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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com March 19, 2012 at 8:30 am 5,237 120 Comments

Lawmakers Punishing Arlington for HOT Lanes Suit — Arlington may have succeeded in blocking a state-backed plan to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395 last year, but the lawsuit the county filed against the HOT lanes project is coming back to haunt it in Richmond. State lawmakers have proposed budget amendments that would reduce Arlington’s share of road maintenance funds by $100,000 — a form of punishment for the county’s legal tactics. [Washington Times]

Wardian Wins D.C. Marathon — Arlington’s Michael Wardian won the SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in the District on Saturday, completing the race with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 35 seconds. The 37-year-old father of two had previously won the race’s predecessor, the National Marathon, five times. [Competitor]

Sliced Shopper Demands Wi-Fi — A woman has penned an open letter to the Clarendon Trader Joe’s insisting that the store install free public Wi-Fi internet service. The letter writer says the store’s lack of Wi-Fi led her to accidentally slice her finger while cutting avocados at home. [Patch]

Signature Production Connects with Younger Audience — A production at Shirlington’s Signature Theater is accomplishing the difficult feat of connecting with a younger theater-going audience while at the same time shining a critical light on their generation. “Really Really,” by 26-year-old playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo, examines “the self-absorbed mindsets often exhibited by the twentysomething members of ‘Generation Me.'” The show runs through March 25. [Variety]

  • G Clifford Prout

    Hard as I try, I really can’t come up with a snarky comeback to the avocado woman.

    • bobco85

      I don’t even think the Picard-Riker Double Facepalm image would do it justice.

    • South Awwwlington

      Entitled Brown Flip Flops…of Clarendon.

      • yup

        sooo played

        • Josh S

          Agreed. There should now be a system of demerits on ARLnow for continuing to reference the brown flip flop.

          • South Awwwlington

            We can’t edit our own posts…demerits are surely waaaaay down the road.

          • Clarendon Cruiser

            ahem, I earned these organic range free brown leather flip flops!

    • Arlingtron

      Really?! Really!

  • nunya

    avocado annie is an i.d.i.o.t.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Her actual letter makes her sound a lot less silly than the above blurb does.

      • CW

        It certainly makes it sound like less of a non-sequitur, as the actions follow a logical chain of cause and effect (as opposed to “there was no wi-fi, therefore I immediately cut my finger) but whether it’s less silly is debatable.

      • Josh S

        She was trying to provide an example of why she thinks the store should offer Wi-Fi. But it comes off as if she is trying to blame the store for her accident. So it sounds ridiculous. This is why politicians have speech-writers. It’s all too easy to be misunderstood and/or stick your foot in your mouth and sound ridiculous.

      • CourthouseChris

        I saw the blurb as silly on purpose, and was hoping to find a reasonable explanation in the letter. I was very much disappointed. Avocado girl is just an idiot, and needs to get a better phone – my phone works fine throughout the store.

        • drax

          There’s no way that wasn’t a joke.

          I hope.

  • South Awwwlington

    Dear Fellow Arlingtonians:

    Please remember this when voting next week…

    Kelly Democrat

    • SomeGuy

      Why would you trying to turn Michael Wardian’s marathon win into a political issue?

      • South Awwwlington

        Dear SomeGuy:

        I should have been more clear. My post was in reference to the first morning note regarding the Arlington-Richmond Love-Hate fest.

        This would be the second (or third by some counts) sanction by Richmond. Others being McDonnell’s appointment to the Metro Board (arguable) and Arlington’s loss of a voting Member on the Metro Board. Why in the world would the jurisdiction with the second largest # of stations be stripped if it’s voting seat?

        Do you think our previous Metro Board member (Mr. Zimmerman) saw the writing on the wall before he decided to “step aside” or be stripped of his voting rights on the Board? Methinks yes.

        I would like to point out that you don’t have to be Zimmerman drone to be pro-transit.

        Now can someone remind just what the issue was with hot lanes and how it became an issue of discrimination?

        • bringmetheyuppies

          The suit said people would exit on Glebe and that the intersection with 395 is low income. Therefore the poor people would be subject to pollution and this was discriminatory.

