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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com July 30, 2010 at 9:16 am 2,052 28 Comments

Woman Locked Inside Virginia Square-GMU Station — A 25-year-old woman said she felt “completely terrified” when she found herself alone locked inside the Virginia Square-GMU Metro station Tuesday night. Metro says the station manager, who is supposed to walk the length of the platform before locking up at night, will receive some “retraining,” Fox5 reports.

Planetarium Group Doesn’t Expect to Meet Fundraising Goals — The board president of the Friends of the Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium says the fundraising goals set by the school board are “unrealistic” and she doesn’t expect to be able to meet them. Alice Monet says she hopes that showing a large base of support will convince the board to keep the aging planetarium open. More from the Washington Post.

Favola to Research the Scourge of Private Liquor Sales — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is hoping to sell off the state’s liquor business, a move that could bring in as much as $500 million for transportation projects. But Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola would like to see some hard facts before private companies can sell hard liquor. She wants to compare alcohol abuse rates in states with private liquor sales and states with state-run liquor sales. More from the Arlington Connection.

Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99.

  • Lou

    Loosen up, Barbara baby.”

  • Ryan

    Let’s not forget that you can show your support for the planetarium this Saturday. These goals are unrealistic in a sense that they should never have been made so high, but not in terms of us being able to come close and make a strong showing keep this facility open for the education of our children.

    Night at the Planetarium
    Presented by the Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium
    Saturday, July 31, 2010 4:00pm – 9:30pm

    Come out and join us for an evening full of Astronomy and
    Science. Show your support for the future of Arlington’s
    David M. Brown Planetarium while watching wonderful
    shows and taking part in hands-on lessons using a variety
    of telescopes available to view the sun, planets, and stars.

    Scheduled Planetarium Shows:
    4:00pm – “Solar System Tour” Recommended for children grades K-5
    5:00pm – Stars Tonight, Jonathan Harmon explains the August sky
    6:00pm – “Our Place in Space” Recommended for grades 2+
    7:00pm – Stars Tonight, Jonathan Harmon explains the August sky
    8:00pm – “Just Imagine” Recommended for grade 5 to adult
    5:00-9:30pm – Telescopes available outside for all to use.

    Suggested donations of $5 per individual and $10 per family will
    directly support the efforts to save the planetarium.

    More information available at:
    Email: [email protected]
    Location: 1426 North Quincy Street Arlington, VA 22207

  • Let’s Be Free

    Favola runs a government that prides itself on pushing ordinary retail for ordinary people outside the County and replacing that with bars and bistros that the middle class and the poor can’t afford. Now she gets all moralistic on us. The lady is a phoney elitist through and through.

    • Jack

      You must not be eating in the same places I am. The R-B corridor is filled with young, middle class people enjoying what is a true renaissance of food options. Add to that all the very inexpensive and fabulous ethnic restaurants on Lee Highway, Columbia Pike and Crystal City and your comment borders on the absurd. I, for one, think its fantastic that we now have a few more “fine dining” options so I don’t have to trek to the city for special occasions. And for everyday meals, the options are legion.

      • Let’s Be Free

        Absurd? Who do you think you are?

        Actually Jack I eat at home almost all the time, do most of my food shopping at Costco, which the elitist Board has planned out existence. I suggest you think about the real world where people like myself who support a family of five live and are saving to put three kids through college. I work two jobs. You have blinders on buddy. The world that most of us live in isn’t about carts and fine dining, or deciding between rendevous in the District or in Clarendon. You sound oh so out of touch like Barbara Favola and her bobble-headed pals on the County Board.

        • Thes

          A dozen Arlington restaurants made the Washingtonian’s 2010 list of best “Cheap Eats.” Some are old standbys, some new openings. Mind you, these are just the “Cheap Eats” among the 100 best in the area. There are many other inexpensive places in Arlington for the poor and middle class to get food. For example, for those who by choice or necessity always eat in, there is an expanded and refurbished Giant Food going in on Columbia Pike. Wal-Mart is not on the way (at least, not yet), but Barbara Favola did try to get us a Home Depot for Clarendon.


