Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to display effective leadership by tirelessly promoting economic development. McAuliffe is:
1. Working to end Virginia’s over-reliance on federal defense spending, and
2. Seeking to diversify Virginia’s economy to take up the slack.
McAuliffe was here in Arlington two weeks ago highlighting cybersecurity and biotechnology as two areas particularly poised for growth.
According to the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, the decline in federal spending has contributed to a region-wide shift from higher-paying jobs — government contractor and subcontractor — to lower paying jobs:
The shift has helped drive down the region’s gross regional product, an indicator of an economy’s health, by nearly $243 million since last year. Fewer highly paid workers, in turn, has led to … higher office vacancy rates and–year after year–reductions in the projected flow of tax dollars that help pay for schools, roads and other government services.
Stephen Fuller, the Director of the Center for Regional Analysis, underscored the problem:
“We’ve just had it easy for so long that we’ve never had to work at this.” Steady increases in federal spending, which reached a peak of $80.7 billion in 2010, kept the Washington region relatively stable during the recession. But it also fostered a false sense of security. “The message is clear: We need to rebrand ourselves and promote our assets.”
Fuller’s message is exactly the gospel that McAuliffe relentlessly continues to preach:
We have to build our own new economy, less reliant on the federal government, bring in new businesses, new interests. That’s what [my] focus has been since taking office in 2014. In slightly more than a year as governor, there have been 350 economic development projects and $6.3 billion in economic activity.
McAuliffe has stressed the importance of workforce development, credentialing, and apprenticeships: “Virginia needs to keep pace with employers’ needs if it wants to retain large companies. [We] need to cater to the large veteran population in Virginia by offering certifications for skills learned in the military.”
He is working closely with Senators Kaine and Warner to block the next round of federal automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts. Those cuts currently are scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2015. In a nutshell, McAuliffe’s message on sequestration is: “there have to be smarter ways to cut the federal budget.”
The Arlington County government cannot rely on the federal government gravy train the way Arlington has in the past. We need to spend every one of our tax dollars wisely. Kudos to Governor McAuliffe for:
- candidly explaining the situation, and
- highlighting what all Virginia leaders must do to adjust to our new economic realities.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe likes to talk big, especially when it comes to economic development, so he wasn’t shy about his ambitions when he visited Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices today to chat with dozens of entrepreneurs.
“When people talk about Silicon Valley, I want them to talk about Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe fielded questions from the entrepreneurs, including the founders of Zoobean, uKnow, Ostendio and Local News Now, asking them to tell him what he can do to grow the innovation economy, and how they want him to help.
“I want you to stay here and raise families here,” he said. “Do whatever you have to do to stay in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want you all to be fabulously successful and pay taxes here.”
Whenever McAuliffe speaks in public, he likes to throw around statistics about Virginia’s economy — the commonwealth has the second-most tech workers of any state in the country — and his accomplishments as governor — he’s brought more investment into the state already than the four previous governors combined he said.
He highlighted several key areas where he expects the tech sector in Virginia to thrive, among them cybersecurity and biotechnology. His 23-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son’s Social Security numbers were stolen in the Anthem Blue Cross breach, which he said just hit home how important cybersecurity is. Virginia has the most cybersecurity firms in the country, he pointed out.
At the same time, he said he wants more growth in the biotech world. Within his first few months as governer, McAuliffe was at a national biotech conference alongside Govs. Jerry Brown of California and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. As the three state executives sat on stage, the hosts put a graphic of the 25 best states for biotechnology companies.
Massachusetts and California were Nos. 1 and 2 on that list, he said. Virginia wasn’t on it.
“It started to get a little uncomfortable for me,” he said with a laugh and a shrug. “[The National Institutes of Health] is just 11 miles from here. Maryland has done a great job on biotech, but we have much lower taxes. There’s no reason we can’t do better. California and Massachusettes should be nervous.”
McAuliffe said the White House will soon announced where a several-hundred thousand square foot cybersecurity campus will be placed, and he’s fighting to win it for Virginia. With the data centers in Loudoun County and the dark fiber in Arlington, the region is positioned to attract more and more technology companies.
The heralded 1776 tech incubator and seed fund is moving into Crystal City, bringing tech bonafides and millions of dollars with it.
