52°Partly Cloudy

by Peter Rousselot — November 5, 2015 at 1:00 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.

A poop fence and an APS trailer both represent choices that our local governing bodies have made in the past. We can do much better in the future.


In October, ARLnow.com posted a story about the completion of a public art installation on a sewage treatment plant fence. The County Board properly was ridiculed.

In September, ARLnow.com posted a story warning that more trailers were coming to certain schools. Most Arlington parents agree this is a bad idea.

Will the new County and School Boards continue to make choices like these?


I believe the new Boards must make smarter choices. The new Boards must deny certain constituencies funding to which they aspire in order to provide more funding to other priorities that have greater community support.

The current County Board has dodged certain critical issues such as developer proffers for school construction. While Fairfax and Loudoun require such education proffers, our current County Board continues to claim that Arlington lacks the legal authority to require them. I say: prove it, then get it.

The new County Board should direct the County Attorney to publish a legal opinion explaining why he claims Arlington lacks the authority. After other lawyers examine the County Attorney’s opinion, if there is a consensus that Arlington indeed does lack such authority, the new County Board expeditiously should direct our Richmond legislative delegation to get that authority. Arlington needs a level legal playing field to enable us to require developers to contribute to all different types of “community benefits.”

The new County Board should lead in organizing a transparent community conversation about our next capital and operating budgets. What priorities does our community assign to using either developer proffers or general obligation bond financing for:

  • education?
  • open space acquisition?
  • affordable housing?
  • public art?
  • other?

We need to develop such priorities to direct both our tax dollars and developer contributions.

At the same time, the new School Board should lead a transparent community conversation regarding new and innovative ways to cut the cost of construction of new schools and additions.

New modular school construction technologies are much:

  • cheaper,
  • greener, and
  • faster

than the current school design and construction approach to which APS staff stubbornly clings. Cheaper new classrooms = fewer trailers.

Examples of modular construction that APS should investigate include:


We need to prioritize spending on core services, not on “totally redefining the traditional role of a fence.” We need more regular classrooms much faster.

by Progressive Voice — November 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

Gillian BurgessBy Gillian Burgess

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.

Arlington Public Schools opened a new elementary school this year, is currently building additions to two other schools, and is building another entirely new school. And the Arlington community is studying where to put another new elementary school. And we need to look at options for the Career Center. And. And. And. There are lots of decisions to make, and these decisions will shape how we live in Arlington.

We need new, creative ideas on how to deal with the capacity crisis in Arlington Public Schools. However, as one wise Facebook commenter wrote, “I feel like these discussions constantly occur in a vacuum, completely ignoring the public processes and discussions that have gone on previously, some of which seriously looked at (and rejected) some of these ideas.”

To fill this vacuum, APS should organize a School Planning 101 session and publish an accompanying website that summarizes the public processes that have come before, explains those that are currently running, and collects relevant data into one easily accessible place. By doing so, APS would not only enable more people to engage in this important process, but also would improve the quality of its decisions.

Many Arlingtonians have already been involved in “More Seats for More Students” or a related process. There have been committees, advisory councils and working groups advising the School Board, the County Board and the Superintendent, all with relevant ideas and recommendations. Coming in fresh to this process is intimidating. When talking to those who have been following this process for years, seemingly every idea has already been considered and evaluated. The enthusiasm of new blood is often quickly tempered by “been there, thought of that, it doesn’t work because.” We need new people and new ideas in this process, and those new people need to understand what has come before. Organizing a School Planning 101 session would enable more people to engage productively.

The work of organizing this information would improve the quality of “More Seats for More Students.” These past committees have made important recommendations, which deserve serious consideration by the School Board and the Superintendent. School Planning 101 should summarize the recommendations of the working groups, providing links to their final reports and other resources. It should also gather the current data that is relevant to school planning — enrollment, projected populations, current capacity and available land – in a place that is easily accessible and up to date. The session should explain the fundamentals of how facilities are paid for, including the difference between capital and operating costs.

The end result would be not only an information session, but also a website so that this information would be available to the general public who could not attend the information session and going forward. This website would gather data and recommendations in one location. Most importantly, as more people become interested in helping out with this important planning process, this website will give them a place to start.

Yes, APS already has a website for “More Seats for More Students.” But it takes you deep into the weeds of the current planning processes. Information on past committees is there, but anyone interested has to dig through the unorganized archive. There is no roadmap, no “START HERE.” My suggestion would create just such a page.

