Rosslyn Skyscraper Still Empty — The D.C. area’s tallest building, 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, is still empty a year and a half after its completion. Owner Monday Properties, however, is feeling good about the regional economy and about Rosslyn specifically. The company is reportedly not planning to lower its asking rent for the building. [Washington Post]
Deaf Man Suing Arlington County — Updated at 9:20 a.m. — A homeless deaf immigrant who was wrongly jailed for six weeks, allegedly without access to an interpreter, is suing Arlington County in federal court for failing to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The man, Abreham Zemedagegehu, is originally from Ethiopia and was unable to communicate with his jailers via written English. [Associated Press]
Advertising on ART? — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday briefly discussed the possibility of adding advertisements to the side of ART buses — but no action was taken. It was also revealed that the cost of a Metrobus route is about 2.5 times more expensive than the equivalent ART bus route. [InsideNova]
Local Business 40th Anniversaries — Two local businesses are celebrating a 40th anniversary this month. Heidelberg Pastry Shop (2150 N. Culpeper Street) celebrated its 40th year in business this past Saturday, while the Crystal City branch of Navy Federal Credit Union (2450 Crystal Drive) is celebrating its 40th with cake, refreshment and giveaways to those who stop by the branch.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Summers and Soccer — Summers Restaurant in Courthouse, set to close after Dec. 31, is being eulogized as the Washington area’s premier soccer bar. Though holding out hope for a “miracle,” owner Joe Javidara says he is being forced to close due to financial woes. With more international soccer games available via cable and at other, newer bars, business at Summers has “dropped… off the cliff.” [Washington Post]
Moran Objects to Killing Birds Near Airports — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) wants airports, like Reagan National, to deploy new avian radar technology and stop the practice of euthanizing birds that live near airports. NBC4′s I-Team reports that more than 100,000 animals, including birds, have been “chased away” from the runways at Reagan, Dulles and BWI, to reduce the risk of animal strikes. [NBC Washington - WARNING: Autoplay video]
Arlington Contractor Settles Civil Claim — Arlington resident Keith Hedman, 55, has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil claims related to a fraud sceme. The government sued Hedman, the CEO of security contracting firm Protection Strategies, Inc., alleging that he fraudulently obtained $31 million worth of government contracts intended for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Last year Hedman pleaded guilty to criminal charges. [U.S. Attorney's Office]
Arlington Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking — Arlington resident and Peruvian national Ruth Antuanet Miller, 35, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for leading a sex trafficking company. Miller pleaded guilty last year to charges that she led a criminal enterprise that prostituted women at hotels and motels around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and in Fairfax County. On Dec. 19, Miller was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $341,437 in restitution.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
APS Mulls Contract for School at TJ – The Arlington School Board tonight will consider a $4.7 million contract for architectural and engineering work on a proposed elementary school on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. That’s despite well-organized neighborhood opposition to the school encroaching on Thomas Jefferson Park. [InsideNova]
Unreliable Mail Delivery in Douglas Park – Residents of Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood say their mail delivery has become considerably less reliable in the past year. Talk of missing mail, misdirected mail and delayed mail has reached a crescendo. The Postal Service says it’s investigating. [WJLA]
HOT Lanes Lawsuit Had ‘Unintended Consequences’ – Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze acknowledged at Tuesday’s debate that Arlington County might have erred in pursuing an aggressive lawsuit against proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395. Howze said the suit “had unintended consequences with our relations with Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The suit, filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, requests the judge issue an injunction that would prevent the ride sharing companies from operating in Virginia without a broker’s license. The DMV has issued “cease and desist” orders against the two ride-sharing companies, but they have continued to operate in the state.
Uber and Lyft have applied for temporary operating authority while the DMV reviews their applications for broker’s licenses. According to a DMV official, neither company has been granted operating authority — temporary or otherwise — while the department awaits guidance from Attorney General Mark Herring.
