by Fatimah Waseem February 25, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

With Saturday’s County Board meeting over, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on ARLnow over the past week.

  1. Exclusive: Amazon Employees Are Very Interested in a Particular Article About Arlington
  2. Hospitalized Yorktown High School Student Has Died
  3. Arlington County Police Searching for Missing Teen
  4. Students Stage Walkouts At Arlington High Schools
  5. County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council (published Dec. 2017)

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great rest of your weekend!

by Mark Kelly February 22, 2018 at 3:45 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.

Larry Roberts recently gave up his duties as “editor” of the Progressive Voice to take on the role of Chief of Staff for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.

In his farewell column, he made the case for why the column he headed up was needed.

Based on his words in the column, the authors who have participated, and the opinions expressed therein, it was to give a voice to those who generally embrace the direction taken by the Arlington County Board.

Since all but one of our elected officials in Arlington are Democrats, it is fair to say that those who share Mr. Roberts views are already well publicized throughout the community. Democrats not only control the outcome of all the votes, they control all of the information flow as well.

With near universal control by the Democrats, it is good for the public discourse for someone on the right to continue talking about the issues from this perspective. The 300-500 words written through the prism of fiscal conservatism in this forum each week may be the only time some in Arlington ever read that type of perspective.

While the voters have generally continued to provide big margins for Democrats at the polls since I started writing this column, they have elected an entirely new County Board. Included in that new roster is the first non-Democrat to be elected to a full term in nearly three decades. The County did withdraw from what many residents felt was a boondoggle streetcar project.

Instead of pushing for even more funding for a pool project, the County scaled it back. The County hired a new auditor, albeit one who needs some additional support to truly be effective.

These were “wins” for the taxpayer, but there are still many ways the County could improve the way it serves Arlingtonians.

Roberts’ column also caused me to look back over the past five years and scroll through roughly 250 columns or 100,000 words. Looking all the way back to my first column, I wanted to end with a reminder about how the right views local government:

What cannot stand is the notion that all, or even most, fiscal conservatives are anti-government.

In fact, we believe there is an appropriate role for each level of government. The most important of which, outside of self-government, is local government. It is where our tax dollars meet the asphalt. It is where our children attend school, our homes are kept safe, our water is dispensed, and our trash is collected. It is where we can most easily and directly petition our elected officials for assistance. And, at least theoretically, it should be the most responsive to changing community needs with the smallest amount of bureaucracy and red tape.

We just want to do it in a way that makes the most fiscal sense, is accountable, and serves people efficiently. That is why I continue to write.

by Progressive Voice February 22, 2018 at 3:15 pm 0

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 Alfonso Lopez

Last week the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill, HB 1257, to prohibit any locality in Virginia from adopting an ordinance, procedure or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.

While that may sound reasonable to some Virginians, it ignores the complicated relationship between federal, state and local law enforcement with regard to immigration and contradicts Arlington policy. It also ignores the urgent need for immigrants to feel comfortable and confident in talking to law enforcement after a crime has occurred.

When immigrant victims and witnesses fear law enforcement, crimes go unsolved and perpetrators go free. Across Virginia, service-providers working with immigrant victims — and law enforcement investigating crimes involving immigrant victims and witnesses — report the significant obstacles this fear poses to the criminal justice system’s ability to transform crimes into convictions.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and street robberies are just a few of the types of violent crimes that routinely go unreported and unsolved. This public safety crisis needs to be addressed to keep criminals from taking advantage of the fear that is running rampant in Virginia’s immigrant communities.

Current policy in Arlington prevents victims and witnesses of crimes from being asked about their immigration status when speaking with the police, unless that information is directly relevant to the crime being investigated. This policy was put into place to keep Arlington law enforcement from having to shoulder the burden of federal immigration laws.

Arlington’s policy is also particularly designed to strengthen community policing — a style of policing that establishes a familiar, on-the-ground presence for law enforcement among residents — by ensuring that residents who are concerned about their immigration status are not afraid to report criminals and assist prosecutors in investigating criminal activity.

Furthermore, consistent with an advisory opinion released in January 2015 by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is not required to hold an individual in custody past his release date based solely on a request to detain him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

These non-mandatory requests neither impose a legal obligation nor provide the necessary legal authority to detain individuals past their release date, and must be accompanied by a court-issued warrant to be honored and avoid raising constitutional concerns.

