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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2014 at 9:05 am | 1,650 views | No Comments

"Walking Mann" (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

County Relies on Tips for Snow Violations — All recent snow-removal ordinance violation notices sent out by Arlington County were sent as the result of tips from residents, not a proactive enforcement effort. [Sun Gazette]

Sewage Spill in Spout Run — Arlington residents and their pets are advised to avoid Spout Run south of Lee Highway for the next day or so due to a “minor sewage spill.” [Arlington Alert]

Yorktown Senior Is Top B-Ball Prospect — Yorktown High School senior Mikayla Venson is one of the top-ranked girls’ basketball players in Virginia. However, due to injuries she hasn’t played for the Patriots since 2011. She will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall. [Yahoo! Sports]

Historic Fraber House’s New Owners — Last year, a large oak tree fell on the Fraber House in Cherrydale, just days before the county-owned home was set to receive a local historic designation. Nonetheless, the county was able to fix up the 1913 home and sell it to a local couple. The pair, Charu and Colin McDermott, work in the building trades and are thus well-suited to help maintain the historic home. [Preservation Arlington]

Lawmakers Honor Arlington Notables – The Virginia General Assembly has passed resolutions honoring a number of notable Arlington residents and institutions. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

Mental Health Law Passes State Senate

by Ethan Rothstein | February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am | 810 views | No Comments

Virginia Capitol (photo courtesy Del. Bob Brink)(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) In a bipartisan effort, the Virginia Senate passed sweeping mental health reform yesterday.

The bill, SB 260, establishes a psychiatric bed registry, extends the maximum duration of temporary custody from four to 24 hours and establishes and “clarifies procedures for placement of those subject to an involuntary temporary detention order,” according to a Senate Democrats press release.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), who police say was stabbed by his son, Austin, in the face and chest before Austin Deeds shot himself in November. Austin Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

Sen. Barbara Favola (D) was a co-patron of the bill, and announced its 38-0 passage Monday with a press release, below:

Senate Bill 260, of which Senator Favola is a co-patron, has passed the Senate today, providing a safety net for individuals suffering from mental illnesses. When an individual is evaluated under an emergency protection order and a determination is made that a temporary detention order (TDO) is needed, the bill ensures that a psychiatric bed will be available.

The bill will protect Virginia residents from the potential threats associated with mental health patients by providing sufficient time to determine the degree to which they are a threat to themselves and to others. The psychiatric bed registry will benefit these patients by guaranteeing them secure facilities in which they can be detained and will facilitate efficiency in law enforcement and crisis response services.

Furthermore, the liberty given to local community services boards to determine alternative facilities for such patients will also ensure their personalized, and therefore improved, treatment. This is filling an important hole in the mental health safety net.

Senator Favola said “Ensuring the availability of a psychiatric bed is crucial to providing much needed care.”

Under the current system, if a bed is not available a judge will not issue a TDO even if the individual needs a more comprehensive evaluation and a treatment plan.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 4, 2014 at 8:30 am | 764 views | No Comments

Workers affix signage to the door of the soon-to-open Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn

Resolution Honors Arlington’s First Female Judge — The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution honoring Eleanor Spence Dobson, Arlington’s first female judge. Dobson served in the General District Court from 1982 to 1997. She passed away on September 18, 2013. The resolution honoring Dobson was sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D). Another Hope-sponsored resolution, honoring the late Arlington civic activist Robert Atkins, is scheduled to come to the House floor on Friday. [Sun Gazette]

Chick-fil-A ‘Date Knight’ Returns — Missed your chance to go on a medieval-themed fast food date with your mom last year? Good news: Chick-fil-A is once again holding its Mother-Son Date Knight at Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Blvd). The food court eatery is one of the participating Chick-fil-A locations nationwide that are hosting the whimsical event. As of last night there were still a dozen reservations available for the event, which is being held the evening of Monday, Feb. 10. The Crystal City Chick-fil-A location has already sold out of its Date Knight reservations. [Chick-fil-A]

Starr Hill Brewing Tasting Tonight — Virginia brewery Starr Hill will be holding a complimentary tasting tonight. The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave). Reservations are required. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]

Ebbin’s Paper Check Tax Refund Bill Advancing Through GA

by Ethan Rothstein | January 28, 2014 at 11:30 am | 582 views | No Comments

State Sen. Adam EbbinA bill restoring Virginians’ ability to receive their tax refunds in paper check form could be on its way to pass the General Assembly this session.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), passed the state Senate Jan. 20 by a unanimous 38-0 vote — the Senate is missing two votes until new Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General’s Mark Herring’s seats are filled via special election — and is waiting to be considered by the House of Delegates Finance Committee.

