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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 2, 2014 at 11:45 am | 1,651 views | No Comments

Aerial view of apartment buildings in Courthouse (Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian)

Fallon, Baker Out; Omara, Schneider In for 48th – The list of contenders in the race to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48) continues to change. Peter Fallon, mentioned as a possible candidate, says he will not run. Steve Baker, who threw his hat in the ring for a few hours, is no longer running. Young Democrats of America President Atima Omara, meanwhile, is running, as is Yorktown Civic Association President Andrew Schneider. At last count, there are six Democrats and no Republicans in the race.

Endorsements in 48th District Race — Candidates for the 48th District special electoin are starting to tout high-profile local endorsements. Del. Patrick Hope and former Va. lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra have endorsed Rip Sullivan. Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos have endorsed Paul Holland. In Arlington, a firehouse Democratic primary in the race will be held on Sunday.

Hazmat Scare at TJ Middle School — There was a hazardous materials scare at Thomas Jefferson Middle School yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. According to an Arlington fire department spokeswoman, the family of a former school employee who passed away brought a box of art supplies to the school as a donation. A school staff member sorting through the donation opened a bag, smelled a strong odor and began to feel sick. Arlington’s hazmat team arrived and determined that the bag contained a chemical used for gold plating. A cleanup crew was brought in to dispose of the chemical and the employee was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

STEM School Proposed – During a discussion about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the Arlington School Board began talking about the possibility of opening a new STEM-focused middle school or high school. Such a facility could potentially compete with Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school attended by a number of Arlington students. [InsideNova]

New Va. Laws Take Effect – A number of new laws in Virginia took effect Tuesday. Among them: the abolition of a $64 tax on hybrid vehicles, a law requiring fewer Standards of Learning tests for grades 3-8, and a law that requires motorists to maintain more space between their vehicles and bicyclists. [Reston Now]

Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian

Peter’s Take: The Dangers of Stricter Virginia ID Laws

by Peter Rousselot | February 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 2,483 views | 110 Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter Rousselot

Remember those long lines many of you experienced in Arlington in last year’s presidential election? The easiest and cheapest solution to lines like those: no-excuse absentee voting for all voters — or even for some categories of voters like those 65 years and older. But, Republicans in the Virginia legislature have blocked every effort to pass such laws.

Instead, Virginia Republican legislators have been trying to make it much harder to vote. Last year, they tried to get a photo ID requirement enacted, but Governor McDonnell (perhaps trying to burnish his VP credentials) stopped that from happening. This year, the Republicans are right back at it.

On February 5, the Virginia House and Senate passed two bills which would make the strict voter ID law enacted just last year even stricter. These bills, introduced by Republican Senator Dick Black and Republican Representative Mark Cole, “would ban voters from presenting a utility bill, pay stub, government or Social Security card as proof of identity — all forms of ID allowed under the current law.”

There is no reason to change the 2012 law so soon after it was enacted. The proposed 2013 legislation would subject Virginia voters to three new voter ID requirements in three years. There is no justification for that many changes over that short of a period of time. The confusion this would create could lead many voters to show up at the polls in 2013 with only forms of ID that were valid last year, but not this year.

Another proposed photo ID bill introduced by Republican Senator Mark Obenshain “imposes burdensome new voter identification requirements, could cost Virginia millions of dollars to implement, and may ensnare Virginia in costly litigation.” At a House of Delegates subcommittee meeting last month, representatives “from the League of Women Voters to the NAACP — opposed the photo ID requirement as costly and unnecessary, saying it would disenfranchise minority, elderly and low-income Virginians.”

Disenfranchising these categories of voters is precisely the goal of photo ID laws — despite vehement denials from the Republicans sponsoring them. They claim it’s to prevent fraud. But documented cases of such fraud are minuscule  while the number of voters likely to be disenfranchised is in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

The costs to democracy and our pocketbooks of these voter ID laws far outweigh the benefits — a point brushed aside by Republicans who otherwise boast about their commitment to sound fiscal policy.

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

When Do Kids Go Trick or Treating in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com | October 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm | 9,240 views | 28 Comments

When are kids supposed to go trick or treating this year in Arlington? Halloween is six days away, and we’ve heard that question asked several times already.

The answer seems logical enough: parents tell us that trick or treating will take place on Halloween night (Oct. 31) shortly after sundown.

Recent transplants may be surprised to know that there is no “official” trick or treating time in Arlington. Neither the county nor the police department has set an official time or day, spokespeople tell us.

Elsewhere around the country, it’s common for localities to designate a specific time and day for kids to knock on doors and demand candy. The tradition doesn’t always take place at night, nor does it always take place on Halloween.

So this year “Beggars Night,” as it’s called by some, will take place on a Sunday night in Arlington. That raises the question: will some neighbors keep the lights dark and the candy to themselves in order to ensure uninterrupted viewing of Sunday night football and the World Series?

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