I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. ”Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Group to Discuss Backyard Chickens — Arlington’s Committee of 100 will take up the issue of backyard chicken raising at its meeting tonight. Among the speakers are an official from Albemarle County, where urban chicken keeping is allowed; the founder of the Arlington Egg Project, which is pushing the county to change its restrictive poultry ordinance; and an Arlington resident who lives next door to a neighbor who raises chickens. [Committee of 100]
‘Office of Latino Affairs’ On the Back Burner — Corrected at 4:30 p.m. — A proposal to create an Office of Latino Affairs in Arlington is still on the back burner, the Sun Gazette reports. An earlier version of this item erroneously stated that County Board member Walter Tejada supports the creation of the office, and neglected to link to the Sun Gazette article. Tejada tells ARLnow.com that he supports improving services for Latino residents, but doesn’t think the creation of a separate county department is necessarily the best way to go about it. “I don’t think it’s the thing to do,” he said. [Sun Gazette]
Candidates Weigh in On Issues on GGW — Three (out of five) candidates for County Board weighed in on issues from the Columbia Pike streetcar to the Crystal City sector plan via the website Greater Greater Washington. Melissa Bondi, Libby Garvey and Kim Klingler responded to a candidate questionnaire issued by the site. [Greater Greater Washington]
Last year, then-County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman used the annual chairman’s New Year’s Day address to promise a pro-business agenda for 2011. Indeed, the agenda eventually became a reality. Throughout the year the county held a series of public forums for business owners, worked to streamline some regulatory process and finally, in December, the Board adopted a measure that allowed A-frame signs — a big item on local business owners’ wish lists.
This morning the new County Board Chairman, Mary Hynes, promised to enhance civic engagement in Arlington. Already famous for its process of including community stakeholders in decision making — a process broadly referred to as “The Arlington Way” — Hynes is seeking to more formally institutionalize Arlington County’s commitment to civic engagement.
To do so, Hynes is proposing to first create a “map” of the numerous nonprofit groups and community associations that make up Arlington’s civic landscape.
“Our hope is that this expands our understanding of what each Arlington group does… and becomes a valuable resource for each Arlingtonian, newcomer and old-timer, teen to senior, seeking to make connections in our community,” Hynes said.
Hynes also wants to officially define what “The Arlington Way” means. Appropriately, she proposes to come up with a definition by engaging in a wide-ranging community discussion.
“We will convene a formal county-wide conversation to develop a clear description of The Arlington Way as it applies to and should energize our decision-making going forward,” she said. “Working with County Board Members, Commissioners, County staff, and Arlington residents, non-profits, and businesses, we will delineate the roles and responsibilities of participants in our civic decision-making processes.”
In another new initiative, Hynes announced that every Monday night (except for federal holidays) a County Board member will hold a two-hour “open door” session, “where residents can discuss any County-related issue with a Board Member.” The sessions will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.; session locations will be posted on the county web site.
In an announcement that surprised no one — given the predictable rhythm of such decisions — newly reelected Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes has been named the future County Board chairman for 2012.
Hynes and Board member Walter Tejada were sworn in for new four-year terms yesterday, after both winning reelection in November. The swearing-in ceremony was held in between County Board sessions last night.
Hynes will outline her priorities as chairman for 2012 at the Board’s annual organizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 2. Hynes has served as a County Board member since 2008. She was previously an Arlington School Board member from 1995 to 2006.
Separately, Barbara Favola took what may be her last vote as a County Board member last night. Favola, who was elected to the Virginia Senate in November, submitted her resignation — effective Dec. 31 — last Thursday. The resignation will allow election officials to choose a firm date for the special election that will be held to find Favola’s replacement.
The special election date is expected to be revealed by the end of the week, according to Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg.
Last week we asked the three candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Two County Board seats are up for election this year.
Here is the unedited response from incumbent J. Walter Tejada (D):
My name is Walter Tejada and I am proud to call Arlington my hometown. I am honored to have served you on the Arlington County Board over the last eight years. We have a great community in which we enjoy a high quality of life. We are a safe community. We have a low real estate tax rate, the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia, and great schools. We are an award-winning model for smart growth.
