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by Chris Teale — April 13, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

A record number of people turned out for last night’s Democratic Party straw poll, where County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and School Board candidate Monique O’Grady were some of the victors.

Hosted at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), more than 120 people cast ballots for Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board, Arlington School Board, lieutenant governor and governor. The attendance set a record for the event, now in its third year.

Lopez said the event raised around $12,500 from ticket sales, which he said will be funneled to Democratic candidates in other House of Delegates races across the commonwealth. Lopez added that getting people excited about the upcoming races was a big point of emphasis, as opposed to focusing purely on the straw poll results from a limited voter pool.

“I think what’s wonderful about it is people are so fired up,” he said in an interview. “They’re coming into the room fired up, excited about the campaigns, they’re excited about the candidacies, they’re excited about their friends running for office.”

Gutshall won the County Board poll with 38 percent of the vote, ahead of Vivek Patil with 30 percent, Peter Fallon with 22 percent and Kim Klingler with 10 percent.

Gutshall, who won the straw poll last year in his unsuccessful bid for a County Board seat, said creative thinking is required to solve problems like school overcrowding and housing affordability.

“We’ve got a wonderful county here that I’m proud to be a part of,” he said. “But we can’t stay the same.”

In her remarks, O’Grady cited her “experience keeping our school system strong,” as well as being co-chair of last year’s successful $138.83 million school bond campaign.

O’Grady won the School Board straw poll with 46 percent of the vote, ahead of incumbent James Lander with 36 percent and Maura McMahon with 18 percent.

In the statewide races, current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the straw poll for the governor’s race against former Rep. Tom Perriello with 67.5 percent of the vote. Speaking on Northam’s behalf, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) said Northam is a “fighter for our progressive values” and has advocated tirelessly for women, children and ethnic minorities.

“We can count on Ralph to be with us as the 73rd governor of Virginia,” Ebbin said.

Justin Fairfax took victory in the straw poll for lieutenant governor with 64 percent of the vote, ahead of Susan Platt with 20 percent and Gene Rossi with 16 percent. County Board member Christian Dorsey, who spoke on Fairfax’s behalf, praised his grueling campaign schedule and his long-term view on solving problems.

“The question is, who has the skill and the will and will fight for you?” Dorsey said. “In this regard, I am so impressed with Justin Fairfax.”

The Arlington County Democratic Committee holds its caucus for County Board nominee and School Board endorsement on May 9, 11 and 13. Statewide primary elections will be held on June 13.

by Chris Teale — March 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Local Democrats’ decision to choose a County Board nominee by caucus not primary has drawn the ire of some of its younger members.

At the Virginia Young Democrats’ annual convention earlier this month, the Arlington Young Democrats spearheaded a resolution to encourage the use of primary elections in local and statewide races.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee will use a so-called “firehouse primary” to choose a nominee to run to succeed retiring County Board chair Jay Fisette. Four candidates will be on the ballot: Peter Fallon, Erik Gutshall, Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil.

The unassembled caucus, in which any registered voter can show up, fill out a ballot and leave, will be held alongside the School Board caucus on May 9, 11 and 13 at Key Elementary School, Drew Model School and Washington-Lee High School, respectively. Candidates are ranked in order of preference by attendees.

But Maggie Davis, president of the Arlington Young Democrats, said such a system does not help more young voters get involved in the nomination process.

“It is incredibly difficult for a young person likely working multiple jobs with very little flexible free time to access the caucus,” Davis said. “There’s no in-person absentee voting, no absentee voting and the caucus only happens on certain times. And the Thursday night location [Drew Model School] is off the Metro corridor.”

ACDC chair Kip Malinosky said the decision to use a caucus instead of a primary would encourage candidates to move away from negative campaigning, especially as it uses a ranking system.

“The issue is that neither system is perfect,” Malinosky said. “Obviously, we always want to see more people vote and make it easier for people to vote. On the other hand, primaries, especially when it’s just plurality, can be very negative.”

The Arlington Young Democrats introduced their resolution at the national convention to some reluctance from smaller jurisdictions, worried about the financial burden of funding a primary. But Davis said the principle of allowing as many people to vote as possible and all precinct voting stations being open won the day.

“It was generally accepted that we should have more open and transparent electoral processes,” she said.

