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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 28, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

'Complacent Class' cover imageIn 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America, in which he wrote of a United States that was perpetually in motion — full of restlessness, energy, and ambition.

Now, over 180 years later, America’s national character seems to be changing. Americans across income classes are moving less, starting fewer businesses, marrying people more like themselves, and basing choices on algorithms that wall them off from anything new or different.

In other words, Americans have become complacent. They are working harder than ever to postpone or avoid change. A focus on safety and caution over everything else has resulted in an America that is less dynamic and more conformist than ever before.

That’s the primary observation George Mason economist Tyler Cowen makes in his new book, The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. In it he documents the rising trends of self-segregation, stagnation, and risk avoidance in America. Of the book, author Malcolm Gladwell said, “His brilliant new book…has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now.” At Foreign Affairs, Edward Luce said, “Cowen does a marvelous job of turning his Tocquevillian eye to today’s America.”

On Monday, March 6, from 6-7 p.m., the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host a live interview at George Mason’s Arlington Campus (3351 Fairfax Drive) between Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward and Tyler Cowen on American complacency and what it means for the future of politics, the economy, and the very foundation of our culture.

The event is free of charge and open to the public, and copies of the book will be available for purchase after the discussion.

The discussion is especially timely given the current state of politics. In his book, Tyler Cowen notes that the short-term peace and calm that results from American complacency simply cannot last. He predicts a chaotic future as more Americans rebel against the economic stagnation and lack of mobility that result from maintaining the status quo.

While America may currently seem less stable and more restless than before, The Complacent Class suggests there is reason for long-term optimism as the upcoming process of social, economic, and legal transformation could ultimately reinvigorate Americans to bring back the dynamism, energy and ambition that Tocqueville observed in his time. Nevertheless, many Americans may soon wish to have the era of complacency back.

Click here to register for the free event.

Click here to pre-order a copy of The Complacent Class:The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.

The preceding was written and sponsored by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

Mid-Atlantic Builders

Join the Mid-Atlantic Builders team as an Assistant Community Sales Manager!

Mid-Atlantic Builders is a privately held company dedicated to designing, marketing, and building luxury homes in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. We’ve been in business for more than 35 years and have over 1,500 satisfied homeowners.

If you want to be on a winning team, you will appreciate our unparalleled industry recognition. We have won dozens of major awards, including “America’s Best Builders” and a confidence inspiring roster of regional and local builder and community awards. We are looking for an eager professional to be responsible for the following:

  • Manage community sales and educate prospective homeowners regarding available homes and home sites
  • Manage communication with purchaser from contract through settlement
  • Administer sales contract and reporting of home sales, lot status, and inventory
  • Demonstrate and maintain model home, brochures, price lists and associated marketing materials
  • Manage and develop systems for following up on existing, and creating new, sales leads
  • Ensure information on the community and homes is properly represented on the website, social media and MRIS, as well as in print media such as New Homes Guide
  • Convey the brand value and advantages and promote the Mission, Vision, and Values of Mid-Atlantic Builders prospective purchasers and homeowners
  • Gather and analyze market and competitor data to ensure our homes and community maintain a superior value advantage

This is an excellent career opportunity with competitive benefits and salary! Send your resume to [email protected] or call (301) 231-0009 ext. 214 for more information.

The preceding was written and sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Builders

by Chris Teale — February 27, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A project to repave the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot and realign a nearby section of the Mount Vernon Trail is slated to begin later this week.

The parking lot will be closed from this Wednesday, March 1, until the project is completed, which should take until late spring, the National Park Service said.

Workers will slightly raise and widen the trail in places, while the parking lot gets new curbs and gutters for better water drainage. Roosevelt Island will remain open during the work and cyclists can take a short detour on the trail to bypass construction.

With the parking lot closed, NPS said those accessing the trail should park at Daingerfield Island or Columbia Island, or use the public parking in Rosslyn, a 15-minute walk away.

NPS began the planning process to improve safety on this section of the Mount Vernon Trail in 2014, in a project it said would seek to “reduce visitor conflict and improve visitor experience.”

More from NPS:

On March 1, the National Park Service (NPS) will begin a project to repave the parking lot and realign the Mount Vernon Trail at Theodore Roosevelt Island. To ensure visitor safety, the parking lot will be closed until the project’s completion, expected to be late spring. Pedestrians will have access to the island throughout the project, and cyclists can bypass construction via a short detour on the Mount Vernon Trail.

In addition to realigning the Mount Vernon Trail, the NPS will raise the trail slightly and widen it in places. The parking lot will have new curbs and gutters for better water drainage.

