Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled “firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.
In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.
Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.
“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”
Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.
Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”
“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
This week, I stepped down after 17 years as the 48th District’s Delegate in Richmond. This milestone gave me a chance to reflect on how I arrived at this point, what lies ahead — and how much this unique community means to me.
Unlike some people who have adopted a coiled snake as their mascot, I believe in government and the important and sometimes essential role it plays in improving people’s lives. From that belief came an interest from an early age in politics as a means of ensuring that like-minded people would serve in government. (The fact that I grew up in Chicago, where politics is in the water system, may have had something to do with it as well.)
The politics/government connection drew me to this area and to Arlington some 40 years ago. Here we were absorbed into the Arlington Democratic family: some became surrogate grandparents; our kids grew up together; and I developed lifelong friendships with people who would become colleagues and co-workers in Arlington’s positive, person-to-person brand of politics. Then in 1997, when Judy Connally (whose first campaign I had managed) decided to retire as Delegate, my personal and professional circumstances made it possible for me to run to succeed her.
My 17 years in Richmond have reinforced how fortunate we are to be part of this community. We know the statistics: we’re well-educated; we’re affluent; we continue to have a dynamic, vibrant economy (our unemployment rate is consistently Virginia’s lowest).
We champion efforts that don’t necessarily benefit us directly. A prime example is K-12 funding. If there’s anything like a litmus test in Arlington, it’s support for our public schools. Yet, due to Virginia’s K-12 funding formula, Arlington receives relatively little state money for its world-class public schools — by and large, we pay for them through our local taxes.
But Arlington’s delegation in Richmond is united in defending K-12 funding in the state budget — it’s the right thing to do and makes us a better and stronger Commonwealth. (A tragic irony in the debate over Medicaid expansion is that some downstate members most vociferous in their opposition to expansion represent areas with disproportionate numbers of low-income uninsured people who desperately need access to health care.)
Unlike many other delegations in Richmond, we work well together — within the delegation and with our local elected officials.
We’re generally of the same political party and share the same political goals. But that’s not the complete answer: there are other one-party delegations that fight like cats and dogs, both among themselves and with their local officials. Rather, it’s based on mutual trust and respect within the General Assembly delegation and with our hometown boards and constitutional officers.
That’s paid off for Arlington. When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was in danger of moving out of Arlington, we worked together at the federal, state and local levels to keep DARPA headquarters here. Through strong working relationships developed over time in Washington, Richmond, and Arlington, we were able to achieve that goal.
DARPA is an example of how government investments in research and development as well as infrastructure pay enormous dividends in terms of national security, private sector growth and productivity — most famously as the place where the Internet got its start. DARPA’s continued presence is vital to Arlington’s economy and reputation for innovation.
A good share of my time in Richmond has been spent on “Arlington issues.” It’s a duty I’ve taken on gladly, and it’s one my successor must be prepared to assume.
This Arlington unity will become even more important. In a Dillon Rule state, Arlington’s delegation in Richmond must defend programs and policies in transportation, human rights, and other areas that reflect Arlington’s values and priorities developed through the community-centered process we call the “Arlington Way.”
A few weeks ago a Washington Post columnist noted that officials from surrounding jurisdictions sometimes refer to us as “Perfect Arlington” because sometimes we seem to view ourselves that way. While we have every reason to be proud of our accomplishments as a forward-looking, inclusive community, we need to be vigilant that satisfaction doesn’t become smugness and self-righteousness. I’ve found that a bit of humor doesn’t hurt either.
This is not a farewell address. While I’m moving on to new challenges, Arlington will always be my home. I’ll always be grateful to people who gave me the opportunity to be their voice and champion their values in Richmond. You’ll forever be in my thoughts.
Bob Brink is the Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services in the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. He represented Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates from January 1998 to June 30, 2014.
