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
By at least one measure, Arlington’s roads — all 376 miles of them – are in better shape than they were last year.
Since Nov. 1, Arlington County crews have filled 1,007 potholes on county-maintained roads, according to Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. Compare that to the 2,184 potholes filled between the start of November and the end of February last year.
McDaniel attributed the big drop in potholes to the mild winter we’ve experienced so far.
Still, a report that came out last summer suggests that Arlington has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to street maintenance. On a scale of 0 to 100, the average Pavement Condition Index for Arlington’s roads was 68.9, down from a PCI in the low 80s about 10 years ago.
In general, how would you grade Arlington’s roads at the moment?
As Arlington residents “fall back,” fire departments across the country are reminding folks that it’s also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries. The Arlington County Fire Department offers free smoke alarms for those who need them; call 703-228-4646 for more information.
While we’ll get an extra hour of sleep this weekend, the time change also means that it will be dark an hour earlier.
All things considered, how do you feel about the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend?
Flickr pool photo by Mnemosyne2009
We’ve already established that Arlington is a company town — with some 46 percent of respondents to our poll saying they work for the federal government or a government contractor.
Since government is the predominant local industry, one would think that last night’s presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney would have been the programming of choice on most local TVs. But was that actually the case? Let’s find out.
Did you watch all or part of the debate last night?
The official first day of astronomical fall isn’t until Saturday, Sept. 22 but, in all practicality, many of the trappings of summer end with Labor Day.
Gone are summer vacations, outdoor swimming pools, and summer festivals like outdoor movies and the Arlington County Fair. Starting, however, are more mild temperatures, football, and fall events like Oktoberfest, wine festivals and Clarendon Day.
Which do you prefer? Are you sad about the end of summer, or happy about the beginning of fall?
APS chose the latter, and now faces a growing protest from parents whose children are no longer able to take the bus to school due to new busing policies. Many parents affected by the new policies have said that forcing their children to walk 1 to 1.5 miles to school, often across busy roads, puts their safety at risk.
If you had to choose one, assuming a finite school budget, would you invest in a few extra buses or, as the school system ended up doing, spend the money saved on education instead?
Flickr pool photo by Afagan
Do you take off Tuesday or Thursday, giving yourself something of a mid-week weekend? Do you take two days off either before or after the Fourth of July, thus giving yourself a very long weekend? Do you throw caution to the wind and just take the entire week off? Or do you not take any time off work at all, and leave the easy long weekend for next year, when the Fourth falls on a Thursday?
How many days this week — including the Fourth — will you be taking off of work?
Flickr pool photo by Mennyj
Of those who live in Arlington, how many are native Arlingtonians? And how many people came here from outside the D.C. area, for work, school or otherwise?
This morning’s poll seeks to find that out.
Please choose the answer that best describes where you grew up, relative to Arlington.
Town-gown relations started deteriorating in 2007, when the university implemented a restrictive on-campus alcohol policy that forced parties off-campus and into surrounding neighborhoods. Complaints about noisy, drunken students have gotten so loud that D.C. officials are seriously considering a proposal to force Georgetown — the District’s largest private employer — to downsize if they don’t house an unprecedented 100 percent of students on-campus by the fall of 2016.
The Washington Post editorial board weighed in on the proposal over the weekend, calling it “unrealistic” and “troubling,” particularly during uncertain economic times.
“The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy,” the Post said in its editorial.
While there have been suggestions for less-restrictive ways to satisfy the university, its students and neighbors through a series of policy changes, one other potential solution that has been brought up is to have the university house more of its students and/or programs in Arlington — particularly Rosslyn.
The university already has a presence in Arlington — its Clarendon-based Center for Continuing and Professional Education. An even bigger presence could potentially diversify and strengthen Arlington’s economy. (Disclosure: Georgetown University is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
Would you welcome an increased Georgetown University presence in Arlington?
On his blog yesterday, Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey reported that some residents have taken note of Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick’s propensity for skipping local candidate forums.
