Funeral for Arlington Firefighter Injured on 9/11 — A funeral will be held today for an Arlington firefighter who was a first responder on 9/11. Phillip McKee III suffered a severe leg injury while battling fires at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. He also inhaled toxic dust and later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family says McKee, 41, died from complications from those injuries. McKee, who held degrees from Yale and Harvard, was openly gay and is survived by his husband and partner of 15 years. [Washington Blade]
County Officials: No Subsidies for Gov’t Agencies — With the county still reeling from the impending loss of the National Science Foundation, Arlington officials are sticking to their guns and saying that offering tax breaks and other financial incentives to lure federal agencies is bad policy. Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer is pushing for the General Services Administration to disclose additional information related to the decision to move the NSF to Alexandria by 2017. “None of it makes any sense,” Holzheimer said of the decision and its impact to other government tenants in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]
Bluemont Trail Improvements – Arlington County crews will be widening a section of the Bluemont Trail between Buchanan Street and the Ballston Holiday Inn this month. Crews will also be removing obstructions and landscaping around the trail. [Bike Arlington]
SUPERNOVA Photos — Dozens of artists invaded public spaces in Rosslyn over the weekend for the SUPERNOVA Performance Art Festival. Some of the artists and their performances can be seen in a series of photos published the the Ode Street Tribune blog.
Democratic Primary Today — Democrats will go to the polls today in Virginia to vote in the primary for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Among the candidates is Arlington resident Aneesh Chopra, who’s running for lieutenant governor. Polls will remain open in Arlington from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) Incumbent School Board member James Lander has narrowly defeated challenger Barbara Kanninen in the Democratic endorsement caucus, which was held on May 9 and 11.
Lander won the Democratic endorsement by a caucus vote of 1,144 to 1,097. He will now run for reelection on Nov. 5. So far, no other candidates have announced for the race.
Via Facebook, Kanninen thanked her supporters.
“Congratulations to my opponent James Lander on winning a hard fought, positive election,” she wrote. “Thank you so much to all of my volunteers and supporters for your help, ideas and kind words of support. I hope you all stay active in our schools, community, and the political process.”
In a statement, Lander said he was “humbled” by the outcome of the caucus.
“This campaign has been a tremendous opportunity to re-connect with Arlington voters,” he said. “I appreciate Barbara Kanninen’s spirited and well run campaign, and I thank her for her work to engage the voters of Arlington on the important issues facing our schools. I am humbled to have another opportunity to be the Democratic endorsee for the School Board, and I hope to continue my service to the students and families of Arlington.”
Mike Lieberman, chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, said the party will be “working hard” to fend off challengers to Lander, if there are any, in November.
“James Lander has been a strong voice for Arlington’s students in his four years on the board, and today’s vote is an affirmation of his record,” Lieberman said. “We are proud to again have James representing us as our Democratic endorsee in November, and we will be working hard to ensure he has four more years on the School Board. I also want to thank Barbara Kanninen for running a thoughtful and energetic campaign, and giving Arlington voters a choice of two superb leaders.”
McAuliffe and Warner will “will launch McAuliffe’s Arlington campaign and roll out his plan to strengthen Virginia’s K-12 education systems in order to prepare Virginia’s students and workforce for the jobs of tomorrow and grow the Commonwealth’s economy,” according to a media advisory.
The event will take place at George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.
McAuliffe fell to 10 points behind Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in a Washington Post poll published over the weekend.
Building new schools may not be the only answer to overcrowding in Arlington Public Schools, School Board hopeful Barbara Kanninen said last night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
Flexible scheduling, night classes in high school, and a school year that extends through the summer might ease crowding in middle and high schools without the expense and loss of open space associated building new facilities.
“We know right now that we have lots of kids coming… we’re building elementary schools right now but in five years they’re going to be heading to middle school and high school,” Kanninen said. “We need to think about where we’re going to educate them given that we might not have the money to build and we might not have the green space to build.”
Kanninen’s stance on building was one point of contrast between her and incumbent School Board member James Lander, who she’s trying to unseat. Kanninen and Lander debated at the ACDC meeting in advance of next week’s Democratic School Board endorsement caucus.
On school capacity, Lander emphasized the School Board’s existing construction plan and his “county-wide vision” — an apparent contrast to Kanninen’s north Arlington campaign focus.
“We’re growing by almost an elementary school per year,” he said. “We have a strategy in place, we’re building new facilities and we’re adding additions to existing facilities. We’re looking at and evaluating both middle school boundaries. This is something that takes experience and a county-wide vision.”