Seven Dems Line Up to Replace Brink — Seven Democrats are running for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Del. Bob Brink, who’s heading to the McAuliffe administration. The candidates, who will compete in a firehouse primary on Sunday, made their pitch to members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee at its meeting in Ballston last night. Also last night, Brink thanked ACDC members for their support over his 17 years in office. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post, InsideNova]
O’Leary to Retire Monday — County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, also speaking at last night’s meeting of Arlington Democrats, formally announced his retirement. O’Leary, who has served more than 30 years as county treasurer, touted his record of reducing tax delinquency rates, increasing the county’s return on financial investments, and improving customer service. His deputy, Carla de la Pava, will be sworn in as interim treasurer after O’Leary submits his resignation Monday. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Aurora Hills Babysitting Co-op Turns 50 — A babysitting co-op in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Babysitting is free in the co-op, which requires members to contribute by babysitting each other’s children. [Washington Post]
SoberRide Returns for July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free taxi rides on Independence Day tomorrow through its SoberRide program. Revelers can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride home from 10:00 p.m. on July 4 through 4:00 a.m., as long as the fare is under $30. [WRAP]
DCA Warns of Long Lines — The Fourth of July holiday is expected to result in longer lines and wait times at Reagan National Airport this weekend. The airport is advising travelers to arrive two hours early, especially during its “peak travel times… typically during the early morning (5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) and late afternoon (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).” There may also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Adding to the problems, the airport reports that some airlines are canceling flights due to Hurricane Arthur. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Library to Host World Cup Viewing — For most of those going out in Arlington to watch this afternoon’s USA-Belgium World Cup match, a bar (or a movie theater) is the preferred venue. But if you don’t need a beer to watch the game, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has a free option for soccer viewing. The game, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be projected on the big screen on the library’s first floor. Cheering and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed in the library during the game. [Arlington Public Library]
List of 48th District Candidates Grows — More than a half dozen candidates have now tossed their hat in the ring to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48). Local Democrats are holding firehouse primaries in the race this weekend in Arlington and McLean. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington’s Traffic Paradox — Despite large gains in population and density, traffic on Arlington roads has actually decreased over the past couple of decades. How is that possible? “Virtually all the growth has happened in Arlington’s Metrorail corridors, where using transit, biking, and walking are the norm.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 8:00 p.m.) State officials are wasting no time in scheduling a special election to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48).
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, a Republican, signed a writ today ordering a special election be held on Tuesday, Aug. 19. The filing deadline for candidates is the end of the day on Monday, July 7.
Local Democrats scrambled to schedule a primary election to meet the filing deadline. Democrats will hold a “special firehouse primary” at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 6.
Already, ARLnow.com has received announcements from two Democrats seeking to replace Brink, who’s leaving the legislature to join Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Rip Sullivan, David Boling and Paul Holland sent out press releases today, announcing their candidacy.
According to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, other potential candidates include Andrew Schneider, Peter Fallon, Atima Amara and Steve Baker.
Brink will retire as of June 30. His 48th District includes Crystal City and parts of north Arlington and McLean.
Brink said in a statement that being able to serve in the Virginia legislature, which counts founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry among its former members, made him feel like “the luckiest guy on earth.”
It is “very likely” that Brink will be replaced in a special election in August, according to Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg. The final order will come from the speaker of the House of Delegates.
Brink was reelected to a new two-year term this past November. He ran unopposed. He is leaving the legislature after accepting a position as Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced this afternoon.
Brink’s office issued the following press release this afternoon.
Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington/McLean), who has represented the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for the past 17 years, announced Friday that he will retire from the House effective June 30.
“I’ve been honored beyond words to serve my fellow citizens as a member of the House,” Delegate Brink said. “But, ‘To every thing there is a season.’ It’s time for a new person to have this privilege, and it’s time for me to move on to new challenges.”
First elected in 1997, Delegate Brink is 13th in seniority in the 100-member House. He is the Dean of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation.
The 48th District includes north Arlington, Crystal City, and part of McLean in Fairfax County.
A member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Health Subcommittee, Delegate Brink cited as some of his proudest achievements in office his work on the FAMIS program which provides health coverage to children of the working poor, as well as efforts to maintain the health care safety net of services to vulnerable Virginians. The ranking Democrat on the House Privileges and Elections Committee, he has advocated for reform of the redistricting process and expansion of access to the vote for all eligible citizens. He also serves on the Education and Transportation Committees as well as on numerous legislative study commissions.