          • South Awwwlington

            You have got to be kidding.

            This has to be the most absurd crock I have ever heard.

      • South Awwwlington

        PS – Congratulations to Michael!

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Perhaps the state legislature should sue the County board members as individuals for acting beyond the scope of governmental authority and directing the filing of a frivolous, defamatory, and utterly vindictive lawsuit?

    • South Awwwlington

      +100- The whole law suit centers around a certain unnamed board member’s resistance to expansion of any roads through Arlington (and obviously maintenance of said roads also). scorched Earth policy in regards to any transportation project that isn’t at least equal in transit expansion.

      While I wholeheartedly agree with and support pubic transportation, utilizing a scorched Earth policy in regards to any transportation project that isn’t at least equal in transit expansion isn’t the way to get things done.

      We can only attempt to manage our transportation problems with a well rounded and multi-modal set of solutions. Going to war with Richmond will never help this County. This is the most childish and vindictive temper tantrum I have seen (on both sides).

      Since the Governor can’t run for re-election, that only leaves our locally elected and selfless public servant(s) on the County Board…

  • meh..

    Personally I don’t buy much produce from Trader Joes….it’s either no where near ripe enough, or it has fruit flies swarming around it..

    • WeiQiang

      It would be fresher with WiFi.

      • CW

        The kinetic energy of the electromagnetic waves propagating through the air is imparted upon the produce, causing vibration at the molecular level that serves as a catalyst for the reactions that drive ripening. True story.

        • JamesE

          I’ve had the best guacamole using 802.11n

        • South Awwwlington


  • B-Rad

    The irony about the avocado girl is that the reason she couldn’t remember something as simple as an apple is because her brain is gimped by its constant dependence on the internet.

    • Josh S


      • B-Rad

        Avocado and Apple both start with A.

        There, I solved your problem.

    • EastPike

      So true!

  • Bluemontsince1961

    OK, let me get this straight. The Arlington County Board and Richmond are mad at each other and Richmond proposes to “punish” the Board by reducing Arlington County road maintenance funds. Something that , in my personal opinion, would seem to hurt the regular John and Jane Does that are trying to drive from Point A to Point B by making the road conditions in Arlington worse. Will the “enlightened ones” in Richmond kindly add to the proposal to pay for the wheel alignments and suspension repairs (or new tires perhaps) what will be needed when neglected roads (under their proposal) start ruining people’s cars?

    If this proposal does go through, I wonder if it might just increase number of Car-Free participants, which would probably defeat their “punishment”. Ironic, since the majority in Richmond is GOP and as far as I know, the GOP isn’t likely to be rah-rah Car-Free/Go Green.

    What are they smoking down in Richmond?

    • BigSpender

      Makes sense to me, Arlington clearly doesn’t care about improving conditions on 395. This trend is likely to continue when Arlington whines like little babies that they don’t get consulted properly on high profile projects. Why does Arlington always feel the need to be different than other counties? We are treated like red headed step children, we also act the part so I guess it makes sense

      • Terry

        You’re right. The county board should just let the state GOP ram through any crap legislation they want. The GOP has proven to be effective leaders when it comes to transportation so why not just take them at their word that HOT lanes would work. Why bother spending money to do research? OBVIOUSLY if the GOP says it it’s true.

        • B-Rad

          The HOT lanes was not a “GOP” project. It was something being pursued by both the Warner and Kaine administrations. Mark Warner, a Democrat, brought in Homer (a long time respected civil servant who worked in PW County prior to going to Richmond), to be Deputy Transportation Secretary. He ascended to Transportation Secretary near the end of Warner’s term when Clement resigned. Kaine retained him when he became governor.

          • South Awwwlington

            Glad someone else is paying attention to. Thank you.

      • MC

        Reclassifying existing HOV lanes in Arlington as HOT lanes was simply a corporate welfare giveaway that did nothing to improve the throughput of traffic to DC. Unfortunately, past Democrats in Richmond has been as spineless as the Republicans in pushing real road spending via a gas tax increase. The County won the court case, even if it was unseemly. Surely they would have lost if the original project hadn’t been so manhandled and in gross violation of well established process.