Today, on the roof of 220 20th Street S., Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, Vornado CEO Mitchell Shear, 1776 co-founders Evan Burfield and Donna Harris and former Disruption Corporation CEO, and now 1776 Managing Director, Paul Singh joined forces to make the announcement.
“We’re proud that this new partnership will be anchored in Crystal City, which is increasingly becoming a globally-recognized home for world-changing startups,” McAuliffe said. “This new, unprecedented level of regional collaboration removes the traditional regional boundaries, creating tremendous opportunity for broad-based economic growth that benefits the entire region, and offering a model for future, long-term economic growth throughout Virginia and the D.C. Metro area.”
As part of its deal to expand in Crystal City, 1776 acquired Singh’s Disruption Corporation, a combination of a venture fund and financial advisory firm. Disruption’s headquarters on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive will be 1776’s base of operations in Arlington, according to Crystal City Business Improvement District Angela Fox.
“One of the beauties of Crystal City is there is so much space to expand, and if they do well, that’s certainly the thinking in all of this,” Fox told ARLnow.com this afternoon.
Earlier this week, 1776 announced a partnership with Montgomery County, and the incubator’s announcement today makes it one of the, if not the premier, dominant forces in the D.C. area technology space. In 1776’s new headquarters, it will already have member companies like Bloompop, Power Supply and Onomono Media.
1776 also hosts the Challenge Festival, an international, weeklong festival aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs in the energy, education, health and transportation sectors. The company anticipates more than 10,000 industry members will attend, and the opening party will be in Crystal City, at 2121 Crystal Drive, on May 8 from 7:00-11:00 p.m.
The incubator hopes to leverage the still-significant hub of government agencies and contractors in Crystal City, as well as the close proximity to the Pentagon, in its latest expansion.
“This region’s growing innovation economy and its future economic growth are closely linked, which is why at 1776 we’ve focused our attention on creating new opportunities for regional innovation and unfettered access to the networks that exist across regional borders,” 1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a press release. “Between our partnership with Vornado and the acquisition of Disruption, this exciting new venture will allow us to bring together ALL the tremendous assets this region has to offer, from the NIH and MedStar in Bethesda to the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in Crystal City, and create one of the most vibrant technology communities in the country.”
Photo via @1776
Dems Debate in Ballston — The six Democratic candidates for County Board faced off in their first debate last night, before a standing-room only crowd at the NRECA conference center in Ballston. The debate was held by Arlington Young Democrats. Though knowledgable about current issues facing Arlington, candidates were light on specifics about what should be done to address those issues. [InsideNova]
Disruption Corp. Sold to 1776 — Disruption Corp., the Crystal City-based tech investment fund and office space, has been acquired by D.C.-based tech incubator 1776. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Washington Post]
Caps Pep Rally at Elementary School — Third grade students at Carlin Springs Elementary School have won a contest to bring a Washington Capitals playoff pep rally to their school today. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. “There won’t likely be any players, but it will be a great time for all,” a teacher tells ARLnow.com. “The kids will be getting prizes, pictures with Slapshot (the Caps’ mascot) and learning some hockey skills. The Caps are also donating equipment to the school.” [Washington Capitals]
Artisphere ‘Doomed from the Start’ — Artisphere, which is on the budgetary chopping block next week, was “doomed from the start,” according to the artistic director of a theatre company that was booted out of its space at the cultural center two years after it opened. An anonymous Artisphere employee said of the early, over-optimistic attendance and revenue projections: “All of those numbers were so completely false.” [Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Special Needs Bill in Arlington — On Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Arlington to sign the ABLE Act, which will allow individuals with special needs, and their families, to set up tax-exempt accounts that will allow them to save for future living expenses. Virginia is the first state to enact such legislation, which received the blessing of the U.S. Congress in December. [WJLA]
Security of Va. Voting Machines Blasted — The touch screen voting machines now being replaced in Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia were “so easy to hack, it will take your breath away,” according to reports. [Ars Technica, The Guardian]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) held a roundtable discussion on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act today at Arlington Mill Community Center.