Above all, each of these policies make our community safer by encouraging a free flow of communication between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement, and neither policy runs contrary to federal law.

HB 1257, however, could prohibit common-sense public safety policies like ours and replace them with a requirement that Arlington participate in ICE’s 287(g) program, which would effectively deputize our local police to act as enforcement for federal immigration law.


by Peter Rousselot February 22, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

Peter’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.

Virginia Medicaid expansion is the top 2018 legislative priority for Virginia Democrats. Since Democrats lack a majority in both legislative branches, they must make a deal with Virginia Republicans to expand Medicaid.


Prospects for such a deal have improved significantly in the House of Delegates (HOD). But, the Senate budget bill is disappointing.

Last Thursday, Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott), chairman of the HOD Commerce and Labor Committee:

“said his struggling coal-country district would get the ‘hand up’ it desperately needs if more uninsured Virginians were made eligible for the federal-state health-care program.”

Kilgore also suggested other HOD Republicans are ready to join him:

“‘I’m not that far out on a limb. We have to step up, we can’t be the party of ‘no,”said Kilgore. He said at least 15 Republican House delegates will likely vote with him on the issue.”

Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam welcomed Kilgore’s announcement:

Governor Northam thanks Delegate Kilgore for sharing his ideas about how to expand health coverage for Virginians who need it… He is encouraged by discussions with members of both parties on this important issue and believes we can reach an agreement that works for everyone.”

This past Sunday, the firewall against Medicaid expansion fell further in the HOD under a budget plan

“that would accept $3.2 billion in federal money to pay for 90 percent of the cost of expanding the program on Jan. 1, 2019 [to 300,000 Virginians], while relying on a new ‘provider assessment’ on hospital revenues to cover the state’s share of the cost of health coverage for currently uninsured Virginians whose care is uncompensated.”

It’s useful to review the conditions and limitations which some HOD Republicans now are advancing as the price of their support for Medicaid expansion:

“Kilgore said work requirements like those the Trump administration has allowed Kentucky to impose, coupled with a mandate that recipients contribute a ‘small co-pay,’ would make for ‘a conservative approach’ to expansion.”

Would most Democrats prefer no work requirements–even for “able-bodied adults”? Absolutely. But, if Democrats rigidly insist on what I agree is a much more humane approach, the most likely outcome is no Medicaid expansion at all.

Democrats will have to choose between an unattainable (in this legislature, this year) ideal, or a significant increase in the numbers of low income Virginians who get health insurance. We should put people’s needs first.

The HOD budget proposal on Medicaid expansion sets up a potential showdown with the Virginia Senate. It’s Finance Committee has said “it will not include full Medicaid expansion in the budget.”

This Finance Committee proposal would extend coverage to an additional 20,000 low-income people with mental illness, addiction or chronic disease–compared to the 300,000 who would be covered under the HOD budget plan. But, the Senate proposal lacks any financing mechanism.


Democrats’ long-term goal must continue to be full Medicaid expansion. But overriding that goal, we must help people who are dying, or who are much sicker than they need to be because of untreated illnesses.

Even with its significant flaws, the HOD budget bill represents the high-water mark for Medicaid expansion in this legislative session. Democrats should now focus on a legislative strategy to convince key Republican state senators to adopt the approach of HOD Republicans who support Medicaid expansion.

by ARLnow.com February 22, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Mac McCreery, David Peete, Tom Prewitt, Robin Stombler and Jeff Zeeman. McCreery, Peete, Prewitt and Zeeman are all members of the Arts District Committee. Stombler serves as Chair of the Committee.

We didn’t always agree at first. As representatives of business, arts, industry, and community interests, we were bound to have divergent ideas, but we came together as members of the Arts District Committee, a component of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group. Let us share with you what we found.

Arlington already has a burgeoning arts district. Along South Four Mile Run Drive, between South Nelson Street and Walter Reed Drive, there is an 85-seat black box theater, studios for dance classes and recitals, gallery space, a costume and property shop for a Tony-award winning regional theater, and a private recording studio where the country’s most widely recognized and acclaimed bands lay down tracks. Over 30 arts-related organizations already call this area home, including multi-ethnic heritage arts groups.

In this neighborhood, we also have the last vestiges of light industrial space in Arlington. It is a relatively affordable place for small businesses to operate, such as a new distribution brewery and multiple family owned mechanic shops that have operated through generations. We quickly determined that an arts district must embrace both the cultural arts and the industrial nature of the area. This melding of uses is important for sustainability and long-term economic viability.

