84°Partly Cloudy

by Jackie Friedman — July 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm 0

Dogs cool off at the James Hunter Dog Park

The weekend is here and so are the scorching temperatures.

Temperatures could reach the high 90s throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. So make sure to take extra precautions and stay cool and hydrated this weekend.

There will be some outdoor activities this weekend in and around Arlington such as the Crystal Twilighter 5K and a bike ride along George Washington Memorial Parkway. See our event calendar for more listings. Or, if you’d rather stay inside and keep cool, check out some of the open houses happening Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Feel free to discuss the heat wave or any other topic of local interest in the comments.

by Mark Kelly — July 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

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.

Mark Kelly

The Virginia Supreme Court will now make a decision on Governor McAuliffe’s order to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons who served their time.

Previous governors have agreed with legal advice that the right to restore rights was not a blanket one through the clemency powers. Instead, they were supposed to set up a review of each case.

Both Governors Kaine and McDonnell worked to make that review easier. And McAuliffe’s predecessors were applauded from across the political spectrum for doing so.

McAuliffe has fought to keep the list secret, and multiple mistakes have been uncovered — leading to ever-growing criticism.

The case should ultimately rest on one important question:  Did Governor McAuliffe violate the Virginia Constitution with his order? The Court is expected to decide in time for the general election in November.

But the Solicitor General asked that the case be thrown out because the legislators could not prove they were harmed by the Governor’s order. He said allowing the case to go forward could amount to a situation where “any voter is going to be able to challenge virtually any election law.” And there was a good deal of discussion on this question during the arguments.

The Supreme Court did agree to hear this case in an expedited fashion. That seems to indicate the justices are concerned there could in fact be harm if the General Election is allowed to proceed under the order.

However, high courts often make decisions based on procedural questions like this rather than creating a precedent on the merits. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of McAuliffe, they will almost certainly hang their hat, or robes, on this question.

The harm of the order does appear to be to anyone who is a valid voter in Virginia, including our elected officials. If the Governor’s order resulted in individuals having their voting rights restored in error and those individuals register and vote, it dilutes the votes of everyone else. Your vote and my vote would not have as much strength as they should have in the electoral process because of the actions of the government.

Our default position should be that any time the impact of an election law weakens our voting rights, a voter should be able to challenge it. The Solicitor General should stand ready to defend our election laws. And we can let the courts decide.

 

by Progressive Voice — July 21, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Emma Violand-SanchezProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organization or ARLnow.com.

By: Emma Violand-Sanchez

Arlington takes pride in its outstanding public school system whose top priority is student achievement and meeting the needs of the whole child. We support great schools with our tax dollars, our time, and our attention.

Our public schools are first and foremost a place to educate our children. Yet they benefit many other people. Home buyers and sellers pay close attention to school quality. As a result, strong schools enhance property values. Arlington’s economic development officials know that the quality of our schools is a key factor in where businesses choose to locate. School facilities serve as the home of many community programs as well.

There are many factors that contribute to the success of our schools. One of those factors is having sufficient classroom capacity. I am pleased that during my time as School Board Chair we have worked cooperatively with the County Board to address our capacity challenges.

Another key to school success is creating an atmosphere conducive to learning. We have outstanding teachers and principals who make that possible in Arlington. We work hard to recruit and retain top notch educators. Where schools are of high quality, students and parents value stability – there is pleasure in seeing familiar faces as a new school year begins.

As Board Chair, I looked at ways to enhance our ability to attract and retain talented educators. Considering my own personal experiences as a mother who has worked all of my adult life as well as conversations I have had over the course of my career as an educator, I chose paid parental leave as an important initiative. I am pleased that APS now offers two weeks of paid parental leave.

As a school administrator, I saw the stress involved for educators – women and men – who are getting ready to welcome a new child into their home, whether by birth or by adoption. Knowing that they have some paid parental leave once they have a child reduces stress levels and helps maintain focus on the educational mission during the time leading up to childbirth or adoption.