    • Rosslyner


      • Autoexec.bat

        ^ Accurate.

    • Burger

      The punishment was due to the county board suing the government officials (one federal, one state) in their personal capacity not as government officials. The county board was told several times to remove the govt officials as persons and only sue the state and government. The county board refused.

      The state used state money to defend the state employee in the state employee’s personal capacity. Thus, if the county board had recognized the illegitimacy of their actions and dismissed the state employee in his personal capacity the state wouldn’t have had to pay the state employee’s legal fees to defend himself in his personal capacity.

      Long story short. This is the county board’s fault not Richmond.

      • SomeGuy

        Burger’s dead on here. Whether or not you agree with the HOT lanes suit in principle, suing an official in his personal capacity (vs. suing the office) is a particularly slimy move on the county’s part.

        I haven’t formed a strong opinion either way on HOT lanes, but I do think it’s low to try to personally bankrupt an individual for acting in his official capacity. I’m sure Zimmerman and friends would agree if the state started suing them personally.

        • B-Rad

          The problem is, they chose to charge them with civil rights violations, which I believe requires the charges be brought against the person, not the office.

          The ridiculousness of the civil rights allegations themselves is a whole topic beyond this discussion.

          • Burger

            I think the civil rights claims goes part in parcel with suing them as individuals.

      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        The county board made it personal for no particularly good reason.

        • South Awwwlington

          So the question that begs answering: Why would we continue to vote for such inept leaders?

          I ask this as a card-carrying, Obama-contributing Democrat.

    • MC 703

      I am not an expert on state vs local government dynamics and rules of warfare but it seems to me that Arlington did nothing illegal or unethical in trying to block the HOT lanes.

      Arlington was exercising mechanisms in the courts to attempt to block a plan that it believed would do more harm than good inside the county.

      Also, I have never read anything good about HOT lanes. I believe that Atlanta is one of the more famous cases where the gridlock is worse than ever after years of traffic and hardship during construction.

      • Burger

        There are a couple of exception but government officials are not personally liable for actions they take as within their government duties i.e. they are immune from lawsuits. The officials can be sued in their government role but are then defended by Virginia state attorneys. It is why you can’t sue a police officer as an individual that busts down the door of the wrong house – they have immunity.

        When government officials are sued personally for government actions they need to pay the legal fees on their own or have someone back-stop them.

        In this case VA, under Kaine, a Democrat, decided to pay the legal fees. But, first, Virginia tried to get the county board to dismiss the suit against government official in his personal capacity but leave it for him as a government role. The county board refused.

        It is unethical. The County Board and their attorneys know very well suing a government official personally is a first year con-law class that says it won’t fly.

        • Thes

          Internet attorneys, beware. We have links to show you’re wrong.

          Bivens actions are a very common method of rectifying government violations of civil rights, and are characterized by suing officials in their personal capacity. It is common for such officials to have their legal defense and any damages awarded by reimbursed by the agency that employes them. It is neither unethical nor unusual.

          Here is but one of many links you can use to learn more.

          • Burger

            Snicker..maybe you should read the link and go do some more legal research. Biven is inapposite. I’ll help you out here – that means it is not applicable.

            Bivens covers federal employees – not state ones – and those federal employees more specifically are law enforcement employees not transportation engineers. And, further, it does nothing to contradict my point which is that it was the County Board’s fault.

            Off to the library with you.

          • B-Rad

            I am not aware of any transportation engineers who were part of this litigation. Homer certainly is not. To say that he is ultimately the person to sue because Arlington disagreed with any part of the HOT lanes plan is also pretty silly.

            I know, the buck has to stop being passed somewhere, but it’s not like Homer dreamed up the whole HOT lanes project by himself. Why not sue the governor of Virginia if you really want to aim high?

          • Thes

            Because the law might not have allowed Arlington to pursue it’s particular claims without naming the official. Which happens all the time, is normal, and also not unusual in this kind of litigation, which is why governments at all levels routinely provide full legal coverage for employees who are sued this way.