Davis said the addition of a third day for caucus voting was a good compromise by ACDC, but that the Young Democrats still wish to see some kind of absentee voting introduced to allow as many people as possible to vote if they wish, even if they are absent on polling day.

Malinosky rejected the idea that a caucus allows the local party to who is chosen as the eventual nominee, and emphasized the need for positive campaigning. He added that the use of a caucus this year does not set a precedent for future nominating contests.

“If you look at the literature on political turnout, negative campaigning can really sink political turnout,” he said. “What we want to do as a party to influence it is have positive campaigning. But I don’t think there’s an end-all, be-all perfect answer for caucuses vs. primaries.”

by Chris Teale — March 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm 0

LGBT rights "snowflake" pin

The term “snowflake” has become one of the more widely-used insults in online political debates lately, and now an Arlington man is trying to adopt it as a badge of honor.

Ballston resident Michael Getter has begun what he describes as a campaign to unite opposition against President Trump and his administration’s agenda. To do so, he’s planning to manufacture “snowflake” lapel pins of different colors to represent particular issues.

And Getter said if the idea proves viable, proceeds from buying the snowflake pins will go to related charities and advocacy organizations that “have a proven track record and are effective.”

Getter says he was inspired by the opposition rallied at the Women’s March on Washington in January and the use of the word “snowflake” to show disdain for young people and their objections.

“It crystallized in my mind, that a snowflake might become a symbol not necessarily of the resistance, but basically for everybody who disagrees on different grounds with Trump and his administration,” Getter said. “Instead of hearing it as a derogatory term, we’ll learn that we’re all different.”

USA "snowflake" pin

Already, Getter has put together a list of more than 15 snowflake designs. Some are focused on issues like healthcare and immigration, while others are for those affiliated to a political party.

Getter said it was important to try and capture as many issues as possible, and be inclusive of all opposing viewpoints.

“Instead of lumping it altogether, saying, ‘Yes, we’re all one great mass,’ we’re not,” he said. “Different people have different interests. Some people are specifically interested in health care issues, some people want to stop wars, some people are interested in immigration issues, some are opposed to losing funding for the arts.”

The endeavor is set to ramp up as of May 1, which Getter said will mark the start of its Kickstarter campaign to raise initial funds.

Women's rights "snowflake" pin

Manufacturing the pins could prove costly, Getter said, as he wishes to have them made in the United States.

But he said he hopes his campaign will encourage unity among opponents of the Trump administration’s agenda.

“They have something they can be proud of, wear it and be part of a larger group that’s proud to be who they are, not ashamed of being called a ‘snowflake,'” he said. “I wanted to bring some unity and recognition, and make a statement. If you see another person on the street with a snowflake, you have an instant connection with that person, knowing they are on your side.”

by Chris Teale — March 21, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Arlington GOP logo(Updated 4:35 p.m.) Even with just one candidate declared for this year’s local elections, the Arlington GOP still believes it can make a splash.

Chairman Jim Presswood said with statewide elections to come as well as last year’s election of President Donald Trump, the local party should see increased interest.

“We’re certainly feeling very good after the results of last year’s election at the federal level, and we’re looking forward to this year at the state level elections,” Presswood said. “We’re looking forward to our statewide candidates doing quite well in a very strong field, and good competition for each slot, so we’re excited to see what happens in June in the primary.”

Adam Roosevelt headshotSo far, only Adam Roosevelt has thrown his hat in the ring, challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez in the 49th District of the House of Delegates. Roosevelt’s campaign is focused on education, growing small business, supporting the military and local law enforcement and enhancing cybersecurity.

For his part, Lopez filed for re-election earlier this month after serving the district for six years. In his announcement, Lopez said he is running “because we deserve an open and welcoming Commonwealth that protects everyone and creates economic opportunity for all.”

Beyond Roosevelt, the local GOP has tried to recruit candidates for the County Board, School Board and other House of Delegates seats, to no avail as yet.

So far, Arlington’s three other House of Delegates members — all Democrats — are unopposed, while there are four Democratic candidates vying for the retiring chairman Jay Fisette’s seat as well as independent Audrey Clement.

School Board member James Lander, meanwhile, faces challenges from Maura McMahon, Monique O’Grady and Mike Webb. The latter unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination last year to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D).

