34°Clear

by Mark Kelly — December 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Mark KellyThe 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.

Every December our leaders in Arlington begin talking about a mythical budget gap. It is the first step in building a case with the public to pay more next year in taxes.

It’s a mythical gap because every year, at about the same time, the County Board is spending tens of millions of dollars in the closeout process. This year end budget boost comes from additional tax revenue and reallocation of other unspent funds in the budget.

With only a $5 million “gap” on the horizon for the next fiscal year (practically a rounding error), Arlington’s County Manager is using a different tool in the public relations game — Metro. He’s “worried” Arlington may have to chip in a substantial, and still unknown, amount in the coming year.

Mr. Schwartz did go out of his way in his recent Civic Federation presentation to take Metro to task for putting itself in this position. And I would hope the County Board would not come to the taxpayers for more money without first requiring real reforms from the flagging system.

But in case Metro’s woes were not scary enough, the schools have announced they may need as much as $25 million more than last year’s budget — about half for projected enrollment increases. In case you missed it, the schools just received $8.6 million from excess revenues collected in FY 2016 as part of the closeout process. A similar unbudgeted amount is sent their way every year.

Schools and Metro are certainly core line items in the budget, and they are extremely popular with the public. This is precisely why they are being used as the rationale for us to pay more (again) in 2017.

And if there is any doubt as to the bent of our leaders to tax and spend more, you need only look at the legislative package being considered by the Board in the coming days. It includes support of a change in Virginia law to allow localities to raise their meals tax to 8% without a referendum vote.

It’s hard to make a case that Arlingtonians would ever defeat such a proposal at the polls, as it almost certainly would be sold to the public as an “investment” in schools or Metro or parks.

Maybe the Board just feels bad for neighboring jurisdictions after the November meals tax referendum in Fairfax went down to such a resounding defeat. A recognition, perhaps, that not everyone has such accommodating taxpayers.

by Peter Rousselot — December 8, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Peter RousselotPeter’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.

In 1972, the eye of Hurricane Agnes passed directly over the DC metropolitan area. Agnes caused major flooding in Arlington, collapsing the Walter Reed Bridge, and severely damaging the rest of the Four Mile Run watershed. The Four Mile Run watershed is particularly flood prone — even in storms far less severe than Agnes.

Discussion

Email exchanges between an environmental activist and County staff raise serious doubts as to whether Arlington has planned adequately for a major flooding event — even though flooding has been identified as one of Arlington’s most significant hazards.

At its December 10 meeting, the County Board is scheduled to vote on County staff’s proposal to amend Arlington’s Zoning Ordinance for all S-3A zoning districts, which include public parkland and sites owned by Arlington Public Schools (APS). The amendments effectively remove the maximum height restrictions and minimum setback requirements for all new school buildings — whether they are built on APS-owned property or on public parkland. Staff also has requested to apply these changes to all uses (not just school building uses) in all S-3A districts.

Arlington environmental activist Suzanne Sundburg has:

  • asked the Board to delay final adoption of these sweeping changes to enable more careful consideration,
  • provided examples of environmental zoning protections adopted by other Virginia jurisdictions that Arlington should consider adopting,
  • posed a series of questions to County staff regarding the cumulative impact such changes might have on storm water run-off, and
  • asked the County to identify which staff member(s) have the final responsibility for comprehensive risk assessment and deciding whether the flood hazard and risk exposure are worth assuming.

Several Virginia jurisdictions have developed zoning solutions to help better protect their natural resources. Fairfax County has a zoning overlay for environmentally sensitive areas in its zoning ordinance. See Article 7, Part 3.

Likewise, Virginia Beach created a separate zoning category or district called a “P-1 Preservation District” in the city’s zoning ordinance to protect environmentally sensitive areas. Its goals include protection of its lands and waters from pollution, impairment or destruction. Critical areas of special concern include parklands, wilderness areas, open spaces, floodplains, floodways, watersheds and water supplies.

