Today Obama announced that his administration will normalize diplomatic relations and ease economic restrictions on the island nation. Also announced: that American Alan Gross and a U.S. intelligence asset were freed from Cuban jails, in exchange for three jailed Cuban spies.
Kaine’s brief statement:
“I am overjoyed by today’s announcement of Alan Gross’s release and wish him the very best as he reunites with his family and loved ones. His release marks a victory for American diplomacy. I’d like to especially thank Pope Francis and the Canadian government for their role as intermediaries in this effort.”
“Our relationship with Cuba will not change overnight – human rights and political freedom are important concerns that we will continue to raise with the Cuban government. But as the reestablishment of U.S. diplomatic ties with Vietnam proved, engagement rather than isolation is often more effective at advancing American interests and democratic values.”
The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.
Eliminating the stigma against technical education will help young Virginians get better jobs, Sen. Tim Kaine said at a panel discussion Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol, where two Arlington teachers spoke about their successes in the field.
Young people can get better-paying jobs if the perception of high school job-skills courses is changed from an option for failing students to a smart choice, Kaine said. The discussion was held by the national education coalition Advocates for Literacy and the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, of which Kaine is co-chair.
“This big-picture goal which our caucus is related to is de-stigmatizing [career and technical education] and making it really hot, sexy and cool,” he said. “Technical education is coming back strong and it’s something we can celebrate.”
Jeffrey Elkner and Sean Kinnard, both teachers at the Arlington Public Schools-run Arlington Career Center, described how giving youth practical skills motivates them.
“Students who would be turned off otherwise make real-world connections,” said Elkner, who teaches math and information technology at the career center. Located at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, the school trains more than 1,100 students a day in programs including animal science, cosmetology and automotive technology.
Kinnard spoke about a teen from Afghanistan who was disengaged in ordinary high school classes but had a passion for cars. After participating in the school’s two-year auto tech program, the teen now works for a Mercedes dealer.
“The program got him the industry credentials he needed to get his job,” said Kinnard, who teaches English as a Second Language.
Kaine described a disconnect between job seekers’ skills and the positions available.
“There’s a mismatch right now between the unemployment rate and positions going unfilled, and what that means is we’re not training people in the right skills,” he said. “[Career and technical education] is probably the best thing you can do to realign that so the skills match up with the needs.”
The junior senator introduced on Wednesday the Middle School Technical Education Program Act, which would encourage middle school students to explore technical career options and provide access to apprenticeships.
Sen. Kaine Speaks to RAFOM — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke to the Radnor – Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, near Rosslyn, on Monday. The meeting was RAFOM’s 15th anniversary. Kaine spoke about budget issues, defense issues, foreign policy issues, and broad issues of working together politically. He said that “we as a nation are in a period of significant soul searching.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Pedro and Vinny’s Makes ‘Best Burrito’ Bracket — Pedro and Vinny’s, the acclaimed burrito stand at 2599 Columbia Pike, has made the south region bracket in data website Five Thirty Eight’s methodical search for America’s Best Burrito. Five Thirty Eight founder Nate Silver “felt strongly” that Pedro and Vinny’s should be on the list since it had the second-highest VORB (Value Over Replacement Burrito) score in the south. [Five Thirty Eight]
Tysons Wants to Be Arlington — Fairfax County officials are trying to emulate Clarendon and Ballston in remaking Tysons Corner into a vibrant, walkable, transit-accessible community. The plan is getting a boost from the expected summer opening of the Silver Line, for which Metro has added 460 new employees in recent weeks. [Citylab, Reston Now]
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D) has offered a statement regarding Tuesday night’s bi-partisan budget compromise that averted another government shutdown.
Kaine largely praised the $85 billion agreement that funds government agencies through 2015. He did, however, express disappointment in certain cuts, such as cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees and for federal employee benefits.
Here is Kaine’s full statement:
“Ever since I took office last January, I made it a mission to do everything I could to replace the across-the-board sequester cuts that have so severely hurt Virginia and return to normal budgetary order. I even delivered my maiden floor speech last February on the urgent need to find compromise and avert sequestration. Tonight, I’m pleased that after passing a Senate budget for the first time in four years and going to conference with the House, a deal has been reached.
I’m disappointed that reductions in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for military retirees and cuts to federal employee benefits were included. But the deal goes a long way toward alleviating the most harmful effects of sequestration next year – cuts that have disproportionately impacted federal employees and the defense community – and restoring basic economic certainty to businesses and families across the Commonwealth. It also ensures we won’t suffer another damaging government shutdown next month that would have resulted in more negative consequences for federal employees.