The local Republicans have not run a County Board candidate since 2012, when Mark Kelly and Matt Wavro both lost to Libby Garvey. Board Member John Vihstadt serves as an independent despite having previously identified as a Republican.

Presswood said he takes the time at every monthly meeting to encourage newcomers to step forward. Mike Lane was the last Republican to sit on the County Board after he won a special election in 1999.

“Typically, people who want to run contact us, and that’s how we’ve been working it,” he said. “We certainly are, as we notice people getting more involved in the committee, saying, ‘Hey, you should run.’ We’ve done that, but as far as this cycle goes we haven’t seen anyone really step forward yet. But hopefully they will soon.”

If candidates do step forward, Presswood said, the local party would likely hold either a so-called “firehouse primary” or a mass meeting to determine nominees.

by Chris Teale — March 2, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

Four local Democrats are in the running to replace Arlington County Board chairman Jay Fisette, just over a week after he announced he will not seek reelection.

Peter Fallon, Erik Gutshall, Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Fisette. The local party will hold a caucus in May to select its nominee for the November general election.

Three of the candidates addressed a packed house at the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee on Wednesday night, hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington.

And the man they will replace, 20-year board veteran Fisette, said he was grateful to serve the county, having moved to Arlington in 1983. Fisette has previously said he will stay involved in public life in some other form when his term on the board expires in December.

“It has truly been a privilege to be able to represent you and Arlington over the past 20 years,” Fisette said. After his remarks, he received a standing ovation.

Gutshall is currently the chairman of the county planning commission, and lost in the Democratic primary in 2016 against incumbent board member Libby Garvey.

Gutshall praised Garvey for helping local Democrats unite after the primary, and said he is prioritizing schools, smarter growth and economic development in his campaign. Gutshall added that he will work closely with the recently-established Joint Facilities Advisory Commission that he said he lobbied for last year to develop “innovative solutions” to the county’s facility needs.

On Wednesday morning, Fisette endorsed Gutshall’s candidacy.

“For me, the board will benefit from Erik’s years of civic and community leadership, his knowledge and expertise in planning and environmental sustainability, and his experience as a small business owner and parent,” Fisette said in a statement. “Further, Erik has a strong character and serious vision for what he wants our community to be in the future. I would feel especially confident in Arlington’s future with Erik on the County Board, and I couldn’t be prouder to endorse his candidacy.”

In an accompanying statement, Gutshall praised Fisette for his leadership and said he is “humbled” to have his endorsement.

“Arlington is a better place as a result of Jay’s thoughtful, responsible and progressive leadership on the County Board,” Gutshall said. “Jay was a trailblazer in more ways than one, and his election paved the way for countless other Virginians to pursue public service. I am humbled to have Jay’s support and intend to honor his legacy by articulating a forward-looking vision for Arlington County that builds on our community’s success.”

Klingler ran in 2012 for the Democratic nomination to the County Board and currently serves as chairwoman of the county’s emergency preparedness advisory commission. She said that keeping residents safe must be the No. 1 priority, as well as making government operate more efficiently.

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by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

County Board member Jay Fisette

(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will not seek re-election this year, capping two decades of service on the Board.

Fisette, who first took office in 1998, is currently the longest-serving Board member. In a phone interview today, he said he has been weighing for months whether to run for another term.

“It’s really a complete honor and a privilege” to serve on the Board, Fisette said. “I still love the place, I’m just ready for a new challenge… a new way of working on the progressive values that we’ve embraced and that I’ve championed here in Arlington, that are at some level threatened at this moment.”

Though he has not decided what exactly to do next, Fisette said it will not be in elected office.

Fisette said he is especially proud of the Board’s long-term vision for Arlington — a “broad commitment to policies regarding the long-term sustainability of the community,” like transportation, housing, land use and the environment.

That was possible, Fisette said, because he “had the luxury, during most of my time here,” to make decisions based on community and professional staff input, and based on what he felt was best for the county.

“I worked really hard to treat people with respect and be fair,” said Fisette. “I could vote my conscience and best judgment with very little [consideration for] political or short term expediency.”

Fisette added that he hopes his successor continues to “stretch and aspire” without becoming “too political at the expense of good policy,” while at the same time emphasizing community engagement and “building toward a consensus.”

