AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast — About 1.1 million Washington area residents will travel 50 more more miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s up 3.1 percent over 2013. About 90 percent of those travelers will journey to grandma’s house via automobile, AAA says. The lowest gas prices since Dec. 2010 are helping to drive some additional travel this year. [Reston Now]
What’s Next for the Pike? — Now that the streetcar is dead, articulated buses may be next for Columbia Pike. But that would require reinforcing the roadway and building a new bus depot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Beyer Joins ‘New Democrat Coalition’ — Arlington’s newly-elected representative in Congress, Don Beyer, has joined the House New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-growth Democrats. [Blue Virginia]
Moran Laments Loss of Earmarks — Outgoing Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says earmarks, while demonized by the media and some politicians, actually helped the legislative process. The loss of earmarks has slowed Congress to a crawl, Moran said. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The annual drive will provide Thanksgiving meals to a growing number of families that are relying on AFAC to supplement their food purchases. This year, AFAC is seeing record demand for its services and spent beyond its allocated food budget to provide food to all its clients.
In June, AFAC Executive Director Charles Meng told ARLnow.com that AFAC was serving 40 percent more families than the year before, a surge he attributed to cuts from federal food stamp programs. This year, AFAC has purchased 2,200 turkeys to give out next week.
Guas and Moran will kick off the giving at about 10:15 a.m. next Monday, according to AFAC spokeswoman Claire McIntyre. AFAC will be conducting turkey drives from 10:00 a.m. to noon from Monday through Friday, Nov. 21, to provide the centerpiece of Thanksgiving meals for its clients.
This year, for the first time, Bayou Bakery, at 1515 N. Courthouse Road, will be donating a pie to AFAC for every dozen it sells. The Louisiana-themed bakery and restaurant is offering sweet potato, pecan, bourbon chocolate chip, Virginia peanut, apple crumble and bacon cayenne pies.
“This is the first year we’ve partnered with [Guas] for that,” McIntyre said. “Because the pie purchasing happens during the holiday season, he can’t bring all the pies at once to us. We still wanted him to be a part of the day. It was really exciting that we got to pair him and Congressman Moran together to hand out the turkeys.”
Rep. Jim Moran is 69 years old and thrice-divorced, with the last split leaving him nearly broke. Moran reported no assets or liabilities in his financial disclosure report in 2010, in the middle of his divorce with businesswoman LuAnn Bennett, according to The Washington Post. He took home his congressional salary and a $10,000 teaching fee from George Mason University.
No longer as strapped for cash, the former stockbroker says he has no plans to retire from working when he leaves Congress, and will seek a high-paying job.
“It’s a little embarrassing that I don’t own my own home or even my own car,” Moran says. “I need to make a little money because I’ve got four grandkids and my daughter is getting married. I’d like to have something to leave to them.”
Moran can’t conduct job negotiations while he’s still in Congress and said he can’t speculate much on what his next move will be. But he has two criteria, in addition to being paid a comfortable salary: doing something “meaningful” and “purposeful,” and working with people “I like, respect and [who] share my values.”
Though he’ll be a septuagenarian just a handful of months after he leaves office, Moran doesn’t act or look the part of a doddering senior.
“I still have the physical and mental capacity to take on a new career,” he says, “so I think it’s time to do that.”
The two men seeking to replace Moran in the Nov. 4 general election, Democrat Don Beyer and Republican Micah Edmond, couldn’t be more different.
Beyer, 64, is the heavy favorite in the race and has Moran’s endorsement. He’s a former lieutenant governor, a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and the owner of four Volvo dealerships that bear his name. During the heated Democratic primary, during which as many as 12 candidates competed, Beyer’s opponents criticized him for running ads for his car dealerships on local news stations, including Del. Patrick Hope (D-47). “Nobody should be allowed to buy an election,” he said.
Edmond, 40, is a Jewish and African-American Marine Corps veteran and former congressional staffer. He was chosen as the Republican candidate in a nominating convention. Described by Patrick Murray, the Republican challenger to Moran in the past two elections, as a candidate with “a lot of energy,” Edmond says Moran hasn’t tried nearly as hard in recent years.
