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RIP DCist

While we prefer the nomenclature “local news website,” ARLnow launched at a time when “blogging” was still a thing. We were basically a blog.

The granddaddy of all big, D.C. area local news blogs was DCist and late today came the sad news that its billionaire owner has closed all of the DNAinfo and Gothamist websites, including DCist, following a vote to unionize the company’s New York City newsroom.

It was always a thrill to get a link from DCist. Early on it would bring a rush of traffic at a time when we were still trying to build our audience. Even in 2017, getting a DCist link was a sign that an article we published here in Arlington has resonated across the Potomac.

DCist was a consistently interesting and entertaining one-stop-shop for D.C.-centric local news, it had a loyal and often very funny commenting community, it jumpstarted the careers of some excellent journalists, and it was an important component of the slowly shrinking D.C. local news ecosystem.

RIP DCist, you will be missed.

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D.C. Startup Compiles Hard-to-Find List of Local Daycare Options

A D.C.-based startup is helping parents find daycare options in Arlington County, even those not usually easy to find online.

Maternie, founded by Meghan McCarthy, describes itself as a service to “empower pregnant women and new parents with the best information on life’s most important decisions.”

And its Daycare Directory lists licensed child care providers in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C., including commercial and in-home daycare, some of which it says are “not easily found online.” The directory can be sorted by zip code, and will soon include information that used to require a phone call to determine, including pricing, operating hours, waiting lists and registration costs.

It lists 101 commercial and in-home child care providers in Arlington, sourced from state data obtained in September.

(On its child care website, Arlington County has its own lists of child care centers and in-home child care. The county’s lists appear to have more child care options than Maternie’s, but do not have the same level of detail Maternie is planning.)

In addition to its child care directory, Maternie offers quick guides on picking a health care provider, and will soon offer another on maternity leave. It provides expectant mothers struggling with “morning” sickness, disturbed sleep and heartburn guidance on symptoms, why they might be feeling that way and how to deal with it.

And there is also a section for women to anonymously share their stories of being in labor, with another to follow in the future about postpartum depression.

“This is a collection of stories from women in their own words,” the section on labor reads. “It includes the good, the bad and everything in between about labor and delivery. Nothing can quite capture the experience of giving birth, but hopefully these stories can demystify as much as possible.”

Images via Maternie

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BREAKING: Armed Robbery at Pharmacy in Bluemont

Arlington County Police are on scene of a reported armed robbery at a business in the Bluemont neighborhood.

Initial reports suggest the Arlington Pharmacy at 5513 Wilson Blvd was robbed around 2:15 p.m., by a man implying that he had a weapon. The man was described as a six-foot tall white male wearing a black hat and black sunglasses.

Police have responded to the pharmacy and are currently taking a bike-riding suspect matching the description into custody along George Mason Drive.

Photo via Google Maps

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Beyer Leads Letter Criticizing Inaction on Rising Health Premiums

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) led a letter with more than 40 Democratic colleagues highlighting rising health insurance premiums and criticizing Congress’ inaction.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, 46 Democrats said the lack of action to fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments is hurting small business owners and the self-employed.

President Donald Trump announced he would end the payments, which help subsidize health insurance premiums, last month.

The Democrats said that House Republicans are blocking a “key solution” by not funding the CSRs through legislation, and it will only make things harder for individuals and business owners.

“We are hearing from entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employed individuals who are being disproportionately impacted by the President’s decision,” they wrote. “We ask that you support our innovator economy and mitigate this financial burden by fulfilling cost sharing reduction payments.”

The full letter is after the jump.

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We are deeply concerned about the President’s decision to end the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and the devastating financial impact it will have on small businesses, working families, and the innovator economy. We ask that you commit to fund the CSRs and eliminate this barrier to innovation.

As you know, CSRs make health insurance more affordable by reducing cost sharing and out-of-pocket expenses like co-payments and deductibles in the non-group or individual market. In 2016, CSRs alleviated the cost of medical expenses for over 6.4 million enrollees. Now that President Trump has ended the Administration’s payment of the CSRs, absent a subsequent appropriation of funds or other action by Congress, we could see devastating impacts on our innovator economy.