For a revitalized arts and industry quarter, we define arts broadly. Imagine theaters, rehearsal halls, visual art galleries and craft spaces. But also fuse the arts with light industry to include culinary arts, metalworking, furniture making shops, and technological innovation/maker spaces. These examples are meant not to limit, but rather to highlight some of the uses envisioned. Using one scenario, the Arlington Food Assistance Center could be combined with culinary arts classes and catering and a rooftop garden could support those endeavors. The quarter should espouse innovation, creativity, skill and talent.

A sound infrastructure is necessary for this quarter to thrive. We researched and expounded on five elements: Mission, Physical, Financial, Development, and Arts Specific. Within these elements is a call to embrace the industrial roots of the area with a thriving mix of arts, culture, business and industry. We have the opportunity to expand on a unique area of Arlington, leverage existing institutions and buildings, and stop the cookie cutter development from settling in. While this area already provides value with its arts and industrial uses, our report outlines how it can offer so much more as a branded, place-making center for Arlington.

Unanimous in our support for the recommendations in our Committee report on an arts and industry quarter, we find that working in collaboration – business, arts and community – we have a strong opportunity ahead of us.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by Fatimah Waseem February 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm 0

Before we head off into President’s Day — or, as we call it here in Virginia, George Washington Day — weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on ARLnow in recent days.

  1. Arlington County Firefighter Arrested on Drug Charges at Fire Station
  2. Developing: Police Investigating Fall from Clarendon Building
  3. County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council (published 12/20/17)
  4. Arlington’s Sunniva Goes to ‘Shark Tank,’ Walks Away Without a Deal
  5. Taylor Elementary School Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Possession

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

We’ll resume our regular publication schedule on Tuesday, barring any breaking news. Have a great weekend!

by ARLnow.com February 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Edith Wilson, president of the Shirlington Civic Association and a member of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, regarding plans for Jennie Dean Park.

On February 6, the Parks & Recreation Department provided the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) Working Group with the staff policy framework for Jennie Dean Park over the next 20 years. Here’s a different view of the situation faced by decision-makers.

This park concept is vastly improved over initial proposals, reflecting many compromises where there is no perfect solution, Markedly responsive to a wide range of sharply competing interests and community input, it does right by the environment by respecting the flood plain and resource conservation area (RPA) and planting many more trees. It increases total recreation facilities by creating a new rectangular field where soccer and other casual sports can be played. A brand new playground would be located in the center of the park amid greenery and away from noisy trucks and buses from County facilities and the cement plant. It leaves the majority of new parkland along S. Four Mile Run Drive for landscaping and open space.

There is a lot of history to our valley, but part of that history is the new elements too. Take us for example. Over the last 40 years, residential multi-unit housing was built along the south side of the stream from the Village westward to S. Walter Reed Drive. Twenty years ago Arlington County worked hard to create the Village of Shirlington, a landmark mixed-use urban village with a population that celebrates its diversity. The Shirlington neighborhood now has over 2,200 households with tens of thousands of regular visitors to its business areas. How can this work, though, since there is no park, playground, not even a school or church with open space, in this area? What was the County thinking?

The answer is that literally across the street, though not within the boundaries of the Shirlington neighborhood, are the parks our community depends on: the long landscaped strip along S. Arlington Mill Drive, the dog park, and Jennie Dean Park. Arlington residents from all over come here with their families and pets. Shirlington residents are out there every single day, often several times.

What makes the valley between Shirlington and Nauck special is our beautiful section of Four Mile Run stream. This is presided over by Marvin, the elegant Great Blue heron who lives on a small rocky island in the lower stream, a stretch few visit because it is blocked by a large softball field fence. The Great Blue heron is the largest of all the North America herons, If you are lucky, you can see Marvin gliding down the center of the stream at dusk, dipping like a trick pilot under the pedestrian bridge. There are raccoons, turtles, ducks, geese, snakes, fish and lots of other birds too. Providing public access to the stream and wildlife such as this was the guiding principle of the enormously successful 20-year-old stream restoration project from Shirlington Road eastward to the Potomac River. Now it’s time to extend that principle westward.

