Arlington, VA

A rally for airline workers rights drew hundreds to Reagan National Airport, including a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Labor union UNITE HERE helped organize the rally in support of airport catering workers, who are planning a large-scale strike if their demands for better wages and benefits are not met. Presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were among those on hand to support the workers, along with other labor unions and local officials.

“No one should have to choose between healthcare and paying the rent,” Warren called out amid cheers.

The Massachusetts senator’s speech on Tuesday echoed her support for more corporate regulations.

“Giant corporations believe if they just push hard enough the unions will just go away,” she said. Since entering the race in February, Warren has since risen in recent polls to second among the crowded field.

Tuesday’s crowd was equally loud for two-time presidential candidate Sanders, who was ushered to the podium among chants of “We Love Bernie!”

“At a time when corporate profits are a record-breaking level, our demands are simple,” said the senator, who rose to popularity for his stance on economic inequality. “Pay your workers a living wage and provide… affordable healthcare for your workers,” Sanders said.

Sanders noted workers in the D.C. area “cannot live on $10 hour” wages due to the rising costs of living and housing.

Presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio also received a warm welcome and led the crowd in chanting of “working people first!”

“I hear they made $15 billion in profits last year,” de Blasio said of recent airline earning reports. “Are are they sharing that?”

De Blasio, who has generated little enthusiasm for his campaign so far, ended his speech by touting his new “Bill of Rights for Working People.”

The catering workforce authorized the strike earlier in June, but airline workers must gain approval from the federal National Mediation Board for large-scale strikes due to the potential impact on travelers. Workers are seeking to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the private companies who contract them to assemble the food for airlines: LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet.

The companies have said they cannot meet the demands for increased wages and benefits, telling the Huffington Post that could “more than double” their costs.

About a thousand union members in red shirts with slogans like “One Job Should Be Enough” gathered in Terminal A to hear the speakers. But it’s not the first time DCA has seen labor unrest. In 2016, service workers nearly went on strike for a $15 minimum wage.

“We’re going to fight like hell,” UNITE HERE president D. Taylor told the cheering crowd Tuesday night. “We’re going to kick the hell out of American [Airlines].”

Workers at several other airports nationwide are also asking for permission to strike, according to a map shared by the union.

Catering employees Tenai Stover and Eric Brightley, who said they prepare the food and beverages served on DCA and Dulles flights as part of their work at LSG Sky Chefs, each described to ARLnow difficulty making ends meet given the meager pay.

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Potential patrons of an upcoming gym in Courthouse may have to wait a few more weeks before they can give the facility a test run.

Owner Mike Savitch, a bobsledder who represented the Virgin Islands in the 2002 Winter Olympics, told ARLnow that The Conditioning Room (2050 Wilson Blvd) should be open within two weeks, but hasn’t settled on an exact day.

Located near the Courthouse Metro station, in the former Cosi space, the new gym has missed Savitch’s desired opening date of June 1. But progress is being made: Savitch said he has moved in the exercise equipment in and hired artist Jack Labadie to put the finishing touches on the space with his graffiti-style artwork.

Unlimited memberships will be available for $205 per month. Once the gym opens, scheduled classes are set to run throughout the day Monday through Saturday.

The gym will also offer a free trial class on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

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Arlington and Northern Virginia are experiencing a possible outbreak of cases from a particular foodborne illness.

Dozens people in the region are suspected of having contracted a gastrointestinal illness called Cyclosporiasis, according to a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health. The outbreak involves “two large businesses” where more than 40 people were sickened, possibly with Cyclosporiasis, as well as 15 confirmed cases of the disease, officials say.

“A food or water source of this outbreak has not yet been identified, and the investigation is ongoing,” said the state health department.

“Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite,” the department noted in a press release today (Tuesday.) “People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces or stool that contains the parasite.”

The 15 confirmed cases of people infected with Cyclospora since mid-June compares to eight cases in Northern Virginia by this time last year.

The affected area includes Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and Falls Church.

“Arlington County has… experienced an increase in cases of illness due to Cyclospora,” confirmed epidemiologist Colleen Ryan Smith of Arlington’s Department of Human Services.

“The increase in Arlington… has contributed to the increase in cases noted for Northern Virginia,” added Smith, who said that “specific counts of cases by locality [are] not possible due to patient privacy and confidentiality considerations.”

Officials said they could also not identify the “two large businesses” where dozens were sickened.

Symptoms can begin one week after exposure to the parasite, and typically include explosive diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, aching muscles, and a low-grade fever. Symptoms can last days or a month for some, but others can be a carrier of the parasite and experience no symptoms.

Those afflicted can only be diagnosed by a lab test ordered by a doctor.

Health officials have also reported 90 cases of Cyclospora in New York City since January, and over 100 cases in Massachusetts since May. In both areas, the number of cases is approximately three times the normal number officials usually see in a year, and the cause is not yet known.

Officials in all three locales say they are still investigating the cause of the outbreak. Previous outbreaks were linked to contaminated produce.

The full press release is below, after the jump.

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The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) is seeking more sponsors for its 5th Annual Golf Tournament, which will be held on Monday, September 16 at Arlington’s Army Navy Country Club.