The vast majority of our employees want to return to their school, but the early weeks welcoming a new child are incredibly important ones. Parents want to be sure that their child is healthy. They want to establish an early bond with their child. And it takes some time to develop new routines that accommodate having a new child.

Many of our employees are from two-income families and having time to make adjustments in schedules and finding childcare solutions are very important to facilitating a return to work.

Moreover, studies show that early childhood development is important to the brain development and life success of a child. And we all benefit from maximizing the number of children who develop the tools and character for life success. Through paid parental leave, vacation, and other unpaid leave options, a new parent can maximize their ability to provide a strong start for her or his child.

As a start, we are providing two weeks of paid parental leave. I hope that my successors on the School Board are able to do more. I know, for example, that the District of Columbia schools provide up to eight weeks of paid parental leave. In many other countries, they have made a decision to support longer parental leave to support mothers or fathers who are able to guide their children through the very important early months of development.

We are blessed in Arlington with the quality of our school employees. I am hopeful that our paid parental leave initiative will give them support as they do their work on behalf of our children, an additional reason to continue their service as successful educators, and help them raise their children in ways that increase the prospects of life success.

Emma Violand-Sanchez will complete her service on the Arlington County School Board in December after serving as Chair during the 2015-16 school year. Emma joined the Board in January 2009 and previously served as Chair during the 2012-13 school year. She is a career educator and has lived in Arlington since 1978.

by Peter Rousselot — July 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

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.

On July 19, the County Board approved another extension of the Neighborhood Conservation Program (NC Program). But, this program no longer can function effectively.

Arlington’s NC Program had a noble objective:

When the program was created in 1964, the goal was to empower residents by having them come together to discuss and share ideas for improving their neighborhoods.

Though nothing could sound more idyllic or representative of the “Arlington Way,” the way NC actually works in practice undermines its lofty goals. NC has problems in three key areas: equity, timeliness and cost.

Discussion

Equity. NC’s principal inequity — a crippling one — arises because tens of thousands of Arlington residents are being denied timely neighborhood infrastructure improvements since they live in areas lacking a properly functioning civic association. (Belonging to a civic association is an NC requirement.)

Many civic associations have modest memberships, representing just a fraction of the community’s population. Most are operated by a handful of volunteers. Quite a few lack functioning, updated websites, and still fewer are capable of producing anything approaching a newsletter. Newsletters distributed to the highest possible percentage of community members are the surest means of effective communication.

Simply put, too few civic associations are truly functional. Many are run by a few people with little knowledge of or consent from those living within the association’s boundaries. Arlington County cannot mandate that every civic association function properly.

Residents without a fully functioning civic association are barred from tapping the NC Program’s roughly $12 million annual budget.

Timeliness. The NC program’s labor-intensive requirements, which include monthly meeting attendance–often for years–to gain “funding points,” and repeated outreach and notification efforts, mean the complete NC “process” can take anywhere from 5 to 10 years. If an association’s NC rep fails to attend meetings, a project can lose its place in the funding line.

Project engineering, always in short supply, further delays project funding. The current status report for funded NC projects shows only 4 completed projects, with 36 still in process.

Cost. Typically, delays make projects more expensive. Earlier this decade, the cap for NC projects was $250,000. Then, it grew to $500,000. In the most recent funding round, improvements to Nelly Custis Park clocked in at almost $800,000.

NC rules also add to costs. For example, NC street projects must contain curb, gutter and sidewalk components, whether or not a sidewalk is needed or desired. With flexible spending caps, expensive add-ons like lighting are common–even though Dominion will install new lights at no charge.

It’s time to provide a more equitable, timely and cost-effective way to provide critical infrastructure to neighborhoods. Back in 2007-2008, County staff began assembling Neighborhood Infrastructure Plans (NIPs) to identify missing critical infrastructure: curb, gutter and sidewalk, storm drains, etc. County staff has the tools needed to prioritize critical infrastructure projects and rotate among neighborhoods to allow greater and fairer access to funding.