“There seems to be no focus. It’s like he’s just there,” Edmond said in a phone interview with ARLnow.com. “That happens when people serve a long time… People just got really sick and tired of not having a real choice and a real race. Every two years, the Republican party was just throwing someone up there and it hasn’t been competitive.”
Edmond said he wants to focus on advocating for minorities and immigrants who he feels have been under-represented under Moran’s leadership.
“This district is now about 43 percent minority, and he doesn’t represent that diversity,” Edmond says. “Since I came [to Alexandria] in ’98, the minority community has just been shocked at how the level of influence and access to things has shrunk, and I don’t think Jim Moran has been a voice for that.”
Beyer’s lone criticism of Moran’s tenure was the remark Moran made in 2003 about the “Jewish community’s” push for the Iraq War. Outside of that gaffe, Beyer said he can only hope to fill Moran’s shoes.
“People talk a lot about what we’re going to miss,” Beyer told ARLnow.com from his home in Old Town Alexandria. “The defense contractor market is really going to miss his appropriations chairmanship. Animal rights advocates are going to miss him and federal employees are going to miss him.
“I don’t have any unrealistic expectations that I’m going to step into his shoes,” Beyer said. He said he’s trying to avoid “measuring the drapes” before the election, but if elected, “we have to be authentic, we have to be who we are. Forty years in business, as an ambassador and lieutenant governor have positioned me to hit the ground running better. We’re thinking about how do I be more than just another freshman? How can I have a greater influence?”
Although Beyer isn’t measuring the drapes — and Republicans certainly aren’t counting themselves out, considering it’s the first time they’re not facing an incumbent for more than two decades — most in the area consider the seat Beyer’s to lose.
That group includes Moran. In all of his campaigns, Moran never once called Beyer and asked for a campaign donation. Beyer was puzzled and bemused by that – he would have happily donated, and did anyway — while Moran said he didn’t call because “Don’s just such a nice guy.”
Moran said he thinks that quality will serve Beyer well if elected.
“I know he’s going to listen to all of the district, not just the first in line,” Moran said. “Don’s going to be terrific. I’m hoping he can raise enough money that he can move into the leadership.” (more…)
The controversies that began to pile up for Rep. Jim Moran in the late 1990s and 2000s galvanized his critics and spurred more organized efforts to unseat him.
All the while, the federal government continued to grow and as Moran’s district became more affluent and stayed as liberal as ever, the politician continued to get re-elected by a comfortable margin.
There was always a fight, however — until this year.
“It’s the first time in 35 years that I haven’t had an opponent in the primary or the general election,” Moran says. “Nobody had emerged wanting to challenge me. If someone was challenging me, I wasn’t going to let them suggest for a moment that I would back down from the competition.”
Few believe Moran would back down from a fight, even if it were in his best interest. They say that’s what makes him unique.
“He never seemed like a rank-and-file member,” said Don Beyer, a long-time constituent of Moran’s and now the Democratic candidate to replace him. “His personality is too big and his heart is too big. He’s incredibly bright, but he has incredible compassion, which can come off as anger.”
But Moran’s critics describe his outbursts as thuggery, bringing up that his wife reportedly told police that the former boxer grabbed her.
“He’s like a mafia don,” says Patrick Murray, a Republican who ran against Moran in 2010 and 2012. “He’s a big, scary angry guy and you don’t want to get on his bad side. That’s part of how he maintained his power here.”
The image of Moran the intimidator was reinforced in 2010, when a group of Tea Party protesters were heard shouting at his staff in his Capitol Hill office. It didn’t sit well with Moran, who former press secretary Anne Hughes says acted as a caring — and protective — father to his staff.
Moran confronted the protesters, according to a Politico story published at the time. His staffers got between him and the activists, who asked why he needed “bodyguards” to protect him. That prompted a memorable line from an unidentified staffer.
“We’re not protecting him from you,” the staffer told the unwelcome visitors, “we’re protecting you from him.”