McAuliffe and Beyer joined federal Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to host about a dozen healthcare professionals, customers, legislators and healthcare business leaders and talk about the impacts of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and the future of Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
“This is Virginia, the birthplace of our nation in 1607,” McAuliffe said. “We have a responsibility [to expand health insurance coverage].”
Dels. Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez were in attendance, as were state Sen. Barbara Favola and Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada. Hope pointed out that an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia would immediately cover 5,000 Arlington residents.
“We have got to solve this problem in Virginia,” Hope said.
Much of the discussion centered around the impact felt by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, not the absence of an expanded Medicaid. Beyer told a story about a worker at his car dealership who, before the ACA’s passage, couldn’t put his sick wife on health insurance because she had a pre-existing condition. The ACA made it illegal for insurance companies to deny insurance based on pre-existing conditions.
“I really think the Affordable Care Act will be remembered as the most significant moral legislation of the early 21st century,” Beyer said. “There was the Emancipation Proclamation, women’s suffrage, Social Security and now the Affordable Care Act.”
Burwell touted numbers that she say prove the ACA has started to accomplish its goals. Since 2010, 16.4 million fewer Americans are uninsured, she said, and hospitals saved $7.4 billion in 2014 in uncompensated care costs — what happens when a patient cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
Still, Burwell said, more than 60 percent of the uncompensated care savings came from states that have approved Medicaid expansion. That’s money McAuliffe said would go back into the Virginia economy if the legislature were to approve his recommendation.
“Talking to governors from states that have expanded, it’s not only given them healthcare, it’s a huge job creator,” he said.
McAuliffe pushed hard to get the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass Medicaid expansion during its legislative session, but his attempts failed — partly, he said, because of GOP legislators’ fears of being beaten by a Tea Party candidate in a primary. Next year, McAuliffe believes the legislature will be more willing to close the coverage gap.
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with founders and executives from the Tandem NSI initiative in Rosslyn on Friday, discussing ideas for how the state government can help startups grow.
Six companies from Tandem NSI — a public-private partnership between Arlington Economic Development and investment firm Amplifier Ventures focusing on turning national security innovations into private sector businesses– were on hand to demonstrate their products for McAuliffe.
“There are 31,000 tech jobs open in Northern Virginia that we cannot fill,” McAuliffe told the crowd of a few dozen entrepreneurs and staffers from the county. “We have 840,000 veterans in Virginia. Let’s get them credentialed and trained so they can join the workforce.”
McAuliffe seemed receptive to some new ideas the entrepreneurs had. One said that the Center for Innovative Technology Gap Funding that the state provides to Virginia-based startups isn’t enough.
“CIT gives $50,000 to cybersecurity firms,” said Steven Chen, a board member with Blue Venture Investors. “That doesn’t really move the needle. A company can move to Maryland and get $2 million.”
Another member of the audience said they had a product in testing, but the step from testing to the first client is a source of anxiety. She recommended the state become an early adopter of some startup technologies, both to help the state innovate and give credibility to Virginia startups.
“I think some of the startups that may have applications for us should come to us first,” McAuliffe said, telling his secretary of technology, Karen Jackson, to explore the possibility. “If we could be the first customer for a startup, that would be a great idea.”
McAuliffe pointed out that Virginia will continue to see its jobs from the Department of Defense cut due to sequestration over the next two years, and that the “Virginia economy of old where we relied on the federal government is over.”
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) CEB Tower will be the tallest building in Arlington when it’s finished. Local and state officials gathered at the site of the future tower across from the Rosslyn Metro station this morning to break ground on the latest feather in the cap of Rosslyn’s redevelopment.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Jim Moran and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette spoke before hundreds of Corporate Executive Board Company employees.
Standing 31 stories, CEB Tower will be the office component to developer JBG Companies’ Central Place development, which will include a 390-foot residential building under construction now.
For anchoring JBG Companies’ Central Place office tower, the management advisory company received a $4.5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, $5 million from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant and matching infrastructure improvements from Arlington County.
“We are all in,” McAuliffe told the crowd. “This corporate partnership is of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth. We have been on a roll since I’ve been governor, with 68,000 new jobs since I took office.”