Conclusion

Over the next two years, the County Board should direct staff to phase out the NC Program entirely and re-allocate current NC Program funds.

The Neighborhood Complete Streets Program is one alternative funding recipient. A more flexible Missing Links Program could be another.

The goal should be to fund critical infrastructure equitably, efficiently and in a way far superior to what is possible under the NC Program.

by Jackie Friedman — July 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

The sun during the heat advisory on Thursday, July 14, 2016

The weekend has arrived and so has the heat and humidity.

Throughout the weekend, temperatures will be in the low 90’s and humidity levels will be in the 60% range. So be sure to find fun ways to cool off.

There will be some outdoor activities this weekend in and around Arlington, such as the Junior/Parent Golf Open in the Falls Church area, for those who can brave the heat. See our event calendar for more listings. Or, if home shopping is your thing, check out some of the open houses happening Sunday afternoon.

Feel free to discuss the heat wave or any other topic of local interest in the comments.

by Mark Kelly — July 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

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.

Mark KellyNext Tuesday, the County Board will consider the 2016 Bond Referenda to be placed in front of the voters in November. It is reported that this year will include $320 million in new debt for the county. Nearly $140 million on school projects alone.

As of the writing of this column, the County Manager’s report was unavailable online. In the past, the language of the ballot questions has been vague. And voters often rubber stamp them as necessary spending for “parks,” “schools,” “roads,” and “public safety.”

Once again it seems that the County Manager is rejecting a call by Arlington Republicans that every project with a price tag of $25 million or more to be taken up in a separate bond referenda.

Taking on debt for big ticket items should rise or fall on its own merits. On the flip side of that argument, many of the smaller ticket items pushed into these larger packages should be paid for out of the annual budget process.

Along with the slush fund spending in the annual close out process, the bond process should be subject to closer scrutiny and better accountability. Hopefully we’ll hear comments to that effect from more than one County Board member next week.

In September, the County Board will be asked to approve two new polling locations for Arlington.

For a few of the 13 hours polls are open every four years on the first Tuesday in November when voters choose a president, there are moderate length lines to vote on Election Day. Every other election it seems has virtually no line to speak of at any polling location throughout the county.

With all due respect to the good people of the Electoral Board, the reason for the additional polling locations is not readily apparent.

And in a story that surprises no one, taxi trips are down in Arlington as a result of Uber and Lyft.

I have little need for on-call transportation and was not one of the first to join one of these two services. Calling a taxi was going to be just fine for me and my occasional trip to the airport.

Then came the time a cab was 30 minutes late to pick me up to get to my flight. The next time, I tried to order a cab the night before for an early morning flight and could not due to some glitch in the company’s system.

When I went to pick up the phone for my next trip to the airport, I decided to download the ride sharing software instead. For me, it is infinitely more convenient, particularly when it comes to never having to exchange money at my destination.

If taxi companies want to regain market share, then they need to offer a competitive product people want to use.

by Larry Roberts — July 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Larry RobertsProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

The tragic deaths last week in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, which followed the recent horrific killing of 50 in Orlando, shook the nation.

In Orlando, it was the scale of the killings and the targeting of LGBT community members. In Dallas, it was seeing law enforcement officers targeted for death based on the color of their skin. In Baton Rouge and St. Paul, it was the sight of two more African-American men killed by law enforcement officers for — based on eyewitness and video evidence — no discernible reason.

For a brief time, it appeared that these latest killings would lead to a discussion more fundamental than whether or how gun laws should be changed. There was a sense that we needed to bridge divisions in our society that were taking a dangerous turn.

Columnists, political analysts and other commentators wrote about an inflection point in our recent history – where there was room for unity, acknowledging the complexity of our problems, and a need for more listening, more humility, and less hostility and angry rhetoric.