          • B-Rad

            That does not really answer my question about why not going all the way to the governor. That is the chief executive position of the government, ultimately responsible for all policy decisions by his subordinates.

          • Thes

            Probably because the particular literal action taken to start the HOT lanes in this case was not personally made by the governor, but by the person who signed whatever paper was signed. They probably had to sue the dude who actually signed the paper.

          • Burger

            Thes, not surprising fails to understand basic legal structure.

            This is nothing wrong, as you state, with suing a government official in their official capacity. But the Arlington County Board sued the individuals in their personal capacity as individuals.

            Further, the case he cites and its progeny related to federal law enforcement officials – DEA, Secret Service, etc. my point is simply that the VA govt official that decided to move forward is not any of those and more likely related to some form of transportation department than enforcement.

          • Thes

            That is a distinction without a difference to refute the assertion in your previous post:

            “It is unethical. The County Board and their attorneys know very well suing a government official personally is a first year con-law class that says it won’t fly.”

            It was not unethical in the slightest. It was normal and customary in the context of the legal claims they were making, just like in Bivens actions. Indeed if it weren’t completely ethical (and a successful legal strategy in this case, apparently) the Board and it’s attorneys would be open to court sanctions. Obviously, since the state of Virginia has dropped their lawsuit and the legislature has resorted to bullying tantrums to try make its point to Arlington County Board bashers back home, the state’s lawyers must agree that Arlington acted entirely appropriately within the law.

            This is a purely political dispute.

          • B-Rad

            Virginia filed a lawsuit and then dropped it? I missed that part.

          • Thes

            Arlington filed the suit. Investors realized that the suit was going to be successful, and so they refused to invest. So Virginia had to abandon the project, whereupon they gave up and the lawsuit was over. If Virginia had any good argument that the suit was frivolous or unethical, they could have brought that claim against Arlington. But they have not, because it was a valid legal question.

          • Thes

            By the way, you may ask, “Investors? Why are there investors?” And that is because Virginia was going to make this project work by selling the rights to the highway for something like 99 years to a foreign company, and promise that Virginia wouldn’t offer to compete with whatever the company built. Pretty scary.

          • B-Rad

            So, Virginia never “dropped” a lawsuit. Thanks.

          • B-Rad

            When you say the suit was going to be successful, by what measure would success be achieved? Are you presuming a finding of guilt in court?

          • Thes

            Successful in this case would mean that the court would issue an order to block the HOT-lanes from proceeding, because the actions of the Virginia officials had been illegal. Virginia and eventually notified the court that they were stopping the project of their own accord.

          • B-Rad

            That’s a pretty wild and bold assumption. You actually think they foresaw the outcome of the lawsuit before it made it to attorney arguments?

          • Thes

            I’m open to alternative theories about why the project, and thus the lawsuit, went away. That’s the best explanation I’ve heard. Do you have another?

          • B-Rad

            Well, looking back at the history of the whole thing, to me it’s pretty clear that they just waited out the investors.

            The 395 HOT lanes project was initially put on hold by VDOT and the PPP consortium behind them. This was due to cost and financing issues that arose during the engineering phase of the segment inside the Beltway. It was found that the capital costs for that segment were very high and would threaten the entire project’s access to credit for constructing the project.

            Within a short time, I believe it can be counted in hours, Arlington slapped their lawsuit on the project. At no time after VDOT suspended the project was it ever restarted, and in fact the financials that caused the original project suspension eventually were what caused the removal of the segment inside the beltway.

            But go ahead and assume those people were guilty before they even had their day in court.

          • Thes

            Just to be clear, I’m not assuming anyone is “guilty” of anything. This particular I-395 HOT-lanes concept seemed to me to be a terrible concept from a policy perspective (give a foreign company a 99-year monopoly over one of our roads?). I take no position on whether anyone’s civil rights were going to be violated by the project, but I agree Arlington was entitled to its day in court to show that it was. Fortunately for all concerned, the project will never happen, so now it’s impossible to be harmed, except those who cannot bear to see Arlington’s County Board get their way on anything, ever.

