It’s been open since this spring, but today county and federal officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the South Joyce Street Shared-Use Sidewalk Project,
The $1.8 million Federal Highway Administration project built new, wider sidewalks on the 1/5 mile stretch between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike. The 10-foot-wide sidewalks can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The sidewalks “improve safety and access at one of the few places in Arlington where bicycles and pedestrians can cross I-395,” according to a county fact sheet.
“As a result of the FHWA project, which was funded with a Congressional allocation… the once highway-style passage has been transformed into an easy-to-navigate bicycle and pedestrian route that connects the east end of Columbia Pike, the Pentagon reservation and Pentagon City,” the county wrote. “Arlington supported the the project, which aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s ‘Complete Streets’ program, with design guidance and funding for some additional elements.”
County Board Chairman Walter Tejada lauded the project, saying that it’s especially useful for those who commute via bicycle from Columbia Pike. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) joked that the new sidewalk “is not the kind of project you’d see on a postcard,” but said it’s important nonetheless.
“This is basic infrastructure,” he said. “If you don’t invest in it, if you don’t do the right thing, you negatively impact a lot of other infrastructure.”
In addition to wider sidewalks, pedestrian-scale lighting was added to the street and automatic bicycle/pedestrian counters were installed. Meanwhile, highway-style guard rails were removed and fire department standpipes were relocated out of the pedestrian route.
Entitled “Building a Stronger Nation: Reforming Out Broken Immigration System,” the Moran-organized forum attracted several dozen attendees to Kenmore Middle School’s auditorium. The congressman and the panelists told the audience that immigration reform would energize the economy, bring in additional tax revenue, and enable immigrants to live a more productive and fulfilling life.
In his opening remarks, Moran said bipartisan immigration legislation that’s currently being crafted in the Senate has a better shot at becoming law than any other recent attempt at immigration reform.
“The possibility for reform today may be better than it’s ever been,” he said. “Now is the best time in recent memory for enacting comprehensive immigration reform. But the enactment of reforms is by no means guaranteed… in a Congress that can’t seem to agree on anything of consequence.”
Moran said immigration reform is particularly important in Northern Virginia, where 27 percent of the population is foreign-born. (Of that foreign-born population, 38 percent of come from Latin America, 36 percent from Asia, 16 percent from Africa and 10 from Europe, according to statistics cited by Moran.)
Panelists made moral and economic arguments for immigration reform.
Patrick Oakford, who researches immigration issues for the liberal Center for American Progress, said that legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could boost the economy by $832 billion over 10 years while raising the wages paid to immigrants.
Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada said immigration reform would help cash-strapped local governments. It would also help police departments, he said, by facilitating better cooperation with an immigrant community that’s currently fearful of law enforcement.
“The future of our nation is brighter by providing a path for citizenship,” Tejada said. “We really need to get behind and support our leaders in Congress.”
Other panelists tried to shoot down some of the arguments against immigration reform.
Kristian Ramos of the New Policy Institute, pro-immigration think tank, said immigration reform won’t open the floodgates to Mexican immigrants. He said that Mexico’s growing economy has helped to significantly reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States by providing more jobs and opportunities in Mexico. He also pointed out that that crime is down near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Two months after holding a raucous forum on gun violence, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is planning a public forum on another hot-button topic.
On Tuesday, May 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road), Moran will host a forum entitled “Building a Stronger Nation: Reforming Our Broken Immigration System.”
Just as the gun violence forum featured panelists that largely shared Moran’s gun control views, the immigration forum will feature panelists who favor liberal immigration policies: County Board Chair Walter Tejada, plus representatives from the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Law Center and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“The panel discussion will outline systemic problems in our current immigration system and layout the comprehensive reform plans that are currently under consideration in Congress,” said a press release for the event.
“There are an estimated 10 – 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, the majority having settled here more than a decade ago,” the press release said. “Reforming the broken immigration system to resolve the status for these individuals has the potential to boost the entire U.S. economy, adding over $800 billion to the national GDP over the next decade and creating over 100,000 more jobs per year.”