Moran downplays the “former amateur boxer” reputation, though he says he did once fight an exhibition match with one-time world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.
“He toyed with me,” Moran says with a smile. “He let me punch him when he could have dropped me anytime he wanted.”
Moran’s father, James P. Moran, Sr., was a phenomenal athlete. He was an offensive guard at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., where he was an All-American before he continued his career with the Boston Redskins, before they moved to Washington.
Moran, Jr., also played football at Holy Cross on a dual athletic/academic scholarship. His father taught him to fight — “he drilled into our minds that only sissies need guns” — and to stick up for those less fortunate.
“I used to get in fights when I was young, but never to defend myself,” Moran says. “There were two or three cases where I saw a bunch of bullies harassing a young kid who couldn’t defend himself and I intervened.”
In his adult life, Moran said he isn’t thrilled with being labeled a fighter outside of the political arena.
“I think most of it is exaggerated,” he says. (more…)
Rep. James P. Moran is quiet, speaking barely over a whisper, tapping his fingers on a conference room table.
It’s a side of Moran that many of his constituents haven’t seen since he was first elected to public office 35 years ago, as a city councilman in Alexandria.
The public image of the now 69-year-old congressman is that of a brash, fiery fighter, so much so that he was given a pair of boxing gloves by Arlington County Democratic Committee President Kip Malinosky at a dinner held in Moran’s honor in June.
The public image is neither incorrect nor complete. Moran has a legendary temper and passion, and he’s built a reputation of speaking “off the cuff” at public events, Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette says.
“He doesn’t read prepared statements,” according to Fisette. “He talks too long sometimes, but it’s authentic.”
That wasn’t always the case. Moran says he initially ran for office out of a fear of public speaking. He was unbearably shy, but wanted to help his community, so he gave it a shot.
“I dreaded speaking in public,” Moran told ARLnow.com, sitting in a conference room at Rosslyn’s ÛberOffices. “I fainted the first two times I did it.”
In one-on-one interactions, Moran is still the quiet type. “He’s a lot more soft-spoken than people think,” his former press secretary, Anne Hughes, says. He’s deliberate in conversation, thoughtful regarding each answer and, after he announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek re-election, reflective of his soon-to-be-ending time in politics.
Moran was elected in 1990, unseating Rep. Stan Parris. Parris had served 12 years in the seat — from 1973-1974 and 1981-1990 — and was viewed as a significant favorite, but the district, and the country, was changing.
Parris, who died in 2010, had run for governor in 1989 and lost in the Republican primary, which Don Beyer — elected lieutenant governor that year — said “weakened” his campaign. Beyer is the Democrat running for Moran’s seat after beating out a crowded primary field in June.
Moran had already established a reputation as a progressive liberal — as mayor, he made sure that Alexandria would not discriminate against gays and lesbians in hiring for city positions — and Parris pounced on his opposition to the Gulf War, comparing Moran to Saddam Hussein.
When a reporter approached Moran on the beach after Parris made his comment, Moran said “that fatuous jerk… I’d like to break his nose.”
“He really wasn’t that bad of a guy,” Moran says today, “but he said a number of things that I thought were repulsive. I knew his voting record, which was terrible as far as I was concerned. I probably couldn’t have beaten him if I had known him because he wasn’t such a bad guy, but I didn’t know him.”
Moran says he woke up at 4:00 a.m. every day and drove to the Prince William County Park & Ride. At the time, commuters would drive to the lot and sleep in their cars before the bus arrived, to ensure a parking spot. The mayor of Alexandria would knock on their car windows and introduce himself.
“Normally I’d get the single-digit salute,” he says. So he continued to do it for weeks. “Eventually, they gave me the access to tell them what I was about.”
Moran also pressed Parris on his conservative views on abortion, a hot-button issue of the moment, even more so than it is today, Beyer says.
“It was the wedge issue in the campaign,” Beyer says. “Jim saw that opportunity and he seized on it.”