During the debate Kanninen spoke of her priorities: expanding STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — programs, individualized education and adult mentorships, and using analytics and her PhD in economics to help make “smarter, more efficient choices with taxpayer money.”
On many of those key campaign points, Lander echoed his own stances. He said students need STEM skills so they can grow up not to be workers, but “employers and entrepreneurs.” He touted a mentorship program he created for minority students. And he also emphasized the importance of a learning environment that adapts to the strengths of individual students.
“My approach to student achievement and student success is responsive education… and that mean meeting the needs of all groups,” he said. By way of an anecdote, he joked about how his sister was a bookworm while we was more likely to fall asleep while trying to read school books.
Both Kanninen and Lander said they support arts education and the use of school buildings by members of the community. Both also said that standardized tests have become too pervasive in schools and are detracting from the overall education of students.
Answering a question about bullying, Lander said APS has a “zero tolerance” policy toward bullies. Kanninen said adult support of “students’ social and emotional health” is paramount, and that students should always have an adult mentor to approach with issues like bullying.
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
School Board Candidate Skips S. Arlington — Arlington School Board challenger Barbara Kanninen has held all of her published campaign events in north Arlington, skipping south Arlington entirely, says political blogger Ben Tribbett. Although she’s a challenger, Kanninen is thought by some to be the favorite in the race, thanks to high expected voter turnout in north Arlington. Kanninen will face incumbent James Lander in a debate at tonight’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. The Democratic School Board caucus will be held May 9 and 11. [Not Larry Sabato]
John Paul Stevens to Speak at Cmte. of 100 — Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will be the featured speaker at the May 8 Arlington Committee of 100 meeting. Stevens is an Arlington resident. [Sun Gazette]
AMEN Becomes ‘Arlington Thrive’ — Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs (AMEN) has been rebranded as “Arlington Thrive.” The nonprofit still provides “same-day, emergency financial assistance to County residents who experience sudden financial crisis such as temporary unemployment or illness,” with priority given to families. [Arlington Thrive]
Annual Marymount Fashion Show — Marymount University will hold its annual fashion show this weekend. “Portfolio in Motion 2013″ will showcase the work of Marymount fashion design students. It’s being held on campus in the Rose Bente Lee Center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. [Facebook]
Bomb Squad to Receive Protective Vest Donation – The Arlington County Fire Department’s bomb squad will receive a donation of two tactical protective vests next Tuesday. The vests will protect bomb squad personnel in explosive-related situations. Worth nearly $20,000, the vests are being donated by Firehouse Subs.
Lander Defends His Record — School Board member James Lander, who’s running for re-election and facing a challenge for the Democratic endorsement, is defending his record when it comes to school redistricting, student transportation and his support of Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. Lander says he “will continue to press for ways to improve student achievement and address the needs of a growing school population without breaking the bank.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Garners Third AAA Rating — Ratings agency Fitch has reaffirmed its AAA rating for Arlington’s debt. All three bond rating agencies have now given Arlington their top ratings for the year. [Arlington County]
‘Two Wheel Tuesday’ Event Tonight — The county’s BikeArlington program is holding its fourth “Two Wheel Tuesday” educational event of the year. Tonight’s event is “Savvy Cycling Tips,” which lets interested riders “learn the best tips on safe biking so you can ride in traffic comfortably.” The event will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Westover Library (1644 North McKinley Road). [BikeArlington]
Photo by Wolfkann
Audrey Clement is running for Arlington County Board under the Arlington Green Party banner, for the fourth time since 2011.
Clement, a long-time Arlington resident and IT consultant, will face off against incumbent Democrat Jay Fisette in November. The Arlington Green Party is urging a vote for Clement to “end one-party rule in Arlington.”
“Arlington needs new leadership,” the party said in a press release. “Jay Fisette says he is for sustainability, but the tax hikes County Board plans to impose on county residents to fund boondoggles like the Pike trolley and heated bus stops are unsustainable.”
Clement was nominated at the Greens’ April 3 meeting. She is running on a platform that includes:
- Adopt a referendum sponsored by the Arlington Green Party to create a Housing Authority to provide more affordable housing at less cost.
- No more tax rate increases. Repave streets. Fund schools and libraries, not wasteful projects, like million dollar bus stops on Columbia Pike.
- Use commercial real estate tax to fund ART buses not the $250 million Pike trolley.
- Fund school construction to ease overcrowding.
- Open Arlington public libraries 7 days a week.
- Retrofit public buildings with renewable energy.
- Reduce waste. Increase recycling in apartments and businesses.
- Ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam in retail stores and food outlets to reduce litter.
- Provide free residential energy audits.