The 41-page lawsuit claims Uber and Lyft operate without regulation and without requiring detailed background checks or comprehensive auto insurance, and by doing so “pose an immediate, real and substantial threat to the business of Alexandria White Top, Fairfax White Top, Arlington Blue Top, Love Limousine, VIP Cab Company, Checker Cab, Prince William Yellow Cab and King Cab.”
“The primary concern of Arlington Blue Top Cabs is the safety of our passengers and driver,” Arlington Blue Top Cabs Vice President John Massoud told ARLnow.com through a spokesperson. “Companies such as Uber and Lyft have proven their lack of concern for these people by not requiring adequate insurance and background checks. That’s why we filed this complaint in Fairfax Circuit Court.”
Taxi drivers have mounted protests against Uber and Lyft in recent months, and before that were protesting cab companies for “unfair working conditions,” and requesting Arlington enact a “driver’s bill of rights.”
During the legal disputes, Uber and Lyft have maintained service to Northern Virgina — Uber is even expanding farther out into the outskirts of Northern Virginia — as local police, including the Arlington County Police Department, have committed to upholding the DMV’s cease-and-desist order by ticketing drivers.
Uber and Lyft have combined to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital as they expand to more cities nationwide and internationally. Uber launched in the D.C. area last summer.
Bates Trucking – which was contracted for all of the county’s curbside recycling pickup and half of its trash pickup until the contract expired yesterday — is in the process of suing the county to prevent it from awarding all of its waste pickup to American Disposal. KMG Hauling, which also sued the county last month, handled the other half of the county’s trash collection.
The county has delayed its recently-approved year-round yard waste pickup program in light of the lawsuit. It canceled its one-year contract with American Disposal, but awarded the company an emergency services contract, for garbage and recycling pickup only, which took effect today.
Bates claims that its proposed contract was the best value and would have saved taxpayers money.
According to a Bates Trucking press release, the county’s now-canceled collection contract with American Disposal would have cost $15 million more over a period of 9 years than that offered by Bates, thanks in large part to Bates offering $9.45 million worth of free recycling processing.
Despite the unsubstantiated claim of “cronyism” in the press release, Bates said its lawsuit has merit and it hopes to continue serving Arlington residents.
“Our protest is not sour grapes or frivolous,” Bates Trucking President Bruce Bates said in the release. “Both incumbent companies are long time vendors for the residents of Arlington County. We have some real concerns over the practices that are being used to ‘usher in’ American Disposal Services, who has higher prices and less experience. Both Bates and KMG are local firms that have provided outstanding service to the residents of Arlington County. Bates wants to understand why we are being bullied and pushed out of the back door.”
The county has declined comment on Bates’ release or lawsuit. It did, however, release the terms of its emergency contract with American, which will reduce Arlington residents’ yearly solid waste disposal costs from $307.04 to $271.04 per year, until a full contract has been re-bid and approved. The Arlington County Board will vote at its meeting this month to reduce the solid waste allocation for FY 2015 by more than $1.1 million as a result.
According to Bates Chief Business Development Officer Willie Wainer, Bates has requested an injunction against the emergency contract, saying the county never put it out to bid as required by law.
“The county had the option, which was the most logical, to keep us in place since we knew the routes and knew the customers until they put a new bid or [request for proposals] on the street,” Wainer told ARLnow.com, “but they decided not to do so and gave American an emergency contract.”
Bates has been conducting trash and recycling pickup in Arlington for 17 years, Wainer said. It expects to put in another bid when Arlington re-issues the request for year-round collection. One anonymous ARLnow.com reader, in the comment section of the initial story on the lawsuit, says he was pleased with the former waste collection service.
“I can say without hesitation that the present garbage removal contractor does a fantastic job and I have to give them 100% marks in any assessment,” said “Bob,” who claims to be a Donaldson Run resident. “The county needs to issue a clarification as to why they have decided to change the garbage removal contractor and what cost competitive procurement process has been followed in selecting the new one.”