Moran won by a 7.1 percent margin over Parris. The district was re-drawn after the 1990 U.S. Census to make it more Democratic, and the margin will stand as the closest general congressional election he ever had.
Arlington County has worked to bring a boathouse to the area since the 1990s. It has collaborated with the National Park Service on the project because Arlington’s shoreline technically is NPS property.
NPS launched an environmental impact statement (EIS) more than two years ago per direction from Congress, but had to put it on hold. Neither the county nor NPS would comment on why the EIS stalled. NPS and county staff revived the process when they met twice this spring to discuss moving forward. NPS now is in the process of finding a contractor to complete the EIS. According to NPS Superintendent Alex Romero, the goal is to partner with the contractor who previously began the EIS.
“There’s work that’s already been done,” said Romero. “We’re purposely identifying the same contractor that worked on it in the past to pick up where they left off. There may be some tweaks to the existing document, but we don’t want to revisit the whole thing.”
The county acquired some land in May on which the boathouse could be built if the Key Bridge area is chosen as the boathouse location. The County Board approved the purchase of 1101 Lee Hwy in Rosslyn for $2.4 million. However, the exact site for a boathouse hasn’t been chosen and won’t be until the completion of the EIS. So if an area other than Rosslyn is picked, the land purchased in May could be used for other recreational uses, according to Arlington County Park Development Division Chief Lisa Grandle.
Rep. Jim Moran, who is touted as being instrumental in securing funding for the EIS, believes the land purchase is a step in the right direction.
“Arlington’s decision to acquire land at Rosslyn Circle for a potential joint initiative with the National Park Service is encouraging and moves us closer to bringing the dream of an Arlington boathouse to reality.” Moran said.
The hope is that a contractor will be chosen soon and can begin to work on the EIS this year. Once a contract is awarded, NPS will have a better idea of long-term timelines for steps like public involvement, final plan approval and finding a company to build a boathouse.
“Until then, everything is preliminary, but the ball is rolling,” said Romero. “We are looking forward to moving ahead with the study and developing alternatives, and seeing what the alternative is so it blends into the landscape along the George Washington Memorial Parkway.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been banned from entering Russia, a Russian official announced this weekend.
Moran is one of 13 people banned from entering the country, all of whom, according to the Associated Press, are “connected with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”
In a press release, Moran countered by saying the ban is a result of his proposed amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have stopped U.S. helicopter purchases from Rosoboronexport, the “sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services.” Moran proposed the ban because of Rosoboronexport’s alleged supply of arms to Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.
“While this does clarify my overseas travel plans,” Moran said in his statement, “it seems that the Putin regime would be better served by addressing the consequences of encouraging and enabling Donetsk separatists to perform such a heinous act of cold blooded cruelty or utter incompetence that resulted in the mass murder of nearly 300 innocent civilians.”
Moran was the only congressman on the blacklist. The others include Guantanamo commander Rear Adm. Richard Butler, Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, retired Col. Janis Karpinsky and Gladys Kessler, “a federal judge who rejected a Guantanamo inmate’s complaint of being force-fed while on hunger strike,” according to the AP.
The bans were a tit-for-tat response to the U.S.’s ban Russian parliament member Adam Delimkhanov, according to a statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. Lukashevich said Moran was “repeatedly accused of financial misdeeds,” but didn’t give any specifics.
Moran’s office said the congressman, who is set to retire at the end of his term, “has no plans to travel to Russia.”
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Officials from Arlington County and Alexandria gathered near Potomac Yard this morning to break ground on the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit line.
The 4.5-mile Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, when it’s completed, will connect the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria to the Pentagon City Metro station with a dedicated bus lane. The bus route, which WMATA is calling Metroway, will open Aug. 24 and run from Braddock Road to the Crystal City Metro at first.
“Unless you invest in growth for the future, all you have is memories of the past,” Rep. Jim Moran said. “Many other communities across the country are not growing, yet Arlington and Alexandria are growing. The principal reason is they’re willing to invest in infrastructure for the future.”