“More Seats for More Students” is one of the most important planning programs of our generation. APS must add thousands of seats for new students over the upcoming years, and will likely build significant facilities to do so. These facilities and their locations will shape the look and livability of Arlington for everyone and will impact the quality of our public schools. Having great public schools is essential not only for our students but also for our property values. By organizing a School Planning 101 session and accompanying website, APS would enable more people to lend their voices and ideas to shaping the future of the public school system. A more informed process will lead to a better result and a more livable Arlington County.

Gillian Burgess is the current Chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the founder of Kidical Mass Arlington, and the former Vice Chair of APS’s Multimodal Transportation and Student Safety Special Committee. She lives in Cherrydale with her husband and three children.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 30, 2015 at 3:30 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.

One year ago, the owners of Green Flash Brewing Co. and Alpine Beer Company announced that their breweries were merging. Around this time, Green Flash ranked 48th among craft breweries in the U.S. in brewing volume according to the Brewer’s Association. They weren’t huge, but they were a good sight larger than Alpine who employed 20 people.

Their business relationship had begun a year earlier when they entered into a “handshake agreement” to have Green Flash brew and package some of Alpine’s beers. This agreement doubled Alpine’s production from 1,500 bbl to 3,000 bbl. So successful was 2013-14 for both breweries that they decided to take their relationship one step further.

Alpine BeerJoining forces, while allowing each company to continue operating independently, supports an environment in which two world-class breweries can co-exist and thrive. Their excellence is evident on beeradvocate.com — each brewery routinely earns a score of 90 or greater. What’s better, is that Alpine — a brewery that was previously only local to San Diego — can now share it’s coveted beers with the same markets that enjoy Green Flash.

It can be fun getting your hands on a beer than can only be found in the Russian River Valley or in rural Vermont. What I prefer is enjoying a superb beer that I bought in my own back yard. Alpine and Green Flash have proven that they can scale up their winning formulas. Now, we can all benefit.

Check out these three Alpine beers and more at Dominion Wine & Beer.

Alpine Beer Company Hoppy Birthday IPA (5.25% ABV)

Brewed to celebrate hoppiness and to keep the party going, Alpine’s Hoppy Birthday is a session IPA. The relatively low ABV of this beer allows the huge hop flavor to shine without all the alcohol of a standard IPA. For those who like the way that hops can bring the bitterness, this beer will be a welcome assault on the tongue.

Alpine BeerAlpine Beer Company Duet IPA (7% ABV)

Duet is Alpine’s own West Coast IPA — a modern classic with a blend of Simcoe and Amarillo hops. The combination of hops lends this beer a nice balance of piney aroma and hop flavor. This is a finely crafted, hop-forward IPA that has just the right amount of sweetness from the alcohol. It’s full of flavor and immensely drinkable.

Alpine Beer Company Nelson golden rye IPA (7% ABV)

Made primarily with generous amounts of the New Zealand hop, Nelson Sauvin, in both the brewing and dry-hopping this IPA packs quite a hop punch. The rye in the name refers to European rye, which is used as part of the grain bill — it brings both a smooth maltiness and a peppery spice that complements the bitterness of the hops. Nelson’s reputation preceded it’s availability in this area when The Washington Post made Nelson it’s Beer of the Week earlier this summer.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

County Board candidate Mike McMenamin

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Mike McMenamin:

Somewhere along the journey, “the Arlington Way” got off track. A county once revered for its innovative but prudent growth let the spending spigot flow too freely at the expense of homeowners and businesses.

The County Board built a million-dollar bus stop. Then there was the “well-intentioned” but ill-fated Artisphere. Arlington was all set to build an extravagant streetcar for Columbia Pike. Another pool, this time for Long Bridge Park, turned out too be overly expensive.

Last year, Arlington voters came to their senses by selecting another Independent, John Vihstadt, and signaled that Arlington County was through with such excessive spending. Still, bloated projects come our way. Take the $350,000 the county just gave Dutch contractors for an art project on the fence of a county sewage plant.

As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money. Sure, some of these projects are nice ideas. But they crowd out other projects that I consider more important. We need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks. We must properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.

Too much of the burden of costly projects falls on homeowners in Arlington County. We need to proactively draw in more tax-paying companies by filling the vast amounts of vacant office space caused by overbuilding and the departure of government agencies. By doing so, it will provide the much needed tax relief for homeowners.