          • V Dizzle

            Big box stores put local shops (run by the middle class – and you are in the middle class if you have three kids in college) out of business and create jobs with sub-standard benefits. I think that it is well worth eating at home in order to support your ideals, isn’t it? Keep these union crushing stores out as long as we can. I write this, even though I don’t see how studying the privitization of liquor stores can label anyone an elitist.

  • South Arlington

    Can we just close this planeterium? With the budget crunch, there really is no justification to keep an aging, out-of-date planeterium going when we have a world class planeterium at the Air and Space Museum a Metro ride or short drive away. What an example of superfluous waste.

    • Ryan

      How about accessibility to students? Does it sound more reasonable to arrange to bus students into the District and pay for them to receive this sort of learning when it is right here?

      • South Arlington

        Considering it’s a district-wide resource, unless you’re only talking about students who attend Washington-Lee, I’d say you’d deal with busing or transport either way. Regardless, the Air and Space Museum is on the Metro line. There just is no justification to keep this planeterium when the schools are short of funding, space, and want to use that space for additional classrooms.

        • @South Arlington (commenter)

          Adding to what Ryan has described here regarding accessibility, I think the following argument is a powerful one. It was expressed by a Kojo Nnamdi Show listener, “blueslover” on the Kojo Nnamdi Show website: http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2010-07-29/saving-arlingtons-planetarium.

          “Those in education, particularly at the elementary school level, know that children who have had enriching experiences outside of the classroom come prepared for school with a much broader perspective of the world around them. Children raised in middle-class or upper-class families have a far greater chance of exposure to enriching experiences outside the classroom, thereby providing them an academic edge from the outset.

          Classroom teachers know that the public schools have limited means to close the gap between children of limited to modest means and children from more affluent families. Teachers see the “gap” developing as early as kindergarten. In addition, it is unfair and unrealistic for anyone to expect the public schools to solve the “achievement gap” because that gap is the result of variables that go far beyond classroom teaching. The reasons why children perform poorly in the areas of reading comprehension, math, writing, and other areas is not solely the fault of the school system. These children also lack enriching experiences outside the classroom. The planetarium is one of these enriching experiences.

          If Arlington County truly wants to close the achievement gap and do it in a way that attacks the issue systemically, rather than through classroom-based testing, closing the planetarium is the wrong approach. To a student whose parents have the income, education, and discretionary time to take their child to the Einstein Planetarium or the Hayden Planetarium on the weekend, this is not an issue of concern. To the student whose parents are of lower income status, lower educational level, and who work weekends to make ends meet, this a a major concern. Closing the planetarium will simply hit those hardest who need it the most. From this perspective, closing the planetarium is simply bad public policy, and it is at odds with the long-stated Arlington Public Schools goal by at least two superintendents to close the achievement gap between White and minority students once and for all. Those in positions of authority in the Arlington Public School system need to open their eyes and look beyond short-term budgetary considerations to the long-term needs of its minority student population.”

          • South Arlington

            Your melodramatic defense of the dated planeterium on behalf of the “minority students” doesn’t make sense when a student can be sent to a bigger, better, well-funded, technologically modern planeterium at the National Air and Space Museum. I’m not exactly clear on how a student that goes to Barcroft Elementary will have an easier time getting to the Arlington planeterium than to the National Air and Space Museum considering most of the transit infrastructure is built to facilitate easy and cheap transport into the city, and especially to the National Mall. How does the utilization of an inferior, technologically decrepit planeterium help to “close the gap” between rich and poor students? In a time of budget crunches, why pay to keep an inferior facility open when there is a federally funded far-superior option that is nearly the same distance away, free, and accessible by transit? I have to wonder if the same arguments would be made by defenders of the planeterium if it were located in Barcroft or Nauck.

          • @South Arlington (poster),

            While I appreciate your response and understand your point of view, I think you may want to get your facts straight about the numbers and figures involved as well as the value added by upgrading and maintaining this facility.