The two-year, bipartisan agreement will relieve $63 billion of sequester cuts for 2014 and 2015. It will also avert additional defense cuts – including $20 billion in cuts that were set to take effect in January 2014 – and replace non-defense cuts over the next two years. We’ve also given appropriators the certainty they need to write full appropriations bills – a significant step toward ending the dangerous pattern of stopgap, governing-by-crisis measures that have plagued the budgeting process in recent years.
While I’m still examining the details of the deal, I am pleased a spirit of compromise and cooperation prevailed.”
Update at 5:10 p.m. — Rep. Jim Moran (D) has also issued a statement on the budget agreement, saying it’s flawed but he will ultimately support it. The full statement, after the jump.
Arlington to Update Streetcar Analysis — Arlington County has hired a consulting firm to update its analysis of the transit capacity needed for Columbia Pike and the potential return on investment of the county’s planned Columbia Pike streetcar system. The new analysis, which should be complete by December, will take into account changes in population and employment since the original analysis was done. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Planning Halloween Film Fest — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is planning a Halloween film festival on Saturday, Oct. 19. The festival will feature a kid-friendly Halloween film, followed by something more adult-oriented. The BID is asking the public to vote on which films they would like to see. [Survey Monkey]
Va. Senator Defeats Journalist in Spelling Bee – Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was declared the victor in a journalists vs. lawmakers spelling bee at the National Press Club last night. Sen. Kaine won with the spelling of “nonpareil,” against runner-up Rebecca Sinderbrand, of Rosslyn-based Politico. [Twitter]
Preservation Arlington Lauds Residential Redevelopment — Preservation Arlington is lauding the redevelopment of a residential property on the western end of Washington Blvd in Arlington. About 10 years ago, the 1940s-era colonial-style home at 6315 Washington Blvd was renovated, preserving its unique architecture, while two new homes were built on the large tract of land. Thanks to “foresight and good planning,” the project prevented the stately home from becoming “just another in-fill development site.” [Preservation Arlington]
Kaine Meeting With Defense Contractors in Arlington — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will be in Arlington today meeting with Northern Virginia defense contractors. Kaine will be holding a roundtable discussion at Courthouse-based contractor Dynamis at 3:00 p.m. “The event today in Arlington will discuss the upcoming sequester cuts that are reported to threaten 1 to 1.4 million jobs with a disproportionate effect in Northern Virginia,” a Kaine spokeswoman told ARLnow.com.
Arlington Tax Surcharge Advances – A bill to restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is closer to passing in the Virginia General Assembly. The bill has passed the state Senate and last week passed the House of Delegates Committee on Finance, albeit with a three year sunset provision. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports the tax surcharge, which helps to fund county tourism promotion efforts. [Sun Gazette]
PBS Doc Films at Glebe, H-B Woodlawn — An upcoming PBS documentary called “The Path to Violence” filmed at two Arlington Public Schools on Sunday. The production filmed at Glebe Elementary School and at H-B Woodlawn, according to an email from Arlington County. The Path to Violence, which is expected to air the week of Feb. 18, will tackle the topics of school safety and school violence.
Corps of Engineers to Review Tree Concerns — The Army Corps of Engineers says it will revise its Environmental Assessment of Arlington National Cemetery’s planned expansion in response to concerns from residents about the loss of old-growth trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Flickr pool photo by Jorge Bañales
IAFF: Only We Fight Fires in Arlington — IAFF Local 2800, Arlington’s firefighter union, wants residents to know that their members are the only ones who fight fires in Arlington. The union is trying to draw attention to a web page set up to clarify the differences between professional Arlington County firefighters and members of local volunteer firefighting organizations, who have been soliciting donations. “You may be wondering ‘are my fire and rescue services provided by volunteer firefighters?’” the union wrote. “The answer is no.” [IAFF Local 2800]
Wag More Dogs Gets New Mural — Wag More Dogs, the Shirlington dog grooming business that had to whitewash its doggy mural after losing a legal battle over signage restrictions with Arlington County, has a new mural that no one will interpret as a form of advertising this time around. The mural, painted by itinerant artists Zack Weaver and Rob Fogle, depicts two birds sitting in a hot tub on a tree. During the two weeks it took to create the mural, Weaver and Fogle lived in their truck (dubbed the “Art Cream Truck” and decorated with a painting of a well-endowed green-skinned woman) which they parked outside the dog park. [Huffington Post]
GOP Candidate Goes Against Chamber-Supported Tax — Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement have both come out against a 12.5 cent per $100 commercial property tax surcharge levied by Arlington County. The surcharge, which is used to fund transportation improvements, is supported by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. [Sun Gazette]
Post Endorses Kaine — The Washington Post editorial board has endorsed Democrat Tim Kaine over Republican George Allen in the race for U.S. Senate in Virginia. [Washington Post]
Kaine to Visit Rosslyn Office – Former Virginia governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) will be making a campaign stop at an office building in Rosslyn today. Kaine will participate in a roundtable discussion on the clean energy economy at 3:15 p.m. The event is not open to the public.