As of January 2013, the state started only doling out tax rebates via direct deposit or a debit card, which comes with associated costs, like ATM and transaction fees. The Senate Finance Committee voted to abolish the debit card option altogether if the bill is signed into law.

“Taxpayers deserve the convenience of receiving their refunds in the form they prefer,” Ebbin said in a press release after the bill passed the Senate. “By contrast, the debit card system was fraught with fees and was not consumer-friendly. Taxpayers were even charged for withdrawing funds from an in-network ATM. I’m glad the Senate recognizes the need for reform.”

The bill states that, if the taxpayer doesn’t indicate which payment method he prefers between direct deposit and a mailed check, a check will be mailed to the provided address. If the bill passes, it would go into effect for taxes collected this year, meaning taxes filed by April 15, 2015.

File photo

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 24, 2014 at 9:30 am | 616 views | No Comments

Large snow pile in the parking lot for Virginia Highlands Park

Williamsburg Zumba Studio Featured on ‘GMA’ — FITLoose Health and Fitness in the Williamsburg neighborhood was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America. The segment highlighted the studio’s Zumbini classes — a variation of Zumba for children 0-3 years old and their parents. [Yahoo! News]

Hybrid Tax Repeal Passes — Legislation to repeal Virginia’s $64 annual tax on hybrid vehicles has passed both houses of the General Assembly. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he will sign the bill, which was introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). [Virginian-Pilot]

Herring Announces Run for Moran’s Seat — Virginia Democratic Party Chair Charneile Herring is stepping down to run for the Congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Herring, who has represented Alexandria in the House of Delegates, is considered a party  ”rising star,” and was Virginia’s first African-American Democratic party chair. [NBC Washington]

Arlington’s Shopping Scene Profiled — “Shopping in Arlington is always a bit of an adventure,” writes the Washington Post’s Jura Koncius. “As you dodge auto body shops, towering corporate headquarters, tanning parlors and trendy eateries, you’ll discover stores that stock just about everything you need for your home. But you might find yourself lost in the process. Hop over a bridge from the city and you’ll roll through slick shopping centers punctuated by shops nestled in funky farmhouses that represent the disappearing Arlington of old.” [Washington Post]

Eads Street Was a Former Canal — Crystal City residents might not realize it, but most of S. Eads Street, a main thoroughfare, used to be a canal. The street was built above the old Alexandria Canal, which connected Alexandria to Georgetown by way of an aqueduct bridge.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 22, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,382 views | No Comments

Snowy Iwo Jima Memorial (Photo courtesy @carmstrong07)

‘Trolley Pub’ Bill Fails in Richmond — A bill that would have allowed patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board has been passed over indefinitely in the House of Delegates. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who introduced the bill, said there were “too many significant issues” around the bill. [Patch]

Middle School PTA Peeved at Bus Inequality – The Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA is upset that North Arlington schools appear to be getting preferential treatment when it comes to bus service for students inside the standard 1.5 mile perimeter for secondary schools. The PTA president says S. Glebe Road is dangerous for middle school students to cross and the school system should provide bus service for students who have to cross it. [Sun Gazette]

Settlement to Fund Surveillance Cameras — Arlington will use $55,000 from a federal settlement to fund the purchase of portable digital video surveillance cameras. The cameras will be used “to enhance security at large scale events.” The funds from from the $1.5 billion federal settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc. in 2012 over unlawful promotion of a prescription drug. [Arlington County]

Freedom Rider Shares Memories — “Freedom Rider” and Arlington resident Joan Trumpauer Mulholland spoke earlier this month about her experience in trying to promote civil rights and racial integration in the deep South in the early 1960s. Mulholland was also the keynote speaker at Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Sunday. [Falls Church News-Press]

Man Survives Key Bridge Plunge in 1929 — A quirky bit of local history: In September 1929 a drunk 26-year-old man fell off the side of the Key Bridge, landing on his side in the water 120 feet below. Miraculously, he was rescued by a police officer and a boat club employee and “appeared none the worse for his experience.” But alas, it wasn’t a completely happy ending: five weeks later the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. [Ghosts of DC]

Photo courtesy @carmstrong07

Proposed Bill Would Allow Drinking on Trolley Pub

by Ethan Rothstein | January 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,217 views | No Comments

Trolley Pub (photo via Trolley Pub Facebook page)

Proposed legislation in the Virginia General Assembly would allow patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board.

Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) has introduced House Bill 423, which would allow passengers on vehicles with a common carrier — which would include limousines and motor coaches, in addition to the Trolley Pub — to consume alcohol.

The Trolley Pub in Arlington launched last year but has been unable to serve passengers alcoholic beverages, as it does in its original market of Raleigh, N.C. Instead, it stops at bars and restaurants in Clarendon and lets passengers debark to drink.

The Sun Gazette, which first reported on the bill, suggested that Hope’s legislation might not sit well with Arlington County Board members.

“Board members last year blasted the entire concept of the trolley pub, and only calmed down (slightly) when they learned that those using it could not consume alcohol,” the newspaper reported. “But they have remained upset about the human-powered trolley’s impact on traffic in one of Arlington’s most congested areas.”

The Trolley Pub debuted in Arlington in March, and at the time owner Kai Kaapro said he believed the business was “perfectly legal.” That was backed up by a preliminary police review. A ruling in April by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, however, later determined no alcohol could be served on board.

Drinking in a vehicle in Virginia is currently only legal on chartered boats. The bill was assigned to the General Laws committee and is now in subcommittee, according to the General Assembly’s website.

Photo via Facebook

Delegate Wants to Nix Dog Death Penalty for Chicken Attacks

by Ethan Rothstein | January 9, 2014 at 11:45 am | 624 views | No Comments

Chicken (file photo)The Virginia law that allows dogs to be shot for attacking chickens could be changed thanks to legislation proposed in the General Assembly.

Del. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat representing Richmond, says she will introduce a bill that would change the law, intended for chicken farms, for urban chickens, according to Style Weekly. Richmond legalized keeping up to four backyard hens in residential areas last April.

“I think we can agree if we’re in a densely populated urban area that it’s not a good idea to have people killing each other’s pets,” McClellan told the Richmond population. She also said that in areas where “chickens are a luxury, not a livelihood, it isn’t clear that a hen’s right to life trumps that of a hungry dog’s.”

Virginia law section § 3.2-6552 allows for citizens to kill any dog caught in the act of killing or injuring poultry. After the fact, Virginia courts have the power to order animal control officers to kill any dog found to be a “confirmed poultry killer.” McClellan’s bill would allow localities to enact ordinances overruling that provision.

There’s a competing law that may also be introduced strengthening chicken protections, which would remove the cap on the amount of money a chicken owner can recoup if its chicken is killed by a dog. The cap is currently set at $10.

The Arlington County Board has been mulling whether to allow backyard hens in denser urban areas for the better part of a year. In November, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended against taking action to allow more hens in the county. A plurality of Arlington’s Urban Agriculture Task Force recommended hens be allowed in larger backyards, one of 27 recommendations the task force made in a presentation in June.

File photo

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 9, 2014 at 9:20 am | 1,202 views | No Comments

Ice on the Potomac (Flickr photo by J. Sonder)

Streetcar Support Remains High in Fairfax County — The McLean edition of the Sun Gazette newspaper reports that Fairfax County officials are not nearly as divided over the Columbia Pike streetcar project as their Arlington counterparts. “While some Republicans on [the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors] have expressed concerns, support among Fairfax officials remains high,” the paper reported. “And with good reason: Fairfax will be responsible for only about 20 percent of the local cost of the project, but plans to use the streetcar’s arrival to spur the redevelopment of Baileys Crossroads.” [Sun Gazette]

Dominion Reports Record Power Demand — Dominion Virginia Power met record demand for electricity during Tuesday’s frigid temperatures. Use of heaters during this week’s “polar vortex” helped push energy demand to 19,730 megawatts during the day on Tuesday. That’s well above the previous peak winter demand record of 18,079 megawatts, set in February 2007, but below the company’s summertime record of 20,061 megawatts, set in July 2011. [Dominion]

Malinosky Elected ACDC Chair — Kip Malinosky, a middle school civics teacher and well-respected Democratic organizer, was elected chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Malinosky, who succeeds outgoing chair Mike Lieberman, told the Democratic faithful that the local party will remain united despite contested primaries for County Board and School Board. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “When the caucus is over, we will rally behind our candidates.”