Proceeds from this event go towards providing Arlington neighbors in need with weekly supplemental groceries. Participating golfers will enjoy a hot lunch (provided by Sloppy Mama’s BBQ) & dinner; open bar before, after and while you play; access to a silent auction filled with great items; a $50 gift card to spend at the course’s Mobile Pro Shop; and much more!

For a second year in a row, Credibility International will be the tournament’s title sponsor.

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

Much has been made of the recent Supreme Court decision that said partisan redistricting is not a constitutional question for the federal courts. Ultimately, the justices opted not to force federal trial and appellate judges to review every map ever produced simply because the “losers” didn’t like the outcome.

Reformers were up in arms. How could the Supreme Court arrive at such a decision?

There is a larger question of how to arrive at a clear test as to what maps were too partisan? Some reformers have suggested that maps should produce roughly the same number of Congressional districts as if they were allocated proportionally on a statewide vote. Another suggestion is that states draw as many competitive seats, drawn to be 50/50 in partisan breakdown, as possible.

Either of these would almost certainly still produce countless odd-shaped districts that break up communities of interest in order to achieve the stated goal. This is primarily because Democrats tend to be more heavily concentrated in urban areas. The latter would tend to produce regular swings back and forth based on the changing political environment, and maybe some would say that’s a good thing.

Ultimately these questions will now play out in state legislatures and state courts.

If the proportionality standard were implemented, it would be good news for Congressional Democrats in Texas, Ohio and Michigan. At the same time, it would also be good news for Congressional Republicans in California, Maryland, Illinois, and to a lesser extent, Virginia. And, it might be good news for incumbents who would sit in districts designed to achieve a certain partisan outcome.

One study suggests that while Republicans were overperforming nationally for much of the past decade, that Democrats now currently hold the exact number of seats they should hold based on the proportional national vote. In other words, despite what many experts believed was a Republican gerrymandering advantage, Democrats still won control of the U.S. House.

This tends to happen over time. In Virginia, Democrats drew their preferred map in the State Senate after the last Census only to see Republicans win control. Republicans drew their preferred map in the House, only to see Democrats come within drawing the name out of a bowl of a 50/50 split in 2017.

This year, Virginia passed a constitutional amendment to implement a 16-member commission made up of lawmakers and citizens to draw maps in the future. The measure would need to be passed again by the General Assembly in 2020 before heading to voters for approval.

In California, the Independent Commission favored by Republicans produced maps that favored Democrats. According to Pro Publica, Democrats deployed an aggressive effort to influence the commission to draw maps that aligned with their interests. According to one report, party operatives invented a local interest group to push for the Democrats’ favored map.

In other words, you cannot necessarily trust an “Independent Commission” to produce independent results. And if you think the parties would not look for any way to game the system in Virginia, you would be fooling yourself. 

Maybe the answer is to create a computer algorithm that puts some weight on partisan “fairness” while favoring compactness and communities of interest? Then again, a human still has to write the algorithm.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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Long & Foster, Arlington, Charity Hawaiian Bingo Night!

Come join us for a fun-filled evening with food, drinks and over $4,000 worth of prizes at our Hawaiian Bingo night next Wednesday, July 24!

We are passionate about giving back to the community and all proceeds will go to

Last month, when Jeannie Osborn dropped off her new dress at her usual Arlington dry cleaner, she never thought it could be the last time she would see the garment

Osborn now lives in D.C. but still drives to Arlington to do her dry cleaning at the same spot for years: Family Dry Cleaners on 5021 Columbia Pike. The business offers nearly unbeatable prices — normally charging $2.29 per piece of clothing — which Osborn said made up for inconvenience of having to pay upfront in cash.

But five days after she took her new $128 Banana Republic dress to the dry cleaner on June 25, the business closed.

Now there’s a sign taped to the door reading “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!” and asking customers to pick up any garments by June 30, “otherwise you will not be able to pick up your clothes FOREVER.”

Osborn was on vacation when the business went under, and only learned her dress was locked in the building when she tried to pick it up last week.

“I’ve been going there for six years,” she told ARLnow Monday. “And the fact that they are just closed is shocking.”

The business is located in the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center, near the Arlington Mill Community Center, between a CVS and a Little Caesars. ARLnow could not reach the strip mall’s property management company, Bethesda-based Rakusin & Becker Management.

After reaching out for comment to the company and the county, Arlington Resident Ombudsman and Director of Constituent Services Ben Aiken said he had good news to share.

Family Dry Cleaners will temporarily re-open on Thursday from 4-7 p.m. so customers can retrieve their belongings, per Rakusin & Becker.

“Anyone with clothing that needs to be picked up should try to go,” said Aiken, who noted afterward the owners may be unavailable to re-open the shuttered shop.

Family Dry Cleaners’ phone number was out of service when called on Monday and a Facebook page for a business with the same name had no posts nor ways to contact the owner.

Aiken previously said he heard from two customers whose clothes are apparently locked in the cleaners, and told ARLnow today (Tuesday) that he “shares their frustration.”