So far no candidates have filed to run in the upcoming Democratic County Board caucus, according to the Sun Gazette. With Fisette’s announcement today, a number of Democrats are now expected to throw their hats in the ring for the May 11 and 13 caucus. Whoever wins will face perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement in November.

In an Arlington County press release today (below), Fisette said that as an openly gay man he likely would not have been embraced by many communities like he was in Arlington when he ran for Board in 1997. He was Virginia’s first openly gay elected official.

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said today he has decided not to run for re-election to the Board this year.

“I just returned from a trip abroad, where I gave this a lot of thought,” Fisette said. “I have decided that it’s time to find a new platform and seek new ways of protecting and advancing some of the progressive values that are so important to me, values we have championed here in Arlington that are threatened by the current administration. I will not seek a sixth term on the County Board. Stay tuned.”

His nearly 20 years of service on the Board “have been an honor and a privilege,” Fisette said. “I have often said that I am not sure I would have run for office in many other places, yet Arlington always felt like a great fit for me. This community has such a strong tradition of policy-based good government where community involvement is encouraged and matters.”

Arlington, he said, “embraced me as a gay man long before such an endorsement could be presumed, long before it became the norm.” He has fought hard, Fisette said, to ensure Arlington has remained an inclusive and welcoming community.

Fisette, first elected to the Board in 1998, said he has found it “exhilarating to work with visionary Board members, some of the most talented professional staff anywhere, and a deeply civic-minded community to transform Arlington in a way that has made it one of our nation’s most dynamic, desirable places to live,” Fisette said.

“It has been gratifying to help create a vision and then work to actually bring that vision to life – we have proven that you can be both fiscally responsible and progressive. I hope that Arlington continues to aspire and inspire.”

Fisette cited his decades of work on long-term sustainability issues, including smart growth urban planning, strong environmental policies including adoption of the Community Energy Plan, a multi-layered transportation system that includes Metrorail, bus and Capital Bikeshare, and a robust local affordable housing program, as among the accomplishments of which he is most proud.

Fisette’s impact has stretched well beyond Arlington through extensive work in regional and statewide bodies, including leadership roles with the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, Transportation Planning Board, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Housing Development Authority.

“I believe in the power of collaboration and regionalism to make a difference,” he said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this work and will continue to do so through December,” he said. “And then others will continue the important work of planning and serving our community. Part of the challenge, and the satisfaction that comes from this job, is that the work is never done – that our community can and will always get better.”

Fisette has lived in Arlington since 1983 and has owned a home in Ashton Heights, with his husband, Bob Rosen, since 1987. The couple will stay in Arlington, he said. “We love Arlington and it will always be our home.”

by ARLnow.com — February 14, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

Sen. Mark Warner holds a press conference outside of his office on Capitol Hill 4/13/16Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has released a statement on the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor.

Warner, who serves as the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that he will continue to push to investigate Gen. Flynn and “any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”

The full statement is below.

Reports that the White House may have been briefed weeks ago on the nature of Gen. Flynn’s calls raise deeply troubling questions. The American people deserve to know at whose direction Gen. Flynn was acting when he made these calls, and why the White House waited until these reports were public to take action.

These developments underscore how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when. This reinforces both the urgency and the significance of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian interference, which will include a thorough examination of contacts between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, as well as interviews with current and former government officials.

Nothing about this resignation, or resignations that could occur in the future, precludes the Senate Intelligence Committee from continuing to investigate Gen. Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.

It is clear that our task is more urgent than ever.

Update at 12:35 p.m. — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has also weighed in with a statement (after the jump).

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by Tim Regan — February 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

(Updated at 1:58 p.m.) A new grassroots organization in Arlington hopes to obstruct President Trump’s actions by using some familiar tactics.

The group is called “Indivisible Arlington,” and it’s quickly becoming a focal point for local political frustrations. The organization gets its name from the “Indivisible Guide,” an online resource that borrows protest tactics from the Tea Party, the right-wing protest group that helped reshape the U.S. political landscape after the election of President Obama.

The goal of the Indivisible movement is to act as a kind of Tea Party of the left, said Arlington chapter co-organizer David Robeck.

“The Tea Party had very effective ways to obstruct things,” he added. “We wanted to learn from what they did.”