Arlington should adopt a comparable environmental protection ordinance before (or concurrently to) adopting changes to zoning in S-3A zoning districts in order to minimize the expansion of impervious and semi-pervious surfaces in or near sensitive watersheds and flood-prone areas.

Arlington’s storm-water management webpage summarizes its goals, but it appears that Arlington lacks an adequate plan to reduce or mitigate major flood risk. An example of such a plan is Westchester County’s (NY) Flooding and Land Use manual which covers the following topics related to flooding (among others) in detail:

  • Flooding causes and the relationship to development,
  • Comprehensive and watershed planning,
  • Successful floodplain management tools,
  • Local ordinances,
  • Site plan review tools, and
  • Storm water management design.

Developing a plan comparable to Westchester’s involves assigning a County staff person this task and giving him/her sufficient resources and the authority to use all appropriate means to minimize flood damage.

Conclusion

The County Board should defer final action on the proposed changes to S-3A zoning districts until it also adopts adequate protections to conserve Arlington’s watersheds, to comprehensively assess flood hazard and reduce or mitigate the risk, and to safeguard Arlington residents and their property against flooding.

by Progressive Voice — December 8, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Gillian BurgessProgressive 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: Gillian Burgess

2016 has been a tough year and as it draws to a close, many are looking for hope for the future. Arlington County is in a tough position: we continue to grow, have excellent schools and County services and live near the center of the dynamic capital region. Yet growth is also straining public services and transportation systems; and winds of political change bring uncertainty to our 26 square miles.

But in this season of hope, Arlington has reason for hope. We have informed, engaged residents and hard-working, intelligent County and Schools staffs. To tackle the challenges ahead, Arlington needs to embrace its inner nerd and live by a mantra (paraphrased from Richmond): smart counties do smart things.

We do many smart things already, but there are three areas where we need to get smarter: defragmenting planning and public service; performance measurement; and communications and engagement. Arlington has a lot of potential to tackle these challenges. We need committed leadership to make it happen.

De-fragment Planning and Public Service

As with most localities, the County organizes itself into separate departments to streamline delivery of services to constituents. However, this fragmentation can lead to sub-optimal outcomes, particularly when similar services are spread among departments or when it inhibits inclusive long-term planning.

For example, at least three different County departments build small sidewalk and trail projects: neighborhood conservation; parks; and environmental services. All have reported problems finding contractors who can do the work efficiently and effectively because individual projects are too small to be attractive. The County should look to bundle these small projects to make them attractive to contractors or evaluate whether these should be in-house projects.

The biggest divide in providing services in Arlington is the separation of the County and the Schools. For example, if you think your child’s school bus stop is unsafe, the solution depends on whether you call APS Transportation, which may move the stop, or the County’s Department of Environmental Services, which could install a crosswalk to make the original stop safer. But neither department seems set up together to figure out the optimal neighborhood solution.

This area has great potential. APS and the County are establishing the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission to coordinate long range planning for facilities and capital improvement plans. The County and Schools should also prioritize establishing a joint transportation commission to follow-up on the Multimodal Transportation and Student Safety Special Committee’s efforts.

Smart Performance Measurement

Arlington’s big investments in data systems makes it well positioned to be a performance management leader. But data is most helpful when it tracks performance measures that matter to residents.

For example, the Department of Environmental Services measures number of potholes repaired annually, but I am more interested in wait time between when a pothole is reported and when it is repaired.

Fortunately, Arlington has a network of involved residents eager to improve these performance measures. The County could take advantage of the numerous advisory groups to quickly gather suggestions on what outputs matter most to residents and how those could be measured.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 3, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Arlington County Fire Department ACFD fire truck with wreath

This past week started off slow but ramped up as everyone recovered from their Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday’s house fire in Penrose might have attracted the biggest emergency response this week, but it barely even cracked the top 20 most-viewed stories of the week.