Delegate Brink has received recognition from a variety of groups for his service in the General Assembly. In 2013 the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia presented its Commonwealth Award to him for his efforts on behalf of blind and vision-impaired students. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has consistently commended him for his legislative record on environmental issues. He headed the Virginia YMCA’s Model General Assembly Program board for a number of years and received the YMCA’s Service to Youth Award in 2001. He is a board member and former chair of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and also serves on the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.
Delegate Brink concluded, “On a personal note: A few weeks before I was sworn into office in 1998, I was in Richmond for freshman orientation. One night I took a walk around the Capitol and I stopped outside the House chamber. The curtains were open and the lights were on, and for the first time I saw the vote board with my name on it.
“I’ve looked up at that board thousands of times since that night. Some days it seemed like the only vote where I was in the majority was the quorum call. But every day, the knowledge that I’m one of a handful of Virginians whose numbers include Jefferson, Madison, and Patrick Henry made me think that I must be the luckiest guy on earth.”
Fellow Arlington delegate Alfonso Lopez issued the following statement about Brink’s retirement.
Delegate Brink has lead an extraordinary career in public service. Having served our community for over sixteen years in the House of Delegates, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped him fight for Arlington’s values and priorities in Richmond. As a friend, mentor, and leader in the Arlington delegation, Delegate Brink’s presence in the General Assembly will be sorely missed.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin also released a statement about Brink’s retirement.
For 17 years Delegate Bob Brink has brought Arlington’s values to Richmond in an outspoken, yet gentlemanly, way.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Bob has played a key role in the financial stewardship of the Commonwealth. He was an early and effective advocate of Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). He is responsible for easing enrollment, expanding outreach and the increased enrollment of underprivileged Virginia children in insurance, improving health outcomes. Thousands of blind and visually impaired children have benefited from Delegate Brink’s work securing funds for specialized teaching assistance.
On a personal level, Bob has been a great friend and taught me a lot about being a legislator.
Though the people of Virginia will benefit from his services as he assumes the position of Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services in the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, he will certainly be missed in the General Assembly.
Advice for Vihstadt — Dave Foster, a Republican elected to two full terms on the Arlington School Board starting in 1999, has some advice for the newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt. In order for Vihstadt to win re-election and a full term in November, he will need to practice “thoughtful and independent decision-making, hard work and constant community outreach,” Foster said. [InsideNoVa]
‘Brave’ Moran Loses Two Votes — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D) is taking some bold but symbolic stances in his last term. Moran was one of “two brave Democrats” who voted for a doomed interpretation of President Obama’s budget, as floated by House Republicans for the express purpose of getting Democrats to vote against it. Moran also lost his bid to raise pay for members of Congress; the proposal died in committee. [Washington Times, Associated Press]
Road Closures for Parade — Parts of Walter Reed Drive, Four Mile Run and George Mason Drive will be closed Sunday morning and afternoon for the Carnival de Oruro Parade. [Arlington County]
Library Extends DVD Renewals — Arlington Public Library is now letting patrons renew DVDs twice, meaning the maximum rental period is now 21 days. [Arlington Public Library]
Del. Brink Finds 13 to Be Unlucky — Was it a coincidence? Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) was 13th in seniority in the Virginia House of Delegates this year. And as he was putting his “13” specialty license plate on his car (such plates are issued to lawmakers annually by the state), his pliers slipped and gouged a deep cut in his finger. One fellow lawmaker, however, opined that the bad luck was actually because Brink had just, by virtue of timing, introduced House Bill 666. [InsideNoVa]
Orange, Blue and Yellow Line Work This Weekend — Getting anywhere on Metro this weekend will take longer than usual. Trains will run every 20 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines due to track work. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will end at Mt. Vernon Square rather than Fort Totten. The changes will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. Friday through system closing on Sunday. [WMATA]
Superintendent Hopes to Avoid Class Size Increase — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says he’ll try to avoid an increase in class sizes in the school system’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. It’s unclear how Murphy plans to close a projected $8.8 million budget gap. [Sun Gazette]
Howze Wins Teacher Endorsement — Arlington County Board hopeful Alan Howze has won the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee. The political arm of the teachers’ association said Howze “recognizes that investing in our schools is one of the very best ways to make our community even stronger.”