Close to home, ARLnow was part of that trend, stating that “[t]imes like these remind us of the darker side of humanity — but should inspire us to counter that with kindness and respect for our fellow humans. Here in our little 25.98 square mile Arlington bubble, we hope that that extends to our comment section.”

Our two most recent Presidents sought to convey the message as well. President George W. Bush, at the memorial service in Dallas for the five fallen police officers cautioned that “[t]oo often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

President Obama expanded on this theme: “[W]ith an open heart, we can learn to stand in each other’s shoes and look at the world through each other’s eyes … With an open heart, we can abandon the overheated rhetoric and the oversimplification that reduces whole categories of our fellow Americans not just to opponents, but to enemies.”

Yet even in the midst of these words, in a country in need of healing, the public discourse devolved yet again. Instead of encouraging the hard work that will be needed to resolve problems faced by our communities and our nation, we were presented with division, rancor, finger pointing, and the notion that there are only two sides to every debate, that people must choose which side they are on, that those who would choose the other side are enemies, and that only by defeating those enemies will we restore peace, order, and greatness.

The reality is that we live in complicated times that demand from our citizenry a sober minded reflection on how Americans can come together to address those challenges and move our country forward.

This will take hard work, resources, listening to and respecting one another, and seeking solutions that bind us together and elevate our society and ourselves.

In times past, we may have looked to great leaders for guidance.

Speaking of toleration, George Washington said that “the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens…”.

Lincoln sought to bring together a nation that had devolved into civil war not by triumphalism, but through humility and understanding: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”.

Roosevelt, at a time when the nation faced economic devastation, asserted his “firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself … In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”

Today we live in a time where leadership is viewed with skepticism, where institutions face a lack of trust, and individuals are free to assert their views widely and without filter.

In such a time, it will take asking ourselves how we can take individual actions to restore a sense of unity, purpose and advancement.

Respecting the views of others, watching the tone of our own discourse, countering division and ideologies, and supporting the hard work needed to address our problems, are building blocks needed for recovery and for success.

Larry Roberts has been active in civic and political life in Arlington for nearly 30 years and is an attorney in private practice. He has been active in County civic life. He also chaired two successful statewide campaigns, served as Counselor to the Governor in Richmond, and served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

by Peter Rousselot — July 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

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.

Last week, my fellow ARLnow.com columnist, Mark Kelly, posted a column that said that living with aircraft and helicopter noise in Arlington was the price we pay for the economic benefits generated by National Airport (DCA) and the Pentagon. In response, Chris Slatt posted this most up-voted comment:

One can fully support the airport and the Pentagon as necessary and integral parts of Arlington while simultaneously questioning whether reasonable measures are being taken to minimize their impact on quality of life.

Chris is right to question whether reasonable measures are being taken. Many measures are.

How the FAA has contributed to increased noise

The increased noise results both from increased numbers of flights at DCA and changes to flight paths.

Last year was DCA’s sixth straight year of record-high passenger traffic. DCA now serves more passengers than Dulles–an airport 14 times its size.

The changes to flight paths are a result of NextGen – the FAA’s modernization initiative for the U.S. air traffic system designed to maximize efficiency.

Congressman Don Beyer has spearheaded initiatives to address DCA aircraft noise

Congressman Beyer:

  • Is an original co-sponsor of HR 3965, the FAA Community Accountability Act. This bill would require FAA to take into account negative impacts on the human environment near airports when considering flight path changes related to NextGen. Currently, FAA is required primarily to consider only safety and efficiency;
  • Sent a May 5, 2015 letter from the Virginia and DC Congressional delegations to Transportation Committee members stating their opposition to changes to DCA slot and perimeter rules;
  • Encouraged FAA to include the DC region in a multiyear study of the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports.

Congressman Beyer also has spearheaded initiatives to address helicopter noise

Congressman Beyer’s office has received complaints related to military helicopter noise since he joined the Congress. These complaints overwhelmingly have related to frequent overflights from the V-22 Osprey, an 85-foot-wide tiltrotor aircraft.