We know that failure to fund CSRs will drive up premiums as insurers cover the cost and that some insurers will be forced out of the non-group market as a result. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) anticipate that most insurance commissioners would permit insurers to substantially increase premiums in the marketplaces. This will primarily hurt millions of middle-class individuals, like the small businesses and self-employed individuals in our districts, who earn too much to qualify for premium assistance and will bear the full brunt of any rate increase. According to the Brookings Institution, uncertainty about these payments is perhaps the biggest threat to stability in the individual market. CBO and the JCT also estimate that this action also increases the federal deficit, on net, by $194 billion from 2017 through 2026.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly one in five non-group marketplace consumers are small business owners or self-employed individuals. The Treasury Department identified non-group marketplace coverage as an important source of health insurance coverage for small business owners and the self-employed, noting that it provides insurance for a large share of self-employed individuals, particularly for middle-income workers. The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education highlights how the CSR eligible plans enabled small business owners and self-employed individuals to more easily obtain affordable health insurance and pursue entrepreneurial goals, also indicating that options like eliminating CSRs would disproportionately hurt self-employed and small businesses of less than 50 employees.

We are hearing from entrepreneurs, small business owners, and self-employed individuals who are being disproportionately impacted by the President’s decision. We ask that you support our innovator economy and mitigate this financial burden by fulfilling cost sharing reduction payments.

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Healthy Paws: The Senior Cat

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Cats are often forgotten members of the household in terms of veterinary care, since they are by nature self-reliant and hide illness and discomfort remarkably well. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), a “senior” cat is defined as a cat over 11 years of age, while a “geriatric” cat is defined as being over 15 years of age.

As age increases, cats are more prone to developing subtle changes in behavior that can help clue us into various common diseases in older kitties, such as arthritis, chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension (high blood pressure) and small intestinal disease.

Chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is the most common condition we diagnose that causes a chronic, negative impact on quality of life. Studies have shown that up to 90% of older cats will have changes consistent with osteoarthritis on x-rays, affecting many different joints in the spine and limbs.

Recognition of feline pain and pain management in cats has come a very long way in the last two decades. Some cats will develop visible lameness or signs of discomfort, but often the signs are much more subtle, such as:

  • Hesitation before jumping.
  • Relocating favored perches and sleeping areas to more accessible areas.
  • If in a home with stairs, limiting themselves to one level of the home.
  • Under grooming or over grooming.
  • Not using the litterbox, especially to defecate.
  • Reclusiveness and/or changes in temperament.

Treatment of osteoarthritis is often multimodal, meaning approached from many different angles. We generally start with omega-3 and joint supplements, as well as some prescription foods to manage the disease from a nutritional angle. Weight management is also an important part of nutritional management, as obesity creates a pro-inflammatory state in the body that can worsen disease symptoms (this is true of humans and dogs, as well!). Pain management with various drug therapies are often recommended; as well as physical therapy, cold laser therapy and acupuncture.

Osteoarthritis and common systemic diseases in cats, such as chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension and gastrointestinal disease, often have an insidious onset and a nonspecific set of symptoms (weight loss, increased or decreased appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased water consumption and accidents outside the litter box, etc… ).

The non specificity of symptoms, and often coexistence of multiple diseases in a single cat, is why we recommend a blood pressure and comprehensive blood work and urinalysis profile any time a senior or geriatric cat presents with any combination of these symptoms. We may also recommend diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and abdominal ultrasound to be able to further define symptoms and come to a diagnosis. Treatment of the various common systemic diseases in older cats is also multimodal, often employing a combination of supplements, diet and drug therapies.

In the generally healthy senior or geriatric cat, the annual physical examination is a great opportunity to review the happenings of the past year with your veterinarian, and have a discussion as to the “normals” and “abnormals” of your unique kitty. We very often have findings on our examinations that are so subtle that clients have not noticed them at home, such as weight loss and painful joints.

In addition to our standard annual physical examination, vaccine and intestinal parasite prevention protocols, the AAFP additionally recommends annual baseline blood work, thyroid, urinalysis and blood pressure in all senior cats. Having these baseline values for an individual patient is extremely helpful for comparison to their “normal” if illness arises. For some senior and all geriatric kitties, it is often recommend to have examinations, and sometimes blood work, on a biannual basis.

Amazingly, it is not uncommon for cats to live into their early 20’s with regular preventive care, pain management and early and persistent management of chronic diseases. We absolutely love our well-lived and well-loved senior and geriatric feline patients!

Helpful Resources for Senior Cat Lovers:
Top 10 Tips for Senior Cats
How Do I Know if My Cat is in Pain?

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Local Republicans Criticize Favola’s ‘Evil’ Remark

The Arlington County Republican Committee led a chorus of condemnation after state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) suggested Republicans are “evil” at a rally Tuesday night.

Speaking to more than 200 supporters at an Arlington County Democratic Committee rally alongside Democratic nominee for governor Ralph Northam, lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring — who is running for re-election — and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), among others, Favola said that if Republican nominee Ed Gillespie becomes governor, it will be “dangerous.”