This area has a high risk of flooding. – why do you think WETA needs to leave its old production center in the middle of the park? Environmental rules and common sense mandate addressing these conditions but the current softball field location stands in the way. The proposal shifts this field away from the stream, leaving a large open space for many more water-absorbing trees, traditional picnic areas, a nature overlook and a riparian pathway. Moving this field, in turn, also creates space for a new rectangular playing field lying across the back of two slightly repositioned diamond fields. Again, two-thirds of the frontage along Four Mile Run Drive would still be turned into casual space with landscaping and room for an impressive park entrance.

As Arlington’s population and density increases, demand for park and recreation space is shooting up. No one neighborhood owns any of these parks, not even those of us close by. Let’s absolutely respect and honor the important history of this particular neighborhood – including the baseball and softball leagues that have been played here for decades — but let’s focus on the future we need to build together. Let’s share.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by Mark Kelly February 15, 2018 at 3:45 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.

Delegate Patrick Hope unsuccessfully tried to move a bill through the House of Delegates to change the way Arlingtonians vote for County Board.

Hope’s bill would not have required the County Board to adopt the new voting process, it would have just given them the option. It is not an option they should have.

Hope proposed what’s known as “instant-runoff voting” which would give voters the ability to rank their choices when voting. This process has been used by local Democrats in recent caucus voting.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, the the second choice of the last place candidate is redistributed to the other candidates in the field based on the ranking. The process repeats until someone reaches a majority.

Having come in a fairly close second (for an Arlington Republican anyway) in the most recent County Board special election which resulted in no one receiving 50 percent of the vote, you might think I would be for this change.

However, in a county where the numerical advantage so overwhelmingly favors the Democrats, removing the ability for a non-Democrat to win a plurality vote means the only real practical impact of the proposed change would be to put Independents and Republicans at a further political disadvantage.

The cynic may say the call for instant-runoff voting, much like redistricting reforms, is most often pushed by those who think the change would tilt the political playing field their way. But let’s give Hope and others the benefit of the doubt, that one of the big goals is to find a solution that creates more “civility” in politics. Poll after poll certainly says voters would prefer a better tone during our elections.

In Arlington, general elections are not really acrimonious affairs. Can someone really say that any County Board races have devolved into mudslinging affairs in recent memory? Maybe the problem is just with the tone on the Democratic side in their primary elections?

Another of Hope’s stated goals is to prevent a “fringe candidate” from winning a crowded field with only 25 or 30 percent of the vote. Someone should ask Delegate Hope which “fringe candidate” who failed to receive 50 percent is sitting in office that he thinks fits the bill?

It is understandable that politicians want to be seen as doing something, but changing the system of electing candidates is unlikely to change the current political environment here in Arlington.

If you want more civility overall as a political leader, recruit candidates who will adopt a positive tone in their campaigns. If you want more civility as a voter, do not reward candidates who run scorched earth campaigns with your vote.

by Progressive Voice February 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm 0

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 Takis Karantonis

Four major corridors cut across Arlington — Columbia Pike, Crystal City-Route 1, the Rosslyn-Ballston (R-B) corridor and Lee Highway. “Corridor development” has been at the core of Arlington County’s growth strategy. Our “Main Streets” have merited dedicated policy focus and resources, starting with the development of Metro in the 1970s along the R-B corridor and Crystal City.

But it’s time to look anew at whether these corridors are all meeting their potential and all getting the resources they need. Corridors don’t occur “organically.” They emerge as products of community vision, policy, planning and timely public and private investment decisions.

Attention has been lavished on the corridors close to Metro, and understandably so, since Metro drove their commercial development. But it is time for Columbia Pike and Lee Highway to get the same kind of purposeful attention and long-term investment from the County.

Given the rising challenges in our local and regional economy, it is time to give our corridors a more urgent priority.

Twenty years ago, the Arlington County Board launched the Columbia Pike Initiative, a plan to revitalize Arlington’s most populous non-Metro corridor. A key aspect of that decision was the recognition that:

  • Corridors connect our neighborhoods and business districts, thus forming a county-wide network on which economic activity occurs. Arlington’s potential for a thriving economy will continue eluding us until the pockets of inequality that dot our community are addressed by effectively developing all our corridors.
  • Corridors are business-friendly and economically diverse. This is where small businesses start and often have the best chance for survival and growth. Big businesses prefer to locate here as they are optimally suited to make the most of a dense ecosystem of resources.
  • Corridors provide the environment to address scarcities, such as housing and transportation.

