Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11 a.m.) Virginia localities are set to start receiving the new Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine next week, thus helping to boost supply in the Commonwealth.

But one group that had been poised to start being vaccinated soon has been bumped further down the priority list: Arlington County employees.

The entire county workforce is being considered to be within the “Continuity of Government” category, and thus is still part of the Virginia “1b” priority group and ahead of the general public. But county employees have now been bumped down below those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Since my last note to you on this, the Governor has made changes to the prioritization which has moved certain categories of 1B essential workers, including those in Continuity of Government, further down the list for vaccines,” County Manager Mark Schwartz wrote in a recent memo (below) to county workers. “Individuals 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions are now ahead of Continuity of Government workers. This means that there are now about 20,000 Arlington residents ahead of County employees in the queue.”

“The County’s Public Health Division continues only to receive approximately 3,000 first doses per week,” Schwartz continues. “We simply do not have enough vaccine to meet the demand yet. Based on current guidance on prioritization and vaccine supply, it is unlikely that we will begin any employee vaccinations until early April.”

On average, just over 1,100 COVID-19 vaccination doses per day have been administered in Arlington over the past week, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. VDH says the new J&J vaccine should help increase supply across the state.

“On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for those 18 and older,” the health department said in a press release. “Virginia is expected to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.”

Those who are eligible can pre-register for vaccinations at the state’s new Vaccinate Virginia web portal.

Despite the lack of supply right now, Arlington is working to make sure as many eligible people as possible register to be vaccinated. To that end, the county is trying to recruit local organizations to partner with the health department and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“We’re trying to get more organizations to become Complete Vaccination Committee (CVC) partners,” county spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith tells ARLnow. “Over the weekend, CVC members were out in the community at five different locations, getting people pre-registered for the vaccine.”

Organizations can sign up to become partners via this form.

Among the list of current partners is the Arlington County Democratic Committee, which is using its organizational infrastructure for getting residents registered to vote and driving them to the polls to do the same for seniors and vaccinations.

“In election cycles, we are the [Arlington Democrats] ‘Rides to the Polls’ team, but now we’ve put our operation to work to help seniors in a different way,” said Mary Byrne, a co-leader of the volunteer effort. “We are grateful that [Arlington Democrats] allowed us to use their database to access a list of both Dems and Republican seniors. Our volunteer list of more than 50 callers and drivers is growing and we’ve already called hundreds and helped dozens of seniors in the one week we’ve been in operation.”

Their list includes more than 6,000 Arlington seniors 75 years and older, Byrne said. The volunteers help with vaccination registration, scheduling and transportation.

More information on the “Ride to Vaccines” vaccine program can be found online or by calling (703) 528-8588 ext 5.

Image via Arlington County/YouTube

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Morning Notes

Love Notes in Rosslyn — “In honor of Valentine’s Day, we created Rosslyn Love, a community-wide free activity where anyone in the DMV could submit a message to be displayed across four temporary murals outside of 1550 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. Whether it was for a partner, a friend, coworker, family member, healthcare professional or even just a favorite spot around the neighborhood, we received over 400 messages of love and gratitude.” [Rosslyn BID]

Dems Keep Focus on Equity — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee in early March is expected to make its ad-hoc Inclusion and Equity Committee a permanent standing committee. The goal, deputy party chair Maggie Davis said, was to ‘do better including more people that look like the population of Arlington’ in Democratic Party activities.” [InsideNova]

Local GOP Surveying Members — “The Arlington County Republican Committee is in the midst of surveying its membership in hopes of making the party and its meetings more relevant to the rank-and-file and broader community. ‘Dozens of Arlington Republicans have already taken the time to complete this survey, and their responses are thoughtful and thorough,’ said Matthew Hurtt, the Arlington GOP’s communications director.” [InsideNova]

Police Investigate Sexual Battery in Arlington Mill — “The victim was walking in the area when she noticed the male suspect walking behind her. The suspect approached the victim, grabbed her waist and thrusted himself against her multiple times while making sexual comments. The victim continued walking and, as she approached her residence, the suspect re-approached her and brushed his hands against her breast. The victim was able to enter her residential building and close the door, preventing the suspect from following her inside.” [ACPD]

Air Force Vet Still Standing Up to Cancer — “‘Pat’ Malone, a seven-year cancer survivor, and 20-year Air Force veteran will ‘stand up to cancer’ for 24-hours straight, during his Seventh Annual Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) 24-Hour Fundraiser, beginning at 4:26 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, and ending at 4:26 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2021, at Fire Works American Pizzeria & Bar, 2350 Clarendon Blvd.” [The Zebra]

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Confusion Over CVS Vaccine Reservations — “The confusion began early Tuesday morning, with people reaching out to ABC7 to express their frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine registration process at CVS pharmacies in Virginia. ‘They didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and it’s just really frustrating,’ said Roxanne Grandis, who’s been trying to make vaccine appointments for her elderly parents.” [WJLA]