“My colleagues didn’t tell you how dangerous it will be if the other sides wins,” Favola said in a speech. “They’re evil, we’re the good guys… Every one of you is an angel. You’re not only fighting for yourselves, you’re fighting for hundreds of thousands of people in Virginia.”

(ACDC posted a video of the entire rally on its Facebook page. Favola’s remarks begin just before the 31:00 mark.)

The use of the word “evil” brought swift condemnation from Arlington GOP chair Jim Presswood, who pushed back on Favola’s statement.

Senator Barbara Favola crossed the line when she said that Virginia Republicans are “evil.”  This language goes well beyond the realm of civil debate and demeans the moral character of Republicans.

Senator Favola and other Arlington Democratic leaders often talk about “Arlington values.” There are indeed many values Arlingtonians across the political spectrum share, including cultural and ethnic diversity, good schools, a well-run public transit system, and the need for public parks. But Senator Favola apparently does not include ideological diversity in this list. The term “Arlington values” should not be code for Democratic values.

There are many Republicans who live in Arlington — about thirty-thousand people in the county voted for the Republican Congressional candidate last year. Senator Favola needs to remember, even during a heated political campaign, that we are her constituents too.

In a tweet, Gillespie also condemned the comment.

Photo via Facebook video.

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Urban Boxing Gym Expanding into Virginia Square

A boxing gym already in D.C. and Bethesda is set to open its latest location in Virginia Square.

Urban Boxing will move into 3701 Fairfax Drive according to signs in its windows, next to a Dunkin’ Donuts that opened in September.

The gym, which already has locations near Foggy Bottom in D.C. and in Bethesda, Md., “offers members both individual training and group setting workouts. We strive to combine high energy fitness and self-defense in a fun yet encouraging environment,” according to its website.

It offers over 60 group classes and personal training sessions, and also represents professional and amateur fighters under the moniker Urban Boxing Sports Management.

A permitting application filed with the county indicates that the gym will have 3,800 square feet of space. No word yet on an opening date.

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Morning Poll: Subscribe to Support More Reporting?

Throughout the media world, a trend is emerging: more and more news outlets are asking readers to subscribe.

For the New York Times, turning readers into paid subscribers has helped the company buck industry trends and grow its revenue in the face of steep print advertising declines and an environment in which Google and Facebook capture the lion’s share of new digital advertising.

Here in Arlington, we are fortunate to have a great base of advertisers. Thanks to our advertisers, the ARLnow you see today is sustainable and here to stay.

However, we often hear from readers who want more. More long-form stories, more profiles of local community members doing good works, more investigations into neighborhood issues, more accountability and public-service journalism, etc. We do some of that now, but this kind of reporting takes a lot of time to produce and we are stretched thin as it is.

To do more is not possible for us as an exclusively advertising-supported business. It could be possible, however, if just a percent or two of our current readers are willing to subscribe to read it.

Here’s the idea we’re currently batting around:

  • Invest in increased long-form, enterprise and public-service reporting, but make most of it exclusively for subscribers.
  • Offer subscriptions for $8/mo or $80/year.
  • Beyond more news, include other goodies for subscribers like: a new weekly “insider” email newsletter, access to a private Facebook group with ARLnow staff, a quarterly subscriber happy hour, etc.

So what do you think? Would you be willing to pay a small monthly fee for more news about Arlington?

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Morning Notes

Residents Urged to Report Water Main Breaks — “With colder weather in the offing, Arlington government officials are asking the public to serve as a first line of defense against catastrophic water-main breaks… County residents who see a problem are asked to immediately call the 24-hour emergency hotline at (703) 228-6555.” [InsideNova]

Remy’s New Parody Video — “Arlington Rap” guy Remy released a new music video on Halloween, a “Thriller” political parody called “Trigger.” [YouTube]

Airbags, Doors Stolen from Car — Thieves broke a window of a car in a Crystal City apartment building parking lot overnight this past Friday and proceeded to steal two of its doors and the airbag. Police said it was “clearly the work of professionals.” [Fox 5]

Preserving the Arlington Woods — Ecologist Joan Maloof is working to preserve the remaining 12 acres of the once 600 acre Arlington Woods on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, along with other old-growth forests. [Washington Post]

Programs at Arlington County Jail — Inmates have access to a number of programs during their typically short stays at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse, including English language training, special education, chaplain and library services. For some of the instructors, running their programs is just as rewarding for them as it is for the inmates. [Falls Church News-Press]

Glebewood Neighborhood Profiled — “When house hunters encounter the Glebewood neighborhood in Arlington County, they tend to express admiration for its location, schools, amenities and transportation. That the townhouses, duplexes, apartments and some single-family homes are reasonably priced for North Arlington only adds to the appeal.” [Washington Post]

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