In the months ahead, Indivisible Arlington members will speak up at town hall meetings, call or meet their congressional representatives and show up en masse to events and organized rallies or protests.

The idea seems to be resonating among locals. Though Indivisible Arlington only formed last month, it already has more than 400 members. The group is composed of people from all walks of life, including local students, longtime activists and retired federal employees, Robeck said.

So many people showed up to the group’s first meeting at the Arlington Central Library last weekend that the meeting had to be moved to nearby Quincy Park.

“Despite the cold weather, 106 people gathered to participate,” reads a press release about the group’s first meeting. “The discussion included a wide range of issues such as cabinet nominees, refugees, and women’s rights.”

But it’s not just Arlington that’s riding the wave of political activism. Similar protest groups are popping up all across the country.

“There was outrage right away and that mobilized people to demonstrate everywhere,” Robeck said. “We’re stronger when we unite together.”

Those interested in attending Indivisible Arlington meetings can request access to the group’s Facebook page.

by Tim Regan — February 2, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated at 3:58 p.m.) Gold star father and outspoken Trump opponent Khizr Khan joined Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and other lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday to condemn President Donald Trump’s controversial “Muslim ban.”

Speaking to a small crowd of reporters during a press conference, Khan denounced Trump’s recent executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. He also said Trump was running a “clown show” out of the White House.

“This way of governing is alienating my country,” Khan said. “Muslims are alienated within the United States.”

Khan joined Beyer and a handful of other congressional representatives to reintroduce the Freedom of Religion Act, a bill that Beyer first unveiled last May. If passed, the Freedom of Religion Act would ban the government from denying entry to immigrants, refugees and international visitors on the basis of religion.

“We’re reintroducing the Freedom of Religion Act because we want to be sure that, regardless of the executive order or president, now or in the future, the message is clear,” Beyer said. “We cannot discriminate based on religion in our immigration system.”

Last weekend, Beyer and three other local congressmen visited Dulles International Airport to try and speak to Customs and Border Protection officials who were detaining a number of travelers. They were ultimately unsuccessful.

“I spent hours at Dulles Airport helping grieving families reconnect with their loved ones detained or deported by President Trump’s Muslim ban,” Beyer said. “Today’s legislation won’t erase the pain from President Trump’s ban, but it will ensure that this sort of immoral action never happens again and show the world that America still honors its founding principles.”

Several of the bill’s co-sponsors, including Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), also spoke at the news conference.

Clutching a small copy of the constitution in her hand, Schakowsky recounted how Khan and his wife, Ghazala, “galvanized the entire nation” during a speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer.

“President Trump’s Muslim ban, and let’s not call it by any other name, undermines our values as a nation,” Schakowsky said. “Bigotry does not make America great.”

Still, the bill stands little chance of passing, Beyer said, as it currently has no Republican co-sponsors. However, as the “human consequences” of the executive order become more apparent, the bill could gain more support from both sides of the aisle, he added.

“As people become aware, then we may hopefully get many more Republicans and a chance at passing,” Beyer said.

by ARLnow.com — January 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm 0

1 of Many Democratic Weekend of Action logoThe inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday may be the marquee event in Washington this weekend, but for Arlington Democrats the real action will start Saturday.

Local Democrats are planning a series of events, dubbed the “Weekend of Action,” to “send a bold message to the new administration on its first day in office.”

The prelude to the events will kick off Friday night with a poster making party in the basement of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church (1305 N. Jackson Street).

On Saturday, local Democrats will meet on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge — accessible via the Arlington Cemetery Metro station; Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. — and around 8 a.m. will walk into the District to join the Women’s March on Washington.

“Walk together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our Commonwealth and our country,” says the Arlington Democrats website. “Marchers may choose to carry signs, shout through megaphones, walk in silence as a member of The Bricksters, or otherwise express their views in a peaceful manner.”

A number of local lawmakers, including Rep. Don Beyer and County Board members Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol and Jay Fisette, are expected to be among the marchers.

Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday, is the Commonsense Commonwealth Rally and Brunch, featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello as keynote speakers. That event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) in Clarendon.

by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Rep. Don Beyer in his Capitol Hill office (file photo)Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is unhappy with the environmental implications of president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks.