Beyer successfully added an amendment to the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the DOD to work with the FAA to study noise mitigation solutions to military helicopter noise.  He spearheaded a National Capital Region letter to DOD Secretary Ash Carter and the FAA Administrator offering to facilitate DOD/FAA outreach to communities impacted by military helicopter noise.

Beyer’s initiatives have not attempted to seek an outright ban on military helicopter flights, but he believes it is irresponsible to ignore his constituents and not seek some mitigation solutions. Beyer has not succumbed to the reasoning in Mark Kelly’s column that nothing can be done simply because the “Pentagon was here first.” Instead, Beyer has proceeded on the premise that homeowners in Arlington and elsewhere should not be forced to anticipate the Department of Defense developing and then routinely flying an Osprey over their homes.

Conclusion

Noise mitigation measures may include federal legislative or regulatory actions that actually will lower the aircraft noise levels we are experiencing today. At least with respect to DCA air traffic growth, it is hard to envision how this will be realistically possible unless the DCA air traffic share is lowered and the Dulles share is raised.

Preferably, DOD and FAA will adhere to good neighbor policies that will quiet the skies.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

An iPhone user playing Pokemon Go in Fairlington, with a dog oblivious to the nearby virtual PokemonIf you have no idea what the headline of this article means, you’re not alone but you’re part of a rapidly dwindling group.

Late last week and into the weekend, the smartphone-based game Pokemon Go exploded in popularity and has become a pop culture phenomenon. That’s especially remarkable if you consider that the game was only officially released on Wednesday.

Walk around any given Arlington neighborhood last night and you were likely to see people loitering about, glued to their phone — more so than usual, at least. The game takes place on local streets and gathering places across the world, in augmented reality.

Pokemon creatures may appear on the sidewalk in front of you. A park or a community center may be a Pokemon gym (there’s even a Pokemon gym inside the Pentagon). A local business may make a payment in the game to attract Pokemon — and thus attract Pokemon-playing potential customers.

Given the game’s popularity, we were interested in knowing which team local players were joining. Let us know in the poll below.

by ARLnow.com — July 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

A man carries kegs away from the now-closed Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon

For a shortened holiday week, there sure has been plenty of bad news. It’s enough to make someone look forward to a relaxing weekend with friends, family and cold beer.

In Arlington, a little girl suffered very serious injuries in a crash that remains under police investigation.

Nationally, the ongoing presidential election circus didn’t inspire much confidence in the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, although it did at least bring affable actor Tony Goldwyn to Clarendon.

And of course, the series of shootings involving police, culminating of last night’s rampage in Dallas, has broken hearts in Arlington and around the country.

Times like these remind us of the darker side of humanity — but should inspire us to counter that with kindness and respect for our fellow humans. Here in our little 25.98 square mile Arlington bubble, we hope that that extends to our comment section.

The comments have taken a bit of a turn in the wrong as of late, which isn’t exactly surprising given what has been in the news. Nonetheless, we’re taking action to keep discussions productive and out of the gutter.

Those who repeatedly troll with political topics on non-political news articles (think: bringing up immigration on an article just because the subject has a Hispanic last name); repeatedly try to get around moderation when it occurs or harass our staff about it; or have no history of commenting on the site and begin by generally being a jerk — you will be banned. Basically that’s the golden rule: don’t be a jerk. Those who post thoughtful comments, who add to the discussion, who make an effort to be part of the community, who can post opposing opinions without going nuclear — you are welcome here.

We know that there are plenty more of the latter than the former here, thus if you are banned you can save yourself some time and skip sending the angry email explaining how we’re going to regret no longer having you as a reader/commenter/etc.

With that, we hope you have a nice weekend. Feel free to discuss any topic of interest in the comments.

by Mark Kelly — July 7, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

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.

Mark Kelly

This post may contain some controversial statements. But I feel like there are some common sense things that simply need to be said.

Here’s the first one: airports are noisy.