The three most-read articles this week were:

  1. Police: Fight at Yorktown Involved Parents, Accusations of Racial Slurs
  2. Parents Say Son Kicked Out of Daycare for Wearing Dress
  3. Police Investigating Death in Rosslyn

The top five story was more upbeat: our article on Arlington’s own Brittany O’Grady, who’s starring in the new Fox television series “Star.” We’re hoping to talk to her soon and find out how she’s making it in Hollywood.

With that, feel free to discuss any topic of local interest in the comments. Have a nice weekend!

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

Mark KellyThe 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.

According to the Washington Area Boards of Education, Arlington is spending $18,957 per pupil for Fiscal Year 2017. That number went up by $341 over last year. And according to page 31 of the report, Arlington ranks highest in the region, by more than $500 per student.

If Arlington spent only as much per student as Falls Church, the next highest spender, it could save the taxpayers $14.2 million for the year or 2.4%. One local activist pointed out that by lowering our per pupil spending to be even with Fairfax County would lower total costs by $112 million, or 24%.

Lowering spending to Fairfax County levels is neither realistic, nor is it necessarily desirable. It does however provide a valuable data point as does the comparison to Falls Church.

The WABE uses its own formula to calculate the per pupil costs in an attempt to make an apples to apples comparison across the region. Arlington accepts the WABE methodology when reporting its budget to Arlingtonians each year. Who can blame them? It represents a much lower spending level than is actually occurring.

For those of you who like math, here is what Arlington is really spending per student in 2017: $22,032.

That’s the number you get when you divide the total $581.94 million budget by the 26,414 students the budget anticipates. The difference between total cost per student and reported per pupil spending is $3,075 per student, or 16.2%.

Some in Arlington are willing to spend much more on our schools and simply do not care what the topline number actually is. Others think we already spend way too much. Most want a high quality education for our students that gets the best bang for the buck.

So why not report both numbers? If Arlington schools want to be compared to others, then continue to report the per pupil spending that way. But, they should also report the total spending per student cost to give Arlington taxpayers the complete picture of school spending rather than hoping people will not check the math.

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

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Progressive 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: Rip Sullivan

As we’ve watched the Trump transition with more than a little trepidation, the President-Elect has begun walking back some of the promises that most defined his campaign: repealing the ACA; building the wall; torture; climate change.

And to think Hillary was branded the liar.

But that’s another column.

Along with the lucky $2 bill my Mom gave me, I carry a card in my wallet that my Dad gave me. It reads “the greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” And did we ever fall on November 8. We got knocked down. Bigly.

But not here in Virginia and not here in Arlington. Hillary won the Commonwealth, continuing our advance from purple to blue, and won decisively in Arlington.

Nationally, the early post-mortems lay blame on Democratic turnout. In key places around the country, Democrats didn’t vote. And low turnout is a Democrat-killer.

So now that the election is in our rearview mirror, it is time for us to gear up for another election in Virginia. Next year we will elect a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, an Attorney General and all 100 members of the House of Delegates. We can — must — build on the great work we did this year in Arlington and more broadly in Virginia to win next year’s crucial elections.

Governor McAuliffe’s term highlights how important it will be for Democrats to focus on 2017’s off-year election. He has vetoed over 60 bills during his 3 years in office — and the General Assembly has sustained every veto.

The Governor’s vetoes from just last year include a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and a bill that would have prohibited Virginia from taking any action to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

The General Assembly also considered legislation that was frighteningly similar to North Carolina’s notorious HB 2. The only thing keeping these bills from becoming law — from harming our economy and making Virginia a national embarrassment — are a Democratic Governor and strengthened Democratic numbers in the General Assembly.

This is why Arlington Democrats, Independents and even Republicans who voted for Hillary Clinton — or against Donald Trump — need to regroup, reorganize and focus on making an impact on next year’s elections in Virginia.

There are plenty of reasons to believe we can be successful next year.

The first and most obvious is that we were successful this year. Over 90,000 Arlingtonians voted for Hillary Clinton, and turnout was a record high.