Mount Vernon Trail users accessing the trail by car should use the parking lots at Daingerfield Island and Columbia Island, or consider nearby public parking options. The closest parking to Theodore Roosevelt Island is in Rosslyn, a 15-minnute walk from the Island.

Mount Vernon Trail is an 18-mile paved multi-use trail stretching from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to Theodore Roosevelt Island. The trail is a hub for recreational activity and connects with regional trails including the Potomac Heritage, Custis, Rock Creek, Four Mile Run, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge trails.

National parks in the national capital region provide exceptional outdoor trail experiences that help people enjoy nature and history, while providing safe and enjoyable opportunities for people to walk, run, bike, commute and have fun with friends and family.

Photo via Google Street View

by Tim Regan — February 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Worker in office, photo courtesy of Curiosity MediaWhen online dictionary SpanishDict.com hit the web in 1999, its primary audience was English speakers looking to learn Spanish. The idea was simple: to create an easy-to-use resource for students and learners that would serve as the definitive guide for translating Spanish words into English.

Nearly 20 years later, the tables have turned. Today, a good chunk of the site’s 14 million monthly users are native Spanish speakers who want to learn English. And that number is growing, said Chris Cummings, CEO of the Rosslyn-based startup behind SpanishDict, Curiosity Media

SpanishDict on a phone, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“People ask us all the time if we’ve considered going into other languages,” Cummings said. “The answer is that we are going into a new audience, but it’s actually the same language pair.”

Cummings is no stranger to finding new audiences. In 2013, he helped launch Fluencia, a subscription-based Spanish learning program. The software course features an “adaptive pace” and an automated tutoring system to help users become more fluent. Since its launch, Fluencia has grown its monthly user base to around 800,000 learners from across the world.

Though Fluencia continues to expand, Cummings said his company’s dictionary services are growing at an even quicker pace.

Worker in office another angle, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“We’re adding thousands and thousands of new Spanish speakers every week,” he said. “We already have millions on the site.”

Cummings added that there could even come a day where there’s just as many native Spanish speakers using SpanishDict as there are native English speakers, if not more.

“For every English speaker that’s interested in communicating in Spanish, there’s about three or four Spanish speakers that are interested in communicating in English,” he said. “It’s a much, much bigger market.”

Part of the reason for such a steep rate of user growth is the sheer number of “bells and whistles” that SpanishDict offers, Cummings said. People who might otherwise use a “quick and dirty” translation service like Google Translate are drawn to SpanishDict’s many features.

“If you want native audio pronunciation of a word, we got that. If you want to know how to conjugate verbs, we got that. If you want to see the word in real life example sentences, we got that,” Cummings said. “For all these reasons, it just becomes a better way to be a first stop for translating a word than maybe what you see on Google Translate.”

Workers in the Curiosity Media office, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpgHe continued, “We’re able to go so deep on this language pair is because there are more than 800 million native English and Spanish speakers in the world. That’s what enables us to go so deep and provide such high value content in this language pair.”

In 2013, Curiosity Media had just a handful of employees. Now, it has 17 in its office in Rosslyn, and it’s still growing.

The company currently is hiring for engineering and product management positions.

by Chris Teale — February 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

County residents could see a property tax hike of up to 2 cents per $100 of assessed value after the Arlington County Board voted Saturday to advertise the possible maximum increase.

County Manager Mark Schwartz said the hike would pay for what he described as the “extraordinary circumstances” facing the board in increasing costs for Arlington Public Schools and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Under the 2-cent rise, APS and WMATA would each receive half of the added tax revenue. The average tax and fee burden for residential properties would increase by around $300 a year, factoring in a rise in property assessments, while the residential property tax rate would reach $1.023 for every $100 in assessed value, the highest rate since 2001.

Board members approved the measure by a 3-2 vote, with Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey voting against. The vote included a proposal by board member John Vihstadt to request that Schwartz explore alternative budget options if property taxes increase by only 1 cent.

But both Dorsey and Garvey criticized Vihstadt’s plan, saying it was “too late in the game” to be introducing such a proposal.

“I totally support the whole idea of exploring these alternatives, but the way we do it now by rolling it into this action, we’re changing the budget process,” Dorsey said.

Board chairman Jay Fisette said that Schwartz’s proposal is just the beginning of talks about the county’s budget.

“Today we received the manager’s proposed budget, and we set the maximum tax rates and fees that we can consider,” Fisette said. “Now the responsibility shifts to us. This is the start of the Board’s conversation with the public about priorities for fiscal 2018. For the next nearly two months, we will be scrubbing the manager’s proposed budget and listening to the community.”