Bill Would Outlaw Sex Acts Among Minors — A new bill proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would make oral sex and other “consensual sodomy” legal for adults but illegal for minors. The bills was proposed several months after courts struck down Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law. [Think Progress]

Delegate Wants More I-66 Lanes Inside the Beltway — Del. Jim LeMunyon, a Republican representing part of Fairfax County, has introduced legislation requiring the state to plan a project that would “increase the lane capacity on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway to include at least two-non-high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction.” That idea, suggests reporter Michael Neibauer, will likely not sit well here in Arlington. “Arlington officials would probably chain themselves to highway signs before letting it happen,” he wrote. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder

Peter’s Take: Support Medicaid Expansion in Virginia

by Peter Rousselot | January 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 389 views | No Comments

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.

Peter RousselotOne of the most important issues to come before the Virginia Legislature in its 2014 session is whether to expand Medicaid. There will be an enormous financial impact regardless of whether Virginia expands Medicaid or not.

Fairfax County has prepared a helpful three-page white paper summarizing the issues at stake. You can access that white paper here.

I support Medicaid expansion, as does our Arlington legislative delegation. I am particularly hopeful that a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates can form to work with Governor-elect McAuliffe to expand Medicaid.

As a practical matter, it’s very hard to see a bill that can pass both branches of the legislature and be signed by the Governor if the only test every politician applies is: “I will automatically oppose Medicaid expansion if I opposed the Affordable Care Act,” or “I will automatically support expansion if I supported the ACA.” Instead, the most constructive way for our legislators and our governor to approach Medicaid expansion is: “regardless of what I think of the ACA, what is the right way now to analyze the benefits and costs of expanding or declining to expand Medicaid?”

The Virginian-Pilot editorial board got it right when it concluded that the cost of resisting Medicaid expansion in Virginia would be “ruinous.” Citing Bill Hazel, the highly-respected Health Secretary originally appointed by Bob McDonnell, and recently re-appointed by Terry McAuliffe, that editorial board summarized our choices this way:

Virginia lawmakers can preserve the financial health of hospitals across the commonwealth, save state tax dollars, strengthen local and state economies, extend managed health-care to nearly 400,000 people, many of them working poor, and recoup nearly $10 billion in federal taxes paid by Virginians over the next five years.

Or they can continue the reckless political theater destined to grow more costly with every passing year, a play that will cause a financial crisis at hospitals all across Virginia.

The right choice for Virginia is to expand Medicaid.

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.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 27, 2013 at 9:35 am | 904 views | No Comments

A man watches a child ride a bike on the first day of winter (Flickr pool photo by Ddimick)

Va. Bill Would Stiffen Chicken Protections — A bill currently proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would remove a cap on the penalty for dog owners whose pets kill chickens and other fowl. If passed, the legislation could give new ammunition for opponents of urban hen raising in Arlington. Virginia law already allows for dogs found to be attacking chickens to be shot on sight. [Sun Gazette]

Party Tonight to Include ‘Drunk Santa’ — Fresh off a grueling evening of world-wide present delivering, Santa Claus is apparently ready to party. Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) in Courthouse is hosting a “Misfits Christmas Party” tonight. According to a poster for the event, it includes the opportunity to “get you picture taken with drunk Santa.” [Clarendon Nights]

Vihstadt Has a ‘Very Real Chance’ — Local political prognosticator Ben Tribbett, who runs the Not Larry Sabato blog, says independent Arlington County Board candidate John Vihstadt has a “very real chance” of ending Democrats’ total sweep of Arlington elected offices. “Arlington Democrats always have massive underperformance issues in special elections,” Tribbett writes. “There is a very real chance that in March, Arlington’s time as being controlled by all Democratic elected officials will come to an end.” Tribbett also notes that Vihstadt, despite running as an independent and attracting some Democratic endorsements, is “a large GOP donor.” [Not Larry Sabato]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

County Board Seeks Bag Fee Authority

by Ethan Rothstein | December 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm | 1,961 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Board(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is asking the Virginia General Assembly for the ability to charge paper and plastic bag fees at retailers as part of its 2014 legislative package.

The Board also is asking the General Assembly to approve a WMATA inspector position — which would enforce fares on the future Crystal City Transitway bus and streetcar line to make sure riders purchase tickets before boarding — and to repeal the hybrid vehicle tax.

Arlington needs state approval to enact a bag fee, which the Sun Gazette says ”seems unlikely to get much traction.” (It has thrice failed to win support in Richmond.)