Unless you lived in Arlington before 1941 when Reagan National was opened, then you knew it was here when you arrived. Stand outside for any length of time anywhere near the flight path, and you are well aware that we live in a county right next door to a well-used airport.

The second simple fact is helicopters are noisy.

Construction of the Pentagon began in 1941 as well. You cannot miss the massive building. And if you stand outside for long in the area, you realize the military flies helicopters in and out of there regularly. Helicopters are also used in Arlington for medical emergencies and police activity. Activities we all agree are necessary.

Much of Arlington feels like you may be in the suburbs. However, we are a very urban area compared to most of America. Living in an urban area with regular police and medical activity that is home to the headquarters of the United States military and the closest-in airport to our nation’s capitol is going to bring with it some noise from the air.

While it is certainly appropriate for county staff to convey resident concerns on this issue, it is important to remember that tens of thousands of jobs exist in Arlington because of the Pentagon and Reagan National. The noise may be an inconvenience, but these are two of the key economic partners that make Arlington a desirable place to live.

My late grandfather worked at a paper mill. When I would go to visit as a child, I would sometimes complain about the smell that was produced from the facility. He would look at me and say, “that smells like money.” In other words, without that mill, he and so many other people may not have been able to find a good job in his town. The smell really amounted to a small inconvenience in the bigger picture.

The aircraft noise in Arlington may be inconvenient. And it is certainly understandable that if you live in the flight path that you would prefer to minimize the noise as much as possible. But when we chose to move here, we also chose to accept that living here comes with some noise. It seems like a lot of time and effort is put into fighting aircraft noise which is, well, inevitable. And, as my grandfather might say, “sounds like jobs.”

Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Alfonso Lopez — July 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Alfonso LopezProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com. 

By Alfonso Lopez

As last week’s Progressive Voice columnist pointed out, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine continues to be mentioned as a top contender to be Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate.

I wanted to share my own perspective of Tim Kaine as one of three Arlingtonians appointed to a Cabinet-level position in his gubernatorial Administration.

My mind is immediately drawn to his response to the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, when 32 of Tech’s finest were killed and many others wounded.

Governor Kaine had just reached Japan to start an Asian economic development trip when he received word of the shootings. He immediately returned to Virginia and arrived in time to attend the campus memorial convocation for the victims the next day that was broadcast around the world.

Kaine spoke without notes or prepared remarks, quoted scripture and urged the Tech community to hold onto the “spirit of community” that it had shown the world amid such grief. He comforted grieving families and visited the wounded. His empathy and strength brought Virginians from across the Commonwealth together.

If we measure a person by their reaction in moments of extraordinary tragedy and stress, then throughout those horrible days the nation saw in Tim Kaine both a public servant and a leader of great courage, empathy and determination to do right by the victims and their families, Virginia Tech and our Commonwealth.

I was fortunate to be selected by Governor Kaine to serve as the Director of the Virginia Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. In that position, I was responsible for coordinating Congressional and Federal Affairs on behalf of the Governor and more broadly, Virginia’s interests.

In that position, I saw Governor Kaine working closely with Congress and both the Bush and Obama Administrations — fighting for key infrastructure projects, legislative initiatives, and federal grants to improve the lives of Virginians.

He successfully advocated for the expansion of conservation easements and the preservation of open space, increased educational opportunities, and modernized the state’s workforce development initiatives. He championed federal recognition of Virginia’s Native American tribes and secured funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

To move Virginia forward, Governor Kaine worked across the aisle to further the goals of his Administration and secure accomplishments that provided real progress for his constituents.

Here are some examples:

  • At a critical point in the debate of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Governor Kaine organized bipartisan gubernatorial letters in support of the legislation to help it become law.
  • He worked closely with Virginia’s Congressional delegation to ensure the Navy did not transfer a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (and thousands of attendant jobs) from Norfolk to Florida.
  • As Chair of the Southern Governors’ Association, he negotiated a broad regional initiative to address the impacts of climate change.
  • Working in a bipartisan manner, Kaine led Virginia’s successful effort to reverse a Federal Transit Administration ruling and secure final federal approval and funding for the Silver Line that will extend to Dulles Airport and beyond – a major boost to the Northern Virginia economy.