Wainer expects the injunction request to be heard in Arlington Circuit Court, where Bates and KMG filed their initial suits, within two weeks.
Photo via KMG Hauling
Arlington County will not roll out year-round yard waste collection next month as it had planned because it is being sued.
KMG Hauling and Bates Trucking have filed separate lawsuits against the county in Arlington Circuit Court “over denial of contract,” according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius. Bates filed its lawsuit June 3 and KMG filed its own on June 18, according to court records, and both are scheduled for a pretrial motion hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.
The county announced today that the delivery of green yard waste cans, which was expected in August or September, has been postponed, as has the ban on placing yard waste in plastic bags on the curb. Trash and recycling pickup service will continue uninterrupted.
“We regret any inconvenience caused by the delay in rolling out this new service,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release. “The County is working hard to resolve the contractual issues with our residents in mind. We are committed to bringing year-round yard waste collection to our residents as soon as possible.”
The Arlington County Board passed an emergency ordinance yesterday reducing the quarterly waste fee for residents by $9 to account for the lack of yard waste service, the release said. The waste fees will be reinstated with yard waste collection.
The county awarded the contract for year-round yard waste collection to American Disposal, Curtius said. KMG and Bates already hold a current waste contract with the county, but Curtius said because of the pending litigation, the county could not confirm which services they currently perform.
Photo via KMG Hauling
Yorktown Defeats W-L in Basketball — Yorktown’s boys basketball squad defeated Washington-Lee on Friday by a score of 60-52. During the game Washington-Lee senior Jonah Sens scored his 1,000th career point. [Sun Gazette]
Court Orders Yelp Critics Identified — A Virginia Appeals Court last week ruled in favor of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning in a case against the online reviews site Yelp. Under the ruling, Yelp must reveal the identities of seven negative reviewers that Hadeed believes are not actual customers. Hadeed was represented by Raighne Delaney, an attorney with the Arlington law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman. [Washington Times]
Exhibit-Goers Might Wonder ‘Y’ – An exhibit at Artisphere by artist Alicia Eggert features “a rock sit[ting] on the keyboard of a Macbook Air laptop, typing the letter ‘Y’ into infinity.” The exhibit runs through Feb. 2. [Ode Street Tribune]
Infamy for Arlington Nonprofit’s Former Logo — A former logo of the Arlington Pediatric Center, a local nonprofit healthcare provider in South Arlington, has been named one of the “15 Worst Corporate Logo Fails” by a popular online publication. [Business Insider]
Photo courtesy Becky Barnes
A group of activists sued Arlington County on Friday over its fact sheet about the housing authority referendum on the ballot tomorrow, but a judge quickly dismissed the lawsuit.
As it has in previous years, the county distributed a “frequently asked questions” fact sheet with the stated goal of informing residents before voting on the measure. Members of the Arlington Committee to Save Affordable Housing, which supports the creation of a housing authority in Arlington, filed the lawsuit on Friday to protest the page, with treasurer John Reeder — who filed the suit on behalf of the committee — calling it “a biased fact sheet with bogus data slanted against the housing authority, and misleading voters.”
Judge William Newman dismissed the suit without opinion the same day, prompting Reeder to send out a press release denouncing his decision. Newman is a former member of the Arlington County Board, whose members oppose the formation of a housing authority.
“Virginia Code section 24.2-687 requires that any statement on the referendum issued by Arlington County be no longer than 500 words, be neutral, and not use arguments either for or against the referendum,” the press release said. “The county FAQ statement of over 1,100 words made factual errors about the availability of Federal housing funds and other revenues… [and] included arguments and bogus claims cited by opponents including the Arlington Democratic Party.”
“Judge Newman dismissed the legal petition with no legal opinion issued late on November 1, and refused to grant even a public hearing on whether the state law on elections and referenda had been violated,” the press release continued.