Bluemont to Vote on Safeway Development — Members of the Bluemont Civic Association will vote tonight on a proposed mix-use development on the current Safeway site. The development includes a new Safeway store and a 160-unit apartment complex. Many residents have expressed concerns about the height of the development, but Bluemont resident Ryan Arnold writes that “the character of a neighborhood is not defined by the height of its buildings, but by the spirit of its people.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Runner Raises Money for Boston Victims — Frank Fumich, a local runner, ran a 19 hour 38 minute triple marathon along the Mt. Vernon Trail over the weekend in order to raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Fumich raised more than $33,000 with the 78.6 mile run. [Washington Post]
Bill Thomas Awards Presented — The annual Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Awards were presented at last night’s County Board meeting. This year’s winners are Steve Young, a “well-known figure for invasive plant removal at Long Branch Park,” and the Friend of the Gulf Branch Nature Center, a group that has fought the center’s closure and raised money for its operation. [Arlington County]
Chamber to Debut Business Blog — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce “is set to start an Internet blog” written by and about local business. The Sun Gazette reports: “All comments in response to specific articles will be moderated for content, so the Chamber blog does not spiral into the chaos of some online-news sites where anonymous cranks spew venom to little discernible purpose.” [Sun Gazette]
Katherine Heigl Tweets in Support of Moran — Actress Katherine Heigl has used her star power on Twitter to help promote a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The bill would ban the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals. “Please, please, please support Congressman Moran’s resolution,” the acress tweeted. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, Rep. Jim Moran (D) spent the morning reading to first graders at Barcroft Elementary School and talking with them about autism.
After meeting with some students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Moran read the first graders a story about everyone being different and how everyone’s differences should be celebrated. He explained that autism is another difference, just one that can’t be seen.
“Nobody is the same as everybody else, which is wonderful! Some children have different challenges,” Moran told the children. “Some children have autism. Autism is a challenge that affects the way our brains work. So some children have different ways their brain works.”
One of the students noted his brother has autism, to which Moran responded, “So he’s different and special and wonderful.”
Moran also talked to the students about the “AUTISM Educators Act,” a bill he is re-introducing to request funding for training educators how best to work with students with autism. Barcroft is one of the schools currently offering special services for students with autism, and training all staff members how to work with students with ASD. It is considered a model for other schools across the country.
“We’re going to try to teach other teachers around the country how to be as good of teachers as you have at Barcroft Elementary,” Moran told the students. “We’re going to use Barcroft Elementary as a model for other schools to learn from.”
The bill would establish a five-year pilot program to provide the special training for teachers and school staff. There would also be a focus on recruitment and retention of trained personnel and implementation of a program for parental support and involvement.
“I actually think this bill is going to become law. This is one that I think is going to make an enormous difference in the classrooms around the country that have children on the autistic spectrum,” Moran told ARLnow.com. “This is going to be groundbreaking legislation. I know it’s going to be bipartisan, I already have Republican sponsors. So I think we’re going to get it passed in the House, and I’m confident we’ll get it passed in the Senate as well. It’s going to become law all because the parents in the Arlington school system worked with the superintendent and the principals and the teachers and the teacher aides to make it happen in a way that other school systems can learn from.”
Moran is requesting up to $5 million for the pilot program and could ask for more once the program expands around the nation. We’re told the funds will come from existing teacher development accounts.
This week, gay marriage has come to the forefront of American politics as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In light of the proceedings, Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reiterating his stance as an advocate of LGBT rights, including gay marriage and full marriage benefits.
DOMA overwhelmingly passed in Congress in 1996, but Moran notes he was one of the few who voted against the law. He released the following statement on Wednesday, following oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA:
“DOMA is unjust and un-American, contradicting long-standing legal principles and blatantly discriminating against specific legal marriages just because they involve gay and lesbian couples. DOMA flies in the face of our nation’s commitment to civil rights. I am proud to have been one of the 67 representatives who voted against this law’s passage in 1996.
“It’s also disturbing that House Republicans have wasted over $3 million defending DOMA in court over the past three years. I find it unconscionable that while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs, Republicans in the House voted to pay private lawyers $525 per hour to defend this discriminatory law.