The proposed $1.2 billion fiscal 2018 budget includes $759.3 million in the county operations budget, a 3.9 increase over fiscal 2017. Also proposed are increases in household solid waste rates, a water/sewer rate increase, a new accessory homestay permit fee of $60 for those who use online booking platforms like Airbnb and various parks and recreation program fee changes.

Schwartz said APS faces challenges around its growing enrollment, which he said grows by approximately 1,000 students each year. His budget would include $478.3 million funding for the school system, an increase by $11.1 million.

“Simply put, Arlington Public Schools is facing an enrollment tsunami,” Schwartz said. “Each year, they have additional students come; whether they want them or not, additional students show up and they need to be be educated.”

Metro represents another fiscal stumbling-block for the county, as well as the region at large. Currently, Schwartz said, Arlington pays 8 percent of the agency’s total operating costs, to the tune of $56 million.

Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld proposed all jurisdictions increasing their subsidy, with its fiscal 2018 proposal asking that Arlington increase its subsidy to around $71 million.

That subsidy would be funded in part by state transit aid, staff reductions at WMATA, gas tax funding and money from the Transform I-66 project. It would leave a gap of approximately $6 million, with the additional penny of real estate tax adding $7.4 million.

The board will hold a series of budget work sessions next month, then public hearings on the budget and the tax rate on March 28 and March 30, respectively. The latter will include discussion on members’ possible pay rises. The board is expected to adopt the budget on April 22.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

Berry & Berry column banner

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By: John V. Berry

Virginia employees are protected by Occupational Safety and Health laws from retaliation and discrimination if they report safety and health issues in the workplace. 

In Virginia, an employee shall not be discriminated against or terminated in retaliation for filing a safety or health complaint, testifying, or exercising a right under Virginia Code Ann. § 40.1-51.2:1 concerning employee safety and health. 

Examples Where Law Might Apply

Here are some examples where the Virginia law against retaliation might apply. Keep in mind that this particular Virginia law is focused on dangers reported that could affect an employee or other employees in the workplace. 

  1. An employee reports to the fire department that there is a gas leak in the office. The fire department finds the cause of the leak and the employer is required to upgrade the gas lines. The manager gets upset at the cost to fix the leak and fires the employee.
  2. An employee informs her manager that work vehicles are unsafe and not maintained properly. The manager, rather than fix the work vehicles, decides to fire the employee as a means to keep her from complaining or exposing the issues.
  3. An employee reports a severe mold problem in the workplace. As a result, the employer is forced to spend a significant amount of money to fix the mold problem.  The Employee is fired as a result of reporting the issue.

Process for Filing a VOSH Complaint

A Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) complaint of retaliation or discrimination must be filed within 60 days of the discriminatory action with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. If not, the complaint is likely to be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Following the filing of a complaint, a VOSH investigator will contact the complainant and/or his/her counsel and will initiate an investigation if all of the requirements for jurisdiction have been met.

An investigation may lead to a settlement for the employee or could lead to sustained findings. There are also civil court remedies for an employee if a sustained violation by the investigator is not found.

If you believe that your employer has treated you differently for reporting a safety and health issue or need assistance with another employment law issue in Virginia, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by Tim Regan — February 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Monday

Klan We Talk promotional posterKlan We Talk? *
Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre (125 S. Old Glebe Road)
Time: 7 p.m.

During the event, a man famous for befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan and convincing them to leave the group will discuss “how his approach caused several Klan members to walk away from those beliefs.”

Tuesday

Mardi Gras Clarendon flyerClarendon Mardi Gras Parade and Ball *
Wilson Blvd from N. Barton to N. Irving Street
Time: 7-11 p.m.

The annual Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade is a free family-friendly event with bands, floats, marchers, dogs and horses. For the second year in a row, the parade will end in a Mardi Gras Ball at Clarendon Ballroom.

King Cake and Slice, photo via Bayou BakeryMardi Gras Parade Party
Bayou Bakery (1515 N Courthouse Road)
Time: 4-7 p.m.

The New Orleans hangout will “party hard, NOLA style,” with food and drink specials slated to last until the parade starts at 7 p.m. The eatery is just one block from where the Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade kicks off.

Whitlows mardi gras partyMardi Gras Menu and Drink Specials
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 7 p.m.

The Clarendon bar and restaurant will serve a Mardi Gras menu and drink specials to celebrate the annual holiday. The bar also will host a live performance from local group Thunder Buddies Lite at 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Ukelele photo via Flickr: Kevin McCarthyUkulele Jam Session
Westover Branch Library (1644 North McKinley Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

Attendees can try, learn, practice, share and teach at this “low-key” ukulele jam session. The event’s organizers will bring along a limited amount of ukuleles to try. The program is for adults of all skill levels.

Friday

FoundFootageFest-2017-300Found Footage Festival
Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 7:30 p.m.