Some Kudos For County Vaccination Effort — “Virginia’s been struggling for weeks to administer vaccine doses. Out of the 1.38 million doses the Commonwealth received, officials only injected 1.1 million. That’s roughly 80%. Meanwhile, Arlington County is setting the standard at 97%. How did they do it? With other areas struggling, how did Arlington Public Health succeed on all levels? Local officials say it’s been a team effort.” [The Dogwood]

Chase Young’s Arlington Connection — “Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, whose father was in law enforcement, testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, expressing support for police reform… Young, named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but his father spent 22 years as a police officer in Arlington, Virginia.” [ESPN]

Arlington Man Running for Governor — “Another Northern Virginia executive is joining the Republican race for governor. Peter Doran of Arlington said Tuesday he is seeking this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. It is his first run for office.” [Associated Press]

Arlington Dems Eye High Rises — “Mid-rise and high-rise living represents a large swath of the Arlington population, and ‘many of them are inaccessible to outside groups,’ said Carol Fontein, who heads the robust precinct-operations efforts of Arlington Democrats. As a result, the party aims to recruit those living in multi-family complexes to help with outreach – within the limits set by owners of the properties.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington Enters N. Va. Police Pact –“The Northern Virginia Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Committee is pleased to announce the creation of the Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). The purpose of this team is to investigate critical incidents involving law enforcement officers within the cooperating jurisdictions.” [ACPD, DCist]

Dems Staying in Arlington for Inauguration — “Since most won’t be traveling into the District of Columbia due to public-health restrictions, members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee are being asked to take part in special events in Arlington to mark the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” [InsideNova]

Amazon to Open HQ2 to Teachers — “Amazon.com Inc. is taking a new step toward building up its future workforce, offering D.C.-area teachers the opportunity this summer to tour its second headquarters and shadow HQ2 staff while completing a graduate-level computer science course with George Mason University.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Wants to Vaccinate Va. Workers — “Amazon.com Inc. has offered to aid Virginia in inoculating the masses by vaccinating its tens of thousands of employees deemed essential during the health crisis… The company said it has the infrastructure to provide vaccinations to its more than 25,000 full and part-time laborers at fulfillment centers, warehouses and grocery stores across the state.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Candidate for 45th House District — “Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will not seek reelection and is running for the 45th District [state House of Delegates] seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.” [ALXnow]

Nearby: No Go for MoCo Schools — “Montgomery County students’ return to schools will be pushed back again as local COVID-19 cases continue to surge. During a meeting on Tuesday, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 7-1 to delay its reopening plan for the third time, pushing back the Feb. 1 start date until at least March 15 — more than a year after buildings closed.” [Bethesda Magazine]

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Market Common to Ditch Driveway? — “The loop road through the heart of Regency Centers Corp.’s Market Common Clarendon project could soon look a lot more like a plaza. The developer is pitching a series of changes to the central hub of the development… to try and make the area a bit more pleasing for pedestrians. That includes closing off to vehicular traffic the end of the U-shaped road connecting many of the development’s shops to Clarendon Boulevard.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Statement on Trump Tape — “This recording makes Nixon’s ‘smoking gun’ tape sound tame, but that tape captured only one part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Donald Trump must be held accountable for his illegal acts and his attacks on the Constitution. Nothing less than a criminal investigation will serve.” [Press Release]

Affordable Housing Nonprofit Buys Crystal House — “The Washington Housing Conservancy has acquired the Crystal House apartments in Arlington County in a bid to help combat rising rental rates as Amazon.com Inc. continues to expand its second headquarters nearby. The District-based nonprofit on Dec. 31 notified residents of the complex at 1900 S. Eads St. of the acquisition.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fmr. ACDC Chair Is Top Ga. Runoff Dialer — “And the top caller into Georgia for the ‘blue team’ in the 1/5/21 U.S. Senate runoff elections is… yep, Virginia’s own Kip Malinosky (former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair), with a whopping 2,801 calls and still dialing!” [Blue Virginia]

Local Basketball Ref Shortage — “Players, coaches and school administrators aren’t alone in making adjustments to hold a high-school basketball season in Fairfax and Arlington counties, which began Dec. 21 with many restrictions and protocols to follow because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Hotel Restaurant Reopening — “Really Yummy Good News! Our [Crystal City Marriott] bar and restaurant, Bell20, is Reopening TOMORROW! What a great way to start 2021!” [Twitter]

Pentagon City-Based FLIR Acquired — “Teledyne Technologies Incorporated and FLIR Systems, Inc. jointly announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Teledyne will acquire FLIR in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $8.0 billion.” [FLIR via Potomac Tech Wire]

Rosslyn-Based Politico Buys Energy Publication — “POLITICO, the world’s leading global news operation and information service specializing in politics and policy, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire E&E News, the renowned news organization focused solely on energy and the environment, now in its 22nd year.” [Politico]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Dozens gathered in front of Arlington County government headquarters in Courthouse for a rally calling for every vote from Tuesday’s election to be counted.

