Opinions Split at Tax Hearing — The Arlington County Board’s public tax hearing last night was relatively short, about 30 minutes. Among the fewer than 10 speakers, opinions were split between those who want taxes to remain the same and those who want the tax rate to be lowered. [InsideNoVa]
GMU Pepper Spray Suspect Identified — The man who pepper sprayed a George Mason University law professor at the school’s Arlington campus on Wednesday has been identified as 31-year-old Jonathan Pendleton of Alexandria. The professor has been identified as economist and blogger Tyler Cowen. Pendleton left threatening comments on Cowen’s blog before the attack. [Huffington Post]
Arlington’s Population Grows — New U.S. Census figures indicate that Arlington’s population increased 3,631 last fiscal year. The county’s population, according to the Census Bureau, stands at 224,906 as of July 1, 2013. The Washington region as a whole ranked fifth for population growth among U.S. metropolitan regions. [Washington Post]
James Schlesinger Dies — Former defense and energy secretary James Schlesinger has died at the age of 85. Schlesinger was an Arlington resident. [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
The incident happened at GMU’s Arlington campus, near Virginia Square, around 3:00 p.m. Police say the man entered the classroom and attempted to place the professor under a citizen’s arrest. The professor tried to get the man — described as a white male in his 20s or 30s — to leave, at which time the man pepper sprayed him and a scuffle ensued, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The professor did not know the man, Sternbeck said.
An off-duty police officer heard the commotion and tried to intervene. The suspect fled but was arrested outside the school by Arlington County police officers, according to Stenbeck. He’s now being questioned by police. Several charges are pending.
Paramedics evaluated the professor and about a dozen students who were in the classroom at the time and suffered residual effects from the pepper spray. There were no reports of anyone being taken to the hospital.
Photo via Google Maps
Some erroneous new signage in the Virginia Square Metro station would have one believe that George Mason University is greatly expanding its local presence beyond Arlington and Fairfax County.
The sign correctly labels the station it’s in as “Virginia Sq-GMU” — but then labels the first Orange/Blue Line station in the District of Columbia as “Foggy Bottom-GMU.” Flip the M upside down and you get the correct abbreviation for the institution of higher education in Foggy Bottom, George Washington University.
The error was pointed out this afternoon in a Twitter post that was retweeted by the tireless, anonymous WMATA critic Unsuck DC Metro. “Unsuck” subsequently opined: “If Metro can’t even get signs right, what’s going on with the tracks, trains and other safety gear?”
Photo via @DCtransitnerd
The event, in Room 126 of Founder’s Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive, will run from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The job fair is free, but registration is required.
Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring résumés, but AEC says some employers may be directing attendees to apply online.
Among the employers that have signed up to participate are Virginia Hospital Center, AT&T, General Dynamics and Starbucks, as well as several federal agencies and Arlington County departments. In all, more than 50 employers have committed to participating in the career fair.
Photo courtesy of the Arlington Employment Center
The candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor had their first debate of the year last night (Tuesday) at George Mason University’s Arlington campus.
The debate gave Arlington residents a chance to see polarizing Republican candidate E.W. Jackson, who has made headlines since earning the GOP nomination by making disparaging comments about gays and lesbians, comparing Democrats to slavemasters and saying yoga could lead people to Satan.
Jackson, a nondenominational minister from Chesapeake, defended those comments as protected speech and explained that how he speaks in sermons, during which many of the comments were made, would not be how he would govern.
“I think we’ve got to watch this. What this really amounts to is a religious test,” he said. “The same thing they tried to do John Kennedy, the same thing they tried to do with Mitt Romney… its not his religion that matters, what matters is how he governs.”
Democratic candidate Ralph Northam said he was “offended” by many of the remarks Jackson has made during the campaign, asserting that there can’t be a distinction for a public official.
“What I do in church carries with me to what I do in everyday life,” Northam said. “Making statements against the LGBT community, saying they’re sick individuals, making statements against Democrats, saying they’re anti-god, anti-family, anti-life, those statements… are offensive. They have no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s not the state that I love and that’s not the state that you love.”
Perhaps Jackson’s most controversial statement of the night was suggesting more mentally ill patients should be housed in institutions, leading to WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, the debate’s moderator, to press him on the issue.