“Merrick, who is running against Democrat Barbara Favola for the 31st state Senate seat, has declined to appear at a number of joint appearances in Arlington,” McCaffrey wrote. “It’s happened so often, it must be a strategy rather than a series of coincidences.”
While skipping neighborhood-level political debates may not seem on its face like a great strategy, one wonders how much damage it could really do.
To what degree is your local vote influenced by watching a candidate forum or debate?
Today, at 1:00 p.m., Apple will unveil its latest iteration of the iPhone. The hotly-anticipated release will be a big moment for the company, with CEO Tim Cook taking the stage in place of charismatic company founder Steve Jobs, who stepped down in August due to failing health.
According to the rumor mill, today’s announcement may only reveal an incremental improvement to the existing iPhone 4. Die-hard Apple fans may be disappointed, as tech blogs predict an “iPhone 4S” to be revealed, as opposed to a more thoroughly-redesigned “iPhone 5.”
Nationally, the iPhone has 27 percent of the overall smartphone market, according to the latest data from Reston-based comScore. The smartphone platform leader is actually Google, which has 42 percent of the market thanks to its Android operating system. Blackberry’s market share is falling rapidly, but it still claims about 22 percent of smartphone users.
Nationwide, 35 percent of mobile phone users own smartphones. The remaining 65 percent use traditional cell phones.
How do those stats compare to mobile phone usage in Arlington? Let’s find out.
The Arlington County Board’s recent vote to change the name of Old Jefferson Davis Highway to “Long Bridge Park” was preceded by a thorough dissing of the former namesake by Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, the Sun Gazette reports this morning.
“I have a problem with ‘Jefferson Davis,’” Zimmerman said of the former Confederate president. “I don’t believe Jefferson Davis has a historic connection to anything in Arlington… He wasn’t from Virginia. I don’t really see why we need to honor him.”
Though last week’s vote may be a victory for the anti-Jefferson Davis crowd, it only renames a narrow, pothole-ridden backroad that connects Crystal City with a future county park. The much larger and more heavily-traveled State Route 1 will continue to be known as Jefferson Davis Highway.
Meanwhile, another state route — Route 29 — is named after an even more prominent, but slightly less controversial Confederate leader: Robert E. Lee. While Jefferson Davis Highway runs north-south through south Arlington, Lee Highway runs east-west across north Arlington. Both serve tens of thousands of commuters each day.
Though the Civil War figures prominently in the history of Arlington, should these roads be renamed for something or someone not associated with slavery and the losing side of a horribly costly war? Or should we preserve our history, warts and all?
(Updated at 9:10 a.m.) The polls are open until 7:00 tonight in Arlington. That should give residents plenty of time to cast their votes in the four primary races on the ballot. As a recap, here’s a list of who is running, along with links to their candidate essays.
- State Senate (30th District)
- State Senate (31st District)
- House of Delegates (49th District)
- Commonwealth’s Attorney
If you’re a registered voter, when are you planning on voting, if at all?
The Sun Gazette reports this morning that the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is asking residents to consider leaving Fido at home when they go to the Pike farmers market on Sundays.
Responding to a complaint to the county health department, market officials are asking residents to voluntarily leave their dogs at home or, at the very least, “keep them out of vendor booths and away from tables that have food on them.”
The Saturday farmers market in Courthouse, meanwhile, is more explicit about its policy about dogs.
“We love your pets, but please leave them at home,” the market says on its web site. “With the exception of service animals, Public Health regulations preclude the presence of live animals in the Courthouse Farmer’s Market.”
Should dogs be allowed at farmers markets in Arlington?
Now, as the national economy teeters once again, there’s some question of whether the local economy can remain an island of vibrancy. With federal discretionary spending decreasing, and with the possibility of even steeper cuts down the road, Uncle Sam may not be able to provide the steady flow of cash that kept the local economy going during the last recessionary period.
The local economic indicators are a mixed bag. Unemployment in Arlington is still remarkably low, at 3.9 percent. Home sales are up in the most recent period, but home sale prices are down considerably in Arlington and in the D.C. metro area.
How do you feel about the direction the local economy is heading?