During his years as Governor, Virginia received accolades as the “Best State for Business,” the “Best Managed State” and the “Best State to Raise a Child.” He recruited several Fortune 500 companies to relocate to Virginia and secured more than $13 billion in new investment.

The accomplishments of the Kaine Administration resonated with Virginia voters, who elected him in 2012 to the U.S. Senate– where he continues to serve with distinction.

The talk about Senator Kaine as a potential VP is happening for a reason. Simply put, he is experienced, effective and above all authentic.

Virginia residents, business leaders, fellow Members of Congress and senior Administration officials echo these sentiments.

They see, as I saw, that he is a tireless public servant who is respected on both sides of the aisle for his vision, intelligence, clarity, friendliness and ability to get folks from all points of view to work together. Genuine, pragmatic and focused on results, he has an infectious optimism. He looks at every decision from a people perspective.

And through all his success, he treats people with respect — an aspect of his personality that shines through in all of his interactions.

In a world that sometimes feels like it has lost its way, the nation would benefit greatly from someone like Tim Kaine.

Alfonso Lopez represents the 49th District in the Virginia House of Delegates and serves as the Democratic Whip. He also served as the Director of the Virginia Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. for former Governor Tim Kaine. 

by Peter Rousselot — July 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

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.

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal criminal bribery conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice John Roberts observed:

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns,” Roberts wrote. “It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”

Heeding the advice of former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, I’m not going to discuss whether the Court’s decision in the McDonnell case was wise because, as Jackson said, “we are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” Nor am I going to predict whether the federal government will attempt to re-try McDonnell or whether Congress will attempt to amend the federal bribery laws.

Instead, let’s focus on the implications of the McDonnell decision for further Virginia ethics reform.

Bob McDonnell’s 2014 bribery conviction spurred grudging reforms to Virginia’s ethics laws in the next Virginia legislative session. One of the key arguments for the 2015 reforms was that McDonnell’s conduct was then legal under Virginia state law. However, several leading Virginia legislators made it clear in 2015 that they were only supporting the reforms because of media pressure. The highlight of the law passed in 2015 was the creation of a $100 annual limit on gifts from lobbyists and some others to any single public official.

Perversely, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that McDonnell’s conduct did not violate federal criminal law, some of the same Virginia legislators who never wanted to reform Virginia’s ethical practices in the first place have started dropping hints that they would like to loosen things up again. That would be a grave mistake.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the McDonnell case makes it clear that the states retain the power to decide whether politicians who do what Bob McDonnell did should be:

  • excused for having done something that is just part of the normal political process (“they all do it”), or
  • subject to significant penalties for doing something that the public has decided is wrong.

Virginia Democratic Delegate Marcus Simon recently drew the correct lesson, “the fact that he didn’t break any laws doesn’t mean that our ethics laws aren’t broken.”

In the 2017 Virginia legislative session, the 2015 ethics reforms should be further strengthened not weakened. Virginia should create a new, independent Ethics Review Commission with teeth, including subpoena and enforcement power. A large majority of other states, including Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania have permanent ethics commissions. In Massachusetts, for example, its Ethics Commission can impose the following penalties:

  • A civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the conflict of interest law or the financial disclosure law, and
  • A maximum civil penalty of $25,000 for bribery.

Conclusion

They all shouldn’t do it. Virginia should strengthen significantly its penalties for conduct like Bob McDonnell’s. Our legislators should be able to find a model for Virginia that combines effective enforcement power with safeguards against partisan abuse.

by ARLnow.com — July 7, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Local leaders are considering a new plaque for Arlington’s World War I memorial in Clarendon.

As reported by the Sun Gazette, the 1930s-era memorial has a plaque with a dozen names of local war dead. Two of the names are presented away from the others — and include the extra label “colored.”

