mandate on business and law enforcement, and the rest are just a meaningless restatement of federal immigration law,” Hope said in a statement this morning. “But what they all have in common is they are message bills. And that message is very simple: if you are an illegal immigrant, we don’t want you in Virginia.”
“The politics of blame is on full display this week in Virginia’s Capitol. Immigrants are to blame for Virginia’s poor economy, high unemployment, overcrowding in schools, and every other problem facing our Commonwealth,” Hope added. “I’m surprised they didn’t blame immigrants for last week’s snowfall. It’s a ridiculous blame game and is just plain wrong.”
Update at 4:05 p.m. – In a brief phone interview this afternoon, Albo refused to say that his bill is “targeting” Arlington, but he did say that Arlington’s effort to opt out of the Secure Communities program motivated him to introduce HB 1421.
Albo added that his goal is to expel every illegal alien from the state.
“In a perfect world, I would like to be able to kick out every single person who’s an illegal alien in Virginia,” Albo said, adding that doing so is difficult because “you can’t do it in a way that affects citizens and legal immigrants.”
Hope says that his bill has the support of medical organizations, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, among others. Ten other states have passed similar legislation.
“Shackling pregnant women is dangerous and inhumane. Excessively restraining prisoners and detainees during pregnancy increases their chances of accidentally tripping or falling, and harming their pregnancies,” Hope said in a statement. “During labor and postpartum recovery, shackling can interfere with appropriate medical care and can be detrimental to the health of the woman and her newborn child.”
The bill, HB 1488, is set to be considered by a House of Delegates subcommittee today.
See the press release from Hope’s office after the jump.
Del. Patrick Hope (D), who represents part of Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, has proposed a bill that would raise taxes on tobacco products to fill several gaps in the state’s Medicaid budget.
The bill would raise the tax on cigarettes from the current $0.015 per cigarette to the national average of $0.0725 per cigarette, or $1.45 per pack. Virginia currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the U.S.
The bill would also raise the tax on snuff and other tobacco products. Cigars would be taxed at 50 percent of the wholesale price, up from 10 percent.
Hope’s legislation would direct 52 percent of the additional tax revenue (estimated at about $250 million) to fund Medicare waivers for intellectual and developmental disabilities. Forty percent of the revenue (about $150 million) would go to Medicaid reimbursement for physicians and hospitals. And 8 percent (about $30 million) would be split among the state tobacco quitline and a youth tobacco prevention program.
“Virginia’s Medicaid budget is on an unsustainable course,” Hope said in a statement. “Cuts to Medicaid only result in higher costs down the road. The sick end up in the hospital and ERs for costly medical procedures and avoidable hospitalizations; and individuals with disabilities wind up in institutions rather than being served in their communities for a fraction of the cost. This proposal will take a significant step in preserving and protecting the Medicaid program for future generations and will fulfill a promise to Virginia’s families.”
What do you think?
Virginia has traditionally been one of the more tobacco-friendly states in the country, making consideration and passage of such a bill an uphill battle. Hope has received public words of encouragement, however, from a number of influential health-related organizations, like the Medical Society of Virginia, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
See the press release prepared by Hope’s office, after the jump.