I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county. Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process. It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy. This needs to change.

A major issue for the next board is the growth in the school-age population. As parents of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington & Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawn, my wife and I know just how good our schools are. The board must work with the school board to find cost-efficient solutions in locations that do not disrupt neighborhoods. For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out.

I feel that the time is ripe for another Independent on the county board. I am proud to have gotten the endorsement of John Vihstadt and the Arlington Sun Gazette, among others. So I ask for your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm 0

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you, ARLnow readers, for your time spent reading about the candidates for Arlington County Board.

It’s an honor to offer my experience and perspective for consideration for one of two open seats on the Board. My community experience in Arlington’s commission process and as an appointee on the School Board’s Advisory Council on Instruction, as well as my professional experience as an education policy advisor, afford me the necessary background and insights to serve on the County Board. I believe I can pair this background with an ability to look at issues differently and a genuine openness to community ideas.

Across the past ten months of door-knocking, candidate nights and neighborhood coffees, I’ve heard a common theme: Responsibility. Arlington is unmistakably entering a period of difficult decisions regarding land use and expenditures. We’ll need County Board leaders who can demonstrate not just fiscal responsibility, but responsibility for the whole of Arlington and its long-term future.

I’m committed to bringing to the Board both good judgment and a critical eye towards major new expenditures, honed through my experience working with resource-challenged localities. But Arlington’s complex challenges cannot be met by a ‘back to basics’ ideology alone. Meeting the needs of more students and more seniors, for example, will require innovation in how we think about public facilities. For example, improving joint use agreements for recreational facilities between schools and County; building vertically and undergrounding parking to protect green space; and constructing facilities that can evolve in use over their multi-decade lifetimes. Economic redevelopment, too, will require adaptability, such as more flexibility in the permitting and signage processes that business interests cite as common barriers to locating in Arlington.The Board will need to foster a climate of experimentation — such as extending the terms of our interim use ordinance –as we transition from reliance on federal agencies to new sectors.

By contrast, Independent candidates in this race have promised appealing but less-than-responsible solutions: Cutting taxes on businesses while spending more on streets and parks, with few specifics about how to balance the remaining budget. Taking pledges on land use that will tie the Board’s hands in considering recommendations from the citizen task forces that study countywide needs.

Here is what I can — responsibly — promise: To approach Arlington’s challenges analytically, and with a fresh perspective. My approach to affordability is an example. I believe we need to look more expansively at land use solutions to affordability issues. Revisiting the restrictions around accessory dwelling units can unlock market rate affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County, while enabling seniors to age in place with on-site caregivers or additional rental income. Pursuing childcare centers as first-floor retail-equivalent uses and negotiating with developers to commit affordable rent for childcare providers can help address the lack of childcare supply that so challenges our young families. Either way, deliberate planning for a diversity of earners is not “a nice to have” luxury that we put off for flush times. A diverse workforce is a precondition for Arlington’s economic competitiveness, which is why the recent Affordable Housing Master Plan was supported by Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission as well as all five current County Board members.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of theWashington Post, which described my policy positions as “clear and balanced” this week and my candidacy as “serious and substantive” in its primary endorsement, as well as that of the Sun Gazette. I’m also pleased to be supported by Arlington’s teachers, firefighters, and twenty of our elected leaders.

I hope you will join these community members and leaders in their support. I’d be honored to earn one of your two votes on November 3.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Christian DorseyLast week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Christian Dorsey:

Arlington is at a crossroads. With challenges like a rapidly rising school enrollment and high commercial vacancy rates, we need leaders who can bring people together and get to work on day one. Serving on the County Board requires the ability to govern, paired with the temperament to provide leadership on a wide range of issues, from unsafe sidewalks to long-term capital investments. And now, perhaps more than ever, Board members must bring practical experience, strategic thinking, a commitment to inclusive decision-making, and thoughtful independence to realize what I believe is our shared vision–a strong and sustainable community.

To realize that vision, we must:

  • Make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Arlington and address our high commercial vacancy rate so that homeowners are not forced to bear a disproportionate tax burden;
  • Ensure adequate school capacity so that schools can focus on instruction;
  • Expand and protect our community’s open space;
  • Prioritize the nuts and bolts, like fixing potholes and sidewalks, and enhancing pedestrian safety;
  • Improve Arlington’s affordability to ensure that seniors can stay in their own homes and more first responders, teachers, and young families can afford to live here;
  • Foster a more inclusive, responsive, and transparent government, where community input isn’t seen as a box to be checked, but rather a critical step in the decision-making process;
  • Create opportunities for growth by improving and enhancing public transportation.