The last time the referendum was on the ballot in 2008, the county distributed a similar flyer which also drew criticism, notably from the Arlington Green Party, of which Reeder is a member. The county has stood by that flyer and stands by this year’s version.
“Judge Newman’s action speaks for itself regarding the merits of the lawsuit on the housing referendum,” County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said in an email. “It is within Judge Newman’s discretion to take the action that he took … The County put out a factual set of questions and answers, with neutral information about the referendum.”
The referendum, if passed, would create an independent housing authority, appointed by the County Board, focused on eliminating and redeveloping “blighted areas,” and promoting the availability of affordable housing.
Currently, the county handles affordable housing through its Housing Commission and through cooperation with local affordable housing nonprofits. The county draws funds from local taxes, developer contributions, federal and state grants and other affordable housing programs. The county says in its fact sheet that a new housing authority would have access to the same or similar funding sources.
Tighter Security at Marathon — This Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon will include tighter security than years past. Camelback-style hydration backpacks have been banned, as have Halloween masks. Runners will only be able to check items in clear plastic bags. [WJLA]
Google Maps Arlington National Cemetery — Google has used its Street View technology to map Arlington National Cemetery from the ground. Using a backpack-mounted array of 15 cameras and a hired walker, the company has gathered 360 degree images from around the hallowed grounds. [Washington Post]
Virginia ABC Wine Tasting Crackdown — Virginia ABC is cracking down on wine tasting events organized by wine distributors. Virginia law only allows winemakers or winery representatives to hold tasting events in restaurants. Among the retailers impacted by the recent enforcement effort is Cheesetique, which has locations in Shirlington and the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Lawsuit Filed Over NSF Lease — The broker that helped arrange the National Science Foundation’s pending move from Arlington to Alexandria is suing Hoffman Family LLC, the owner of the land where the new NSF headquarters will be built. Hoffman is only offering to pay $1 million of the $6.7 million that Jones Lang LaSalle says it’s owed. The deal is also being criticized for incentives that exempted payments to Alexandria’s affordable housing fund. [Washington Post]
Plantations in Arlington — Writer Alison Rice takes a look back at some of Arlington’s former plantations. Among them are Abingdon Plantation, located on what’s now Reagan National Airport; Analostan Island, on what’s now Theodore Roosevelt Island; and Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, released a statement on Ted Olson and David Boies’ decision to join the legal team contesting the Marshall-Newman amendment, which defines marriage in Virginia as between a man and a woman.
“Mr. Olson and Mr. Boies are among America’s finest legal minds and I am delighted that they are putting their talents to use in seeking to strike down of the Commonwealth’s draconian Marshall-Newman amendment,” Ebbin said in a statement “It is not a question of whether marriage equality will come to Virginia; it is a question of when.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights announced today that Olson and Bostic had joined the legal challenge. The organization hopes the suit reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down California’s Proposition 8, but left the power of defining marriage to the states.
Ebbin has previously spoken out condemning state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, for his anti-gay stances.
Arlington County is being sued for the sewage backup that has shuttered the Potomac Yard Harris Teeter supermarket for more than a year.
Harris Teeter’s insurers are seeking more than $1 million in damages from the county, claiming negligence led to the clog and backup that flooded the store with raw sewage in May 2012. As first reported by WJLA, the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on Sept. 17.
In the lawsuit, the insurers claim that Arlington failed to properly maintain its sewage system and ignored warnings of potential equipment failure before the clog. Reached by ARLnow.com, Arlington County officials declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
Harris Teeter said last month that it plans to reopen the Potomac Yard store, at 3600 S. Glebe Road, at some point in October.
Equipment and furnishings from the former Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too restaurants in Rosslyn have been removed and placed in the parking lot of the Colonial Village Shopping Center.
The move is part of an on-going dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and the shopping center’s owner. Both restaurants closed in January after the landlord locked Landrum and his staff out, alleging unpaid bills.