Hillary won Virginia by nearly 5%, which is more than President Obama’s margin in 2012. She won Virginia’s most prominent bellwether counties — Loudoun County and Prince William County — by a margin of 17% and 20%, respectively. And Donald Trump barely won two of the biggest Republican strongholds in Virginia — Chesterfield County and Virginia Beach — by just under 3% and 5%. We need to ensure that this trend continues.

Next year also presents an opportunity to make the House of Delegates reflect what we saw in Tuesday’s election results. Many House districts currently held by Republicans — including Republicans who introduced divisive bills that Governor McAuliffe vetoed — were won by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

How do these Republican delegates repeatedly win in what should be Democratic districts? Turnout.

It is an unfortunate and frustrating fact that turnout typically drops 25-35% from a presidential election to a gubernatorial election.

This does not have to be the case in 2017.

Turn the frustration and disappointment you experienced last Tuesday into energy and dedication next year. Volunteer to knock doors in your neighborhood. Donate time and money to your local Democratic Committee. Talk to your friends and neighbors about how important it is for Democrats to participate in and win next year’s elections. Your work will be rewarded next November and beyond.

I’ll be following my own advice — actually, my Dad’s — next year. As the House Democratic Caucus’ Campaign Chair, I will be recruiting, helping fund and advising Democratic candidates in House of Delegates races all across Virginia. Their good campaigns across the Commonwealth can help the entire Democratic statewide ticket as well.

Many of these House races are winnable if we rise up again after our fall, roll up our sleeves, dig in and turn out to vote next November. I hope you will join me.

Rip is a Northern Virginia community activist and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Virginia’s 48th District, which encompasses parts of Arlington and McLean.

by Peter Rousselot — December 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Peter RousselotPeter’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.

In February 2017, the Williamsburg Field Site Evaluation Workgroup (WFWG) must report to the County Board on whether field lights can be installed at Williamsburg Middle School (WMS) without unduly degrading neighborhood character and quality of life.

Discussion

As the County Board Chair acknowledged in 2013, the WFWG exists because WMS neighbors were “ambushed” (Comments on item 59).

Arlington Public Schools and County staff previously had assured WMS neighbors that the WMS fields would remain unlighted Bermuda grass. County staff broke this promise by inserting language in the Discovery Elementary School Use Permit, providing for synthetic turf and expedited action on lights (See page two of report by Charles Monfort, beginning at pdf p. 15).

WMS neighbors are not selfish NIMBY fanatics. They simply chose to live in an area that’s among the most sparsely populated in Arlington, composed entirely of single-family homes, some located less than 100 feet from the WMS fields. At night, it’s quiet and dark. Wildlife abound in the wooded area nestled against the soccer fields.

Sports user groups have led the drive for field lights. The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) solicited a plan from Arlington’s sole-source lighting vendor, Musco Lighting, without a competitive bidding process.

Musco proposes to install the highest intensity non-professional sports lights inside the Beltway — radiating more blue light than the new street lights many Arlington residents say are too harsh, brighter than the lights residents of Queens and Brooklyn refused to tolerate.

Nancy Clanton, a nationally recognized expert on sustainable lighting design, concluded that Musco’s plan would produce glare levels 2-3 times higher than national and international standards for dark, light-sensitive neighborhoods, cause even more glare on humid evenings, and increase human health and environmental risks.

In June, the American Medical Association sounded the alarm about high intensity blue lights, warning these are associated with reduced sleep time, nighttime awakenings, impaired daytime functioning and harmful glare affecting the elderly and children with vision-related disabilities.

Noise and nighttime traffic are also concerns since County sports fields are exempt from the noise ordinance. Nor do the County’s low traffic projections seem realistic given sports users’ hopes for thousands of hours of additional playing time from field lights.