Like one quarter of Arlington’s population today, I was born in another country; in my case, El Salvador. I came to the United States at age 13, and quickly adapted to a new culture and language. In 1992 I settled in my new hometown, Arlington County. Right away I became involved in our civic life to try to make a difference, and I haven’t stopped. I proudly served the community in many civic roles before joining the Board in 2003.
When elected, my mission was to continue being a good steward of our county government while making my own contributions to improving our community. My philosophy is rooted in the principles of social and economic justice, and I believe my achievements in the last eight years reflect this commitment. Among my proudest achievements are leading the way to:
- setting up the Community Volunteer Network to help young adults engage in our civic life and become the next generation of leaders;
- establishing the Office of Public Defender for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, ensuring legal representation for indigent residents;
- creating the Arlington Non-Profit Assistance Program to strengthen our non-profit organizations;
- launching FitArlington, to promote a culture of fitness and to encourage healthy living;
- initiating the Diversity Dialogues, which bring Arlingtonians together to discuss meaningful issues, and which has become an important tool in community conversations.
If I have the privilege of being elected once again, I will continue to work on issues of critical importance to the success of our community, including:
- Fiscal sustainability – While I’m proud that in each of the eight years I have been in office Arlington has received a triple AAA bond rating, we must continue to maintain our fiscal health through wise investment, a responsible capital improvement plan, and careful management of our resources while maintaining a safety net for our most vulnerable neighbors.
- Affordable housing – One of the most compelling issues in Arlington today is affordable housing. While we are grateful for our economic success, we can’t let that success turn away valuable members of our community through rising home prices and rents. I will continue my priority to increase the number of affordable housing units in the county.
- Promoting healthy living – I want to continue to make Arlington a healthy community, a place where there is easy access to parks, bike trails, walkable neighborhoods and ample sources of locally-grown fresh foods.
- Maintaining a caring and inclusive community – Virginia is known as the cradle of liberty, yet there are many who seek to move us back to a less welcoming era. Thankfully, here in our hometown we set an example for the rest of the state in creating a welcoming community. I will continue to promote our values of unity and social justice, and speak up for those who work hard every day for our community.
There are of course many other issues we will confront in the next four years to which I will dedicate time and energy, such as:
- Pursuing greater environmental sustainability
- Preserving and enhancing open space
- Implementing our community energy plan
Working together for all of Arlington, I look forward to the years ahead, hearing your ideas, and joining efforts toward our shared goals. I ask for your support and for your vote, not only for me but also for my running mate Mary Hynes, on November 8. Working together, we can continue to ensure that our hometown is a world class community for all.
The plan was for elected officials and other Democratic notables to get dunked while raising money for the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Alas, Mother Nature had other plans. With storms in the forecast, organizers reluctantly canceled the first annual Democratic dunking. Instead, as heavy rains descended on the area, attendees had to make due with the usual formula of chili, music and conversation as they huddled inside the hot and humid Lyon Park Community Center.
Among the brave dunk tank volunteers who stayed dry last night were County Board member Mary Hynes, Del. David Englin, School Board member Sally Baird, former 31st District state Senate candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto. Also on the dunk list were blogger and consultant Ben Tribbett, ACDC Chair Mike Lieberman, ACDC Finance Chair Bree Raum, Arlington Joint Campaign Co-Chair Lauren Hall, former School Board candidate Terron Sims and ACDC precinct operations chair Kip Malinosky.
County Board member Walter Tejada, who’s up for re-election, captured this year’s “best chili” crown for his “inclusive” selection of meat, mild veggie and spicy veggie chilis.
Arlington residents woke up this morning to power outages and scores of downed trees and tree branches, thanks to the high winds and torrential rains of Hurricane Irene.
“It’s just terrible,” said County Board member Walter Tejada as he toured some of the worst scenes of destruction around the county with Acting County Manager Marsha Allgeier and Deputy Police Chief Michael Dunne. While many areas escaped with just a few downed tree limbs, some areas remain blocked and without power due to large trees that fell across roads and power lines.
County and private tree crews, along with crews from Dominion Power, have been working around the clock to clear debris and get power lines back up. As of 3:25 p.m., more than 4,800 Dominion customers were still without power in Arlington.
Arlington County has posted additional damage photos on a dedicated Flickr page.