            Meanwhile, there is a rump group of Republican legislators and local critics who hate the County Board personally and professionally, and are trying to make this basically successful legal effort appear as if it were some kind of personal smear campaign similar to the ones they routinely engage in themselves. However, it was not.

          • B-Rad

            So my retelling of the facts did not sway your opinion about why the project was altered before resuming?

          • Burger

            OMG, where to start but simply state whatever your are smoking please pass next time.

          • Paco Wellington III

            Naming government officials in their personal capacity is a cheap shot usually reserved for pro se lunatics. These government officials will have to disclose the lawsuit when apply for mortgages or security clearances. The petty attacks against individuals should not be practiced by the County Board. I have had a security clearance delayed because a lunatic named me in a lawsuit when his beef was with a government agency where I worked.

            Why is it “bullying” when the legislator exercises its budgetary duty, but when the County Board makes baseless allegations against individuals that is okay? The state legislature can do as it wants and if it thinks a band of nut-jobs constitutes the Arlington County Board, then the state legislature can slap them down. It is interesting that Thes-the-County Board-Apologist has returned after the democratic primary in February. Maybe she was too busy losing by 80%, making up more excuses about failing to pay taxes, or being deceptive about her lack of higher education to participate here at ArlNow? We do not need the constant apologies or the uneducated opinions.

          • Aren’t You

            Melissa Bondi?

          • Ramen

            I think the county’s development and gentrification efforts are doing more actual harm to minority population in Arlington then any proposed carpool lane project.

      • South Awwwlington

        The Atlanta Project is NOTHING like the project being planned on 495.

    • Car-Free Diet

      Bluemont, it is exactly because Arlington behaves as if it is not part of Virginia, and does not concern itself with its southern and western neighbors that it is treated this way by Richmond.

      Rather than complaining about Richmond you should get off your high-horse that Arlington gets what it deserves and earns from Richmond. A healthy dose of disrespect.

  • Tre

    Great, now I have to figure out how to get an avocado fix at lunch time.

  • JamesE

    Anyone that needs WiFi to tell them not to buy a hard avocado needs to be put down.

  • Not a fan

    I don’t care if Trader Joe’s ever gets WiFI.

    But I DO CARE that the Arlington County Board gave the store a specific waiver that permits its trucks to unload at 6:00 a.m. (earlier than everybody else), and that Trader Joe’s abuses this special waiver by permitting its noisy trucks to arrive even earlier, so that I am awakened at 5:40 a.m. nearly every morning. Saturdays too.

    • CW

      I live on the block and it does not bother me, mainly because I’m on the Garfield side. But, JUST WAIT until the real FUN begins and they start the demo and construction on the super project in the CrossFit/Eleventh/gravestone block. The TJ’s trucks will feel like the good old days of yore. I am moving off that block next month.

    • Maria

      Have you ever said anything to them about it?

  • Mrs_D

    Personally I’d like to see another state. Let’s create North Virginia. We already have a West Virginia. Then Richmond and the rest of southern Virgina can stop worrying about how to punish those who dare to question Richmond. Not to mention we might actually be able to keep a greater chunk of our tax dollars which would pay for an environmental study and fill the pot holes. And we could get our hotel tax back which was also wrongly stripped away.

    • Burger

      those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The county board brought the punishment upon themselves.

      • drax

        No, one party controls Arlington and another controls the state. That’s all this is about.

        • Patrick

          Except the party in control of the Gov. Mansion and therefore the executive branch of richmond at the time of the lawsuit was the same party as the county board. Furthermore the state senator that offered the amendment to strip the funds is also a democrat.

          • Car-Free Diet


          • You just

            schooled him! Bam!

    • Curious George

      The only problem with the separate state idea is that currently the nutjobs in Richmond balance out the wackos in Arlington.

      Without balance a great disturbance in the force there will be.

    • Arlingtron

      The GOP and down-staters will gladly take and keep our big bucks? The area roughly north of US Route 17 should become “North Virginia.”

      • General Zod

        The Rappahannock River is the demarcation line. North = NoVA. South = RoVA or rest of Virginia.

        • Tabs

          Without looking at a map, I don’t know.