The dedicated lanes, already under construction in Alexandria, were approved for a $10.2 million construction contract in February and are expected to be completed by 2015. The right-of-way in which the buses will operate is planned to eventually turn into the Crystal City streetcar system, which will connect to the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar. The streetcar’s two opponents on the Arlington County Board, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt, attended the groundbreaking and Vihstadt passed out press releases elucidating his support for the transitway, but not the streetcar.
“Even the county’s own press release on the new Crystal City Transitway says it will ease congestion and support both redevelopment and high-density growth,” Garvey said in the release. “This is exactly what we have been saying BRT can do and this is why we don’t need an expensive streetcar. We appreciate the validation of BRT and look forward to watching how it performs.”
Alexandria has not yet committed to building a streetcar system to connect to the Crystal City project — something Arlington officials say the city is “open to” — but the transitway is seen as a piece to connect the two communities even further.
“I think it makes amenities on both sides of the [boundary] line available to people on both sides,” County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes said. “Our communities are good friends and our borders are kind of invisible. This just knits this place into a much more cohesive place over time.”
The construction is expected to take about 10 months. When completed, the bus will operate in dedicated lanes near Potomac Yard, with stops on Crystal Drive, S. Bell Street, Clark Street, 15th Street, 20th Street and 26th Street. During morning and evening rush hours, the buses will use a dedicated lane south on S. Bell and Clark Streets and north on Crystal Drive, replacing an existing traffic lane. The lane will be open to normal traffic during other times.
The groundbreaking ceremony was put on brief hold in the middle when one of the attendees suffered an apparent seizure. Arlington County medics responded and the individual was transported to a nearby hospital.
Crystal City Business Improvement District President/CEO Angela Fox said the transitway is key for Crystal City in that it’s simply another layer of accessibility for its residents and workers.
“I think one of the most amazing aspects of Crystal City, which we’ve built our marketing and integrity around, is how accessible Crystal City is,” Fox said. “The transitway is just one more step to ensure Crystal City is competitive as we reach the next step. We support any and all things that make transit easier for Crystal City.”
New Homeless Shelter to Open in March — Arlington County’s new year-round homeless services center is now expected to open in March. That means the existing emergency winter homeless shelter in Courthouse is likely to be open much of the winter. [InsideNova]
Competitors Agree on Sign Change — Competing commercial real estate companies have joined together in support of a proposal for Arlington to allow rooftop signs on two new Rosslyn office buildings, one already built and another set to be built if the signage is approved. Company officials say that Arlington’s reputation with the business community is at stake, especially at a time of increased competition with areas like Tysons Corner. [Washington Business Journal]
Silver Line Opening Date Set — The Silver Line is set to open to riders on July 26. A ride from Rosslyn to Tysons Corner will take about 22 minutes, while a ride from Rosslyn to Reston will take 34 minutes, according to Metro. [Reston Now, Twitter]
District Taco Expanding to Alexandria — District Taco, which started in Arlington as a tiny taco cart, has just signed a lease to open a new location at 701 S. Washington Street in Alexandria. When it opens, District Taco expects to reach a count of 200 employees. [Twitter]
Moran on Iraq Situation — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the current threat of invading Islamists in that country: “if you break it, you own it, and we broke it… we should have never gone into Iraq.” Moran said isolated air strikes might be warranted to help combat the jihadist militants. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary challenge last night to David Brat, a professor at Randolph-Macon College.
The result stunned the political world, as did Brat’s convincing margin of victory: 56 to 44 percent.
The D.C. punditocracy, trying to comprehend Cantor’s unprecedented loss, floated a number of theories: conservative voters were upset with Cantor about possible immigration reform, talk radio hosts endorsed Brat, Brat captured the anti-establishment Tea Party vote, Democrats voted in the open primary to spite Cantor, etc.
It has also been suggested that Cantor spent too much time in D.C. and not enough time in his Richmond-area district. Cantor maintains a condominium in Arlington, near Pentagon City, public records show.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), speaking to ARLnow.com outside of Don Beyer’s victory party in Alexandria, said he had just seen Cantor on the House floor earlier that day and was “shocked” that he was voted out of office, presumably by the same conservative voters that Cantor had tried so hard to court over the years.
