WRAP Offering Free Cab Rides July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is again sponsoring free taxi rides on Independence Day for those carousing in the D.C. region. From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., those interested in taking SoberRide can call 1-800-200-8294 and have a free ride home worth up to $30. If the fare would cost more than $30, then the rider would be financially responsible for the difference. Riders must be 21 years or older to participate. [WRAP]
Labels for Ornamental Tree Garden – Members of TreeStewards have set out labeling trees in the Ornamental Tree Garden along the W&OD Trail north of Wilson Boulevard. Many of the trees’ identifying signs had been damaged, lost or, in some cases, switched so they are no longer identifying the correct trees. About 30 trees have been relabeled so far along Four Mile Run. [TreeStewards]
Local Newsletter Pioneer Profiled – Longtime Arlington resident Tom Whipple started sending out summaries to stories on Virginia politics to anyone who wanted them in the late 1990s. A decade later, the “Whipple Report“ became the most widely read email newsletter among the Commonwealth’s legislators, lobbyists and media. Whipple, who’s married to former state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, passed on his newsletter to the Virginia Public Access Project in 2011. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by christinerich.
Concealed Carry Permits Spike in Arlington — The number of applications for concealed-carry permits in Arlington has quadrupled in the past 8 years, and continued to spike. Last year the Circuit Court received 1,042 applications from whose who want to carry concealed weapons. This year the office is expecting nearly 1,600. [Sun Gazette]
Whipple Pens Pro-Streetcar Op-Ed — In an op-ed, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple compares the heated debate over the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar systems to the debate over the construction of Metrorail through Arlington in the 1970s. “A small but vocal faction of our community claimed that the proposed Orange, Blue and Yellow lines were too expensive and risky and argued that we should just use buses instead,” Whipple writes. “After much deliberation, Arlington invested in rail.” [Washington Post]
New Gym for George Mason? — George Mason University’s Arlington campus currently lacks a fitness center for students. A plan to build a new gym, put in place after a student petition in 2011, has not moved forward because it was determined that the project would go over budget. The university is currently exploring options for either constructing a new fitness center or partnering with a nearby office building to use its gym. [Connect2Mason]
DCA Fight Attendants Protest Knife Decision — Flight attendants have been handing out flyers to passengers at Reagan National Airport, encouraging them to sign an online petition against a recent TSA decision that will allow small knives to be carried on to planes. [WAMU]
Whipple sent a letter to 31st District Democrats this week belittling candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s work as her “policy advisor” in 2010. Whipple, who has endorsed County Board member Barbara Favola in the contentious two-way primary battle, wrote that Jaime — a Stanford law school grad — “served as an intern” and “received only a small stipend.”
“I agreed to give him the title ‘Policy Advisor’” to make up for the low pay, Whipple wrote. “Jaime’s embellishments and exaggerations of his role during his time in Richmond have bothered me for some time, and I feel compelled to set the record straight.”
However, the Areizaga-Soto campaign is now pointing out that Whipple had previously praised his work in Richmond. In a Jan. 27, 2010 column for the Falls Church News-Press, Whipple wrote that she was “fortunate to have the extra help of Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Esq.”
“I coordinate the operations (communications, coordination, and position-making) of the majority Caucus in the Senate,” Whipple wrote. “Jaime supports and advises me on legislation and Caucus-related issues.”
State Sen. John Edwards, of Roanoke, was quoted yesterday as praising the Areizaga-Soto’s work in the state Senate.
“Jaime was an important asset to the Senate Democratic Caucus and to me over the last two legislative sessions,” Edwards said.
“I’m disappointed that Senator Whipple and my opponent have decided to mislead the people of the 31st District,” Areizaga-Soto said in a statement. “Senator Whipple praised my service for her in the Falls Church News Press, and I am proud of the work I did in Richmond. I want to move past this petty distraction and offer my vision for standing up to Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme agenda for Virginia.”
“Alfonso has been a leader on environmental issues that have been my passion in Richmond,” Whipple said in a statement. “[He] has a long record of fighting for our community and has the depth of knowledge on the issues that will make him an effective representative for the 49th District.”
Lopez, formerly an assistant administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Stephanie Clifford, formerly an events coordinator at the Podesta Group lobbying firm, will be facing off in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary for Virginia’s 49th District, which consists of parts of north and south Arlington.
Lopez has been endorsed by Arlington County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman, Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur, Arlington County School Board member Emma Violand Sanchez and former Virginia Lt. Gov. candidate Jody Wagner. Clifford has been endorsed by Arlington Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy, Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot and former U.S. Congresswoman Leslie Bryne.
(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) County Board member Barbara Favola’s campaign for state Senate got a boost yesterday when she announced that she had received the endorsement of Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple.