          I was in Remington, which is not that far, and had breakfast at someone’s house. Biscuits and gravy, with a side order of abortion-is-evil and Obama is Muslim.

    • FrenchyB

      Ugh, the “let’s form a new state” argument is almost as tired as brown footwear comments. Forming a new state from the territory of an existing state requires approval of both Virginia’s legislature and Congress. It’s not gonna happen.

      • bob

        It didn’t require the approval of Virginia when West Virginia broke away during the War of Northern Aggression. We just need to declare civil war.

        • pacifists ‘R’ us

          how do you declare war when your elected officials are afraid of guns and wouldn’t even know which end to point?

      • Car-Free Diet

        Apparently, many Arlingtonians prefer their separatists pipe dreams rather than taking real action and moving to the liberal utopia on the Potomac, Maryland.

  • arlmama

    if the avocado isn’t ripe, don’t cut into it.

  • Glebe Roader

    Not to defend the woman in the avocado story, but no where does she “demand” or “insist” the store install wi-fi. In fact, her letter says. “I type this letter with my working nine fingers not to blame you, but to beg you: Please install Wi-Fi in your store.”

  • novasteve

    Maybe it would just be easier to just ban avocados?

    • CW

      Avocados don’t cut people, knives cut people.

  • CrystalMikey

    Way to go Michael! I was spectating at the Marathon and watched him finish. He seemed to be at least a good 15 min ahead of the rest of the pack.

  • KARLington

    Further proof that Google is making us stupider.

    • Arlingtonian


  • novasteve

    I’m just curious, if it was that important to her, why didn’t she just put her basket down, take her phone outdoors where there was a signal, and use google there? Also one day in the future they’re going to find some unpleasant health consequences with wifi and cell phones. She could then have found out what she needed, and then gone back in and finished shopping.

  • ArlingtonChick

    OK. Its one thing to want wifi in a store to check your grocery list, etc. Its another to use an antedote that shows your stupidity to plead for wifi. I am embarrassed to be a smartphone user. I don’t want to end us with a sliced finger at urgent care because I can’t remember anything and stupidly bought and tried to use an unriped avacado. Why couldn’t she wait another day!?!?!

    • (another) Greg


      • Tabs

        And *avocado*
        And *It’s another*
        And “end us with a sliced finger*

        • Tabs

          “up” I mean.

    • Arlingtonian

      +1. Yes, it’s a wonder how any of us got along before smartphones … hahaha. What did we do before smartphones? We asked an employee for help, most likely. It’s not hard to do. Stories like this make me scared for the future of the human race.

  • I can’t believe Avocado girl wrote that letter and I can’t believe she signed her name. Someone better take away knives, fire, and any sharp object away from this girl – she’s a danger to herself. Wow.

  • Tabs

    Ah, she’s in IT. Heh.

    • nom de guerre

      And whose interests include Crossfit. Go figure.

      • long timer

        True dat!

  • SamsontheCat

    I demand all Trader Joes hire people who are knowledgable in their respective area (meat, produce, grains, deadly foods like avocados, etc) and have them in the store to answer all of my questions. They can dress in safari gear and be refered to as “Trader Joes”.

    It can double as a jobs program for liberal arts majors…says the liberal arts major.

    • dk


  • Elizabeth

    Avocado woman could have looked up information about avocado ripeness at her home, before she cut into it. What does TJ’s have to do with that? Because TJ’s does not sell patience does not mean they should have to provide WiFi for people who lack.

    • novasteve

      I think her point was that at her home she likely didn’t have the apple or other fruit necessary to help soften the avacado. she didn’t want to make another trip. still silly, but that’s what she was getting at.

  • nunya

    man could i use some guacamole right about now.

    and a margarita.

    • Glebe Roader

      Here. Here.

    • drax

      Oh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

  • bob

    Yet another reason why I will not give in to the smartphone silliness until there is no other option.

  • novasteve

    funny how the word avocado is so close to the spanish/portuguese words for attorney.

    Coincidence? Could a lawsuit be brewing?

  • nota gain

    Gee, who could not see the withholding lowering the money to this area. B what is her name is the wonder girl of Richmond. What dummies the ACB is.


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