“Compared to this guy Brat, Eric was so much more competent, informed, and showed leadership in his party,” Moran said. “I disagree with his positions but between the two of them he was by far the more accomplished, capable statesman.”
Moran marveled at the irony that someone regarded as a “young gun” conservative leader was apparently considered not conservative enough by Republican voters.
“He was very conservative,” Moran said. “If you’re conservative, he’s the guy you should have voted for, not some guy to doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Eric is very much anti-immigration… I was bitterly opposed to his position. But the idea of voting against him because he wasn’t sufficiently anti-immigration is nonsense.”
In a press release Wednesday morning, the Democratic polling group Public Policy Polling claimed voters in Cantor’s district actually support immigration reform, but were unhappy with Cantor and with the GOP leadership in the House.
“Both Cantor and the GOP House leadership are deeply unpopular, even with Republican voters, and that likely led to his loss,” Public Policy Polling concluded, based on a poll conducted Tuesday night.
“I think the fringe of the Republican Party is taking over the party,” Moran said. “The Republican Party has lost control, it has a tiger by the tail and it can’t rein it in. It’s bought in to the Fox News and the hate radio stuff and now it’s out of control. You need some government, and yet these people want no government. ”
Moran said redistricting in Virginia might have hurt Cantor.
“When you gerrymander a district so you only put conservatives in there, you don’t get a balanced district and this is what you get,” he said. “I think a more moderate district, it turns out, probably would have been in his favor. But Eric didn’t want a moderate district, he wanted as much concentration of conservatives as possible, and this is what he wound up with.”
Despite the fact that the news about Cantor was a couple of hours old, Moran, who is retiring after 12 terms in the House, was still battling disbelief.
“Wow, isn’t that something,” he reflected.
Rep. Jim Moran was honored by local Democrats Saturday night, just three days before the primary that will choose his would-be successor.
Hundreds of Democrats were on hand Saturday at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner in Ballston. Moran, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 after serving as the mayor of Alexandria, was the keynote speaker.
Six of the seven Democratic candidates to replace him — Don Beyer, Lavern Chatman, Patrick Hope, Mark Levine, Bill Euille and Derek Hyra — were in attendance, while state Sen. Adam Ebbin did not attend because he was at the Capital Pride Parade, according to his campaign.
Three of Moran’s colleagues in the House — Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents Fairfax County, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) — spoke to honor him, and Edwards, the recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, touched on Tuesday’s primary.
“I wish every one of you in this room a lot of luck on Tuesday,” she said before turning her attention to Moran. “It’s tough to get a Marylander to come across the river, but for Jim Moran, I would swim across that river.”
ACDC Chairman Kip Malinosky presented Moran with a gift of boxing gloves because, he said, the Massachusetts native has always “been a fighter.”
Moran’s fighting reputation stems from his impassioned floor speeches, his penchant for taking unpopular stances, and from two noted incidents in 1995: when he shoved Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham out of the House chambers, before fellow congressmen and police officers broke up the scuffle, and when Moran threatened to break another Congressman’s nose.
“A champion is leaving the ring,” Malinosky said.
Moran spoke for about 15 minutes in a more subdued tone than many are used to hearing him. He expressed frustration over how difficult it has become to deal with Republicans — “If you’re on the terrorist watch list, maybe you shouldn’t be able to buy an assault rifle. Just a thought,” — and gratitude for being able to serve in the House for more than two decades
“I realize that I’ve been blessed and am very, very lucky to represent this area,” he said. “There are still things that I find terribly frustrating, but we have to keep fighting for them.”
Moran made no mention of the people vying to replace him or the election on Tuesday, but he kept his eye to the future, telling the room the current Republican Party would soon become “anachronistic.”
“We are going to set that example for the rest of the country in areas like Arlington and in areas with people that are representatives like Donna and Xavier and many of our other Democratic leaders,” he said. “I mean, it sounds trite, but the future of this country lies with the Democratic Party.”