Whipple, who is retiring from the state Senate this year, called Favola “a thoughtful and caring public servant.”
“She has the experience and knowledge of the Northern Virginia community and has been a leader on regional issues, including those dealing with cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and creating a greener environment,” Whipple said in a statement. “She has an unparalleled record in human services coupled with fiscal responsibility. Barbara has first-hand knowledge of raising a child through Virginia’s public schools from kindergarten through college and the challenges our education system faces. She is a dedicated Democrat and will be a strong voice in Richmond. I can think of no one better qualified than Barbara to fill the seat for the 31st Senate District of Virginia.”
ACFD 9/11 Memorial to be Landscaped — Last week the Department of Defense gave Arlington County’s first responders a chunk of limestone recovered from the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. That stone now sits near a steel beam from the World Trade Center, in a field outside Fire Station 5 in Pentagon City. The county is planning to landscape the area around the two memorials, in advance of the upcoming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. [Arlington Connection]
Missed Connections in Arlington — Someone is looking for a “Persian goddess in pink” who was spotted shopping for chickpea salad at the Clarendon Whole Foods. Also: a woman is looking for the “armsleeve tattoo man” she ogled at the Golds Gym. [Clarendon Culture]
Whipple Fights Abortion Amendment — Arlington’s retiring state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple is fighting an amendment inserted into a General Assembly-approved bill by Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill would establish a health insurance exchange in Virginia as part of the federal health care reform law. However, McDonnell’s amendment would prohibit any insurance plan in the exchange from offering coverage for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. [Washington Post]
Arlington Diocese Fights Porn — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington continues its campaign against “the very real danger of pornography in our culture” with a blog post. The post notes that an anti-porn pamphlet authored by Bishop Paul Loverde is so popular that it’s now in its second printing. Also, the post says that Bishop Loverde has been active in the fight against pornography on cell phones. [Encourage and Teach]
Del. Bob Brink, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the state Senate seat of the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, announced this morning that he will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Brink released the following statement regarding his decision this morning.
In the days since Senator Mary Margaret Whipple announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly, I have been weighing the possibility of running for the seat she has held with such distinction since 1996. I am gratified that many people have encouraged me to seek the Senate nomination, and it would be a tremendous honor to succeed Mary Margaret in the Senate. However, I have decided that I can best serve Arlingtonians by remaining in the House of Delegates.
This has been a tough year for Arlington in Richmond. Despite the unified efforts of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation, important measures that were aimed at bolstering the County’s economy, protecting its interests, and upholding its values, met a hostile reception. Next year the entire Arlington delegation, including the new Senator from the 31st District, must be prepared to work at restoring the trust and respect for the County that it deserves and that so many have sought to achieve.
Eyes now turn to Del. Patrick Hope, another possible candidate who was expected to defer to Brink should he have decided to run. Hope would face county board member Barbara Favola in the Democratic primary.
Whipple has represented Virginia’s 31st Senate district since 1996. Before being elected to the state Senate, Whipple served on the Arlington School Board, the Arlington County Board and the Metro Transit Board.
News of Whipple’s retirement seemingly came as a surprise to some.
“Wow – another one!” Del. David Englin said on Twitter. “[Sen. Whipple has] been a champion for Arlington, good government, and progress.”
Others had press releases ready for the announcement.
“Senator Mary Margaret Whipple’s retirement from the Virginia Senate will leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill,” said Del. Adam Ebbin, who is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Patsy Ticer. Ticer announced her retirement last week.
Del. Patrick Hope had more praise for Whipple.
“Today, we honor the service of one of Arlington’s most dedicated and admired public servants,” he said in a statement. “I know I join Arlingtonians in thanking Senator Mary Margaret Whipple for over three decades of hard work, dedication, and service. She will surely be missed but her legacy will be long-lasting, not only to her constituents but to our entire great Commonwealth.”
As state political blogger Ben Tribbett points out on Twitter, Hope is thought to be considering a run for Whipple’s seat. Via an aide, Hope neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.
“Today is Mary Margaret’s day and we should honor her outstanding service,” Hope said.
Other names being floated as possible candidates for the seat are Tribbett, former lieutenant governor candidate Mike Signer, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman and county board member Barbara Favola.
“I applaud Sen. Whipple for her incredible insightful and thoughtful service,” Favola told ARLnow.com. “She has always been a wonderful role model and friend to me.”
“I think this is her day,” Favola said when asked whether she might run for Whipple’s seat. “I suspect over the weekend I’ll think about the next steps.”
Dels. Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope are all listed as members of the group.
“Progressive values are Virginia values,” Hope said in a press release announcing the caucus’ formation. “The Progressive Caucus serves to fight for the interests of the average citizen and to educate the public on Progressive issues.”