“I don’t want to scare you, but I’ve got some mentally ill people in my family, and they need help,” Jackson said. “You can’t just cast them aside. You can’t pretend that they don’t need something more than an occasional visit to a doctor or a hospital. They do need something more. They need to be housed, they need to be taken care of.”
Northam, a pediatric neurologist from Norfolk who has served in the state senate the last six years, countered Jackson’s statements.
“How sad to think you would visit [your family members] in an institution,” he said. “We can do better than that in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The loyalties of the crowd at GMU’s Founders Hall auditorium was considerably mixed, and several moments from each candidate drew loud cheers. Northam and Jackson both spoke passionately on the subject of abortion, the potential for Medicaid expansion in Virginia via the Affordable Care Act and ethics reform. Fox asked Jackson if he would enact ethics reform to prevent scandals like Gov. Bob McDonnell’s impermissible gifts scandal from happening again.
“We have found out about these indiscretions, so something obviously worked, because we know about them,” Jackson said. “I am willing to consider anything that will make the public’s trust in government greater… I am always skeptical of adding layer upon layer and law upon law because what we really need to do is elect people who want to serve.”
Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will appear at George Mason University’s Arlington campus next week to discuss the future of energy policy in the Commonwealth.
The event, called the Virginia Energy and Opportunity Forum, will be held Thursday, Aug. 29 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Founders Hall (3351 N. Fairfax Drive) and is free and open to the public, as long as audience members reserve a seat. From a press release:
From the debate over offshore drilling, to the future of coal and the opportunities presented by renewable energy, Virginia’s next Governor will have a lot of important decisions to make when it comes to energy policy.
The public is invited to attend Virginia Energy & Opportunity Forum... for the chance to to hear directly from both of their gubernatorial candidates — Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) — as they lay out their respective visions for Virginia’s energy future.
This forum is sponsored by Consumer Energy Alliance. Welcome and candidate introduction by David Hart, George Mason University Acting Senior Associate Dean, School of Public Policy.
According to GMU spokeswoman Toni Andrews, the candidates will be taking questions from two different panels and will appear separately.
Concealed Carry Permits Spike in Arlington — The number of applications for concealed-carry permits in Arlington has quadrupled in the past 8 years, and continued to spike. Last year the Circuit Court received 1,042 applications from whose who want to carry concealed weapons. This year the office is expecting nearly 1,600. [Sun Gazette]
Whipple Pens Pro-Streetcar Op-Ed — In an op-ed, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple compares the heated debate over the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar systems to the debate over the construction of Metrorail through Arlington in the 1970s. “A small but vocal faction of our community claimed that the proposed Orange, Blue and Yellow lines were too expensive and risky and argued that we should just use buses instead,” Whipple writes. “After much deliberation, Arlington invested in rail.” [Washington Post]
New Gym for George Mason? — George Mason University’s Arlington campus currently lacks a fitness center for students. A plan to build a new gym, put in place after a student petition in 2011, has not moved forward because it was determined that the project would go over budget. The university is currently exploring options for either constructing a new fitness center or partnering with a nearby office building to use its gym. [Connect2Mason]
DCA Fight Attendants Protest Knife Decision — Flight attendants have been handing out flyers to passengers at Reagan National Airport, encouraging them to sign an online petition against a recent TSA decision that will allow small knives to be carried on to planes. [WAMU]
Fisette will moderate and George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host “a special public forum to discuss the environmental and economic implications of single-use plastic water bottles,” from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 15. The forum, entitled “Say NO to Bottled H2O,” will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive).
In addition to a panel discussion with environmental and water experts, the event will feature a screening of the documentary “Bag It,” which critically explores the use of single-use disposable bags. The forum is being co-sponsored by GMU, Arlington County, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Arlington Public Schools, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Marymount University and the George Mason Environmental Law Society.
The forum is also the kick-off for a new grassroots organization called “Tap in Arlington,” which asks residents to “choose to drink tap water instead of purchasing single use plastic water bottles.”
The organization says 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce billions of single-use plastic water bottles annually, and less than 30 percent of those bottles are recycled. Bottled water is 2-4 times the price of gasoline, according to statistics cited by Tap in Arlington.
Fisette said the effort reflects the public commitment he made on New Years Day to bring attention to the use of bottled water and its environmental impacts.
“I raised the issue on January 1, stating that I would begin a ‘personal crusade’ to reduce the use of plastic water bottles,” Fisette said. “Well, the crusade is about to begin.”