It’s unclear if Arlington can legally make changes to the memorial, under state law. Ideally, what do you think should be done?

by Larry Roberts — June 30, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Larry RobertsProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com. 

By all accounts, Virginia’s Senator Tim Kaine is on the short list that Hillary Clinton will consider in choosing her Vice Presidential running mate. We will likely learn of her decision on the eve of the Democratic National Convention that will be held in Philadelphia in late July.

These accounts should come as no surprise since Kaine was also among the three final VP choices that Barack Obama considered in 2008 before selecting Joe Biden as his running mate.

Since that time, Kaine has completed a successful term as Virginia Governor, served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee working collaboratively with the President, won a Senate election against a former senator and governor, and earned a reputation as an effective senator with service on the armed services, foreign relations, and budget committees.

In addition, he announced his support for Hillary Clinton in May 2014, before she even announced she was running for President. And he campaigned for Hillary in the 2016 Virginia primary, which she won with over 64 percent of the vote.

The perspective I would like to share is an Arlington perspective about Tim Kaine. The connections are many. Here are a few.

In 2001, Kaine was serving as Mayor of Richmond and was supporting Yorktown High School graduate Emily Couric in her quest to become the first woman to serve as Virginia’s Lt. Governor. Sadly, Emily had to withdraw from the race due to the onset of her fatal bout with cancer.

With Emily’s encouragement, Tim decided to run for Lt. Governor. He was quickly joined in the race by two popular members of the House of Delegates.

I was serving as Chair of the Arlington Democrats at the time. One afternoon, I received a call from Tim’s long-time assistant asking if I could arrange for the Mayor of Richmond to meet with some Arlington grass roots volunteers. On short notice, we pulled together a group to meet the next day.

That was my first encounter with Tim Kaine. At that meeting, Kaine displayed the authenticity, intelligence, wit, empathy, and competitiveness that I came to know well over the years. All of us were very impressed, particularly with a story about his service on Richmond’s City Council.

Kaine had grown tired of the racial divides affecting City Council. As a result, he ran against an incumbent for a seat on City Council together with African-American reform candidates. He told us that before he took office there had been many votes on Council that were divided completely along racial lines. But with the help of other new Council members, he brought people together so that there had never been a vote split on racial lines during his tenure on Council and as Mayor.

Among Kaine’s early supporters in Arlington for the Democratic primary were Paul Ferguson, Peg Hogan, Ed Fendley, and Jody Olson. I apologize to others I haven’t mentioned.

Kaine went on to win the three-way primary with 40 percent of the statewide vote. Arlington turned out to be one of his strongest jurisdictions with 52 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Only four other jurisdictions gave Kaine more votes than the 2,910 votes he received in Arlington.

Kaine went on to win a close general election race in 2001. He won by a more comfortable margin in the 2005 Governor’s race and again in the 2012 U.S. Senate race.

As Governor, Kaine appointed three Arlingtonians to his Cabinet and focused intently on issues of importance in Arlington, including transportation, land use, economic development (helping to keep DARPA in Arlington), education (notably advancing pre-K), and conservation.

During my years in the Governor’s office, there were many significant developments and events.

Importantly, I remember how the Governor treated his staff and the tone he set. No matter what had happened the day before, the Governor came to the office with a spirit of trying to make positive things happen for the Commonwealth. He was energetic, optimistic, and well prepared.

We knew that it was our obligation as staff to work hard, be honest, and keep the needs and interests of Virginia residents firmly in mind. If we met those goals, Tim Kaine would support our efforts whether we accomplished all of our objectives or not.

I was proud to serve with Tim Kaine and I know the country would be the beneficiary were he to be selected by Hillary Clinton as her running mate.

Larry Roberts is a 30-year resident of Arlington and an attorney in private practice. He is former Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, chaired two successful statewide campaigns, and served as Counselor to the Governor in Richmond.

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