CEB plans to occupy 15 floors and 350,00 square feet of the 390-foot-tall office tower, moving from its headquarters since 2008 in the Waterview building at 1919 N. Lynn St. The move, according to the company, will allow CEB to add 800 new jobs at an average annual salary of $120,000, on top of their roughly 1,200 employees already working in the area.
“We look forward to seeing CEB Tower rise above the Rosslyn skyline for years to come,” CEB Chairman and CEO Tom Monahan said. “We look forward to a strong partnership in Rosslyn, Arlington and Virginia to make this a global center of commerce.”
Fisette remarked that the building was another signifier of Rosslyn’s burgeoning redevelopment, and boasted of the recent influx of rankings Arlington has received in terms of its livability and its millennial population.
“Nothing is stagnant about Arlington,” Fisette said. “If you don’t know what’s going on in Arlington, you don’t know the future of our nation.”
Moran repeated a comment he made earlier this year, at the groundbreaking of Central Place’s residential skyscraper, about how Rosslyn was “just pawn shops and prostitutes” when he first visited 50 years ago. And he ruefully quoted polarizing comments about the county that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) made in her new memoir.
“Some might even say that Rosslyn was ‘soulless,'” Moran said. “Arlington is anything but soulless, and Rosslyn is developing in a way that would make anyone proud.”
The residential building is expected to open in 2017 and CEB Tower is slated to be complete in 2018. Construction has already ensnared rush hour traffic in the area and closed the CentralPlaza outdoor eating space.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) plans to help more than 200,000 Virginians without health insurance secure coverage, he announced yesterday in a move that follows the defeat of Medicaid expansion in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
McAuliffe unveiled a 10-point plan through which the majority of the newly covered — about 160,000 — will get assistance signing up for via the federal Affordable Care Act. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved $4.3 million for outreach to help eligible individuals sign up, McAuliffe announced.
The plan includes measures to provide more and better care to those with mental illnesses, give dental care to pregnant women on Medicaid and FAMIS and launch a website “to inform Virginians of their coverage options and help them enroll,” among other platforms.
“As governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens you serve,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Through my plan, I am taking action by authorizing four emergency regulations and issuing one executive order that will address urgent health needs and put us on a pathway toward Building a New Virginia Economy. However, these steps are just the beginning, and we must continue to press forward together to achieve better health for all of our citizens.”
Republican Party of Virginia spokesman Garrett Shipley told The Washington Post that McAuliffe’s plan is insufficient.
“The emperor has no clothes,” Shipley said. “Once again, Terry McAuliffe has far over-promised, and mightily under-delivered.”
Rep. Jim Moran applauded McAuliffe’s actions, saying 400,000 Virginians were “left out in the cold” when the General Assembly rejected the option to expand Medicaid.
“Governor McAuliffe’s initiative, A Healthy Virginia, will help to right that wrong and secure quality healthcare for those Virginians most in need,” Moran said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the Republicans running the Commonwealth’s legislature are committed to their partisan agenda and continue to block healthcare for the 400,000 Virginians who need it most. Thankfully, from mental healthcare for the underprivileged to accelerated access to treatment for our veterans, this plan goes a long way to reaching the goals of the Affordable Care Act.”
However, Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan (D-48), while praising McAuliffe’s efforts, said they don’t go far enough.
“While the Governor’s plan is a welcome and creative step in the right direction, it is not the solution, nor the remedy for Virginia’s ailing coverage gap issue,” Sullivan’s campaign said in an email.
“Gov. McAuliffe’s announcement today will enable many more Virginians to access quality, affordable healthcare,” Sen. Barbara Favola said in a statement. “But as the governor said, there are no substitutes for closing the coverage gap. We’re still missing an opportunity to save lives, save money and help keep endangered hospitals open for business. That means Republicans still need to come to the table.”
Del. Patrick Hope thanked McAuliffe on Twitter. “This is what real leadership looks like,” he wrote.
The bill addresses “the growing problem of notaries who practice law without a license” in immigrant communities. It does so by prohibiting notaries who are not attorneys or otherwise accredited from offering legal and immigration advice.
“In many Latin American countries ‘notario publicos’ (notary publics) provide legal advice, but U.S. notaries who are not also attorneys are not authorized to share this role,” explains a media advisory about the bill signing. “In Virginia, there have been cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice.”