As a more than twenty-year Arlington resident, Arlington Public Schools parent, and appointee to the Tenant-Landlord and Planning Commissions, I understand the challenges we must confront as a County. I have also served on the boards of directors of several of our community organizations, like the Arlington Free Clinic, Arlington Committee of 100, A-SPAN, and Arlington Independent Media.

Professionally, I work as a macroeconomic policy expert. I develop budgets that promote broadly-shared prosperity while maximizing value to taxpayers. Previously, I have served as the CEO of several non-profits that: delivered literacy support for low-income children; pioneered a pop-up social services center in South Arlington; and developed a model diversity education and inclusion program for students.

Arlington’s future can be bright, but it will require hard work and smart choices in these changing times. It will require people to come together to address Arlington’s challenges, and someone to foster a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, rather than a culture of tear-down, divisive politics. That’s why I have earned the support of all five County Board Members–four Democrats and one Independent. Along with the Washington Post, Arlington Education Association, Firefighters and Paramedics, Realtors, and Working Families Coalition, all five board members believe I have the requisite experience, passion, commitment to service, and independence to build a better, stronger, more sustainable Arlington County.

I ask for your vote on November 3rd so that, together, we can take Arlington to new heights. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or visit my website at www.christiandorsey.org.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

Audrey Clement

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement:

As an Independent candidate for the Arlington County Board, I, Audrey Clement, ask for your support in making Arlington County government more responsive and more accountable to the people it serves.

Having lived in Westover and worked alongside many other dedicated Arlingtonians for over 11 years, I have devoted significant time and energy to advancing fiscal responsibility, promoting a sustainable environment, and supporting fairness and equality in our community.

Today, we must confront serious challenges — ones that require independent and innovating thinking, reality-based planning, and a commitment to using limited resources wisely.

Free from partisan constraints and beholden to NO special interests or groups, I can meet these challenges and help put our county back on a more solid footing in the years ahead.

At over 20%, Arlington’s office vacancy rate remains stubbornly high. Each percentage represents millions in lost commercial revenue, which places a greater burden on homeowners. Several federal agencies — including the National Science Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Service and TSA — are relocating or have recently relocated due to escalating rents driven, in part, by higher taxes.

Our ongoing school enrollment crisis results from the County and School Boards’ failure to plan realistically for a future that appears to include relentless residential growth. In 2014, the School Board itself predicted a 2,500-classroom seat deficit even after approving a $450 million capital budget.

The County Board plans to fund the new Affordable Housing Master Plan — mandating 15,800 new committed affordable units (CAFs) in the next 25 years — but refused to insist that staff provide a thorough analysis of the plan’s costs and impacts on county services. Ultimately, no plan can be implemented successfully without a thorough understanding of the costs and how to pay for them.

Though the County pays lip service to the environment, it lags behind neighboring jurisdictions in installing renewable energy infrastructure in public buildings, and it enthusiastically supports development that increases impervious surfaces, reduces the mature tree canopy, and further degrades our environment.

The Arlington County Board talks a lot about the so-called Arlington Way while routinely ignoring citizen input and dismissing our concerns. For example, the County Board already had a signed, undisclosed letter of intent (LOI) in place with developer Penzance when it convened the West Rosslyn Area (WRAPS) citizen’s group — whose assigned task was to consider what should be built on the site.

The result? That neighborhood will lose public parkland even as its population doubles, and the historic Wilson School will be demolished.

The County also unilaterally decided to relocate historic Fire Station #8 and sell the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont Park until neighbors rebelled. These are a few of the recent examples of County Board’s insular and autocratic decision-making style.

