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.
(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 & 1725 Wilson Blvd) has closed in Rosslyn.
The closure is the result of a landlord-tenant dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and his landlord, the historic Colonial Village Shopping Center. Court records show that Landrum filed a lawsuit against the shopping center on Nov. 16. Yesterday afternoon, the shopping center locked Landrum and his staff out of both storefronts.
“Landlord has changed the locks,” said signs on the door. “Do not unlock this door under penalty of damages.”
Handwritten signs in the window, posted by Landrum, direct customers across the street to Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd).
“Please visit us at Ray’s to the Third while we take a quick break,” said one of the signs. “Please do not leave your car in this lot if you come across the street… towing is very likely.”
Reached via phone, Landrum declined to elaborate on his complaint against the landlord, citing ongoing litigation. He did, however, vow to continue to serve his famous burgers, which in 2010 drew President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Rosslyn eatery.
“We continue to serve the Original Hell-Burger and all of our famous signature items, at Ray’s To Third, which has been temporarily reformatted to allow for counter service and to go for convenience and extra value, as well as full-service, sit-down table service,” he told ARLnow.com. “And yes, credit cards are accepted.”
“We’re fighting to the last man and cooking to the last burger… nothing’s going to stop us from doing that,” a defiant Landrum added. “This is a very minor blip.”
In an emailed statement, Landrum spoke generally about the relationship between landlords and tenants.
I am not saying this is the case here, but landlords abuse their power and violate the rights of tenants with near-total impunity all the time, because tenants rarely have the means or the ability to defend their rights This is something all of us, or very nearly all of us, have experienced. What often times gets me labeled as a “firebrand” (or worse) is simply my refusal to allow my rights to be violated, my insistence on fair treatment, and my willingness to suffer and challenge the consequences when those things are violated.
Landrum said he’s currently planning an inauguration-related
event special at Ray’s to the Third. He’s not currently looking for a new space for Ray’s Hell Burger.
Kaine Coming to Arlington — Former Virginia governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) will be in Arlington this afternoon. Kaine is scheduled to have an economic discussion with local Latino business and community leaders at 4:00 p.m. The closed event is taking place at The Salsa Room (2619 Columbia Pike).
Cancer Charity Event This Weekend — The second annual Erica Paul Fabulous event will be held at the Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd) on Saturday. The fundraiser runs from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. and benefits the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation. The ‘Fabulous’ event also celebrates the life of Erica Paul, who died last year, at the age of 29, from metastatic colon cancer. [Clarendon Nights]
Ham Operators to Have a ‘Field Day’ — Arlington County will host its annual “Field Day” exercise for amateur radio operators this weekend. The exercise, held at Minor Hill Park (3400 N. Powhatan Street), is described as part of a nationwide event “during which thousands of Hams across the United States and Canada will operate portable radios and antennas to contact each other, simulating emergency conditions.” [Arlington County]
HOT Lanes Suit Costs County Transportation Funds –Virginia is contributing more than $16.5 million to Arlington’s road maintenance and construction budget for fiscal year 2013, which starts on July 1. But that figure is $100,000 less than it otherwise could have been. The Commonwealth Transportation Board has stripped $100,000 from Arlington’s allocation as retribution for the county’s costly lawsuit against the proposed I-395 HOT lanes project. The money will be used to help pay the legal bills of a former state transportation official who was sued by Arlington as part of its fight against the project. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington resident Bruce Shuttleworth, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Jim Moran for the Eighth District Democratic congressional nomination, has withdrawn a lawsuit he filed after initially being told he did not qualify for the ballot.
Shuttleworth was eventually allowed on the June 12 primary ballot, but only after he filed the lawsuit. That led him to accuse local Democratic officials of “corruption.” (A charge the state Democratic party vehemently disputed.)
In withdrawing the lawsuit, Shuttleworth says he still “intends to hold the party fully accountable for its practices regarding ballot access.”
The campaign issued the following statement last night.
Democratic Congressional Candidate, Bruce Shuttleworth today has voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit against Brian Moran and several Democratic operatives after being certified for the Virginia District 8 Democratic primary ballot.
Bruce Shuttleworth stated, “the convenient turnaround when faced with a Federal lawsuit does not provide answers to how petitions in a Congressional race in America can simply go missing. We were forced to file suit when the Virginia Democratic Party proved unresponsive, at great personal expense. It is disappointing that I was required to invest so much time and money to fight for our inalienable right for an honest democratic process.”
Candidate Shuttleworth has reached out repeatedly to the party and to Jim Moran to attempt to remove the pall over the party’s ballot access process without the need for court review, but was rebuffed. In the interest of ceasing further deployment of resources, which the VA Democratic Party has not yet offered to repay, the case is being voluntarily dismissed. Notwithstanding today’s dismissal, Bruce Shuttleworth intends to hold the party fully accountable for its practices regarding ballot access. His dismissal of this case does not prejudice him from bringing further claims related to the irregularities of the party’s signature review process.
Bruce Shuttleworth is focused on providing ethical and practical solutions for the people of Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. Candidate Shuttleworth understands the power of free markets but is committed to people first and understands the real needs of his community. Lip service and fake compassion while cosying up to big business is not his style. Bruce Shuttleworth believes public service is his duty, not a career option.
