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Peter’s Take: The Five Most Revealing Stories of 2015

peter_rousselot_2014-12-27_for_facebookPeter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The past year was filled with revealing stories about Arlington and Virginia politics and government. Here are my top five:

5. Republicans retain control of VA State Senate

Democrats and Republicans combined to spend more than $43 million on Virginia State Senate political campaigns in 2015. After all that spending, the partisan breakdown of that legislative body remained exactly the same as before: 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Because the Republicans will continue to control the Virginia legislature, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe will need to reach bi-partisan compromises with Republican legislators to enact critical legislation during the two remaining years of his term.

4. Arlington hires independent auditor

The County Board approved the hiring of an independent auditor. The auditor will report directly to the Board rather than to the County Manager. This initiative was championed by Vihstadt and strongly supported by Garvey. Del. Hope played a key role by obtaining authorizing legislation from Richmond. County Board candidates Dorsey and Cristol also supported this plan. The independent auditor was initially resisted by Fisette, Hynes and Tejada, but Fisette and Hynes ultimately supported the plan.

3. Community facilities challenges continue

Arlington’s Community Facilities Study Group (CFSG) highlighted five pressing challenges:

  • Scarcity of land for public facilities
  • Changing demographics — Arlington’s population is projected to grow from 216,700 today to 283,000 in 2040
  • Threatened commercial tax base
  • Strategic facility planning and priority setting — The County needs a clear and open structure for setting priorities among competing needs
  • Revamping the community dialogue — To reach all members of our community, Arlington needs to make participation easier, earlier and more meaningful.

2. Pace of development remains controversial

As CFSG highlighted, the prospect of 66,300 more Arlington residents by 2040 brought renewed attention to the subset of development that can only occur if our local government acts to enable it. This subset includes changing zoning to permit greater density than now authorized. Many activists — including me — believe we need to step back and re-assess whether, when, where, how and under what terms and conditions local government acts with respect to this aspect of development.

1. Dorsey and Cristol elected to County Board

In 2011, Arlington County Board members included: Zimmerman, Favola, Hynes, Tejada and Fisette. Effective tomorrow, the members are: Garvey, Vihstadt, Dorsey, Cristol and Fisette.

The heavily-Democratic Arlington electorate has spoken clearly that it wants major changes in the ways by which the Board does business and significant changes in some policies and priorities. Dorsey’s and Cristol’s 2015 elections reflected voters’ judgments that they were best able to continue to move Arlington in these new directions.

Conclusion

These stories provide important background for 2016.

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$75 for two songs delivered to a place of your choice by a live, in-person quartet. Includes a classy tin of chocolates, fresh red rose and personalized card. Small mileage surcharge for >5 miles outside Arlington VA.

$30 Facetime/Skype valentine- two songs delivered ‘live’ via Facetime or Skype at an agreed-on time.

$20 virtual valentine- two pre-recorded quartet songs delivered via email with a personalized message.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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On February 11, come inside when the museum’s galleries reopen with two new exhibitions: Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View and Crisis of Image.

Grey View, in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery, is an homage to “gray” and a snapshot of the artist’s process. Consisting of photographs, collage, and a site-specific installation, this show is an outgrowth of Rivas-Rogers’ visual investigations into places you see on your way to somewhere else.

On the main level, Crisis of Image features artists who seek equity in today’s saturated visual world by developing new methods related to the production of images.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

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Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

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