Although adult use of rectangular fields County-wide has steadily declined since 2013, the number of children playing organized sports is rising. WMS neighbors advocate alternatives to meet children’s needs by adding a new lighted field enthusiastically supported by neighborhoods near Long Bridge Park, organic synthetic turf and less polluting lights to replace those currently at Kenmore, and non-carcinogenic turf at parks and schools elsewhere in the County with soggy grass fields.

Lighting advocates suggest mitigation measures such as installing blinds and using white noise machines. But the proposed measures are either not enforceable or would drastically alter neighbors’ quality of life. Who wants to live with blinds and curtains drawn tight and without being able to go outdoors or open windows at night?

Conclusion

Arlington’s General Land Use Plan seeks to preserve the County’s traditional residential neighborhoods–especially those that possess unique natural values. The County Board must decide whether these are worth preserving. Once lost they cannot be restored.

The County Board should say NO to field lights at WMS.

by ARLnow.com — November 23, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Orange leaves on a tree in autumn (Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards)

(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) ARLnow.com wishes you and yours a happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Except for regularly-scheduled features and breaking news, we will be not be publishing for the remainder of the weekend.

For those who are staying in town and participating in the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza, the Pentagon City mall has announced its extended holiday weekend hours:

  • Thanksgiving: 6-11 p.m.
  • Black Friday: 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Don’t forget that Saturday is Small Business Saturday — which reminds us to support local, independent retailers this holiday season.

Speaking of mixing holiday cheer and altruism with commerce, the charity-oriented Christmas tree sales around Arlington start this weekend, and on Tuesday Shirlington shopping center is holding its annual Light Up the Village event.

If you’re going to be driving around Thanksgiving day, keep in mind that the annual Turkey Trot 5K will be closing roads in Lyon Park until around 10 a.m.

With that, feel free to use the comment section of this post to discuss any issue or news item of local interest this holiday weekend.

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by ARLnow.com — November 22, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

A decorative Thanksgiving turkeyJudging by the multiple Washington Post articles about it this year (and another from last year), it seems that some sizable percentage of the population is dreading their Thanksgiving dinner conversation following Donald Trump’s election.

Especially when the family is divided politically, such conversations can apparently go downhill fast.

Are you among those who cringe at the idea of Uncle Bob passing along his political views with the gravy and stuffing? Or is that not a concern for you?

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

View to Fairlington from the Windgate in autumn

So this the point at which we mention local events that are happening this weekend, possibly recap some of the past week’s big stories and encourage you to listen to our latest podcast (it was actually a really good one and is on track to being our most listened-to episode.)

This post usually wraps up with us encouraging you to discuss any topic of local interest. But let’s be honest: you’re going to be discussing Donald Trump, just like you (the commenters) did last week.

Here’s a request for our readers: please confine national political discussions to posts that actually mention national political things. We loosened our enforcement of that comment policy since the election, but will resume enforcing it soon. There are plenty of places to discuss the president-elect and his former electoral opponent, including articles we publish specifically regarding Trump and the election, but we don’t want to see substantive discussion of local issues drowned out by ongoing political bickering.

Thank you for your helping us to maintain (relatively) higher standards for our comment section than you might see on other news websites. Have a nice weekend.

by Mark Kelly — November 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

Mark KellyThe 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.

The Arlington County Board is considering the passage of Airbnb regulations as early as December. The regulations leave a lot of unanswered questions, and here are just a few.

Should Arlington keep the requirement that the location must be the primary residence of the owner? Why couldn’t the owner of a rental unit use Airbnb to fill an empty space temporarily while he was waiting for a long-term renter?

Should Arlington keep the requirement that a homeowner obtain a business license for using Airbnb and should there be a minimum threshold a homeowner must meet before the regulations apply? What if someone just wants to use Airbnb to rent their home out for the Presidential Inauguration or the one week a year they are on vacation? Do we need to force them to abide by the same rules as someone who wants to rent a home four months out of the year?

And how does Arlington County plan to actually enforce the regulations once passed?

But maybe the biggest question is, why the rush to do it now?