            Are you aware that 22,000 Arlington Public Schools students are bused to the planetarium annually? Or that the planetarium is visited by an additional 6,000 people from around the region? I too am from South Arlington and am an APS alumnus, and I remember the lack of access to Metro in the southern part of the county. I was fortunate enough to live in a family that had the time to visit facilities like the National Air & Space Museum, Hayden Planetarium in New York, Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and the vast array of public and private facilities dedicated to science outreach. I cannot say the same for many of my peers who are also APS alumni. Their out-of-class enrichment came from APS-sponsored field trips to places like the Outdoor Lab, the Planetarium, etc. And contrary to your claim that the Einstein Planetarium at NASM is free, it actually costs about $8 per person.

            Yes, the National Air & Space Museum’s Einstein Planetarium is a tremendous facility. And yes, Arlington Public Schools considered busing students out to this facility to replace Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. On the surface, this sounds like an excellent idea. Arlington saves money and children get to visit a world-class facility. However, here are the facts. Shutting down the planetarium, converting it to classroom space, and busing middle school students (APS only planned to send 2-3 grades [max] of students to the Einstein, if implemented) would have only saved the county $50,000. Fifty-thousand dollars to shut down one of our more beloved science outreach tools in the county–have you read the online petition? We received 930 signatures that may change your mind about what this facility means to your community (http://bit.ly/save-the-planetarium). Moreover, the world-class (downtown) facilities you mention are not enjoyed by all Arlingtonians. Let’s be realistic here. The digital divide is something we must consider. Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium makes astronomy accessible to all Arlingtonians.

      • Lou

        Yeah, the annual field trip to the planetarium was a staple of the elementary school year back in the day. There’s no reason for Arlington kids to have to go into DC for that.

        • “No reason to go to air and space planetarium” You mean besides Air and Spaced being bigger, better, more advanced – and Arlington has to cut the budget somehow and this would save money? Yeah, no reason.

      • Let’s Be Free

        To quote my young ones, Air and Space is “way better.” Reality is, living in this area, with Air and Space on the Mall, Udvar Hazy out at Dulles and the Goddard Space Flight visitor center up in Greenbelt, there is no other place this side of Cocoa Beach richer in aerospace enrichment opportunity. Since these have been developed we don’t need our very own Planetarium.

  • NorthArlingtonGuy

    Really, Ms. Favola? Could you concentrate on local issues, and work on ones like this when (if) you’re in a statewide position? Keep your eye on the ball.

    Besides – state run liquor stores aren’t about protecting people from themselves. They’re about control of a huge stream of money. Let’s be honest about that, and avoid cloaking the issue in a false cloak of morality.

    • NorthArlingtonGuy

      Oops. This comment was brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. …who will cloak their cloaks in a cloak … Ah, never mind.

      /show self out

      • NorthArlingtonGuy


        /SHOWS self out

    • Jack

      Liquor stores in Arlington is a local issue. How many do you think would pop up in Arlington if it goes private? Should there be zoning rules on where they can locate? Would improve quality of life for Arlington or decrease it? I personally hate the ABC stores. Price, quality, decor all pale compared to the worst DC liquor store, but I think it is well worth reviewing the impacts before taking a position. Hard to criticize Ms. Favola for that unless you’re just reflexively partisan.

      • NorthArlingtonGuy

        Wanting Senator Whipple and Delegate Brink to work on this issue, instead of Babara Favola, isn’t “reflexively partisan,” in any way. The question is whether the state is going to stay in the liquor business. Our representatives in Richmond are the right people to weigh the pros and cons for Arlington.

        Studies cost money, and so does staff time. I don’t want to see it wasted on a legislative question the Board doesn’t have a vote on.

        Whatever happens, Arlington County will retain its power to zone and to issue liquor licenses. The Board will have the absolute last word on how many liquor stores get licenses, and where they go.

  • Dave

    The poor woman getting locked in the metro station doesn’t surprise me at all unfortunately. I’ve encountered various stations closing early with no notice (I suppose the employees wanted to go home). Now I see I’ve just been lucky to always have been on the outside of the gate!

  • JR

    Let the plantarium die… seriously. it is worthless. if it had value to the community, then people would come forward to support it financially. no one wants it (except apparently a couple folks on this site)

    • Jack

      Unfortunately, especially in tight financial times, this is not necessarily true. Witness the number of arts organizations that have closed their doors. Were they really of no value to the community?