The Democratic candidates acknowledge a crisis of confidence in County government exists but continue passing the buck with platitudes and promises to do better. I have specific solutions. If elected with your support, I pledge to lobby the County Board to:

  • Reduce the Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses (BPOL) taxes on small businesses, streamline the business permitting process, and consult with the Governor to ask for help in filling the new 30-story office building near the Rosslyn Metro, which still has no tenant two years after construction.
  • Urge that support of County schools be given a greater weight in site plan negotiations with developers for community benefits.
  • Ask the School Board to reduce reliance on trailers by increasing secondary class size by one student per class (bringing Arlington’s student-teacher ratio in line with neighboring jurisdictions), utilize existing land and space more efficiently, and reduce costs.
  • Use housing funds to preserve the County’s remaining market-rate affordable apartment units and renovate them, which can be more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable over the long term than razing existing buildings to construct new units.
  • Encourage developers to incorporate on-site affordable housing into their projects to disperse the units more evenly countywide and reduce costs.
  • Strengthen the County’s efforts to enable disabled and retired citizens (who lived on fixed incomes) to age in place and remain in our community.
  • Install renewable energy on all newly constructed or renovated public buildings and recruit developers who will adopt the LEED Platinum standards and install on-site, solar-driven electric charging stations.
  • Adopt a transparency rule requiring online publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings to restore democracy to County government.

To make County government work better, I ask for your help. Please:

  • Visit www.AudreyClement.com to volunteer or donate.
  • Vote Clement  your Independent candidate — for Arlington County Board on Election Day, November 3, 2015.

Together, we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Reid Goldstein

Last week we asked the two Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. One School Board seat is up for grabs this year.

We did not receive a response from B. A. “Brooklyn” Kinlay, who’s affiliated with the Independent Green Party.

Here is the unedited response from Democratic-endorsed candidate Reid Goldstein:

Experience and proven leadership are assets I will bring to the Arlington School Board if elected November 3. As an activist for our schools and community for over twenty years, I understand how both APS and the county government function. This is critical now, when the county and APS need to work more together, not in parallel, to address the challenges our schools face.

Growing enrollment magnifies the challenge of maintaining our reputation for high quality schools that makes Arlington such an enviable place to live. Enlarging school capacity requires County Board and School Board collaboration as never before to address the financing necessary for capital construction, and mitigating adverse effects on the neighborhoods. As a civic association president and president of the CPRO board, I have experience working on the design of new buildings to address issues like traffic, parking, building height and density to assure that the design protects adjacent neighbors.

APS’ challenges are not limited to buildings. The key to APS’ high quality and reputation for excellence is our teachers. We need to continue to retain and attract the best teachers, even as enrollment rises and budgets are tight. I am the son of two teachers. One of my two daughters (both educated K-12 in Arlington schools) is also a teacher. Teachers have the single greatest effect on our children’s education, and will be a top priority if elected. APS has a broad range of choices and programs, including immersion, International Baccalaureate at all school levels, the HB Woodlawn program, the Stratford program, Arlington Traditional, Montessori, New Directions, the Career Center, Thomas Jefferson High School, pre-K, special education, high school continuation, and many others. Preserving this variety, designed to meet the individual needs and aspirations of each of our students, is essential to maintaining the quality and appeal of Arlington Public Schools.

Here are some examples of my leadership roles over the years (more information is available at http://www.reidgoldstein.com/ ):

HB Woodlawn PAC. Shortly before the start of the school year, our Parent Advisory Committee chair suddenly withdrew. I stepped in, and served 3 years.

Jefferson Middle School Exemplary Project. Our committee recommended adoption of the International Baccalaureate program. Without needing substantial financial commitments, the program has transformed Jefferson, energized the faculty and engaged the students and parents as never before.

APS Strategic Plan Committee. I worked on the committee that developed, for the first time, a strategic plan for APS.

Family Network. Realizing that PTAs offered programs of interest beyond their own schools, I helped revive a collaborative network among PTAs to share knowledge and resources, inviting all school and civic communities to all PTA programs on family issues including substance abuse, gap year, and students and the law. We did not need funding increases to broaden access to these popular programs, just commitment and collaboration.

Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. As president, I led the board of the organization that has worked to transform a fading collection of strip malls into an increasingly thriving business center, focused on quality of life for its residents.

Douglas Park Civic Association. President of the civic association for Arlington’s most populous neighborhood at a time of transition in the neighborhood and along Columbia Pike.

Housing Commission. Seeing that a stable home environment is the foundation for educational achievement, I worked on preservation of affordable housing for Arlington’s families.

Columbia Pike Land Use Study. I was a member of the steering committee guiding the work to preserve our neighborhoods, including affordable housing, along Columbia Pike, ultimately developing the Pike Neighborhoods Plan.