Becerra, who was elected two years after Moran in his district in Los Angeles, reminded those in attendance that Moran was in the minority over his years in congress in voting against 1997′s Defense of Marriage Act and voting against the Iraq War after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I am proud that I serve along with Jim Moran,” Becerra said. “We will miss you, but you have made us a better country.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is considering a policy change that would lower the maximum allowable building heights near airports, a regulation that could severely hamper future development in Arlington’s urban centers of Rosslyn and Crystal City.
On April 28, the FAA formally announced it was considering changing the regulations regarding “One Engine Inoperative” safety procedures, the rules dictating precautions that should be taken in case one engine fails on a plane during takeoff.
This afternoon, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) introduced a bill that would require the FAA to put the policy change through “standard rulemaking procedure,” including a cost-benefit analysis by the federal Office of Management and Budget and studies by other agencies before taking effect. The FAA advertised the new rule as a “proposed policy,” which would circumvent the rulemaking procedure, Moran told ARLnow.com.
“The airlines and the airports authority are acting out of greed,” Moran said. “It’s self-centered on their part. It’s disappointing and it should be stopped in my view. I’m just asking that they go through the normal, standard rule-making procedure where you look at the real-world impact, but they don’t want to consider what the economic impact would be in surrounding communities because their stovepipe attitude is they exist for the benefit of the airlines.”
Moran said the regulations are unnecessary as it stands because, unless commercial planes are overloaded, they can ascend well enough to clear the current maximum height restrictions.
“There are millions of flights that go in and out of our airports and it never happens,” Moran, referencing the threat of a One Engine Inoperative situation that leads to a crash into a building. “The reason for this rule change is that they want to make more money by overloading the planes with cargo, passengers and fuel… They need to exercise some restraint so that if one engine was to become inoperable they could continue climbing.”
According to Moran, almost 170 structures in Virginia, largely in Crystal City and Rosslyn, would be impacted by the regulation. While the buildings that are currently built would not be affected, any redevelopment would have to come in the form of shorter buildings, meaning the property values of current buildings could plummet.
It’s unclear at this point what the new maximum height for the buildings would be, according to Moran’s office, but it’s likely buildings like 1812 N. Moore Street and the under-construction Central Place would exceed it. Crystal City especially could be hurt, Moran said, because of the vacant buildings that are in line for redevelopment after the military’s Base Realignment and Closure Act rendered many of them vacant.
“[The policy] would stop any high-rise redevelopment,” Moran said. “If you’re going to make the public investment in Metro, you’ve got to have the high-rise, high-density development around it to pay for it. This would prohibit that.”
Moran’s co-sponsors on the bill are Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). The bipartisan-supported bill could slow the regulatory process significantly if it passes, Moran said. The FAA advertisement solicits public comment for 60 days, after which it could proceed to implement it. If the bill passes, the process would likely take more than a year.
“I think we’ve got a shot at it,” Moran said. “Frankly, I think the real impact of the bill is going to be to alert FAA that there is a lot of congressional resistance to what they want, and they’ll take it into their own hands and go through the normal procedure.”
The candidates — Del. Charniele Herring, Mark Levine, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Bruce Shuttleworth, Satish Korpe, Lavern Chatman, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, Del. Patrick Hope, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Derek Hyra — each only had time for an opening statement, answers to two questions and a one-minute closing statement. The debate lasted two hours.
The candidates are vying to fill the retiring Rep. Jim Moran’s seat in Congress. Virginia’s Eighth District is considered a deeply blue, safe Democratic seat — thus its attractiveness to a field of candidates trying to pounce on the rare political opportunity.
Moran, who’s been the 8th District’s representative since 1991, started the night with 10 minutes of remarks, touching on his service and the benefits of representing Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. He said he won’t be endorsing any of the Democrats running in the June 10 primary.
“It’s a great district, and it’s kind of a microcosm of this country,” he said. “In this district, you have far more latitude than any other district in the country, as far as I’m aware of, because the constituency in this district is well-educated, wants to understand things, is extraordinarily open-minded if you want to make a case. I’ve found that I have far more latitude than many of my colleagues.”