“I strongly support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry and have full access to the benefits and obligations of marriage. While churches should continue to be able to sanction marriages consistent with their faith, discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our country.
“In addition to being the truly ‘pro-family’ position, marriage equality is an issue that tests our nation’s fidelity to our fundamental values. The Declaration of Independence affirms that ‘all men are created equal’ and that every American has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ Surely these principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.”
Lane Markings Repainted Near Pentagon — The lane markings on Route 110 near the Pentagon were repainted this week after NBC4 alerted VDOT to “awkward lane markings” left there by construction work. Before the repainting, “motorists drove along seemingly in one lane, only to have that lane disappear right under them,” NBC4′s Adam Tuss said. [NBC Washington]
Va. Anti-Sodomy Law Overturned — A U.S. appeals court panel has ruled that Virginia’s anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional. The case involved a man accused of soliciting sodomy with a 17-year-old girl. One of the judges said that “Virginia can and should punish adults who have sexual relations with minors, but the state cannot use an unconstitutional law to do so.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Arlington Plans to Sell $264 Million in Bonds — Arlington County is planning to sell up to $264 million in municipal bonds next month. The sale would include $94 million in new bonds and $170 million in refinanced existing bonds. The debt service on the new bonds will add about $8.7 million per year to the county’s budget. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Calls for Action on Climate Change — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) took to the House floor on Tuesday to call for Congress to take action to “prevent further damage from climate change by developing a long-term strategy to address the issue.” [YouTube]
Photo courtesy Scott Shelbo
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) What started with polite applause ended with jeers and shouts, as Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) hosted a panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee High School Monday night.
Hundreds turned out at the school’s auditorium for the discussion, with gun supporters — wearing “Guns Save Lives” stickers — outnumbering gun control advocates about 3:2, based on the volume of completing applause points.
Among the panelists on stage with Moran were:
- David Chapman, a retired ATF Special Agent and advisor to Mayors Against Illegal Guns
- Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Earl Cook, Alexandria Police Chief
- Jonathan Lowy, of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
- Karen Marangi, of Mayors Against Illegal Guns
While expressing general support for the Second Amendment right to own firearms, Moran and the panelists made the case for additional gun control measures, including universal background checks, an renewed assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits and mandated reporting of stolen guns. Possible changes to the treatment of those with mental illness were also discussed.
“We hope those of you in the room will really help us to move this, so we can make our communities safer,” Marangi said of some of the gun control legislation that has been proposed in Congress.
Many in the audience, however, were there to voice another opinion. After a generally polite reception for a opening statements by the panelists, the question and answer session brought a different tone.
A majority of speakers spoke strongly in support of gun rights and against additional gun laws, and some expressed fear that the government’s ultimate goal in gun legislation is to gradually ban gun ownership. Moran and the panel’s response to the audience statements and questions often drew boos and shouts.
“Congressman, I know you’re pro-choice, but why aren’t you pro-choice when it comes to self-defense for women?” said one speaker to loud applause. “Why don’t you guys listen to the young rape victims in Colorado when they said that if they had a gun it would have prevented their attacker.”
Other gun supporters called for the elimination of “gun-free zones,” particularly around schools.
“As you can see, there are a lot of people here who are legitimate, law-abiding gun owners,” said a man who asked fellow gun owners to stand, before voicing support for allowing teachers to carry guns. “We would be more than happy to defend innocent lives should a psycho… come into an area to commit an act of violence.”
“I would be opposed to teachers carrying guns in the classroom, and I would not want my children in a classroom where their teacher was carrying a gun,” Moran said in response, to applause from gun control advocates in the audience.
“I know this community well enough to know that the people standing up in this auditorium are not representative of the majority of the residents, ” he continued, to more applause as well as some jeers.
Moran and the panelists drew the most jeers when they brought up “assault weapons.”
“What does that even mean?” some audience members shouted, about the term. Some speakers — those who stood in line to speak — made the case that the term assault weapon is often used to refer to a gun that might look menacing but isn’t significantly different, functionality-wise, from a standard semiautomatic handgun.