Like it or not, Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. And all indications are the General Assembly will address the issue of Airbnb regulation in the 2017 session. The first attempt earlier this year did not result in a final legislative vehicle, but much work has been done on the issue in the intervening months. Since the General Assembly regulation would almost certainly pre-empt any Arlington rules, it could create massive confusion for Airbnb owners who would have to comply with two different sets of rules just months apart.

It is also unlikely that county staff has fully digested the implications of the successful Nashville lawsuit, which struck down the Airbnb regulations in that city in late October. And it’s not just Nashville facing lawsuits.

New York, which is imposing $7500 fines for violations of its regulations, is being sued. Chicago is being sued for an ordinance that among other things, says an Airbnb owner’s residence can be searched at any time without a warrant. San Francisco and other cities are facing lawsuits as well.

Arlington could learn something about what the courts will allow when it comes to regulating these private homeowners, who on average are earning just a few thousand dollars each year. And Arlington could save taxpayers the time and money used to defend itself against a lawsuit.

The emergence of the sharing economy should cause us to rethink our approach toward government regulations. Some may think Airbnb should not be regulated at all. Others may wish the regulations would go even farther.

But with all the uncertainty looming, Arlington would be well-served by taking this vote off the December agenda.

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 Progressive Voice — November 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Mary Hynes at the Jan. 1, 2015 County Board organizational meetingProgressive 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: Mary Hynes

Wednesday morning at 6:45, my thirty-something daughter and her husband walked into our kitchen. She had been in tears for several hours. All her work to encourage voting for Hillary had come to naught.

A lifelong Washingtonian, she was beside herself with fear. Would DC now be a larger terrorism target; would women harassed and abused no longer have the legal protections they now enjoy; would her sister — and those she sees at the busy healthcare practice where she works — no longer have essential healthcare coverage?

My husband and I — lifelong Democrats with deep Minnesota progressive roots — tried our best to reassure her. The Constitution will protect us…we live in a nation of laws…it takes time to repeal laws and there will be opportunities to peacefully oppose unnecessary change.

No one gets to sit on the sidelines now. But let’s face it — we have the same fears and concerns over the past 10 months and yet our voices and actions weren’t enough.

So what should we — the plurality of Americans who chose the losing side — do next?

I will take my cues from the prophet Micah: We are called to act with justice; we are called to love tenderly; we are called to serve one another; to walk humbly with God.

My watch words — my guiding stars — will be JUSTICE, LOVE, SERVICE, AND HUMILITY.

JUSTICE: No more spinning. I will not subscribe or listen to media outlets that do not provide fact based reporting. I believe the 24/7 news cycle has perpetuated misinformation. I want hard reporting, backed by evidence. I want a focus on the incredibly difficult issues this country faces and how each of the policy choices we have will affect real people. Anecdotes and opinions in the guise of hard reporting have not served anyone in this country well.

LOVE: If the same-sex marriage movement taught us anything it should be that people are people are people. I don’t know many Trump voters. I will actively look for ways I can help build bridges — across the Commonwealth, within the larger faith community, with folks who are different from me. Because this can be difficult and uncomfortable to do alone, I will urge the organizations I am part of to take this task on as part of their mission.

SERVICE: No sitting on the sidelines. I will pick an issue or two to deeply educate myself on. I’ll call out misinformation where I can and ask as many questions as I need to ask to ensure that we have the information we need and know how to object. I’ll give money and time to those causes that advance building bridges and serving those who may be voiceless.

HUMILITY: No one person can solve our problems or pull this country back together, despite that claim by our President-Elect. The health of our country depends on each of us being, in our work and our lives, respectful of our incredibly diverse fellow Americans. Those of us who’ve been active in the past, who thought we might have peaceful retirement years, had a rude awakening on November 8. I will seek new ways to share my story, knowledge and expertise with my millennial children and neighbors as they assume their rightful places as leaders in our towns, counties, states and country.

This election proves, once again, that every vote matters.