At this year’s 20th anniversary of the Columbia Pike Initiative, we can list accomplishments, such as jumpstarting development after a three-decades-long doldrums and upgrading transit, both of which bring us closer but still not near to our development goals.

Lee Highway has been languishing and despite citizen volunteer work through the Lee Highway Alliance for more than five years, the County-staff-led planning process has been rather slow in delivery.

In the upcoming County budget, let’s show renewed focus and commitment to our corridors.

Let us re-invest fully in our urban partnerships (CPRO, the Clarendon Alliance and the Lee Highway Alliance) in ways that give them actual agency and leverage to act as true partners in advancing already stated stakeholder and community goals.

These organizations are the glue that holds business, neighborhoods, residents and local government together. They have a proven record of steering and aligning, with beneficial and tangible results for public and private interests in their respective areas.


by Peter Rousselot February 15, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

Peter’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.

ARLnow.com reported last Thursday that Arlington County has posted for public comment a 54-page draft “Framework” document that is intended to guide future development of the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) area.

Public comments must be posted by tomorrow, Friday, February 16.

Current draft very confusing

The current draft Framework is confusing, redundant and contradictory, making it impossible for an ordinary Arlington resident to know what it means, or which proposed action items might be implemented.

This failure might be welcome if it were clear that the Framework couldn’t be relied upon as justification for proceeding with any of the poorly conceived suggestions that were floated earlier in the 4MRV planning process: for example, adding excessive density, disregarding the community’s preferences for Jennie Dean Park, or creating an arts district.

Unfortunately, the Framework’s substantive ambiguity lends itself to justifying almost any iteration of the often-competing goals and alternatives listed in the Framework, including those noted above.

Excessive density

Appropriately, the draft acknowledges the unsuitability of dense redevelopment for most of the 4MRV area, which lies in a floodway/floodplain. Yet, the Framework lacks any actual plans to reduce runoff by removing hardscape or buildings — instead, planning to add more.

Also discussed are the extensive measures that are needed to remediate decades of environmental damage to the two streams (Four Mile Run and Nauck Branch). However, the majority of the draft discusses how to carve up and develop all this land.

Compared to the earlier versions staff/consultants presented to the 4MRV Working Group, there seem to be fewer/smaller areas to add a lot more density/housing. And, the proposal to retain the existing industrial area for continued industrial use — for which we have great need — would be a plus, if confirmed.

For any particular parcel, however, an ordinary resident cannot determine, in most cases, which potential use the plan will apply to that parcel after the plan’s adoption — or how that use might differ from today’s use.

Prior to the County Board’s final plan adoption, it should direct County staff to provide the community with the numbers of new housing units staff expects will be added with and without this draft plan’s adoption. In addition to these useful metrics (to assess the plan’s likely impact), the public should also receive ratios of added density to added parkland acres within the plan’s boundaries.

Jennie Dean Park

Given the community’s desire that the “portion of the park fronting the neighborhood at Four Mile Run Drive be left open for casual use” and avoid locating fields or courts adjacent to Four Mile Run Drive, the County Board should direct staff to honor those preferences.

Arts district

As I wrote recently, the County Board should adopt a comprehensive, easily understood, 21st century arts policy determining when, where and how Arlington should subsidize the arts before entertaining proposals to create an arts district in the 4MRV area.


Given the current draft Framework’s nebulous state, more work needs to be done to clarify the plan. Residents have a right to know exactly what is and is not being proposed, and to give County Board members meaningful feedback. Only then will Board members be able to make an informed decision as to the likely costs, impacts and desirability of the Framework’s outcomes.

by ARLnow.com February 12, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by long-time Nauck resident Portia Clark, the current president of the Nauck Civic Association.

My family has lived in Arlington for more than a century. I was raised in Arlington, and my children and grandchildren live here too. Some of my ancestors from the 1800’s are buried in the cemetery next to Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church, which was established in 1866. Lomax falls within the Four Mile Run Valley Study Area.

When I was young, I went to Arlington public schools. Yet, my mother growing up in Nauck, was not allowed to play in most Arlington County parks because of the color of her skin.

The the only park open to her and her siblings was Jennie Dean Park. Arlington County’s then- Department of Recreation noted in its 1949 report that Jennie Dean Park was the county’s “sole recreation area for colored citizens.” In the Park’s historical markers, there are photos of my family members, friends and neighbors.