Career Fair Coming Next Week — Registration is now open for the second annual Arlington Employment Center Fall Career Fair. The career fair will allow job hunters to “meet with over 50 area top employers with jobs in IT, administration, education, construction, banking, retail, healthcare, transportation and more.” It will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at George Mason University’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive). Registration is free. [Arlington County]
Liberty Tavern Makes Fall Dining Guide — Clarendon’s Liberty Tavern is the sole Arlington entrant on food critic Tom Sietsema’s 2012 Fall Dining Guide. The guide lists 40 of Sietsema’s favorite restaurants around the region. [Washington Post]
Elevation Burger Still Expanding — Arlington-based Elevation Burger is celebrating the opening of its 30th store. The burger chain’s main corporate office is located in Ballston and an Elevation Burger restaurant is located at 2447 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. [Restaurant News]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
Obama to Visit W-L Today — President Obama will be making a lunchtime visit to Washington-Lee High School today. Expect heightened security in the area.
Bus Stop Improvements — The County has been making improvements to certain bus stops around Arlington. One recent stop to get a makeover — complete with a shelter and a Capital Bikeshare station — is at 15th and Hayes Streets in Pentagon City. [Arlington Transit]
GMU Green Patriot Award — George Mason University has issued its first annual ‘Green Patriot’ environmental award. The honor was given to Martin Ogle, the chief naturalist at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, who is retiring this month after 27 years with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. [Sun Gazette]
Federal Agency Offers Zombie Classes — In an apparent attempt to bring some levity to federal bureaucracy, classes on how to be a zombie are being offered at the Arlington offices of the Fish and Wildlife Service. [Washington Post]
‘Housing 4 Hipsters’ Attracts a Crowd — Arlington’s inaugural “Housing 4 Hipsters” event attracted a crowd of about 100 young people Monday night, though it seems unlikely that any of the attendees were actually “hipsters” in the literal sense. [Washington City Paper]
ShoeFly to Close — Clarendon shoe store ShoeFly is closing up shop after 10 years in business. The store is planning on holding a going-out-of-business sale. [Washington Business Journal]
Va. Congressional Districts Approved — The U.S. Department of Justice has approved Virginia’s redrawn congressional districts, allowing the state’s congressional primaries to move ahead on time. The primaries are scheduled for June 12. [Office of the Attorney General]
‘Green Patriot’ Award Nominations — George Mason University is seeking nominations for its “Arlington Green Patriot” awards. The award “recognizes an individual, business or organization that exemplifies sustainability in more than one aspect of their recent life or operations to better civic life in Arlington.” An online nomination form is available. The deadline for nominations is March 30.
Startup Virginia, part of the privately-funded Startup America Partnership that President Obama helped to launch last year, promises to “support entrepreneurs and help startups drive job creation” in the Commonwealth. Organizers say Northern Virginia in particular is fertile ground for startups, with the numerous corporate headquarters in the area and with the area’s focus on science and technology.
“It’s about time this region got the recognition it deserves,” said a panelist at this morning’s launch event, which was attended by several hundred business leaders, academics and other attendees. Another panelist suggested that entrepreneurs can help pick up some of the economic slack that will be caused by expected cuts in defense spending.
Among the speakers at the event were Aneesh Chopra, the outgoing Chief Technology Officer for the White House, and Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, Chairman of the Startup America Partnership and a prominent local investor. Chopra cited Courthouse-based Opower as an example of a Virginia startup that’s making it big.
“Right down the street here in Arlington, Opower didn’t exist five years ago,” Chopra said. “[It has] over 300 employees to help compete to bring down your energy bills.”
Chopra made some news at the event when he hinted at a new bipartisan legislative package that’s expected to be announced by the White House later today. According to Chopra, the legislation would cut taxes for small businesses and entrepreneurs, would reduce barriers to accessing capital markets for high-growth companies, and would seek to reduce administrative backlogs for high-skill immigration.
Case said entrepreneurs helped to build the United States into the world power it is today.
“We didn’t become the leading economy by accident,” Case said. “It was the work of entrepreneurs creating companies, and really creating entire industries, that in the last two centuries has propelled us to the position we now have globally.”
Case cautioned, however, that other countries are trying to catch up with America in the realm of entrepreneurship. The U.S. must focus on “winning the global battle on talent,” he said.