“While Virginia can be slow to change, we have to keep pace with the times when it comes to issues like stem cell research, global warming and society’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians,” said Ebbin. “As progressives, it is important that we stand together as we work to move Virginia forward.”
“It’s time for progressive legislators to organize and work together to advance the progressive values that we share, so we can keep our Commonwealth moving toward that day when every person – including the poor, the elderly, the week, the dispossessed – has a fair shake and an equal shot at the American dream,” Englin said.
Conspicuously absent from the group is Arlington’s state senator, Mary Margaret Whipple.
The bill in the House of Delegates, HB 2191, was sponsored by Arlington’s Del. Adam Ebbin (D). It passed on Monday.
The bill in the state Senate, SB 975, was sponsored by Arlington’s Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D). It passed on Friday.
The bills would create the Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund, which will distribute loans to help power customers install solar panels and solar water heaters at their homes or businesses. The fund will receive funding from voluntary contributions and grants. Utilities will be required to promote the funds and let customers opt-in for monthly contributions.
“Virginia has some of the highest solar energy potential in the region, but we’re being outpaced by our neighbors like Maryland, which has only two-thirds our population but thirteen times the number of homes powered by solar energy,” Ebbin said in a statement. “This fund will ensure that more Virginians have the opportunity to power their homes with cheap, clean, renewable energy and help our companies stay competitive in the growing market for solar energy.”
Ebbin said Dominion and Appalachian Power, along with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, helped to support the bill.
State Senator’s Husband Pens Alarming Column — Tom Whipple, husband of state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D), has penned a column entitled “The Peak Oil Crisis: Civil Unrest” for the Falls Church News-Press. He writes: “By failure to guide the country to real solutions to real problems, our leaders are risking increasing violence as the frustrations of an unknowing people continue to grow.” [Not Larry Sabato]
Grocery Store and Development Proposed for Bergmann’s Site — A developer wants to bring a grocery store to the site of the Bergmann’s Cleaners on Lee Highway, provided the county also approves a 12-story apartment building next door. The apartment site is currently zoned only for single family homes. [TBD]
Manee Thai Condemned — Manee Thai restaurant on Columbia Pike has been declared “unfit for habitation” by county building inspectors, according to a sign near the entrance. Other businesses in the strip of stores adjacent to Manee Thai have remained open. [Pike Spotter]
O’Connell Athletic Field Request May Be Pushed Back — Consideration of Bishop O’Connell High School’s request to renovate its athletic field and add NCAA-compliant lighting will likely be pushed back to March. The board is slated to take up the request at its Jan. 22 meeting, but the school is requesting a deferral. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
It’s October — The good news: playoff baseball returns. The bad news: cold temperatures return.
Abuse Charges at Nursing Home — Nearly a dozen employees of the Potomac Center nursing home in Pentagon City have been indicted on charges including neglect and assault. An investigation by the Virginia State Medicare Fraud Office and the FBI determined that employees neglected patient care, forged documents and abused at least one patient. A $10 million lawsuit has also been filed against Potomac Center’s parent company. More from WUSA9.
SUV Rollover Driver Charged – The mother who flipped her SUV on I-395 during yesterday morning’s rain has been charged with failure to maintain control of her vehicle. The 36-year-old woman and her two kids were taken to the hospital after the accident, which temporarily shut down all southbound lanes of the highway. More from the Associated Press.
Whipple Votes Against Costly Revised Liquor Plan — Gov. Bob McDonnell has revised his plan to privatize Virginia’s liquor stores, but has lost the support of an Arlington lawmaker in the process. Responding to criticism from his own party, McDonnell dropped two proposed tax hikes on cocktail sales and wholesale liquor purchases. The change opened a $47 million per year hole in the state’s budget, prompting Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) to vote against it as a member of a state subcommittee on government reform. More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Governor Robert McDonnell has appointed two Arlington lawmakers to his government reform panel.
State Delegate Bob Brink and state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, both Democrats, will join 29 other appointees on the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.
“The Commission members will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s agencies, programs, and services to find out how we can make our state government work better for its owners, the people of Virginia,” Gov. McDonnell said while announcing his selections for the panel. “I look forward to working with these reform-minded leaders to examine how Virginia can better serve the taxpayers.”
In addition to Del. Brink and Sen. Whipple, several top government reform thinkers who live or work in Arlington were appointed to the commission.
One appointee, Bill Eggers, is a government reform expert, a global director for Deloitte Research and the brother of author Dave Eggers.
Maurice P. McTigue, a distinguished visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, and Geoffrey Segal, director of privatization and government reform at the Reason Foundation, were also named to the governor’s commission.
Commission members will hold their first meeting next month.
State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D), who represents Arlington, went on MSNBC today to criticize Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for proclaiming April “Confederate History Month.”
Whipple called the proclamation “very troubling.”