The popular/electoral vote difference demonstrates very clearly that our nation is in the midst of change — and that we have two different visions of what should come next. Lasting resolution will only come through engagement with those whose views seem different from our own.

The first step is to find out where we do agree and begin rebuilding from that strength. Every community, guided by a justice, love, service and humility, needs to take on this work.

Our future depends on it.

Mary Hynes served as an Arlington elected official for 20 years — eight years on the County Board, including service as Chairman, and 12 years on the School Board. She sought in those positions to promote civic engagement and progressive values. She and her husband continue to live in Arlington.

by ARLnow.com — November 16, 2016 at 10:25 am 0

This year’s long string of restaurant closings in Arlington has people wondering what’s happening to the local restaurant business.

There are a number of factors potentially at play: oversaturation of restaurants, a culling of less-compelling or outdated restaurant concepts, high rent, a national “restaurant recession” and even perhaps a local downturn in “disposable income” spending due to election-related anxiety.

(More on some of those theories on our podcast later this week, with guest Nick Freshman.)

There’s another intriguing theory that was relayed to us by our wine and beer columnist, Arash Tafakor, of Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church. Could it be that Uber and Lyft are hurting Arlington’s restaurant business by making it easier to head into D.C. for a night out?

Think of your own behavior: do you find yourself heading into the District to try new restaurants when you might have just stayed in Arlington before, had it not been for ride hailing services making it easy and relatively inexpensive to get into the city?

Let’s test the theory and see how many people would agree with that last question.

by ARLnow.com — November 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Today we pause to remember the sacrifices made by all of the nation’s military veterans.

Veterans Day in Arlington included President Obama’s final presidential wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and a local Veterans Day ceremony in Clarendon.

Looking forward to the weekend, there’s plenty of activities happening around Arlington for those who want to be out and about. One particularly notable item in our event calendar: the grand opening of Twins Ace Hardware at 2001 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.

Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s Veterans Day holiday or discuss any other topic of local interest in the comments.

by Mark Kelly — November 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

Mark KellyThe 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.

Rarely does this column touch on national issues. But so many, particularly here in Arlington, seem to be in shock at how and why Donald Trump was elected president. You probably have heard it from your friends and neighbors. You saw it all over social media. You may have even heard that your kids were asked how they felt about the election results at school.

It is easy to understand why the results might be confusing to some. If you still watch TV, your airwaves were bombarded with negative ads against Trump. The Washington Post ran one or two anti-Trump editorials every day. Most of your friends on Facebook agreed with you which means your News Feed was probably nearly unanimous in opposition to Trump.

So on election day, it was no surprise to you that 76% of Arlingtonians chose Hillary Clinton while just 17% picked Trump.

However, just a few hours down the road, in the 9th District of Virginia, Donald Trump received 68% of the vote to Clinton’s 27%.

Why such a huge swing between the two candidates? And why were the people in the 9th District, and around America, voting this way?

I suspect that if you could set aside any preconceived notions and had an open and honest conversation over a cup of coffee with a working family or two in Bristol, Virginia, it might open your eyes. I am willing to bet you will hear that people who live outside the beltway view politicians of both parties with great skepticism. You might hear they are unhappy that the people in Washington get richer, while they struggle to make ends meet. What you might even find is Washington is practically a four letter word to many people.

There is no point in rehashing all the charges levelled by both sides. These were not perfect candidates. But if you cut through all the ads, accusations and character flaws, you can find the choice this election offered.

Clinton ran a campaign based on Washington experience and claimed Washington solutions would make our nation stronger. Trump reminded people that Washington experience and Washington solutions are what brought us to where we are as a country today, and that he could use his real world experience to negotiate them a better deal.

When weighing these two options, the people of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan (likely) and Wisconsin, who had voted for President Obama twice, decided it was time for a change. They opted to give Trump a chance.

No one can predict with any certainty what the next four years will look like. But living in Arlington, we will have a front row seat.

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.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list