In a statement last night, Beyer blasted Trump’s picks for EPA administrator, Secretary of State and Secretary of Energy.

The full statement is below.

The trio of Scott Pruitt for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, and Gov. Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy confirms our worst fears about President-elect Trump’s intentions on climate change and the environment.

As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Scott Pruitt organized and led a national push to oppose the EPA. He made himself the mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industry as it fought protections of air and water quality. As a denier of climate science, he is unqualified to run the nation’s premiere agency on the environment and the fight against climate change.

At the helm of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson continued the corporation’s efforts to undermine climate science as well as its unyielding insistence that fossil fuels remain the dominant, if not sole, energy source for the immediate future.  Exxon-Mobil’s regard for shareholders alone, and its refusal to acknowledge that stock value could be married with a wiser and more sustainable long-term world energy portfolio caused untold harm. It is appalling that the Secretary of State who negotiated the Paris Agreement, perhaps the most ambitious step towards fighting climate change in history, could be followed by this nominee.

Rick Perry impressed almost no one during his presidential run, and his most famous statement was his call to abolish the very agency he has been tapped to lead, once he remembered that it is called the ‘Department of Energy.’ The notion that he will succeed the Obama-era Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winner, and incumbent Ernest Moniz, an MIT nuclear physicist, is at once saddening and frightening, as was his call to close the agency tasked with developing clean energy technologies.

Climate change remains the world’s greatest threat. Delaying or reversing our efforts to fight climate change will have potentially catastrophic effects on the planet.

by ARLnow.com — December 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Donald Trump for president sign(Updated at 7:10 p.m) Jack Posobiec, the Security and Special Projects Director for a group called Citizens for Trump, took to Twitter today to complain about Arlington County’s parks department.

The department, he said, told him he would not be able to hold a pro-Trump rally next month at Long Bridge Park.

While Posobiec implied that politics may have played a role (see below for more of his tweets), Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said it was simply a matter of when he wanted to hold the event.

“The staff person he talked to said he was looking at Long Bridge Park for the inauguration,” Kalish said. “The park is closed on the 20th, but she said it was open on the 19th.”

Inauguration Day — Friday, Jan. 20 — is a county holiday and Parks and Recreation staffers have the day off.

“Our outdoor parks are open during their normal hours” on holidays, Kalish clarified, but “generally we don’t allow rentals on holidays as the staff that would support/monitor the facility are off.”

Following his phone call to the county on Monday, Posobiec has not yet followed up to file a permit application for another day, according to Kalish.

“He never submitted a formal request,” Kalish said. “We tried to call him back today but his voice mailbox was full. We reached back to [him] to contact us so we can see if space is available at the time and location he is interested in.”

“We can’t deny a permit for something we don’t have an permit application for,” she added.

Should Citizens for Trump successfully apply for a facility rental, an hourly rental fee would apply, as it does for any other person or group. The group may also need a Special Event Permit, Kalish told ARLnow.com.

“After we see what he needs we will try to accommodate it,” she said. “This sounds like a special event, and thus will also require a Special Event Permit. There is no cost for the Special Event Permit, however, this application helps us share the event information with all our County services (trash, public safety, street closures) so that we can better support the event organizer with his needs.”

Responding to an earlier request for comment, Posobiec said the parks department’s account of his call was “incorrect.”

“When I heard there was no way to apply for a permit on the 20th, it was I who suggested holding it on the 19th,” he told ARLnow.com in an email just before 7 p.m. “They asked what sort of event it was, and I told them it was a small rally of about 50 people to support the president. She then immediately told me that those types of events would not be allowed. I asked to speak with the director, but was only allowed to leave a message. Call was not returned.”

Posobiec said the event he wants to hold would be dubbed a “Rally to Support the President,” would take place at Long Bridge Park and would involve “a small stage for Citizens for Trump speakers.” He reiterated that he still would like to apply for a permit for the event.

(Posobiec says he is holding a separate event called the “Deploraball” on Jan. 19 at a private venue. Deploraball is not the name of the proposed Arlington event, as earlier reported.)

More of Posobiec’s tweets, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — November 21, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Congressman Don Beyer delivers a speech at the Arlington Jobs and Infrastructure Press Conference outside of Courthouse Metro StationRep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says president-elect Donald Trump’s appointments thus far are an abdication of his duty to lead responsibly.