    • 930 signatures, 3600 facebook fans, civic association and PTA endorsements, coverage by the Washington Post and Sun Gazette, and countless school board speeches by your fellow residents would argue to the contrary. This is not a niche group of supporters, relegated to a blog post. Let us not make a long term decision based on short term economic crises. Now that the word is reaching broader audiences (NPR, Fox, NBC, etc.), there are many in our community who believe the fundraising effort will succeed. This is no time to throw in the towel.


      • South Arlington

        930 signatures out of 210,000 residents of the county. The planetarium at this point is a vanity project, a nostaligic memory for residents that grew up going tot he planetarium as children. Alas, this was an era when the same educational benefits couldn’t be gained from software and the internet that is provided at all Arlington Public Schools. I will stand corrected that there is a cost at the Air and Space Museum for planetarium tickets, however, the Smithsonian provides school group tours for free on a variety of topics.

        In the grand scheme of things, the county is cutting library hours as a result of the budget crunch. I have a hard time believing that an annual trip to a subpar planetarium provides more benefit and helps to bridge the so-called divide between rich and poor students than having those funds ($50,000 is not an insignificant amount!) spent on keeping the libararies fully staffed and expanding hours. Especially when, again, there is a world class Air and Space learning facility that is Federally funded, a mere 5 miles away, and accessible by transit. I’d much rather see the 22,000 APS students currently being bused to an out-of-date planetarium to enjoy a far greater, more educational, and free experience at the Air and Space Museum. Why sell the students short with a subpar facility when there is a world class facility ready to serve them?

        • @South Arlington,

          I will admit, you have a strong argument in favor of NASM. I am a huge fan of the facility. You demonstrated quite a bit of poise and fine-tuned argumentation, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond so thoroughly.

          With this said, I am fairly but not absolutely certain, whether you know what our fundraising effort will yield. Arlington Public Schools neglected the planetarium for 20 years–that goes all the way back to when I volunteered there as a kid. An upgrade to the projector and purchase of new digital shows would put the Arlington Planetarium on par with what is offered at the Einstein. Sure, the dome is larger at the Einstein, but we would be able to display the same space shows. There is something to be said for having a bit of hometown pride as well. Our planetarium is unique amid the sea of other school systems–a landmark, if you will. I think the argument that we have both overlooked until now is the fact that planetarium shows at the Einstein are basically “say hello to the guests, push the play button, and say goodbye to the guests.” Despite a handful of “stars tonight” programs at night each month,the Einstein Planetarium experience is far less hands-on than the Arlington Planetarium. And that is what separates the two facilities. The Arlington Planetarium Director interacts with the students and answers their questions about space — he really does a terrific job exciting them about astronomy. I can tell you that from experience. So, the question is, do we spend the time and money to ship 2 to 3 grade levels of kids out to an out-of-county facility where they get a sub-par interactivity experience, or do we fund the upgrades to a facility at home, accessible to grades K-6 and high school–a facility that truly fosters interactive learning.

          In addition, I’m afraid I disagree argument you pose, in favor of using computers and simulation software. The immersive experience provided by a planetariums is unmatched by 19-22″ computer screens or simulation software like Redshift, Starry Night Pro, and Stellarium. Sure, these programs are informational and provide a glimpse into the night sky; moreover, they are readily accessible. But they fail to provide the same level of interactivity as a planetarium is capable of doing.

          The only comparable experience to that of a planetarium is theoretical at this point–implemented on small scale projects: augmented reality. Technology with augmented reality will be able to immerse users in computer-enhanced environments, somewhat like virtual reality, only more intertwined with real-world environments. When this technology reaches the field of astronomy education, there will be a paradigm shift in the way we convey information to students. With all of that said, the technology is not there yet, and, for the most part, it remains theoretical.

          I respect your arguments @South Arlington. Thank you for engaging me in a civil discourse and helping me to develop a few of my arguments in favor of this facility.

  • TGEoA

    Good thing that wasn’t Favola locked in the Metro station. She would have discovered it was woefully lacking in artwork and gotten Zimmie to install something lame.


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