The Board doesn’t specify how much a bag fee would be — in Washington, D.C., and Maryland it’s 5 cents — but says it would be exempt if the bags were used for ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, leftover restaurant food, newspapers, dry cleaning, alcoholic beverages, and prescription drugs. The funds from the fees would go into the Water Quality Improvement Fund.

The fare inspector, if approved, would be able to give violators citations or tickets and would also be responsible for monitoring the connecting Alexandria Bus Rapid Transit line. The inspector wouldn’t have any police powers, the Board proposed.

In addition to repealing the alternative fuel vehicle surcharge, the county board asks the General Assembly to leave last year’s landmark transportation funding bill unchanged.

In general terms, the county encourages the legislature to avoid shifting costs to localities, achieve financial sustainability and to navigate the transitional period from the Bob McDonnell administration to Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.

In all, there are 43 requests in the county’s 2014 legislative package. Other requests include studying the efficacy of separate courts for minor drug offenses, improving accessibility at polling places and enacting no-excuse absentee voting.

Ebbin Says He’s ‘Working to Win’ on Gay Marriage

by Ethan Rothstein | December 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm | 583 views | No Comments

State Sen. Adam EbbinState Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) doesn’t like it when supporters commend him for “fighting the good fight” on legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia.

Such talk suggests that he’s taking a futile stand to make a point. Instead, Ebbin insists that he’s in it to win it.

Ebbin has introduced legislation for the 2014 Virginia General Assembly session to try to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment, Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 1, is a long-shot by any measure: it would require passage in 2014 and 2016 in order to repeal the gay marriage ban.

Ebbin’s bill will be the first time the Senate will hear a same-sex marriage proposal — the only challenge to the Marshall-Newman Amendment previously came in the House of Delegates and never made it out of committee, Ebbin said.

“I’ve waited to introduce this bill until we’ve come to the point where I think it is a bill that Virginians are ready to pass,” he told ARLnow.com. “I have had discussions with Republicans and Democrats, including with people who supported the Marshall-Newman Amendment. There are supportive Republicans in the General Assembly.”

Ebbin will put the bill before the Senate Privileges and Elections committee, which he said will allow him and his allies to identify who the bill’s supporters are, even if it fails this year. Ebbin, however, has no plans to see the bill fail. Despite the amendment passing by a significant margin in 2006, he believes the time is right to take decisive action.

“We’re working to win,” he said. “If we don’t win one year, we’re working towards winning. It’s not tilting at windmills, it’s making things happen, whether quickly or over a multi-year effort.”

Public opinion around the country has shifted drastically in recent years over same-sex marriage. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage, including seven in 2013, and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June.

Ebbin is encouraged by several Republicans both in and out of the General Assembly whose opinions “have evolved” in recent years on the subject. At least as of last week, he was confident that he has secured at least one GOP vote. When asked the reasons they’ve given him for the changes in their opinions, he said, “It’s not really complicated. People say it’s the right thing to do, or they know it’s the right thing to do.”

“It wouldn’t have been seen as a winnable fight five years ago,” he said. “The Supreme Court has spoken and people across the country, and including Virginia, are supportive of marriage equality.”

File photo

UPDATED: Arlington Democrats Celebrate Victories

by ARLnow.com | November 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm | 2,658 views | No Comments

Alfonso Lopez speaks at the Democratic victory party on Columbia Pike(Updated at 11:30 p.m.) Arlington Democrats once again have reason to celebrate on election night.

Democratic incumbents have cruised to reelection in all local races. Meanwhile, Democratic voters in Arlington and Northern Virginia have helped push two statewide candidates to victory.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has been elected the next governor of Virginia, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Democrat Ralph Northam, meanwhile, has defeated Republican E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor.

Voting in Virginia ended at 7:00 p.m., on an election day when the gubernatorial race was garnering the lion’s share of headlines and voter interest. In Arlington, without a Republican candidate in any local race, third party candidates like Audrey Clement, Green Party candidate for Arlington County Board, were left to provide the opposition to the Democrats on the ballot.

With all votes counted, here are the final numbers:

  • County Board – Jay Fisette (D): 66%; Audrey Clement (G): 31%
  • House of Delegates, 45th District – Rob Krupicka (D): 74%; Jeffrey Engle (I): 25%
  • House of Delegates, 47th District – Patrick Hope (D): 77%; Laura Delhomme (L): 22%
  • House of Delegates, 49th District — Alfonso Lopez (D): 78%; Terrence Modglin (IG): 21%

The races for Arlington School Board and the 48th House of Delegates District, featuring incumbents James Lander and Del. Bob Brink, were uncontested.