Glebe Road and Columbia Pike Left Turn Signals. Many will remember the days when left turns at the intersection of two of Arlington’s principal arterials required cutting through neighborhoods. Every government entity felt another was responsible for fixing the issue. With my neighbors, I brought together the county staff, VDOT, the county manager, and elected local officials and state legislators to hold them all responsible for making the solution happen. Successfully, the lanes were built and the intersection improved. But it took commitment, a willingness to hold people accountable, and knowledge of the workings of local government to make it happen.

These are examples of the leadership, experience and commitment I will bring to the Arlington School Board. I would be honored to have your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm 0

Minor fall foliage outside of a Rosslyn office buildingIt’s Marine Corps Marathon weekend, which means two things: lots of road closures and lots of inspiring stories.

Rain may be in the forecast for Sunday, but runners will be hoping for light sprinkles that cool them off without slowing them down.

Also happening this weekend, ahead of next weekend’s Halloween festivities: Rosslyn restaurant Guajillo will begin serving its traditional Day of the Dead menu and cocktails, starting Saturday. Guajillo recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Feel free to discuss the marathon, Halloween preparations or any other item of local interest in the comments.

Have a nice weekend!

by Peter Rousselot — October 22, 2015 at 2:30 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.

Arlington faces competing demands for investment in schools, parks, housing and economic development. It is essential that our County Board members have a record of accomplishment, a demonstrated willingness to exercise independence, and the ability to bring people together to move Arlington forward. That’s why I am strongly supporting both Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey for election to the County Board.

Both candidates support reforming the way our participation process works to make it more accessible and more representative for all Arlingtonians, and have voiced support for the “72-hour rule” for public posting of Board documents.

Katie Cristol will draw on her background working with resource-constrained localities across the country to bring a comparative perspective to Arlington’s challenges. As an education policy advisor, Katie has experience asking tough questions about efficiency: is a dollar spent on a program more effective than a dollar spent elsewhere.

Katie also has proposed more accessible avenues for community input, like open houses in parks, so that residents unable to participate in lengthy meetings still can share their thoughts. Katie’s professional experience with community engagement, which is vital for utilizing the knowledge of Arlington’s many well-informed residents, will make her a thoughtful steward of Arlington’s resources. Rather than seeking to join or represent a particular faction on the County Board, Katie offers an alternative: fiscal responsibility and responsiveness paired with progressive values. To learn more, please visit Katie’s website.

Christian Dorsey’s career has centered on promoting broadly-shared prosperity for communities across the country. This requires critical thinking about budget priorities. That type of thinking, along with his commitment to open, responsive, and inclusive County government, is why Christian has been endorsed by all five members of the County Board.

Christian also embraces the idea that progressive values are, in fact, compatible with fiscal prudence. That’s why, even as a resident living near Columbia Pike, Christian was a voice of thoughtful opposition to the streetcar. Not because he opposes investments in transit and infrastructure, but because Christian wants to ensure those investments make sense and produce optimal outcomes. As a macroeconomist, an APS parent, an appointee to the Planning and Tenant-Landlord Commissions, and a civic activist who has served our community for over two decades, Christian Dorsey will be ready to lead on day one. To learn more, please visit Christian’s website.


Registered voters in Arlington are entitled to cast two votes for the open seats on the County Board. The best way to ensure your say in how our County is governed is to cast both votes, and Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are clearly the best choices.

by Progressive Voice — October 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Joe WholeyProgressive 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.

This year’s County Board election is the most important in many years.

It is vitally important that Arlington voters take the time to vote.

It is equally important that they cast two votes for the County Board and that those votes go to Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.

The alternatives in this year’s election will put into jeopardy many great things that make Arlington the community we love. Indeed the County’s longstanding vision and values are at risk if we do not vote for Katie and Christian.

Their opponents want to cut taxes, focus only on ill-defined “core services” and cut school funding. If Arlington were to elect even one of their opponents, we could lose many good things that make Arlington Arlington.

Katie and Christian are policy-oriented people who will bring fresh perspectives on protecting the County’s core values and moving the County forward.

They will make sure that the County’s fiscal resources are spent wisely and prudently.

They are very personable and dynamic – able to engage and listen – to make sure that the voices of residents are heard in the County’s planning and decision-making.

They also understand that Arlington did not become the place so many people want to live by shortchanging its future or by pitting people and priorities against each other in a hostile and harmful way.