Brink Proposes Under 15 Tanning Salon Ban — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) has proposed legislation that would ban children under the age of 15 from Virginia tanning salons and would require teens ages 15 to 17 to obtain written parental permission to use such facilities. [Sun Gazette]
Ballston Burger Shop Renames RG III Burger — The RG III burger at Big Buns in Ballston has received an alternate name, “The Kirk Cousins.” The $15 burger contains a beef, a chicken and a turkey patty. Dan Steinberg writes: “No word on what the sandwich will be called next fall.” [DC Sports Bog]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
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.
Fairfax May Be ‘Big Winner’ From Streetcar — The Columbia Pike streetcar may be an economic boon to Fairfax County. Fairfax is planning to use its portion of the future streetcar system to lure office tenants to the Skyline and Baileys Crossroads areas. Already, promise of the streetcar might be helping to sway the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move to Skyline from Ballston. [Sun Gazette]
Office Absorption Down as Sequester Takes Hold — The D.C. region, particularly Northern Virginia, is shedding office tenants. The region typically “absorbs” about 900,000 square feet of office space per quarter, but posted a negative 100,000 square foot absorption figure between April and June. Tenant downsizing and federal job losses and budget cuts are being blamed for the poor absorption figures. [Globe St]
Brink Unopposed in Upcoming Election — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is running unopposed for reelection in November, after the Libertarian candidate he was set to face dropped out of the race. Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rob Krupicka, all Democrats, area facing a Libertarian, an Independent Green and and independent candidate, respectively. So far, no Republican challengers have been announced. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeking LEGO Artists — Arlington Public Library is seeking LEGO builders ages 18 and under to help design and build LEGO structures for display at a library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
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
McDonnell has vetoed two bills that would have allowed Arlington County to levy a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge. The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) surcharge would have helped fund the county’s tourism promotion efforts, and was actually lobbied for by the Hotel General Managers’ Committee of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington), the sponsor of the House bill (HB 2303) that passed last month, says the governor called him on Monday night to tell him that he was planning to veto the bill. Gov. McDonnell said he was vetoing Arlington’s TOT bill, and a similar bill for the City of Fairfax, because he was concerned about Northern Virginia hotels being “placed in a competitive disadvantage in comparison with D.C. and Maryland,” according to Brink.
The local hotel tax surcharge increase bills came at the same time as a legislated increase in the regional TOT in Northern Virginia, as part of the state’s sweeping transportation funding package. McDonnell also reduced the Northern Virginia TOT increase from 3 percent to 2 percent on Tuesday.
(Other amendments to the transportation package made by McDonnell include a slight reduction in the proposed vehicle titling tax — from 4.3 to 4.15 percent — a reduction in the new annual fee paid by owners of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles — from $100 to $64 — and the reduction of a regional congestion fee.)
In a statement, Brink said that McDonnell’s veto of his bill will hurt, not help local hotels.
I’m disappointed that the Governor has taken this action and that the Arlington bill got caught up in the larger politics of the transportation bill. The concern that the Governor expressed to me — our hospitality sector’s competitive position in relation to neighboring jurisdictions — is the precise reason that Arlington’s hospitality industry sought this legislation. In the uncertain economic climate of the DC region, Arlington’s hotels need all the tools available to compete for tourism and business travel. HB 2303 would have given them one powerful additional tool, and I regret that our business community won’t have it at its disposal.