School Bus Gets Lost on First Day of School — An Arlington County school bus carrying Glebe Elementary students arrived at school nearly an hour late on Tuesday after the driver made a wrong turn. The driver was new and had to meet up with another driver at Barrett Elementary in order to find his way back to Glebe. The kids on the bus were “a little scared,” according to a parent. [Washington Examiner]
Air-Traffic Controllers Rattled by Close Call — A close call involving three jets at Reagan National Airport on July 31 rattled air traffic controllers and produced a “chaotic scene” in the airport’s tower, according to a new National Transportation Safety Board report. The planes, however, were at different headings and altitudes and would not have crashed, officials say. [Associated Press]
‘Girls Night Out’ in Shirlington Tonight — Shirlington Village is hosting a “Girls Night Out” from 5:00 to 10:00 tonight. In addition to food and drink specials at restaurants, and savings at other merchants, tonight’s event includes an “ArtJamz” freestyle paint party at the Hilton Garden Inn. A $25 ticket gets you a 20″x24″ canvas and unlimited painting supplies. [Village at Shirlington]
Planned Parenthood’s “Women are Watching” bus tour stopped at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City on Sunday morning. With a bright pink bus as a backdrop, Kaine told the crowd that he was committed to pro-choice policies and against efforts to place restrictions on birth control.
“Often, these issues are pushed by the other side as wedge issues. They want to use wedge issues that divide us,” Kaine said. “Women’s lives are not political issues, women’s lives are not wedge issues. Women have the ability to make their own health care decisions and their own moral decisions.”
Kaine was joined at the rally by several local Democratic elected officials, including County Board member Walter Tejada, state Senator Janet Howell, Del. Charniele Herring, and Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy.
Howell and Herring spoke of some of the bills pushed by Republicans during the latest legislative session in Richmond, including a bill that originally would have required women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. (The bill was amended to only require an external ultrasound after it made national headlines.) Also discussed was the more recent controversy over remarks by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Akin falsely suggested that the female body “has ways to shut… down” and prevent a pregnancy during a “legitimate rape.”
Charniele told the crowd of more than 100 Planned Parenthood supporters that politicians should be required to have a basic understanding of biology before they try to legislate on it.
While politics dominated the rally, not everything discussed was of a political nature.
One of the speakers was a young female immigrant who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a Planned Parenthood screening. She spoke of how, though she lacked health insurance, the organization provided the support and financial assistance she needed to get a mastectomy and emerge from treatment cancer-free.
Kaine will face Republican George Allen on the Nov. 6 ballot in Virginia.
Photos courtesy Kaine for Virginia and Cliffords Photography, as labeled
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine spoke about his economic development record during a Thursday afternoon campaign stop at Clarendon-based clean energy company GridPoint, Inc.
The company sells efficiency-monitoring software to electrical utilities, government agencies and private corporations. According to CEO John Spirtos, it employs about 100 people between its corporate headquarters (2801 Clarendon Boulevard) and its manufacturing facility in Roanoke.
In a statement, Kaine touted GridPoint as an industry leader in energy efficiency solutions.
“GridPoint’s innovative energy management systems are saving companies up to a fifth of their total energy costs per month,” Kaine said. “These are dollars that can be invested back into the business to expand and hire new workers. Their advancements in energy efficiency and conservation technology are absolutely essential to ensuring our businesses can compete in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
Kaine also touted his own record of helping to bring GridPoint to Arlington. In 2007, Kaine approved a $500,000-incentive package from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to entice GridPoint to move its headquarters to Arlington from Washington, D.C.
“My economic development team played a big part in bringing GridPoint’s headquarters here. We considered it a big victory because of the kind of business that it has and the kind of talent that it has,” Kaine told a roomful of GridPoint employees on Thursday. “Where we really have thrived is we just try to bring the best talent here. If you win the talent race, you win the economic race.”
Kaine toured part of the company’s 30,000-square-foot space at the corner of Clarendon Boulevard and N. Edgewood Street with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Spirtos to highlight his “Strengthening Our Economy Through Energy Innovation” plan.
“Oregon and Virginia are really kind of innovation economies and we know that today we aren’t just competing against people sort of 20 miles down the road, or in my case, California or Seattle. But we are competing against the Chinese. We are competing against the Indians,” Wyden said. “The governor is proven in terms of some of the energy investments he’s been able to invest in and make.”
Professional and technical services accounted for a fifth of Arlington County’s jobs, according to the county’s annual profile. Spirtos said that local base of highly-trained workers is one reason why GridPoint fits among Clarendon’s high-end retail shops and restaurants.