Landrum has since directed diners seeking his famous burgers across the street, to his Ray’s to the Third restaurant at 1650 Wilson Blvd. But the kitchen equipment, tables, chairs and other accoutrements remained in the two shuttered restaurants, at 1713 and 1725 Wilson Blvd.
This morning, the landlord began removing the contents of the restaurants and placing it in the parking lot. Landrum, who otherwise declined comment citing ongoing litigation — he’s suing the shopping center in Arlington Circuit Court — said most of the equipment will be donated.
“The majority of this equipment we’re going to donate to either the Boys and Girls Club or a church or non-profit that deals with feeding the homeless and the hungry,” Landrum said.
Shopping center owner Ominex could not be reached for comment. In February, Washingtonian reported that both storefronts were being offered for lease. It’s unclear if any new tenants have been signed.
Audrey Batcheller contributed to this report
The pedestrian who was struck by a county employee in a pickup truck in Crystal City last week remains in the hospital with serious leg and back injuries.
The victim, a Marine Corps Veteran, was struck by a Ford F-350 driven by Linwood Knight, a lift operator for the Department of Environmental Services, police said. According to county Director of Human Resources Marcy Foster, Knight is still employed by the county. The county does not disclose disciplinary action.
Knight was charged at the scene with failure to yield to a pedestrian, Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Mike Watson said. The investigation has concluded and no other charges are pending.
“Unless it’s a death or a serious injury, we don’t call for a criminal investigation,” Watson said.
The victim’s attorney, Bruce Deming, declined to comment on what his client’s next legal steps will be, but he is gathering information in the course of his own investigation. He said the victim’s first name is Carmen, but couldn’t reveal her last name.
Deming posted twice in the comments section of the original article on ARLnow.com requesting those claiming they were at the scene when the accident occurred contact him. He said the last name Cole, which was posted in the comments section, is incorrect.
“She has a terrific attitude and she’s fighting hard,” Deming said, confirming Friday morning that she was still hospitalized. “She’s suffered very significant injuries.”
Arlington Man Sues Uber — An Arlington man is suing Uber, the online car service reservation company, after he says a driver verbally abused him, spit on him and kicked him out of the car last year. The driver allegedly told the man that he “hates Americans and homosexuals.” [WTOP]
Parents Speak Out Against Boundary Plan — Parents spoke out against proposed elementary school boundary changes at a meeting organized by Arlington Public Schools last night. Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to present his boundary change recommendation to the School Board on March 21. [Patch]
D.C. Area High on Home ‘Affordability’ — Homes in the D.C. area are more affordable than the national average, according to new figures from the National Association of Home Builders. Of the homes sold in the last quarter of 2012, 78.7 percent could be considered “affordable” to those making the area median income of $105,700, compared to the national average of 74.1 percent. [Sun Gazette]
WWII Spy to Be Buried at ANC — A highly decorated, Swiss-born World War II spy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this month. The family of Rene Joyeuse was initially denied a burial at the cemetery, but the military reversed its decision after a letter-writing campaign by intelligence service veterans. [WJLA, NY Daily News]
A sewage backup that flooded an Arlington Harris Teeter store last May is still causing a stink in the backrooms of county government.
The Harris Teeter at 3600 S. Glebe Road, near Potomac Yard, remains closed with no reopening date in sight. The grocery store was flooded with raw sewage on May 11, 2012, due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.
Earlier this month, Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com that “no civil lawsuits have been filed” against the county as a result of the sewage incident. But at its Tuesday meeting the County Board adjourned to closed session to discuss, as County Board Chair Walter Tejada put it, “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others, arising from an incident on May 11, 2012.”
It’s unclear what “claims” are being made. Asked about the behind-closed-doors session, Curtius declined further comment.
Harris Teeter says they’re “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again,” but a company rep declined to give additional specifics.
The closed session was not the only hush-hush County Board action to take place on Tuesday. The Washington Post reports that the Board unanimously approved 5 to 10 percent raises for three top county officials at the end of the public meeting. The raises come as the county faces a $25 to 50 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.