Two of the chief sponsors of the legislation, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) are expected to join McAuliffe at the bill signing ceremony, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the new Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).
Prostitution Arrests on the Rise — Arrests of prostitutes are on the rise in Arlington. Halfway through the year, ACPD has made 26 prostitution arrests, compared to 32 for all of 2013 and 18 in 2012. Police say many of the prostitutes come from the West Coast and are attracted to areas like Crystal City, Ballston and Rosslyn due to high-income clientele and easy access to highways. [Washington Post]
Artists Build Art Studio After Fire — Husband and wife artists Bryan and Julie Jernigan have built a freestanding, 16’x20′ art studio in their North Arlington backyard. The project follows a period of hardship in their lives: a fire broke out in the couple’s home in 2012. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
State Budget Woes — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has revealed that the state is facing a $2.4 billion budget shortfall and that additional budget cuts are necessary. McAuliffe blamed the shortfall, in part, on federal defense spending cuts. [Washington Post]
Arlington’s Best-Reviewed Apartment? — The Concord, an apartment building in 2600 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, has been named the best apartment building in Arlington by a national research firm. The firm ranked 120 properties in Arlington based on online reviews and reputation. [Multi-Housing News]
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring announced today that they reached an agreement with the two smartphone transportation companies with stipulations that will allow them to operate in Virginia. The conditions “will help ensure the safety of passengers, bring the companies into compliance with Virginia law, provide transparency into their operations, and promote a level playing field for transportation providers,” according to a press release.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles issued a cease-and-desist order to the companies on June 5 for doing business in Virginia without an operating permit. Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state, including in Arlington, which has led to protests from taxi drivers and a lawsuit from taxi companies. The decision to allow the companies to operate did not come with a penalty for flouting the cease-and-desist order for two months.
“In order for Virginia to remain economically competitive, it is important that we welcome innovative companies like Uber and Lyft and provide them with the resources they need to safely and effectively operate in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in the release.
McAuliffe’s office also announced it has authorized a study on how best to permanently allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Virginia without disrupting competitive balance with the traditional taxi companies and providing safety for its passengers. The study is expected to conclude by the 2015 legislative session, when McAuliffe hopes a bill will be introduced to codify the agreement.
The eight Northern Virginia taxi companies — including Arlington Blue Top Cab — that are suing to for an injunction against Uber and Lyft, issued a statement responding to McAuliffe’s decision, saying they “objected strongly” to the ruling.
“Today’s issuance of temporary authority to an out-of-state carrier is both unprecedented and illegal,” Northern Virginia Checkered Cab owner Spencer Kimball said in the statement. “Under state law, the DMV was not even permitted to consider this application, considering that Uber and Lyft had been openly boasting that they were not following the ‘cease and desist’ from the DMV — and had no intention to do so. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Virginia, the Attorney General should be enforcing the laws, not promoting a double standard for well-connected Silicon Valley companies.”
The conditions of the temporary operating authority, per the press release, must be met or either company would have its temporary license revoked. They are:
- Extensive background checks of drivers, with immediate disqualifiers including convictions for any felony, fraud, sexual offenses, or violent crimes, or registration as a sex offender.
- A review of driving history, with disqualification for drivers convicted of three or more moving violations in the last three years, DUI, underage drinking, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, hit and run, or eluding law-enforcement, or a revocation of a driver’s license.
- Zero tolerance for the use of drugs or alcohol by any drivers, and a suspension pending investigation of any driver accused of violating the zero tolerance policy.
- Only employing drivers who are properly licensed and over 21, and vehicles that carry a maximum of seven passengers and are properly registered and inspected for safety and emissions, where applicable.
- Rigorous insurance requirements, including requiring drivers to maintain automobile liability insurance, maintaining on behalf of all drivers an additional $1,000,000 of coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged onto the companies’ software but not providing services.
- Maintaining documentation for each driver of his or her background check, sex offender registry check, driving record, proof of insurance, valid driver’s license, Social Security number, vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle safety inspection. Documentation must be available to DMV on demand to investigate any complaints, and must be available for periodic audits to ensure compliance.
- Paying any previously assessed civil penalties for non-compliance and dropping any appeals, which both companies have already done.