Hosts Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher will exhibit weird and rare VHS tapes during this touring event. This year’s festival will include such gems as “The Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults” and Highlights from David Letterman’s video collection. Pickett and Prueher also will host the festival on Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m.

Saturday

CycleBarRide for Arlington Charity Spin Class *
CycleBar (3400 Columbia Pike, Suite 100)
Time: 1:30-2:20 p.m.

Arlington’s newest indoor cycling studio is set to host an event to benefit the Arlington Community Foundation, the largest provider of scholarships in Arlington, a grantmaker to nonprofits and manager of over 150 charitable funds.

BYT_NEWMasquerade Carnival Kickoff Party
Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department (3900 Lee Highway)
Time: 2-3:30 p.m.

This dance party workout will celebrate “the best season of all,” Carnival. The event will include Caribbean cuisine, a costume contest and “other exciting surprises,” organizers said. Attendees are also encouraged to show up in festival attire such as costumes, masks, feathers and beads.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2017 at 11:55 am 0

Police car lightsA man is suspected of breaking into some 30 cars in north Arlington over the weekend.

The break-ins and thefts happened in the area of the Overlee pool along Lee Highway, and were first reported around 6 a.m. Saturday.

Police say the man fled the scene after a resident confronted him, as he was breaking into a neighbor’s car on the 6000 block of 23rd Street N.

The cars that were broken into were unlocked, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. More from ACPD:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2017-02250088, 6000 block of 23rd Street N. At approximately 6:11 a.m. on February 25, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto that had just occurred. A witness confronted a suspect he observed inside a neighbor’s vehicle. The suspect fled the scene in a maroon colored sedan. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’10” and weighing 160 lbs. He was wearing a black hoodie and black pants at the time of the incident. While canvassing the area, police discovered approximately 30 unlocked vehicles were entered and numerous items of value stolen.

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington County police logoThe Arlington County Police Department is reminding residents that it does not call around asking for donations.

ACPD issued a press release warning of a potential phone scam, after a report of an Arlington resident getting a call requesting a donation on behalf of the department.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department has received one report of a citizen receiving a phone call from an individual requesting donations for various public safety causes on behalf of the police department. The Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that representatives of the police department have never and will never call to solicit funds.

Citizens should be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls which request funds or claim that you owe money. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.  Do not provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone. For additional crime prevention tips, please visit our website. For additional information on fundraisers calling on behalf of police and firefighters, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

Early cherry blossom bloom in Pentagon City on 2/26/17 (photo courtesy Donna Gouse)

County Board Mulls Exotic Pet Ban — As expected, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a ban on “wild and exotic” pets in the county. Animals covered by the proposed ban “range from monkeys, wolves, raccoons and lynx to alligators, tarantulas, hedgehogs and even sugar gliders.” A hearing on the matter will be held March 18, ahead of final approval by the Board. [Arlington County]

Arlington Cultural Diversity Ranking — Arlington ranks No. 33 among “mid-sized cities” in a new list of cities with the most cultural diversity, behind places like Columbia, Maryland; Glendale, Arizona; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. [WalletHub]

Western Rosslyn Plan Moving Forward — The Arlington County Board has taken a series of actions to push its previously approved Western Rosslyn Area Plan forward. The plan includes a new home for H-B Woodlawn at the Wilson School, a new fire station, a reconfigured park and the redevelopment of several garden apartment buildings into a larger affordable housing complex. The various projects are expected to be completed by 2021. [Arlington County]

Arlington-Based Org Gets Big Grant — The Crystal City-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is getting a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant, announced by U.S. senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), is earmarked for “organizations working to provide unaccompanied minors who fled violence in Central America with services including temporary shelters and foster care programs.” [Sen. Tim Kaine]

County Extends HQ Lease — Arlington County has extended its lease at 2100 Clarendon Blvd for another 15 years, a move the county says will save $1.6 million annually in rent. “This is a great deal for Arlington taxpayers,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “The County will stay in this prime Courthouse location, home to County Government since 1989, at a savings of millions of dollars over the term of the extension.” [Arlington County]

Homeownership Still a Dream for Many Millennials — The Millennial generation is a major force in Arlington’s population and economy, but homeownership remains out of reach for many, including the older portion of the generation that’s getting married and having kids. Contributing to the problem: there is a significant shortage of homes for sale, particularly affordable starter homes, and the new houses that are being built are often higher-end luxury properties. [Washington Post, CNBC]

Photo courtesy Donna Gouse

by Tim Regan — February 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

The temperature climbed into the 70s today, and many locals — Arlington County police included — spent the day outside biking, walking or running. The warm weather isn’t expected to last, unfortunately….

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