Clement received 12.9 percent of the vote in November 2012. Green Party candidate John Reeder received 32 percent of the vote when he ran against Fisette in 2009.
The Arlington County Republican Committee has set May 12 as the filing deadline for potential County Board candidates.
Arlington Outpaced in Home Sale Prices – Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax County and D.C. have all outpaced Arlington when it comes to growth in home sale prices. Prices in Arlington increased only 1.1 percent year over year in March, and year-to-date prices are down 1 percent, according to data from RealEstate Business Intelligence. The median home sale price in Arlington hit $515,000 in March. [Washington Post]
O’Connell Defeats Stone Bridge — The highly-ranked Bishop O’Connell softball team defeated their closest competitors in Virginia, Stone Bridge, by a score of 3-0 last night. The Knights improved to 10-0, and remain ranked No. 2 in the region. The team will face No. 9 McLean and No. 1 Northern (ranked second in the country; DJO is ranked third) later this month. [Washington Post]
Kanninen Wants More Responsiveness — Barbara Kanninen says she’s running for Arlington School Board because she wants the board to be more responsive to the concerns of parents. “There’s a lot of parent dissatisfaction,” she said in an interview with the Sun Gazette. Of her opponent, incumbent James Lander, she said “it truly isn’t about him, specifically.” [Sun Gazette]
Remembering WEAM — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark takes a trip down Memory Lane and remembers the Arlington-based AM radio station WEAM. The station used to play pop and rock hits from a studio located “above Minor Hill, off Williamsburg Blvd.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Election Officials Seek Funding for Scanners — County election officials hope the County Board approves funding for bar code scanners that could speed up voter check-in at the polls. The scanners would read the codes on voters’ drivers’ licenses and voting cards, which would more quickly bring up residents’ information. A final County Board decision might not happen until the end of the fiscal year. [Sun Gazette]
Local Woman to Appear on Jeopardy! — Arlington resident Mary Jo Shoop will compete tonight on America’s popular quiz show, Jeopardy! During her time taping the show, Shoop was able to meet and get photos with host Alex Trebek. The episode will air tonight (Friday) at 7:30 p.m. on ABC 7 (WJLA).
APS Requests $0.005 Tax Rate Increase — (Updated at 10:00 a.m.) — Thursday night’s School Board meeting began with the announcement that the schools have asked the county for a one-half of one cent increase in the tax rate, which adds up to about $3 million. The funds would cover shortfalls in the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget of $520 million. APS Board Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez said the spring 2013 enrollment figures were higher than expected, prompting the need for more county money. [Arlington Mercury]
School Board Appoints Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations — John Chadwick was named the new Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations at last night’s (March 21) School Board meeting. He has served as the interim assistant superintendent since Feb. 1, and has served as the APS Director of Design and Construction since 2011. “John is a calm and reassuring leader as he has worked to collaborate with staff and the community on initiatives such as our recently-adopted ten-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). He has also been an adept manager for all of our recent capital improvement projects, including the construction at Yorktown and Wakefield and the planning of a new elementary school to be built on the Williamsburg site and the addition at Ashlawn,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. “John’s leadership over the past two years for our ‘More Seats for More Students’ deliberations, as well as his support for the work of our new Multimodal Transportation Committee and our many other collaborative efforts with the Arlington County Government have been a tremendous asset to APS.”
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
While Virginia Democratic State Senator Henry Marsh was attending President Obama’s inauguration last month, Virginia Republican Senators ambushed their Democratic counterparts, and passed a far-reaching bill to redraw the lines of Virginia’s districts.
On Feb. 6, Republican House Speaker William Howell effectively killed this bill by ruling that the proposed massive Senate redistricting was not a germane amendment to the minor House redistricting bill to which it was attached. One can only imagine what concessions on other legislation were extracted from Virginia Democrats behind the scenes in exchange for Republicans “voluntarily” killing the Senate redistricting bill.
This 2013 Senate Republican redistricting ploy came only two years after Va. Senate Democrats and Va. House Republicans struck a deal in which Democrats allowed Republicans free rein to gerrymander the district lines in the House in exchange for allowing Democrats free rein to gerrymander the district lines in the Senate.
What all these deals have in common: hyper-partisanship by Republicans and Democrats, incumbent protection, and legislators choosing their voters—rather than the other way round. Other states have found better ways to do this, and Virginia should too.
John Miller, a Democratic Senator from Virginia’s 1st Senate District in Newport News, has proposed SB 742—a bill to create a bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission to draw the legislative district lines. Senator Miller’s bill certainly isn’t perfect—but it’s a big step up from the chaotic hyper-partisan system Virginia has now.