The County Board has given the green light for a year-long process that will suggest changes to the existing development plan for the Rosslyn area.
The last time the County approved significant changes to its Rosslyn Sector Plan was 1992. Now, nearly 20 years later, officials say changes are necessary to help with Rosslyn’s continued development from a mere “collection of office buildings” to “a more balanced neighborhood, offering residents and visitors shopping, recreation and cultural activities.”
The new Rosslyn planning effort will focus on improving transportation options, suggesting changes to Rosslyn’s building height regulations and developing “a more cohesive, functional parks and open space network.” The process will include numerous community input opportunities, facilitated by a dedicated “civic engagement professional” on the planning team.
The planning process comes at a time of major change for Rosslyn. The expansive cultural center known as Artisphere opened last year, a major overhaul is coming to Gateway Park, and construction is either currently underway or imminent on three new skyscrapers, two large residential complexes, a luxury condo building and a new office building.
The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the new planning effort, which will present its recommendations to the board in 2012. Board member Walter Tejada was the lone ‘no’ vote. Tejada advocated for a longer, more comprehensive planning process with additional public input.
Arlington County Board Member Walter Tejada would like to see the children of illegal immigrants in Virginia offered in-state tuition at public universities — but he’s not kidding himself.
On WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Tejada said that Virginia Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, would never support such a plan.
“I don’t think that there’s a chance right now [given] the political environment,” Tejada said.
A woman who called into the show questioned the wisdom of granting illegal immigrant children in-state college tuition when they would be unable to legally obtain a job in the United States.
The children of illegal immigrants still must go through the same college admission process as other students, Tejada argued. He said that illegal immigrant children should be given the same opportunities as the children of legal Virginia residents.
“We have the best and the brightest — some who are valedictorians — we are not allowing them to continue their education,” Tejada said. “It is wrong.”
Tejada says that he supports comprehensive immigration reform.
Tejada, Moran Get ‘Snippy’ Over Immigration — At a work session Monday afternoon, County Board member Walter Tejada and Rep. Jim Moran got in a verbal ‘tussle’ when Tejada suggested that Democrats have not done much recently to advance the cause of immigration rights on a federal level. [Sun Gazette]
Westover Farmers Market Delayed — Organizers had hoped to launch a farmers market in Westover this spring, but it looks like red tape will delay their goal by a year. Farmers market boosters have secured verbal approval to use school property for the market, but the county zoning office says it will not grant a use permit until the county ordinance related to farmers markets is changed. [Falls Church News-Press]
W-L Launches New Student Newspaper Web Site — Washington-Lee High School’s Crossed Sabres student newspaper has a new web site. [W-L Crossed Sabres]
Storms Rip Through Area — A line of strong storms ripped through the area in the pre-dawn hours this morning. Winds in excess of 60 miles per hour were observed as the fast-moving storms passed by around 4:30 a.m. A tornado warning was issued for the region, but Arlington was spared from the worst of the storm damage. Expect showers, gusty winds and colder temperatures for the rest of the morning. [Washington Post]
Tejada Plans Ballston Rally — County board member Walter Tejada kicked off his re-election campaign over the weekend at the Dominion Hills Recreation Center. Tejada lauded the county’s commitments to affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, and fiscal responsibility. He is now planning a rally in Ballston tomorrow — no word yet on when or where exactly the rally will take place. (Update at 12:20 p.m. — The rally will be held outside the NRECA building at 4301 Wilson Blvd at 6:30 p.m., prior to the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.)
New Signature Theatre Line-Up Announced – Signature Theatre’s upcoming 2011-2012 season schedule has been revealed. Among the shows planned are The Hollow, based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Hairspray, the 2003 Tony Award winner for best musical; Brother Russia, a rock musical about a “comically fourth-rate Russian theatre troupe;” and Xanadu, based on the 1980 cult film starring Olivia Newton-John. [Signature Theatre]
Clint Eastwood and Crew Drop By Arlington Home — Last week crews were busy scurrying about North Arlington filming scenes for the Leo DiCaprio-headlined production of ‘J. Edgar.’ Among the locations where filming took place was kitchen of one family’s house. DiCaprio, director Clint Eastwood and dozens of crew members took over the Rasmussen family’s home to film one scene for the movie. [Washington Post]
The Arlington Coalition Against the Secure Communities Program, which successfully lobbied the county board to attempt to opt out of the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, will receive the county’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award later this week.