- Features to help customers identify their driver and vehicle, including from the outside of the vehicle.
- Drivers notifying the companies of any change in their license status, vehicle registration, insurance, or any arrest for a crime that would disqualify them from being a driver.
- Rate transparency and documentation.
- Companies advising drivers of their need to comply with applicable tax laws.
- Only accepting rides booked through the companies’ mobile device apps, not street hails.
- Companies maintaining a Virginia transportation broker’s license.
The full press release, after the jump: (more…)
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Last Friday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed bi-partisan ethics legislation which passed the General Assembly unanimously. The bill would have barred the governor and his campaign committees from soliciting or accepting donations or gifts of $50 or more from anyone seeking funding from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund.
The governor claims he vetoed the bill because he wanted the provisions to cover General Assembly members as well. His rationale is that they vote on the budget for the Fund.
The companies with pending grant applications are on a confidential list held by the administration. That means General Assembly members could unknowingly make illegal campaign solicitations or accept illegal contributions if they were covered by the law. The alternative is to share the list with everyone responsible for soliciting or accepting campaign checks for General Assembly members, including campaign treasurers.
That course of action seems both impractical and unnecessary if you want to stop influence over ultimate funding decisions. The bottom line is that it is solely the governor’s administration that determines where these loans and grants go — meaning any pay for play could potentially happen right where the ethics bill was targeted.
Some may argue that the existence and use of the fund only invites questionable decisions. That instead, state run incentive programs should be open to a more full and fair competition — if funded by taxpayer dollars at all.
At this point, however, the fund does exist. Passing reasonable rules that ensure decisions on distributions from it are free from the influence of campaign contributions would provide an appropriate level of accountability to taxpayers.
Terry McAuliffe was elected governor last fall despite a less than sterling reputation when it came to sweeping up campaign contributions. He also made some questionable claims related to his own business dealings, including failed efforts to get assistance from Virginia to build a plant for GreenTech Automotive here.
Signing this bi-partisan bill would have gone a long way to silence Gov. McAuliffe’s critics. Instead, the governor vetoed it — standing firmly on the side of business, and politics, as usual.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
McAuliffe: I-66 Widening Outside the Beltway — Speaking to the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he will press for more lanes on I-66, but only outside the Beltway. The governor “noted ruefully” that the Arlington County Board strongly opposes the widening of I-66 through the county. [InsideNova]
Flags In at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Soldiers from the Old Guard helped to place more than 220,000 American flags in front of gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. The annual event has taken place every year for four decades. On Monday the cemetery will host the annual Memorial Day observance and wreath-laying ceremony. [WJLA]
Confusing Metro Maps — New strip maps that incorporate the Silver Line are too complicated, says a writer for the blog Greater Greater Washington. “They confuse many riders with labels that line up in a misleading way, and try to cram too much information on the maps,” the writer opines. [Greater Greater Washington]
Rosslyn, the Brooklyn of Washington — A 1889 real estate ad in the Washington Post describes Rosslyn as “the Brooklyn of Washington.” Editor’s note: This item previously appeared in a previous Morning Notes post. Its inclusion today was inadvertent. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
From May 25-31, certain emergency supplies that cost less than $60 — a list that includes batteries, flash lights, rope, duct tape, bottled water and cell phone chargers — are exempt from sales tax at all Virginia retailers. Portable generators that cost less than $1,000 are tax exempt, as are gas-powered chainsaws that cost less than $350.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that it anticipates three-to-five hurricanes to hit this season, and one or two “major” hurricanes. The National Weather Service is anticipating a “below normal” hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean NWS scientists aren’t urging caution.
“The prediction of a below normal hurricane season should not be taken to mean Virginia won’t be impacted this year,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist, said in a press release from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). “Let’s all remember that it only takes one storm to cause severe damage and even loss of life. Everyone should get ready now for this hurricane season.”
State officials are urging residents to purchase flood insurance, saying “an inch of water in a small home can lead to more than $10,000 in losses.” The governor’s office is recommending families have at least a three days’ supply of bottled water, plenty of nonperishable food, extra batteries and either a battery-powered or hand crank radio to listen to emergency broadcasts.
The complete press release from the governor’s office, after the jump. (more…)