“I don’t agree that there’s a need for individuals to have military-style assault weapons,” Moran retorted. “I don’t believe that we need guns that can hold in excess of ten bullets.”
Adding to the urgency of passing gun control laws, Moran said, is a projection that gun deaths will exceed traffic fatalities by 2015. That expected milestone is partially due to rising gun deaths, but mostly due to advances in car safety that started in the 1970s — safety improvements, he said, that came about after being mandated by law.
Speaking to reporters after the forum, Moran said he expected a negative response from the crowd.
Trash Collection Canceled — Trash collection in Arlington has been canceled today due to the snow storm. Trash collection is currently expected to resume tomorrow, with collection delayed one day for the rest of the week (Wednesday customers’ trash being collected on Thursday, etc.). “Please do not put your trash or recycling on the curb this Wednesday,” said the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. “Wednesday collection routes are in the hilliest parts of the County and expose the collection crews and the public to the greatest safety risks in a snow event.”
School Boundary Meeting Canceled — A school boundary meeting scheduled for today has been canceled. Instead, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy will be holding a boundary town hall meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, at Williamsburg Middle School. APS, meanwhile, has made some minor tweaks to its boundary change plan, after hearing critical feedback from parents. [Arlington Public Schools, Patch]
Moran, Connolly Support Metrorail Extensions – Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran have introduced a bill calling for a study of an extension of Metro’s Blue, Yellow and Orange lines to Potomac Mills, Fort Belvoir and Centreville respectively. “We need to look at solutions that take cars off the roads and provide viable transportation alternatives for our citizens,” Connolly said in a statement. [Rep. Gerry Connolly, DCist]
Green Party Seeks Housing Authority Referendum — The Arlington Green Party is trying to drum up support from the local faith community for its push for a new housing authority. The Greens are trying to collect 3,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would establish a housing authority in Arlington County, with the goal of creating more affordable housing units. [Arlington Mercury]
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is applauding today’s House of Representatives passage of the Violence Against Women Act.
This original bill expired in 2011. The latest version includes specific protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people, as well as Native Americans and immigrants.
The bill, which first passed the Senate, passed the house by a vote of 286-138. It not heads to President Obama’s desk.
Today’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act will ensure that our nation’s mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends continue to receive federal resources that help keep them safe from harm. I was proud to cosponsor this bill and vote for its passage today.
Violence is an all-too-common reality in the United States. Nearly one in four women are the victims of rape or abuse by a partner during adulthood. With the programs established through the Violence Against Women Act, no man or woman should be afraid to report domestic or dating violence.
VAWA works. Since it was first enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, while the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men.
While I applaud the passage of VAWA, its reauthorization took far too long. This bill passed in the Senate last May, but Republican House leadership refused to bring it to the floor. Instead, they wasted valuable time on an alternative version that deliberately omitted protections for certain vulnerable, underserved populations, allowing VAWA programs to expire at the end of the year. Today, their version of the bill failed on the floor while the Senate version was enacted.
The bill that now heads to the President’s desk includes important reforms to ensure LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women receive the protections they deserve.
Rep. Moran’s son, Patrick, pleaded guilty last year to assaulting his girlfriend outside a D.C. bar. Despite the plea, Patrick Moran’s girlfriend later said that the incident was “an accident that has been blown out of proportion.”
The forum, titled “Preventing Another Newtown: A Conversation on Gun Violence in America,” will feature a panel of experts on gun policy, public safety and mental health issues.
The following guests are slated to attend: Omar Samaha with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, retired ATF Special Agent David Chipman, Josh Horwitz with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, City of Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook, Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee Karen Marangi.
“From Virginia Tech to Newtown, gun violence has become far too common. Each day, 32 Americans are killed with a firearm. We must improve our laws to prevent the continuation of this horrific trend,” Moran said. “This forum is an opportunity to bring together a diverse panel of experts who will share their thoughts on a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Northern Virginians concerned over gun-related violence are invited to join the conversation.”
Members of the public are welcome to attend the forum, which will be held from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on March 11 in the Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) auditorium.