The candidates were asked what their first priority would be in Congress, and what their top foreign policy concern is. Many candidates touched on consensus topics among Democrats — women’s reproductive rights, climate change and economic development — while they tried to distinguish themselves from the other candidates.
“We’re all Democrats here and I respect my colleagues greatly, but we all bring different things to this race,” Beyer, who is the frontrunner in polling and fundraising, said in his opening statement. “As a businessman, lieutenant governor and ambassador, I have a proven record, the ideas and the energy to hit the ground running.”
Sitting to Beyer’s left was Hope, the top polling Arlington-based candidate, who defended the Affordable Care Act’s rollout and said the law didn’t go far enough.
“There are some people on this dais who believe the Affordable Care Act has flaws,” Hope said. “I don’t believe the Affordable Care Act has flaws, except one: it did not expand coverage to every single American. Even if Virginia and other states expand Medicaid to the poorest people in their states, we will still have 20 million Americans who do not have health insurance.”
Euille, when discussing foreign policy, touched on his foreign travels and the visitors who have come to Alexandria to ask him about politics. He said his guiding principle in foreign policy is seeking world peace.
“I will never put out troops in combat,” he said. “I will never support a war, because I think it’s the wrong thing to be doing. We need to make certain that the only time we use our troops to fight would be in defense of our own borders.”
Levine, a liberal talk radio host who reminded the capacity crowd of his penchant for pulling out his pocket U.S. Constitution, distanced himself from Euille and some of the other candidates on stage by advocating for a more aggressive military stance.
“We are an ally of NATO and countries look to us for support,” Levine said. “And when Russia is busy invading Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland are nervous, and they look to us for support. A treaty obligation is vitally important, and we should go to war, if we have to, if a NATO country is attacked.”
Stephen Colbert will take over from David Letterman as the host of “The Late Show” next year.
News of Colbert’s “Late Show” hiring prompted Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) to send out a Tweet congratulating the comedian. Moran also made reference to the time he was interviewed by Colbert for his “Colbert Report” segment “Better Know a District.”
“Congrats @StephenAtHome!” Moran Tweeted. “I still remember the day I put your show on the map.”
In the segment (starts after 1:00 in the video above), Colbert calls Moran a “poor man’s Ted Kennedy” and mocks his Irish heritage, famed temper and verbal gaffes until Moran delivers a staged haymaker to Colbert’s self-described “punch-able” face.
Advice for Vihstadt — Dave Foster, a Republican elected to two full terms on the Arlington School Board starting in 1999, has some advice for the newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt. In order for Vihstadt to win re-election and a full term in November, he will need to practice “thoughtful and independent decision-making, hard work and constant community outreach,” Foster said. [InsideNoVa]
‘Brave’ Moran Loses Two Votes — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D) is taking some bold but symbolic stances in his last term. Moran was one of “two brave Democrats” who voted for a doomed interpretation of President Obama’s budget, as floated by House Republicans for the express purpose of getting Democrats to vote against it. Moran also lost his bid to raise pay for members of Congress; the proposal died in committee. [Washington Times, Associated Press]
Road Closures for Parade — Parts of Walter Reed Drive, Four Mile Run and George Mason Drive will be closed Sunday morning and afternoon for the Carnival de Oruro Parade. [Arlington County]
Library Extends DVD Renewals – Arlington Public Library is now letting patrons renew DVDs twice, meaning the maximum rental period is now 21 days. [Arlington Public Library]
Del. Brink Finds 13 to Be Unlucky – Was it a coincidence? Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) was 13th in seniority in the Virginia House of Delegates this year. And as he was putting his “13″ specialty license plate on his car (such plates are issued to lawmakers annually by the state), his pliers slipped and gouged a deep cut in his finger. One fellow lawmaker, however, opined that the bad luck was actually because Brink had just, by virtue of timing, introduced House Bill 666. [InsideNoVa]