On the referendum question of whether Arlington should establish a redevelopment and housing authority, the “no” position — endorsed by both the local Republican and Democratic parties — is well ahead.

  • Housing Authority Referendum – Yes: 31%; No: 69%

Speeches at the Democratic victory party on Columbia PikeAt their election night party on Columbia Pike, Arlington Democrats were celebrating victories in local races and expressing enthusiasm about their role in the statewide races.

“It’s a great night in Arlington,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Lieberman. “Our goal in Arlington is to do our part to turn out every Democrat in a Democratic area, to try to run up the score to make sure we can offset some of the more conservative areas in the state. Based on the numbers we saw here today, we did that.”

“I think Arlingtonians reacted really well to McAuliffe’s centrist message, his good government message, his jobs message, and I think quite frankly Cuccinelli and his ticket didn’t offer much for Arlington,” Lieberman continued. “The strength of Democrats is a validation of the community we have here.”

Reelected Delegate Alfonso Lopez said night’s Democratic victories were a rejection of Tea Party politics.

“Tea Party hypocrisy and Tea Party policies are not the way to govern the Commonwealth,” he said.

Jay Fisette and supporters at a Democratic victory party on Columbia PikeCounty Board member Jay Fisette, who will take over the chairmanship of the Board in January 2014, called his reelection “gratifying” and thanked Democratic volunteers for their get-out-the-vote efforts.

“This is a great county and I really appreciate the support you’ve given me,” he said. Fisette also thanked his husband, Bob Rosen, though he had to correct himself when he initially called Rosen his “partner.” The two were wed in the District in September.

“I’m not used to saying that word [husband],” Fisette said.

As chairman, Fisette will likely preside over the hot-button vote on whether to allow urban hen-raising in Arlington. But he said he’s particularly focused on three major challenges facing the county: economic development and the high commercial office vacancy rate; affordable housing; and burgeoning school enrollments.

“I’m looking forward to the challenges… I’m really ready to hit the ground and continue working on them,” he said.

(more…)

The Right Note: You Can Ring My Bell

by Mark Kelly | August 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 769 views | No Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark Kelly

Last week, my counterpart on the left wrote at length about Ken Cuccinelli (R) un-ringing a bell.

As Peter should know, the gifts Cuccinelli received were legal under Virginia law — even if ill-advised. He also should know that Cuccinelli called for an immediate special session of the General Assembly to debate and pass new ethics rules on gifts. Cuccinelli’s position is we should address this issue now.

What is Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s (D) position on ethics reform? McAuliffe has said he supports a $100 gift cap, but he opposes a special session on ethics — calling it a “gimmick.”

It has been widely reported that McAuliffe’s former company, GreenTech Automotive, is under SEC investigation. One question mark is what happened to $45.5 million invested in what Virginia economic development officials under Gov. Kaine were concerned was a cash-for-visas scheme? If McAuliffe did not unduly benefit, why is he refusing to match Cuccinelli’s tax return disclosures?

And, what if we take a look at the gift disclosures of our other elected officials who served in Richmond and evaluate the gifts under the “Peter’s Take” lens?

For example, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) did not cut a refund check to the wealthy donor who gave him the use of a Caribbean vacation home for $15,000 in 2005 when he was running for governor. It is similar to the gifts Cuccinelli received. And, Kaine can afford it, right? Will Peter take on this gift in next week’s column?

One source of gift-giving to our local delegation also sticks out like a sore thumb. You may recall that the Signature Theater recently received a taxpayer-funded, $250,000 bailout for its unpaid taxes. All the while, Signature has been handing out free tickets to our local delegation in Richmond.

From 2008 to 2012, free theater tickets for the amounts indicated were given to the following local lawmakers:

  • Adam Ebbin (D): $1,523
  • Patrick Hope (D): $860 (3 years)
  • Bob Brink (D): $795
  • Barbara Favola (D): $367 (2 years)

Under the Peter’s Take standard, should these elected officials who received free theater tickets from Signature cut a refund check to the Treasurer’s Office in Arlington? It would certainly help offset the cost of the bailout by $3,545.

And, any member of the all-Democrat County Board should probably reimburse the treasury for any free tickets they received from Signature as well, right? They can afford it, right?

Hopefully Peter will take on Democrats on gifts and ethics as well.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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