Today the House of Representatives passed a bill (261-154) that would freeze the pay of federal workers for a third straight year.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) spoke out against the bill, comparing it to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”
“Today, the House majority, unfortunately without Mr. Swift’s humor or irony, offers its own Modest Proposal,” Moran said. “To ensure our elderly are cared for, let’s cut the pay of those responsible for their health. To make sure our food and drugs are safe, let’s diminish the benefits of those whose job it is to screen for safety and unintended effects. To find a cure for cancer, let’s punish the researcher who toils daily to save millions of Americans from the disease. To care for our veterans, who were sent by this body to fight in foreign lands, let’s make their caretakers find a second job.”
The proposal, H.R. 273, is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, and thus not expected to become law. Federal workers are currently slated to receive a 0.5 percent pay raise after March 27, thanks to an executive order issued by President Obama in December.
Samaha, an Arlington resident, has become an outspoken advocate for gun control since his youngest sister, Reema, was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting. He currently serves as a spokesman for the group Fix Gun Checks.
In January, Moran re-introduced a bill, the ‘NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act, which would require background checks for every gun purchase, among other measures that advocates say are supported by most National Rifle Association members. In a statement, Moran lauded Samaha’s gun violence prevention advocacy.
“Omar and his family suffered a tragic loss at the hands of a mentally ill individual with access to firearms,” Moran said. “I am impressed with his dedication to making our country safer and pleased Omar will be joining me at the State of the Union.”
“Since Omar lost his sister in 2007, our nation has experienced over 20 mass shootings with five or more fatalities,” Moran continued. “Following the Newtown shooting, President Obama took decisive action and demonstrated determined leadership by putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Now, Congress must act on this proposal.”
President Obama’s State of the Union address will start tonight (Tuesday) at 9:00 p.m. More about Samaha’s background, after the jump.
Board Members Want More Capital Projects — Arlington County Board members don’t want to stop new capital spending projects, saying that “now is not the time to stop investing in the future of the community.” Board members say that interest rates are low and the construction market is competitive making new building projects cheaper than they might be in the future. [Sun Gazette]
Reporter Peeved About FOIA Fees — Connection Newspapers reporter Michael Lee Pope is continuing his crusade against public records practices at the Arlington County Police Department. This time around, Pope notes that the police department has charged or threaten to charge between $31.16 and $573.25 for his Freedom of Information Act requests. Pope writes that “Arlington County’s system of nickel-and-diming the public and the press serves as a barrier to public access.” [Arlington Connection]
Tea Party Wants to Weigh in on Streetcar — The Arlington County Tea Party says it wants to make a presentation at the upcoming March 27 community forum on the planned Columbia Pike streetcar. At least one other anti-streetcar organization has made a similar request. [Sun Gazette]
Moran: Vaccinations Save Lives — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is encouraging constituents to get vaccinated. “As Chairman of the Congressional Prevention Caucus, I understand the important role prevention plays in reducing contagious diseases,” Moran wrote in his weekly newspaper column. “Due to the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2009, most health insurance companies, including Medicare, are now required to cover recommended vaccinations… with no out of pocket cost. Increased coverage for preventive measures is a significant step towards a health care system that truly improves the health of the American people.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
There will be no criminal charges filed against the son of Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) as a result of the video that purported to show him going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.
In a statement released this afternoon (below), the Arlington County Police Department said it has completed an investigation and will not be filing charges against Patrick Moran, who resigned as Director of Field Operation for his father’s reelection campaign following the release of the video.
The video was created by Project Veritas, a nonprofit investigative group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe. The police department said the video-makers did not cooperate with their investigation.
The Arlington County Police Department, in collaboration with the Offices of the Virginia Attorney General and the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney, has concluded its investigation of election offense allegations against Patrick Moran.
A criminal investigation was initiated by the Arlington County Police Department in late October 2012 after a video was released allegedly depicting Patrick Moran, former Director of Field Operations for the Jim Moran for Congress campaign organization, assisting another to vote illegally.
Patrick Moran and the Jim Moran for Congress campaign provided full cooperation throughout the investigation. Despite repeated attempts to involve the party responsible for producing the video, they failed to provide any assistance.
As a result of the investigation, there will be no charges brought against Moran and the investigation is now closed.