From my experience on the County Board, I know that we can and must deliver core services in an effective, efficient, and cost-conscious way.

But I also know from that experience that much of what has made Arlington special is our decades-long commitment to long-range planning, effective innovation and partnerships, and smart strategic investments.

We have always looked beyond what is standard to make Arlington a truly remarkable place that attracts and keeps people who want something better.

And I learned from that experience that we can’t solve our problems by promising every group that they will get their priorities addressed to the exclusion of others. Rather, we must work together to find solutions that advance a range of County priorities simultaneously – good government with sound finances and a reasonable tax structure, outstanding schools, good libraries, fine parks and recreation programs, attractive transportation options, economic development and competitiveness, human services programs, and affordable housing programs, among others.

These priorities are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they can and do build upon each other to create a greater whole. Our residents are fully capable of coming forward with good ideas for making it all work.

For those of us who remember the accomplishments of Arlingtonians for a Better County – I say that Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are our best hope for a Better Arlington.

They deserve your votes and your support.

I am heartened to know that a newer generation of Arlington voters sees this election in a similar way. Progressive Voice columnist Harrison Godfrey is a member of the Millenial Generation who was raised in Arlington and wants to make it his long-term home.

Here is Harry’s take on this year’s County Board election:

“It’s not by accident that Arlington has the highest percentage of Millennials of any county in the United States. Smart planning, a welcoming, cosmopolitan culture, and a vibrant economy – especially in the midst of the Great Recession – have made it an attractive destination for young professionals. That’s great news for our County as small non-profits and large companies alike look for an educated, engaged workforce when deciding where to locate.

“Unfortunately the attributes that have attracted young professionals to Arlington aren’t guaranteed. Federal budget sequestration, for instance, is dampening area job growth and raising commercial vacancy rates. At the same time Arlington’s attractive features have helped push home prices beyond the reach of many first-time buyers and winnowed the stock of affordable rental units.

“To meet these challenges, it’s more important than ever that we have a County Board that upholds Arlington’s tradition of smart planning. Katie and Christian will — with a particular focus on housing affordability, education, and economic competitiveness.

“It’s also critical that we have a Board that represents the demographic, geographic, and economic diversity of our County. The addition of Christian and Katie will ensure that.”

Please join Harry and me in voting for Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey on November 3.

Joe Wholey is former three-time Chairman of the Arlington County Board. Harrison Godfrey is a former White House legislative aide who works on clean-tech policy at the state and Federal levels.

by Heather Mongilio — October 22, 2015 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.

Much attention has been paid to the big ticket projects the County Board has shuttered over the past year. Those fiscally responsible decisions will save taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.

How the Board treats spending our tax dollars on the smaller projects and how they meet their obligations to ongoing basic services is equally, if not more, important to our long term fiscal health.

The most recent case in point was the reminder that the County Board had authorized $350,000 for an “art installation” on the Four Mile Run Trail side of the wastewater treatment plant. It is a given there is nothing pretty about the facility. But the new art does little to change the view as you are walking, running or biking by on the trail.

Earlier this year, the Board voted to build a $17.6 million ART bus facility that, according to their own press release, “. . . will not be large enough to meet all the County’s projected needs for ART facilities. It can house neither the entire existing ART fleet, nor accommodate all of the buses that will expand the fleet over the next decade.”

With that in mind, why not wait until you could identify a plan to build an adequately-sized facility all at once? The savings to the taxpayer of $57,000 a year, hardly justifies a $17.6 million outlay that will not meet all of our needs. At that rate, the facility will pay for itself in 308 years.

Neither of these items are as attention-getting as a $1 million bus stop or a $500 million trolley. But, they are made by the same elected officials who use the same philosophy of spending our money. That philosophy has not really changed for a majority of the Board, despite the rejection of the vanity projects by the voters one year ago.

The voters have another choice of who they send to the Board on Nov. 3. And the Board itself also has a big decision on who the next permanent County Manager will be.

No doubt there is value in the institutional knowledge of someone who has worked in Arlington for years. However, with three new Board Members being elected in the last 12 months and a new auditing function coming online, a fresh perspective in the Manager’s office is warranted as well. There is real value to be found in taking away any bias toward the way it has been done.

I have long held the position the next Manager should live in Arlington and live with the consequences of their advice and decisions. More importantly, the next Manager’s philosophy should approach every budget line item by asking if we should spend this taxpayer dollar, and if so, will we get the most bang for our buck?