After decades of waiting, Arlington County is now focused on revitalizing Jennie Dean Park and the surrounding area in Nauck. I have seen the draft plans for Jennie Dean Park put forth by Arlington County staff. The plans are astoundingly tone-deaf.

The Nauck community hasn’t asked for much with regard to Jennie Dean Park, other than to revitalize it and to minimize the impacts on our community. We certainly have ideas for what amenities we would like to see in the Park, but we understand – maybe better than anyone else – that parks should be for the entire community. So, when the County told us that they wanted the same amenities to stay in the park – no more, no less – we understood that everything we discussed at numerous meetings could not go into the park.

We did insist, however, that respect be paid to the Nauck community. This means that the front of Jennie Dean Park, the portion fronting the neighborhood at Four Mile Run Drive, be left open for casual use. We want this area to be a gateway for the community to enter the Park. We want it to be green. We want it to be landscaped. We want it to have flowers and trees and open space.

Instead, the County has drafted plans to place a baseball field in that spot, instead of another part of the Park. A baseball field, especially one with fencing and stadium lights, is not welcoming. The County’s draft plan also hides a playground and shelter area away from the community it would serve. This County plan offers no connection to the neighborhood and its cultural heritage, except for a historical marker with some friendly faces on it. This plan will negatively impact our community in a number of ways.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, the County drew up plans, which it insisted were viable, that accepts the placement we requested and the honor we deserve.

The Nauck Civic Association has already voted – unanimously – that this draft plan from the County on Jennie Dean Park is a non-starter. We hope others will join us in expressing this concern.

by Fatimah Waseem February 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm 0

With another week over, let’s take a look back before heading into the weekend.

These were our most-read stories of the week:

  1. Ballston Quarter to Be ‘Entertainment Hub’ With Addition of New ‘Experiential’ Tenants
  2. Bada Bing Bemoans Business Bummers, Bureaucratic Blunders; Believes Binghamton Bodes Better
  3. Nude Woman Wanders Into Building Lobby
  4. Police: Woman Robbed in Westover
  5. County Removes Confederate Memorial Near Bluemont Park

Feel free to discuss anything of local interest in the comments. Have ideas on what we should cover? Send tips to [email protected]. Have a great weekend!

by Mark Kelly February 8, 2018 at 3:45 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.

Arlington’s independent auditor, Chris Horton, is soliciting suggestions from the public on what to audit. Encouraging ongoing participation from all Arlingtonians is a good thing.

The current work plan for the auditor includes fleet management, public safety overtime, Business Improvement Districts and the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission. It is a good start, but only two of these audits are definitely slated to be completed this fiscal year.

If you look at the what the auditor has identified as the “Audit Horizon,” it is clear that the office should step up the pace. The Audit Horizon includes affordable housing, capital improvement planning, economic development incentive funding, facilities management, the handling of personally identifiable information, procurement and analysis of the county’s financial condition. And that is just a partial list of important items.

The total budget for the auditor in FY 2018 is about $210,000. The County Board should consider a dramatic increase in the budget and staff allocation for the auditor during the current budget cycle discussions to at least $500,000.

There is too much important work to do to spread the audits out over the next decade, or even longer. If the Board is committed to paying more than lip service to this new level of accountability, then it is time to give the office the resources it needs.

The Electoral Board this week announced a competition to design a new “I Voted” sticker. A goal of the project is to help boost turnout in the 2019 election cycle, the historically lowest turnout year in each four-year cycle.

The idea that more voters should take advantage of their constitutional right whenever it is available to them is certainly a noble goal. As we saw this past November, turnout can be dramatically increased over prior years, but it is primarily driven by the circumstances surrounding a given election cycle.

While the holding the competition will draw some additional attention, it is hard to imagine that the stickers would do much. In New York, a city of 8.5 million people, 700 designs were submitted, but only 10,000 people voted on which design they liked best according to the Sun Gazette article. That’s just a little over 1/10th of one percent of the population.

by Progressive Voice February 8, 2018 at 3:15 pm 0

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 Steve Baker

Frederick Douglass said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” Last year, the Arlington Democrats reached their own limit and in response, sent volunteers beyond Arlington to House of Delegates’ districts around the Commonwealth.

Arlington, which is the smallest county in Virginia in square miles but one of the largest in terms of population, was in the highest Democratic performing congressional district in last November’s election.