“It’s an unfortunate circumstances,” he said, adding that whenever dry cleaning customers are left out to dry it can be “tricky” to access legal remedies.

When a dry cleaner business closed in Silver Spring two years ago, the Montgomery County Consumer Protection Agency had to step in to return clothing.

Last August, customers in Austin, Texas, taped signs to the locked doors of a dry cleaning business, pleading with the owners to call them and return their clothes after the business unexpectedly shut down.

Last September, a Denver cleaner posted a sign for its customers that read, “if you have clothes, sorry we are closed.” Those customers were out of luck until another cleaning company purchased the inventory and returned the clothes to customers for free, per a press release.

Jeannie Osborn took pictures of the storefront and its sign last week that show a full rack of clothing behind the counter. She says she could see her dress through the glass.

“It’s just hanging there in the front,” Osborn said. “They hadn’t even put it on the conveyor belt yet.”

Map via Google Maps

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Our Board of Directors is planning for the 2020 budget and we’d like to get a sense of the market rates in Arlington, particularly in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. What are the average condo fees in the Arlington area on a cost per square foot basis?

Answer: It’s that time of year for most Condo Associations — budget planning time! As a former Condo Board Treasurer, I understand the pressure you’re under to balance responsible spending and reserve contributions with resident expectations of low, stable fees. Let’s take a look at what condo fees are across Arlington…

Arlington Condo Fee Rates

Fees are generally set on an annual basis by dividing up the Association’s total budget, including reserve contributions, by the ownership percentage assigned to each unit. Ownership percentage is determined by the builder and can be found in the legal documents you received prior to purchase. In most cases, it’s determined either by the number of bedrooms or square feet.

On a square foot basis, the average condo fee in Arlington is $0.54/sq.ft. with a median fee of $0.53/sq. ft. Along the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor the average jumps a bit to $0.57/sq. ft. and the median remains the same.

On a per bedroom basis:

Not All Fees Created Equal

Before you jump to any conclusions about the relative value of your condo fee, you need to consider what’s included. Amenities that require staffing and/or expensive maintenance like an attended front-desk, on-site management and pools add significantly to the budget. The value for those amenities is subjective.

Amenities that take up a significant amount of space within a building like large lobbies, party rooms, or rooftop gyms take away from the total unit count, thus increasing the ownership percentage of each unit.

There’s also a wide range of utilities included, or not, in a condo fee. Some fees include all utilities (water, sewer, trash, gas and electricity) while others may only include trash with the rest paid directly by each owner. Some fees even include internet and cable! These differences can change your monthly bottom-line between two condos by hundreds of dollars.

Another important consideration when analyzing condo fees is how well they’re being used to fund the reserves (the Association’s savings account for major repair or replacement work) and whether future planned/unplanned building expenses will require a fee increase or special assessment.

A well-funded reserve account usually means long-term fee stability and decreased chances of a special assessment. Associations should complete a new Reserve Study every five years to maintain a sufficient reserve balance and healthy building maintenance.

Other Thoughts On Condo Fees

Over the past couple of years I’ve written other condo fee related columns you might find helpful including A Case For Condo Fees, How Fees Impact Resale Value, and Finding Savings In Your Condo Budget.

While I have the attention of condo owners/Boards, I’ll also remind everybody that I’m organizing an info session on smoking bans in condos and to email me at [email protected] if you’re interested in joining.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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Summer 2019 is the inaugural season for DC Polo Society, where tradition and fun collide for the whole family.

Your new Sunday Funday is waiting with signature cocktails, food trucks, yard games and surprise themes and events every month. Get away to the countryside for more than just a polo match.

This weekend is the 3rd polo event: FUNBRELLA!

Enjoy the polo match with tropical vibes. Bring your own umbrella, chairs or snag one of the seats available on arrival. Friends, family, kids and dogs are all welcome! Kids under 16 are free for this event.

Affordable transportation add-on options are also available.

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Arlington Public Library is extending the hours for its makerspace after staff say hundreds attended its grand opening.

The makerspace, located at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) first opened in April, but staff celebrated the opening this past Saturday (July 20), with tours and workshops of the space, dubbeds The Shop. Over 500 people came out for the event, according to Maker Librarian Katelyn Attanasio.

Now the APL is expanding The Shop’s opening hours from fours hour a day — Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays–  to five hours each day.

Many of the workshops for the space are already “booked through October,” said Attanasio. She added that the DIY drywall repair workshop seemed to be especially well received.

Yesterday, the makerspace displayed little Groot figurines that had been made with the Shop’s 3D printer.

The Shop allows patrons to use a variety of equipment, from woodworking tools, circuit parts, Wacom tablets, 3D printers, and Cameo cutters, among others. Attanasio told ARLnow she hopes people realize there is even more to the space, like opportunities for patrons to come in and digitize home movies and tapes.

“This is your library,” said Attanasio. “We don’t just have fancy tech.”

She said the library is looking for feedback from patrons on the space, including its workshops and equipment.

The new hours for the makerspace are:

  • Monday: 2-7 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 2-7 p.m.
  • Thursday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Friday: Closed
  • Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: Closed
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