Even better would be legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting commission. Efforts to do that have been blocked repeatedly by Virginia Republican legislators, most recently when a House of Delegates subcommittee unanimously voted to table such a proposal by Democratic Delegate Betsy Carr of Richmond. Republican opponents of Carr’s proposal claimed there couldn’t be any such thing as a nonpartisan redistricting commission, conveniently ignoring that California and other states have one.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
This year’s campaign for Governor presents starkly different visions of the direction Virginia should take. There will be many opportunities to debate which vision makes more sense. And, there is still a chance that a third major candidate — Virginia’s current Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling — might jump in the race.
But only one of these candidates for Governor — Cuccinelli — has a track record of denying the conclusions of the scientific community.
To advance his cause as a climate science denier, Cuccinelli went so far as to sue the University of Virginia — our flagship university. Although Cuccinelli’s lawsuit was thrown out as frivolous by Virginia’s highest court, it had chilling reverberations within the scientific research community.
Regardless of what you think of Cuccinelli’s positions on any other issue, he should be disqualified from further consideration as Virginia’s Governor because of his record as a science denier. Why?
This is only a sampling of public policy issues facing Virginia’s next Governor:
- Uranium mining
- Rising tides
- Offshore drilling
- Transit technology choices
- Tax incentives for green technologies
What to do about each of these issues depends on an understanding and respect for scientific findings.
Fisette will formally announce his reelection run at next week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, his campaign said today.
In a press release, Fisette’s campaign describes his goals for a hoped-for next term.
During his last term, Fisette has focused on maintaining sound fiscal policies as well as the development of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan, the successful launch of the Capital Bikeshare program, improvements to pedestrian safety, protection of affordable housing and e-government enhancements. Fisette has combined Democratic values with independent leadership.
Fisette’s objectives in his next term include balancing Arlington’s budget while also meeting long-term needs such as ensuring that Arlington public schools remain among the very best; maintaining a strong social safety net including affordable housing options; and implementing Arlington’s energy reduction strategy.
Despite the fact that the election was two weeks ago, some political signs still have been spotted in public spaces around town in recent days. That’s against county code, but residents are being told to report, not remove rogue campaign signs.
Per code, all political signs were to be removed from the public right of way (such as road medians) by the campaigns within five days after the election. Those that remain are subject to confiscation by county staff. Residents who notice lingering signs are asked not to remove them; the signs are to be removed only by the organization that originally placed them, or by county zoning staff.
The regulations are part of the larger sign ordinance, which has been revamped this year. Audrey Clement, who ran for County Board as a Green Party candidate, spoke at the Board meeting on Saturday (Nov. 17) to complain about the lack of enforcement for the sign rules. Clement pointed out that leading up to the election, no more than two signs are to be placed in a public space. She reported to have sometimes seen “six to a median.” Clement also said she went around the county to remove her own signs after the election.
“Given the level of abuse, what is the point of wasting countless hours of community and staff time to revise an ordinance that the county itself ignores?” said Clement. “If the losers uphold the law, why can’t the winners enforce it?”
Board member Jay Fisette noted that candidates at the federal level would probably be less likely to know Arlington’s ordinances, but said they should have been informed of the regulations. He said Clement’s concern was warranted.
“Whether they’re federal, state or local candidates, the county should be enforcing them,” Fisette said.
Not all signs in Arlington fall within the county’s authority, however. Campaign signs along VDOT-maintained roads are subject to enforcement and removal by the state.
County staff has been removing signs they see or that are reported along county roads. Anyone who wants to report a political sign in violation of the ordinance may call code enforcement at 703-228-3232. The county is encouraging residents who wish to dispose of a political sign on their own personal property to recycle it.
Voter Turnout Just Missed Record — A record number of voters turned out in Arlington for the Nov. 6 election, but the turnout just missed the record for percentage of active voters who cast ballots. In the end, 84.6 percent of active voters in Arlington cast ballots, just shy of the 84.9 percent active voter turnout for the 1992 general election. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Recycling Chat Today — Arlington County officials will be holding an online chat about residential recycling today. The “Ask the Expert” chat will be conducted via Facebook from noon to 1:00 p.m. [Facebook]
JBG Installs EV Chargers — Property owner JBG has installed a number of electric vehicle charges at its Arlington properties. The company says charging stations have been installed at the Hilton Crystal City (2399 Jefferson Davis Highway) and at the Rosslyn Gateway buildings (1911/1901 N. Lynn Street). The charging stations, part of the Blink charger network, offer priority parking to electric vehicle owners, according to a press release.