Construction Progress in Rosslyn — Progress is being made on two major construction projects in Rosslyn. Despite a partial collapse of a retaining wall over the summer, the shell of one of the future Sedona and Slate apartment buildings (above) is nearing street level. We’re also told that the shell of the future 1812 N. Moore office tower is steadily making its way, floor by floor, toward the top of the construction pit and may be visible from street level in the near future.
Shirlington Lights Up the Village — Shirlington held its “Light Up the Village” holiday event last night, complete with angels on stilts, jesters on unicycles, horse-drawn carriage rides, live music and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Puppies Help Stressed GMU Law Students — The Virginia Square-based George Mason University law school called in some cuddly support for its over-stressed students on Thursday. With exams approaching, students got to de-stress with 15 puppies from the Forever Home rescue organization. [Washington Post]
Another Possible County Board Candidate — Lyon Village Citizens Association president H.K. Park is mulling a run for state Senator-elect Barbara Favola’s Arlington County Board seat. If he does, he’ll be the seventh candidate to announce his or her candidacy. [Sun Gazette]
Tejada Endorses Bondi — County Board member Walter Tejada has announced that he’s supporting Melissa Bondi in the upcoming County Board special election. Bondi, who has been active in local Democratic politics for more than a decade, is also being supported by Delegate-elect Alfonso Lopez, Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson and School Board member James Lander. [Bondi for County Board]
GMU “Protest” Quiet, Peaceful — A protest last night against Nonie Darwish, an outspoken critic of Islam who was speaking at George Mason University’s law school, proved to be a peaceful, academic exercise. Students gathered in a classroom to hear Muslim speakers talk about the experience of practicing their faith in the United States at a time when many are suspicious about Islam. “They don’t want to see an America that’s diverse and pluralistic,” said one protest speaker. Darwish’s well-attended speech, meanwhile, focused on what she saw as the injustices of Islam, Sharia law and Jihad.
Post Looks at Favola/Merrick Race — Does Republican Caren Merrick have a chance to win in the redrawn, Democratic-leaning 31st state Senate District? The Post takes a look at the race between Merrick and Democratic Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola. [Washington Post]
New White House Chief Usher Has Local Ties — This week Angella Reid was appointed the new Chief Usher of the White House — in charge of the operation of the White House executive residence. Reid, who had been general manager of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City, is the first woman to assume the title. [BET]
Moran Gets New Website — Rep. Jim Moran has a brand new website. “The new Moran website improves accessibility to information that can help residents navigate and expedite the federal bureaucracy,” the congressman’s office said. “[The site] offers a straightforward format for residents to provide feedback on issues, learn of Moran’s policy positions and legislation, and find information on constituent services.” [Congressman Jim Moran]
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) A number of groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Arab Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society, will be participating in an “anti-hate” protest at the George Mason University School of Law in Virginia Square tonight.
The groups will be protesting a speaking engagement at the school by Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American author and speaker who has brought her anti-Islam, pro-Israel message to numerous college campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Critics call Darwish a “radical anti-Muslim Islamophobe” and point to a recent video of her speaking at a protest in Florida as evidence.
“Islam is a poison to a society. It’s divisive. It’s hateful… It’s full of anti-Semitism,” Darwish said in the video. “Because Islam should be feared, and should be fought, and should be conquered, and defeated, and annihilated, and it’s going to happen… Islam is based on lies and it’s not based on the truth. I have no doubt whatsoever that Islam is going to be destroyed.”
Darwish, who is particularly critical of Islam’s treatment of women and minorities, was invited to speak at the school by the GMU student chapter of the Federalist Society and the Jewish Law Students Association. The controversy over her invitation has attracted attention from the popular Above the Law blog and a blog called “LoonWatch.”
GMU law dean Daniel Polsby was even compelled to weigh in on the controversy. In an email, Polsby told students that “the law school will not exercise editorial control over the words of speakers invited by student organizations, nor will we take responsibility for them, nor will we endorse or condemn them.”
“Sometimes speakers are invited who are known to espouse controversial points of view,” Polsby wrote. “Just as speakers are free to speak, protesters are free to protest.”
The protests are scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. at Hazel Hall, Room 225, at 3301 N. Fairfax Drive. The speech by Darwish is scheduled to take place at 5:00 p.m., and is open to GMU law students only.
Photo via Wikipedia