Pleased with our own General Assembly delegation but eager to do better for Virginia and send a positive message of hope to the nation, we turned our focus to joining our neighbors and fellow Virginians in the burgeoning and ever more diverse suburbs and exurbs outside the beltway.

It wasn’t the first time we exported volunteers but in 2017 we elevated it to a grander scale, joining with many local groups, like WofA (We of Action), Arlington Indivisible and others. The Beyond Arlington program flourished in response to the confluence of our 2017 delegate races and a record number of 89 democratic candidates, with an enormous outpouring of volunteers due to the current administration in Washington.

The reasons for greater collaboration are clear. We have common goals: a growing need for schools, continued job growth and regional transportation solutions. We share many transit assets–Metro, VRE, our Interstates, toll roads and bike trails. We also have a need to protect the Potomac River watershed and our parks and open spaces.

Progress in these areas has often been difficult as an entrenched conservative General Assembly has, often by party-line votes, rejected progress or serious bipartisanship. Even after last year’s election, the 51% has refused to work with the other 49%, something Alexis de Tocqueville referred to as the “tyranny of the majority.”

This has been the case throughout our history. Conservatives in Virginia have fought federal authority vigorously, most notably over the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, school integration, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

These same conservatives have no qualms exercising far greater authority over our local governments in Virginia through the Dillon Rule and state constitution, denying localities their own decision-making.

We saw this most recently in preventing localities from removing a statue from a local park or renaming stretches of state roads within their jurisdiction. As Governor Northam said last year on the campaign trail, “If we can’t change their minds, we need to change their seats.”


by Peter Rousselot February 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

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

The 2018 Virginia legislative session again has featured a batch of proposed bills relating to voting rights.

Several of those bills relate to no-excuse absentee voting.

No-excuse absentee voting bills

HB 1072 was co-sponsored by Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope and 15 others. The bill would have erased the current extensive and complicated list limiting the reasons (excuses) entitling a registered voter to vote absentee. But, this bill was sidelined on January 30 by a 4 to 2 vote in a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee.

Also on January 30, one Virginia Senate no-excuse absentee voting bill, SB 254, was deferred until 2019 by a unanimous vote of a Senate committee. Another Senate bill, SB114, met the same fate.

Virginia should enact a law authorizing no-excuse absentee voting

Like other voting rights issues, Arlington voters can only obtain the right to no-excuse absentee voting if that right is enacted at the state level because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state.

Virginia has developed a series of 16 narrow, but often confusing and overlapping, excuses that entitle registered voters to vote absentee. Unless your reason for wanting to vote absentee fits squarely within one or more of the 16 categories on the authorized list you can’t vote absentee.

Virginia’s current system should be changed. It should be replaced by a system that permits any registered voter to vote absentee without having to provide any excuse.

Reasons to support no-excuse absentee voting

The bedrock reason why the current system should be changed is that experience in other states has demonstrated that no-excuse absentee voting enables more registered voters to vote to choose their elected officials. The broader the base on which our political leadership rests, the more likely that decisions made by our leaders will be respected.

The League of Women Voters of Virginia recently has prepared a helpful checklist of reasons to support no-excuse absentee voting, including these:

  • No voter should have to provide personal unrelated information to cast a ballot
  • Extra personnel are needed to explain the current excuses
  • Voters have found it very confusing to determine what the current excuses mean, and therefore their eligibility to vote before Election Day
  • Local Election Offices have had success in reducing long lines on Election Day by encouraging absentee voting
  • For voting absentee in-person, eliminating the cumbersome process of completing the absentee application would save time as well as the expense of printing the form

Opponents of a no-excuse absentee voting system have argued that it encourages too many more voters to vote too early, thereby foreclosing their opportunity to vote based on late-breaking developments in a political campaign. Weighing this risk against the depression of voter turnout under the current system, the benefits of providing more opportunities to vote outweigh the risks that some voters might regret that they voted too early.

Both Democrats and Republicans should support no-excuse absentee voting

No-excuse absentee voting has been enacted by a majority of U. S. states–both “red states” and “blue states.”


No-excuse absentee voting should be a subject on which Virginia Republicans and Virginia Democrats can agree. No-excuse absentee voting will enable more Virginians to vote.

The current patchwork quilt of 16 authorized excuses should be replaced by: no excuses necessary.


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