Beyer says the appointments of Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, and Steve Bannon as Chief White House Strategist represent a “divisive course” and should be withdrawn.

Beyer, who represents Arlington on Capitol Hill, was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential race. The congressman’s office issued the following press release.

“I do not expect to agree with President-elect Trump on most issues, but I do expect him to lead responsibly. By appointing Senator Sessions and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to key positions on his administration’s national security team, he has abdicated that duty. His chosen advisors have expressed views attacking women, African Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics and Latinos, immigrants and new Americans, and numerous other groups. I urge him to reconsider this divisive course and withdraw these appointments.”

Lt. General Michael Flynn, Trump’s choice for National Security Advisor, publicly stated that “fear of Muslims is rational.” Flynn’s financial ties to Russia and Turkey represent a significant potential conflict of interest as he leads the National Security Council. He also said just a month ago that “the Muslim faith itself” is a “political ideology, not a religion,” which is the source of an “existential threat on a global scale.”

Senator Jeff Sessions, nominated to be Attorney General, defended Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States in an interview during which he also defended Trump’s attacks on the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan. Sessions once referred to an African American attorney as “boy,” and said that civil rights groups like the ACLU, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference were “un-American” and were attempting to “force civil rights down the throats of people.” As Attorney General, Sessions – who has criticized the Voting Rights Act – would be in charge of enforcing civil rights laws and investigating police departments for incidents of racial profiling and race-based-violence. Sessions has also made his stance on immigration – which borders on nativism – the focus of many public statements.

Representative Beyer previously signed the letter led by Rep. David Cicilline urging President-elect Trump to reconsider his appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon to the position of Chief White House Strategist.

He is the sponsor of a House resolution, H. Res. 569, “Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.” He also proposed the Freedom of Religion Act, a bill which would bar the President from using religious beliefs to prevent travelers, refugees, or immigrants from entering the United States. The bill enjoys bipartisan support in the House as well as the backing of a coalition of civil liberties organizations and groups representing a broad spectrum of religious faiths.

by ARLnow.com — November 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm 0

(Updated at 6 p.m.) Local high school students have been spreading messages of love to counter an otherwise gloomy post-election atmosphere in deep-blue, multicultural Arlington County.

During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump made statements that many felt were hurtful and threatening to immigrants, Muslims, people of color and, perhaps to a lesser extent, LGBT individuals — communities that are well-represented in Arlington. In response, students have their own message.

“Love and respect all life,” “stronger together,” “united not divided,” “forever forward,” and “love trumps hate,” are a few of the messages Washington-Lee High School students have written in chalk on the Stafford Street bridge near the school. There are also quotes from Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela.

Elsewhere in Arlington, a message to students at H-B Woodlawn (below) has gone viral on social media.

The message of reassurance, to women and minority communities, has spread on social media and received nearly a quarter million likes after pop star Lady Gaga posted it on her Instagram account.

At Wakefield High School, chalk messages outside the school entrance today included affirmations like “smile,” “you matter” and “be the change.”

Post-it notes on the school’s doors (below) also offered positive, personal messages for students, who were encouraged to take one on their way into school.

https://twitter.com/MrBurnsWHS/status/798139316551766016

https://twitter.com/whssuperfans/status/798149528679579648

Arlington was not totally immune to a national wave of hateful messages, however. In the wake of the election there were some isolated reports of racist (confirmed by police; link is NSFW), anti-gay (not confirmed by police; link is NSFW) and anti-Trump graffiti around Arlington.

The following graffiti incidents have been reported since last Tuesday’s election, according to an Arlington County Police spokeswoman.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11090173, 2700 block of S. Nelson Street. On November 9 at approximately 2:16 PM, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located a delivery truck vandalized with black spray paint but the words were not clearly written and officers could not determine what the graffiti stated. There are no suspect(s) descriptions.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11110113, 6600 block of Little Falls Road. On November 11 at approximately 11:34 AM, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located the words “Truck Frump,” “Bet,” “LMOA” and an obscenity spray painted on the football field. There are no suspect(s) descriptions.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11120136, W&OD Trail – Rt. 66 at N. Ohio Street. On November 12 at approximately 11:33 AM, police were dispatched to Bluemont Park for the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located numerous graffiti markings including the words “Trump,” “U.S. Border,” “Caution huge,” and a derogatory term spray painted on the pavement and wall. There are no suspect(s) description.

by ARLnow.com — November 10, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

It’s probably safe to say that “shock and horror” was the predominant reaction among local Democrats to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in Tuesday’s presidential election.