This year there is an alternative to Jim Moran, a 22 year incumbent. This year a challenger has squeezed through to the ballot. This year, the people of VA-8 can choose a real progressive by voting for Bruce Shuttleworth on June 12th, not an opportunist who is a Blue Dog one day (DLC–Democratic Leadership Council) and a progressive the next. Bruce Shuttleworth has served his country with passion and integrity. While he is the underdog against the Moran machine, Bruce believes in the power of the grassroots movement.
Hotel Palomar For Sale? — Connecticut-based HEI Hospitality LLC is in talks to buy Hotel Palomar (1121 19th Street N.) in Rosslyn for a reported $45 million, or nearly $300,000 per room. The high-end hotel is currently owned by JBG Cos. and operated by Kimpton Hotels. [Bloomberg]
Redistricting Lawsuit Could Delay Primaries — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has requested that the state delay the June 12 congressional primaries by two months, following a decision by the Virginia Supreme Court to allow a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s recent redistricting process to proceed. [Washington Post]
Planetarium Renovations On Track — Renovations to Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium are underway and on schedule. The modernized planetarium is expected to reopen this fall, perhaps as early as September. A citizen-formed nonprofit group, the Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium, helped to raise more than $400,000 for the renovations. [Sun Gazette]
Yorktown Band Seeks Donations — The Yorktown Band Boosters are seeking donations of used musical instruments and cases. The 501(c)3 nonprofit asks that those with questions about donating call 703-228-5370.
Rosslyn Exxon Robbed at Gunpoint — The Exxon at 1824 Wilson Boulevard, in the Rosslyn area, was robbed early Wednesday morning. Police say two men robbed the gas station at gunpoint around 2:50 a.m. “The suspects were both African American men in their 30’s, around 5’10,” Arlington County Police said in the department’s daily crime report. “One subject was wearing a ski mask; the other had a medium complexion and a small mustache.”
Wag More Dogs Case Heading Back to Court — In a newspaper op-ed entitled “Arlington County Scrooges Need Bigger Hearts,” Wag More Dogs owner Kim Houghton says the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear her case early next year. Houghton, with the assistance of the Arlington-based Institute for Justice, is suing Arlington County over a dog mural painted on the side of her Shirlington doggie daycare business. The county has deemed the mural an illegal sign, while Houghton argues that it’s a work of art. [Washington Times]
D.C. Area Cars Are Getting Older — The average age of vehicles on Washington area roadways continues to rise. The average age of a car in the D.C. area is now 9.25 years — a one year increase since 2005. “It is likely that the recession has had a strong influence on people’s interest in and ability to purchase new cars,” according to Arlington’s CommuterPage Blog. The blog also notes that the older car fleet has a “negative impact” on local air quality. [CommuterPage Blog]
Flickr pool photo by mj*laflaca
Last night the paper published a piece by Local Opinion Editor Barbara Hollingsworth entitled “Federal judge should hear Arlington CPS case.” The article accuses Arlington’s Child Protective Services department of improperly taking away a baby girl from her birth parents and placing her into foster care. According to Hollingsworth’s account, the baby was taken from her parents in 2005 amid unfounded accusations of neglect and starvation.
Citing two different cases of children separated from their parents, Hollingsworth has been making the case that “thieves disguised as Arlington County social workers and judges” have been “tearing families apart” in child abuse and neglect cases.
The Examiner reports that a lawsuit was recently filed in Alexandria federal court on behalf of eight children who have been placed in foster care by Arlington County. According to Hollingsworth:
The list of serious accusations contained in the lawsuit against DJR Judges George Varoutsos and Esther Wiggins, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason McCandless, and various Arlington CPS officials is long: perjury, RICO violations of civil rights, fraud upon the court, obstruction of justice, unconstitutional “ex parte” hearings, court orders that were never served, depriving parents of their due process rights, “missing” court orders, illegal searches and seizures, and felony removal of documents from court files, to name just a few.
Though Arlington County is prohibited from saying much of anything about child welfare cases, Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said the county is committed to helping children.
“Due to the potential for litigation and our obligation to protect the privacy of children and families within the child welfare system, I am not able to comment on Ms. Hollingsworth’s Nov. 15 opinion piece,” Larrick said in an email. “I can say that Arlington County takes seriously its responsibility to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children, and we are proud to offer a broad range of services and supports that preserve and strengthen families.”
As Hollingsworth wrote to conclude her latest article: “Stay tuned.”
There was more bad blood over the shuttering of Courthouse-area Irish pub Kitty O’Shea’s (2403 Wilson Blvd) this afternoon.
The pub closed over the weekend, the culmination of a long legal battle between owner Danny McFadden and landlord Ray Schupp over McFadden’s lease. Today, just after 3:00 p.m., police were called to Kitty O’Shea’s for a dispute.
McFadden told ARLnow.com that he was moving items out of the building and got into a disagreement with the landlord over what belonged to whom. Police told the two parties to resolve the issue amongst themselves, McFadden said.
Within the past five minutes, police were called to the pub again after McFadden said the landlord had changed the locks.