A fresh set of eyes with a comprehensive approach to getting the big and little budget decisions right would serve Arlington well.

by ARLnow.com — October 16, 2015 at 11:10 pm 0

Metro logo on a pickup truckIt’s not going to be a good weekend for taking Metro.

All Metrorail lines save the Green Line will be running every 24 minutes due to Metro’s ongoing major weekend track work.

An ARLnow.com poll on Thursday found that fully 80 percent of 1,632 respondents reported taking Metrorail less often due to repeated service breakdowns — underscoring the importance of Metro’s rebuilding effort.

If you do find yourself with an extended wait at a Metro station this weekend, you might check out our latest sponsored column.

On Saturday, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) is launching a biweekly sponsored column, our first regularly-scheduled weekend feature.

Energy is fundamental to our lives and livelihoods, and AIRE is devoted to helping Arlington residents make smart energy decisions to save money and leave a lighter footprint on the environment.

The intrepid AIRE team will answer your questions to help you rethink energy and take action.

If you have questions about solar, heating and cooling, lighting, energy audits, insulation, or other energy topics, email [email protected].

Feel free to discuss Metro, energy efficiency or any other topic of local interest in the comments.

by Progressive Voice — October 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

Ally-head-shot-(1)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.

On Oct. 6, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) held its Annual Fundraiser Celebration at the Clarendon Ballroom. The event supported APAH’s mission to develop, preserve, own and advocate for quality affordable housing in Arlington, and to promote opportunity for its residents through partnerships and programs.

At the event, APAH honored Bill Fogarty of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, P.C. and Mark Silverwood of Silverwood Companies for their contributions to affordable housing in Arlington.

The importance of APAH’s mission was captured in the following remarks delivered by Allyson Suria, who lives in one of APAH’s affordable housing communities:

My name is Allyson Suria, and I am 19 years old. I am an APAH resident and a member of Mi Voz Cuenta. You may remember me from the County Board meeting where I shared my testimony in support of the Affordable Housing Master Plan.

I came to Arlington from El Salvador in 2004. I attended Barcroft Elementary School, Kenmore Middle School and Washington-Lee High School. Coming from a low-income family, I was a FARM (Free and Reduced Meal) student until graduation. Although I did not have as many resources as many classmates, through support from both my family and my teachers I was able to succeed in school.

I was excited to learn and tried my best to be an exemplary student. By age 10 in 5th grade, I was completely integrated with the rest of the English-speaking students and quickly became an honor student.

My family valued the education my brother and I were receiving from the Arlington Public Schools (APS). So as rent prices rose, we moved all across Arlington — a total of 11 times.

Despite the frequent moves, I continued to excel and my teachers recognized this. I was student of the quarter and semester several times, I was invited to attend youth summits, and received several awards during my APS years.

At Washington-Lee, I took AP courses, IB courses and dual enrollment courses; was president of clubs, a leader in my community, and graduated with an advance diploma.

Currently, I am pursuing an education major at Marymount University where I am a member of the Education School’s honor association and the Dean’s List. Additionally, I am president and founder of Marymount DREAMers — a club for immigrant youth and our allies.

For the past three years our family has lived in an affordable housing property and it has improved our lives by adding much necessary stability.

It has also helped us feel a part of the community. After living in apartments we had no personal connection to, we now live in an apartment we call home and we consider ourselves a part of the neighborhood. I feel motivated to participate more passionately in my community. I now invite others to become civically engaged so they too can enjoy such a feeling.

My brother and I continue to excel in school because we have affordable housing.

My parents always say “We know in the future you will be able to do more than we have in our lifetime.” I believe them. Thanks to my stable home and to my academic efforts, perhaps in the future I will no longer be an affordable housing resident but rather an Arlington home-owner.

This is why affordable housing is important to me. I want our future generations to have better access to economic mobility. In order for students to excel and become successful professionals they need two very important things: 1) a stable home like the one I am blessed to have thanks to APAH; and 2) a world-class education just like the one I feel so privileged to have received from APS.

On behalf of all the families who live in the APAH properties, I would like to give a sincere thank you to all the employees, the donors, volunteers, and board members at APAH. Your contributions to this great organization truly improve our lives and make Arlington our home.

Allyson Suria is a Marymount University student and Arlington resident.


Subscribe to our mailing list