“D.C. is a great place to be but it’s a tough place to get [computer] developers to go to work. We needed access to the talent. There’s a lot of folks who won’t cross the river to go into D.C. There’s a lot of folks who won’t cross the river to go into Maryland,” Spirtos said. “And in this location, we have the Apple Store and the Whole Foods and the whole thing and that’s great. This is a great neighborhood. It’s an ideal neighborhood.”
It was revealed this week that Gridpoint has received another $23 million in venture capital funding, bringing its total funding to $263 million, according to GigaOm. In addition to its Virginia locations, Gridpoint has offices in Austin, Texas; Ottawa, Ontario; and Seattle, Washington.
Close Call at Reagan National — Three commuter jets nearly collided at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday afternoon due to a communications failure among air traffic control personnel. The planes were about 12 seconds away from a collision when a tower controller corrected her mistake. [Washington Post]
Ebbin Endorses Krupicka — State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has endorsed Alexandria Councilman Rob Krupicka (D) in the Sept. 4 special election to fill Del. David Englin’s former 45th District House of Delegates Seat. “[Krupicka] has been a steadfast ally in the fight for true equality, world-class education system, a cleaner environment, smart transportation solutions, and innovative policies that keep our economy strong,” Ebbin said.
Kaine to Visit Arlington Business Today — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine will be visiting Clarendon-based business GridPoint this afternoon. Kaine, who will be joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), will highlight his “Strengthening Our Economy Through Energy Innovation” plan.
Extreme Weather on the Rise in Va.? — Extreme downpours and snowstorms are happening 33 percent more frequently in Virginia compared to 65 years ago, according to a new report by Environment Virginia. The group says the finding supports the idea that global warming is changing weather patterns. “We need to heed scientists’ warnings that this dangerous trend is linked to global warming, and do everything we can to cut carbon pollution today,” said Environment Virginia Field Organizer Laura Kate Anderson. [Environment Virginia]
Kaine Coming to Arlington — Former Virginia governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) will be in Arlington this afternoon. Kaine is scheduled to have an economic discussion with local Latino business and community leaders at 4:00 p.m. The closed event is taking place at The Salsa Room (2619 Columbia Pike).
Cancer Charity Event This Weekend — The second annual Erica Paul Fabulous event will be held at the Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd) on Saturday. The fundraiser runs from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. and benefits the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation. The ‘Fabulous’ event also celebrates the life of Erica Paul, who died last year, at the age of 29, from metastatic colon cancer. [Clarendon Nights]
Ham Operators to Have a ‘Field Day’ — Arlington County will host its annual “Field Day” exercise for amateur radio operators this weekend. The exercise, held at Minor Hill Park (3400 N. Powhatan Street), is described as part of a nationwide event “during which thousands of Hams across the United States and Canada will operate portable radios and antennas to contact each other, simulating emergency conditions.” [Arlington County]
HOT Lanes Suit Costs County Transportation Funds –Virginia is contributing more than $16.5 million to Arlington’s road maintenance and construction budget for fiscal year 2013, which starts on July 1. But that figure is $100,000 less than it otherwise could have been. The Commonwealth Transportation Board has stripped $100,000 from Arlington’s allocation as retribution for the county’s costly lawsuit against the proposed I-395 HOT lanes project. The money will be used to help pay the legal bills of a former state transportation official who was sued by Arlington as part of its fight against the project. [Sun Gazette]
Kaine Announces U.S. Senate Candidacy — Former Virginia governor Tim Kaine has quit his job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to run for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. Kaine is running for the seat of the retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D). Announced Republican candidates for the seat include former governor George Allen and state Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke. [Washington Post]
Sorority to Hold Chili Cook-Off and Bingo Fundraiser — The Northern Virgina alumnae chapter of the Delta Gamma sorority will hold a chili cook-off and bingo fundraiser at the Lyon Village Community House (1920 N. Highland Street) on Saturday night. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and benefits the blind and visually-impaired. Tickets are available online for $25 apiece. [Clarendon Nights]
Murky Coffee Tax Cheat Moves West — Former Murky Coffee owner Nick Cho has packed up and moved to California. Cho, who owes Arlington County $56,000 in back taxes from his Clarendon cafe, is trying to relaunch his coffee career in the Silicon Valley area. In addition to his Arlington debts, Cho owes D.C. about $190,000 in back sales taxes. [Washington Post]
Thank You! — A big thank you to everyone who voted for ARLnow.com in TBD’s #DCjournotweeps poll. ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck narrowly edged out WTOP’s Neal Augenstein for the title of “best journalist using Twitter to cover local news.” [TBD]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99