In Arlington, only 17 percent of those casting ballots voted for Trump, while 76 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Early on, as the results just started coming in, some officials we spoke to at the Democratic victory party in Clarendon refused to even concede that there was even a possibility that Trump could be elected.

Both the surprise over the result and the fear over what a Trump presidency means for Arlington and the nation was on display at Wednesday’s Arlington County Board meeting. Each Board member weighed in with their thoughts on the election. (See video, above.)

Here’s a bit of what Christian Dorsey had to say:

The outcome of this Presidential election was not what I desired, nor what I ever thought possible. This morning, my wife Rachel and I had to tell our budding feminist, 8-year-old daughter, who just a couple of weeks ago dressed as a suffragette for Halloween and explain to her that our candidate lost. That was hard. But harder still was finding answers to her very natural follow up questions, why, how? But I have to tell you that hardest of all, were finding words of reassurance to an outcome that in my opinion has dramatic consequences for our country. I hope to be proven wrong. Tens of millions of Americans, 20,000 Arlingtonians, and for all I know, perhaps some of you in this room chose Mr. Trump. I won’t try to believe it, but I will try to accept it.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey said a Trump presidency will not change the nature of the Arlington community.

At this point, I know we need to not give into fear, we need to not give into anger, we need to not assume that we know why everybody voted the way they did. And we need to continue what we have been doing here. This is a beautiful, wonderful community and we will do everything we can to preserve it and I am hopeful that we can. The rule of law and the rule of our constitution must prevail.

Jay Fisette said he was trying his best to cope with the results and give the new president a chance.

Yesterday was likely the most consequential election in my lifetime, for our country, to our world, to our understanding of democracy, the economy and our environment. Earlier today, I watched Hillary Clinton’s poignant and gracious concession speech and I actually took to heart her advice.

Number one, to respect the orderly transition of power that which is fundamental of our constitutional democracy. Two, to work with ourselves to open our minds and give our President Elect a chance to lead. And three, to continue to believe in our vision, in our values for the community, for the country.

In each of these, the first is easy for me. Everyone must and will come together to respect and accept the election results, as that is how we work, via the example that was set by our very first president, George Washington. So congratulations, Mr. Trump.

The second will be harder for some, like me, to open my mind and give our President Elect a chance to lead, yet we must do that. After we each finish our own grieving, those that supported Mrs. Clinton, and our assessment of what happened and why it happened, we must give the President a chance.

Independent John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the Board, said he was disappointed by the slate of presidential candidates this year.

Regardless of our political perspective, everyone in the nation and across the globe is still processing the remarkable outcome of yesterday’s election. Many are jubilant, others are apprehensive, or even fearful, and many others no doubt are conflicted. In my view, all four party nominees on the Virginia ballot for President this year fell short of what our nation deserved and needed in 2016. I voted, but did not vote for any of them. Still, the American people have spoken.

I am confident that our democratic institution will heal and endure, and I hope and pray, that people of goodwill will come together, lower our voices, and work together to find common ground to advance the human condition.

I’m reminded of the statement chiseled in stone above the main door to the state capitol of my home state of Nebraska, “the salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.”

Katie Cristol said Arlington County would “navigate the coming days as we have other major economic and political events in the past” thanks to residents, county staff and prudent planning.

Cristol said the county would continue to respect the rights of immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, in the face of Trump’s deportation promises.

I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm what has been a hallmark of Arlington County: inclusion and protection of our diversity and of our residents. I want to reaffirm that my commitment to the safety of our immigrant neighbors, emphasizing as this board did in 2016 that all residents and visitors to Arlington County have a right to public safety protection. That it is our longstanding policy that Arlington County law enforcement does not monitor, detain, interview or investigate people solely for the purpose of determining their integration status, and that the services we provide in Arlington County, including education, public transit, access to our parks and to our libraries are not restricted based on immigration status.

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