According to a press release, the coalition “assisted Arlington Board Member Walter Tejada in the development of a resolution he introduced in late September.” The resolution passed unanimously. Ultimately, the county determined that it was not practically possible to opt out of the program.
“Leading up to the vote, coalition members distributed thousands of petitions, fact sheets and emails to residents and organized and engaged in public forums to discuss the flaws of the Secure Communities program,” the coalition said in a statement. “The work to stop the program is far from over but the Coalition remains steadfast in its mission to halt the Secure Communities program because it encourages racial profiling, destroys families, destroys the trust in police and circumvents our criminal justice system.”
The coalition will receive its award at 7:00 Thursday night at the county board room. Last year’s winners of the James B. Hunter Award included the Arlington Food Assistance Center, the Literary Council of Northern Virginia, a pastor who worked to help those with AIDS and an attorney who helps the elderly and those with disabilities. The award is presented by the Arlington Human Rights Commission.
Bayou Bakery Opens, Officially – “Come and get it,” the press release says — Bayou Bakery is “officially” open today, albeit with (unspecified) limited hours and a limited menu. The cafe/restaurant/bakery, in the old Camille’s space at 1515 North Courthouse Road, was unofficially open on Friday and Saturday.
Tejada Expresses Frustration Over Secure Communities Doublespeak — County board member Walter Tejada, who led the charge to opt out of the federal Secure Communities immigration initiative, is not happy about the mixed signals coming out of the Department of Homeland Security. At first the department signaled that localities could opt out of the program, only to later clarify that it was next to impossible to do so. “If that had been the case why didn’t they tell us in May?” Tejada asked. More from the Washington Post.
Lyon Park Has Extra Tulip Bulbs – The Lyon Park Citizens Association is trying to give away extra tulip bulbs to its neighbors. The community received the bulbs from the National Park Service’s Tulip Library and planted most of them earlier this month. The excess bulbs are now up for grabs. Tara-Leeway Heights is among the neighborhoods considering vying for a tulip donation.
Arlington Schools Get More iPads — Arlington Public Schools have received a $70,000 grant that will go toward the purchase of 120 new Apple iPads. The $499 devices will be shared by students at Barrett, Carlin Springs and Randolph elementary schools. The donation will supplement a state education grant of 70 iPads received by Arlington in September.
Flickr pool photo by Reid Kasprowicz
At the board’s behest, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan sent a letter to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton yesterday, seeking clarification on whether Arlington can withdraw from the Secure Communities program, and, if it can, how it may do so.
“We need to ask him to clarify this conflicting information we’ve been getting,” county board member Walter Tejada said in a telephone interview last night. He was referring to a recent Washington Post article that suggested communities will not be able to opt-out of the immigration enforcement initiative, as the county board had been led to believe.
“Once we have that clarification, and we better understand what else we need to be asking, we’re going to go from there,” Tejada said.
The board’s effort to opt-out of Secure Communities received a public endorsement this week when the New York Times ran an editorial calling on the Obama administration to accomodate the request. San Francisco, Santa Clara, Ca. and the District have also expressed interest in opting out of the program.
“Washington needs to find a way to allow cities like San Francisco and Washington to enforce the law without turning into a branch of ICE,” the Times said.
Arlington’s effort to withdraw from the federal Secure Communities immigration enforcement program has hit a big snag. Turns out withdrawing is harder than the county board originally thought.
The program checks the immigration status of individuals arrested by local police agencies by using fingerprints submitted to the FBI. If an offender is a known illegal immigrant, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks the local agency to hold the prisoner until immigration officers can take appropriate action.
The Washington Post reports that since local police need to check prisoners’ wanted status via the FBI database, withholding fingerprints from the Feds is not feasible.
“It is most frustrating,” said county board member Walter Tejada, upon learning of the revelation from a Washington Post reporter. Tejada, who championed the resolution that instructed the county manager to take steps to withdraw from Secure Communities, said lawyers and officials spent the summer researching how to opt out of the program.