Bill Would Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving in School Zones — Sen. Janet Howell (D) has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving in a school zone or school crossing zone. Violations will be considered a traffic infraction and will be punishable by a fine of up to $250. [Richmond Sunlight]
Brink Supports Two-Term Va. Governor — Del. Bob Brink (D) of Arlington is one of several General Assembly lawmakers to introduce or patron a constitutional amendment that would allow the governor of Virginia to serve a second term. If passed, the amendment will take effect for the governor elected in 2017. [Richmond Sunlight]
USS Arlington Crew Members Get Decal Vote — Crew members of the USS Arlington, set to be commissioned soon, will get a vote on the new Arlington County parking decal. This year, the contest challenged entrants to design a decal incorporating the USS Arlington. Voting is open through Jan. 21. [Sun Gazette]
Civic Federation Supports LEAP — The Arlington County Civic Federation has approved a resolution to promote the non-profit Local Energy Alliance Program, or LEAP, which offers free home energy efficiency assessments to homeowners, along with cash rebates for energy efficiency measures. [Arlington Mercury]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Thieves Steal Wheels from Hotel — Two suspects were seen stealing tires and rims from two vehicles parked at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) early Thursday morning. A security guard tried to intervene but the suspects fled. Arlington, particularly south Arlington, has seen an apparent uptick in wheel thefts recently. [NBC Washington]
Santa Coming to Clarendon Saturday — Santa Claus will be coming to Clarendon on Saturday evening. The Jolly Old Elf will arrive at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) on a “big red sleigh,” otherwise known as an Arlington County fire truck, at 4:00 p.m. He will be on hand for photos until 7:00 p.m. There will also be strolling carolers and other family-friendly entertainment. It’s the shopping center’s 12th annual “Winter Wonderland” event. [Market Common Clarendon]
Last Westover Farmers Market of 2012 — The new Westover Farmers Market will hold its last market of the year from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The market, located at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road, will go on a holiday hiatus before returning on Jan. 13, 2013. The market’s winter hours run through April. [Westover Farmers Market]
Brink Commends Funding for Blind Students — Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) is praising Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for his proposal to add $4.9 million in funding for blind and visually impaired students to the upcoming Virginia budget. The funds will help localities cover the cost of teachers, teacher’s aides and staff for blind and visually impaired students. [Alexandria News]
Bike Advocates Call For Plowed Trails — Bicyclists are calling on Arlington County to start plowing snow from bike and pedestrian trails. “By failing to plow the trails, [Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services] puts more people onto the streets in cars,” said one bicycle advocate during yesterday’s county-organized online snow chat. “Is that really what you want, during a snow event?” [Along the Pike]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Could the recent controversy in Richmond over social issues be hurting Virginia businesses? Yes, says Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) and a group of local business leaders.
This year’s state legislative session has been marked by heated partisan debate over the merits of Republican-sponsored bills concerning abortion, women’s health and gay adoptions. Most of the controversial bills have been either killed or delayed, and the legislature is now starting to focus its attention on the state budget, but Democrats are still decrying the renewed focus on social issues and the media attention it brought to Virginia.
(Update at 3:00 p.m.: a modified version of a bill requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions has passed the Virginia Senate by a vote of 21-19.)
Yesterday Del. Brink took to the floor of the House of Delegates (see video, above) to read a letter from a number of Northern Virginia business leaders, including representatives of the Consumer Electronics Association and Vornado/Charles E. Smith. Addressed to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and the entire state legislature, the letter argued that “extreme proposals governing social issues” are detrimental to Virginia’s ability to attract “the best and the brightest employees and entrepreneurs.”
As business leaders and employers in Virginia we applaud your successful bi-partisan efforts to keep Virginia first in national rankings as the most business-friendly state.
We urge you to maintain this ranking going forward by ensuring Virginia is a magnet for the best and the brightest employees and entrepreneurs.
Specifically, we urge you to reject extreme proposals governing social issues on which Americans are passionately divided. Otherwise it will be difficult for Virginia to attract and retain the entrepreneurs and talent we need to grow Virginia.
Del. Brink minced no words in describing how he felt about the outward image projected by Virginia General Assembly this year.
“All you have to do is turn on your TV, open any national newspaper, or go to YouTube, and it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that we’ve allowed ourselves to be portrayed as a bunch of ignorant, backward-looking buffoons,” Brink said. “It’s not just our image that’s taken a hit: it’s the economy — the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century — that’s in danger.”