The “Protect the Results” rally, which kicked off at 5 p.m., was organized and promoted by a variety of local Democratic and progressive groups. It was held as the 2020 presidential race hangs in the balance, still too close to call in a number of key states.

The rally was intended as a show of support for the continued counting of ballots, including mail-in ballots. President Trump’s campaign said earlier today that it is suing to stop ballot counts in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“This morning, the president declared victory prematurely. Neither candidate has reached the threshold of 270 electoral votes,” said Democratic organizer Matt Royer. “We have millions of voters who have not been counted yet. It’s time for us to mobilize and get ready.”

“We will stand together to make sure that every vote is counted,” Royer continued. “We will not let this election be stolen from the people. Hold the line.”

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington County Democrats enjoyed a clean sweep in their bids for County Board and School Board, with clear results in early on Tuesday night.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) was awarded four more years in office, garnering 72% of votes. Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy — endorsed by the local Democratic party in the nonpartisan School Board race — earned 43% and 36%, respectively.

NAACP Education Committee Co-Chair Symone Walker and frequent local candidate Audrey Clement had unsuccessful independent bids for the School Board and County Board, respectively. Clement garnered 29,923 27% of votes, while Walker received 19% in the three-way School Board race for two open seats.

More than 75% of active voters had cast ballots by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, including a record-setting 63% who voted early and by mail by Sunday. Since mail-in ballots have until Friday to arrive, the county elections office will not have a final turnout number until then, Arlington Director of Election Gretchen Reinemeyer said in an email.

Local Democrats said they are pleased with the local turnout, hailing a “decisive” vote for the entire Democratic ticket, even as they anxiously watched developments in the still-undecided presidential race.

Garvey said today that she will continue focusing on equity, innovation and resilience during the pandemic during her next term.

“People are tired of the virus,” she said. “This is a difficult time and I hope we can remember to treat each other kindly. We’re all under stress and doing our best. It’s important to take a deep breath and continue to stay together as a community as we work through a lot of difficult issues.”

“Arlingtonians are smart and informed,” Garvey added. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve Arlington for four more years.”

Turning to the question of reopening Arlington Public Schools classrooms for in-person instruction — which is now delayed until next year for most students — Diaz-Torres and Priddy said today that any plan must focus on safety metrics.

“We need to be careful and make sure we’re proceeding with caution, making sure we’re following the science, not the emotions of the day,” Diaz-Torres said.

With cases rising, APS needs to focus on keeping the kids with severe needs — who returned to schools today — safe, while making virtual learning as high quality as possible for others, she said.

As a School Board member, Priddy said he will be talking with other public school systems and even private schools to see what APS can learn from them.

In an email Wednesday morning, Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo thanked the candidates who ran for office in Arlington and congratulated the winners on their “resounding and well-deserved victories.”

“We know that they will work hard on behalf of all Arlingtonians and lead our county and country through these challenging times,” she wrote.

On social media this morning, County Board member Katie Cristol thanked election volunteers for their hard work, and Arlington voters for overwhelmingly approving the five local bonds on the ballot. Cristol also welcomed Priddy and Diaz-Torres to the School Board and thanked Walker for her advocacy

Walker, who dropped out of the Democratic endorsement caucus after her federal employment raised Hatch Act questions, said her defeat was unsurprising but she does not count it as a failure.

“I think I accomplished change by changing the narrative of the School Board race to focus on curriculum and instruction, particularly equity through literacy,” she said.

Walker was less conciliatory in tone last night, writing in a Facebook post that her defeat was attributable to the power of the Democratic endorsement.

It’s unfortunate that a majority of “low information” voters who are oblivious to the serious plight being faced by our schools are electing the school board by blindly voting straight down the ACDC sample ballot, which, ironically, was silent about the education of our students in listing why this is the most important election of our lifetime. Nevertheless, I pray that Cristina and David will rise to the challenge of turning this ship around to put our students first amidst having to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future

Nonetheless, Walker told ARLnow this morning that she and her small team — nearly all APS moms — ran a grassroots, issues-focused campaign to be proud of.

“I ran for the School Board because I thought I had the opportunity to push for change on the inside,” she said. “Since that did not work, I’m going to continue pushing APS from outside.”

Clement said her results follow the nationwide trend in polarization: Democrat-leaning counties are becoming more blue, and Republican-leaning counties more red.

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Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.

Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.

“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”

“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”

Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.

“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”

“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”

On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.

Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.

“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party —  get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.

“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”

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(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington Democrats are decrying what the local party describes as a wave of vandalism of Democratic election signs.

Almost every election cycle in Arlington there are reports of small-scale vandalism and mischief involving campaign signs. Rarely do those reports, on message boards and community listservs, rise to the level of county-wide news.

But the Arlington County Democratic Committee says the latest vandalism spree, which happened just after the signs went up, is different.

“At least 30 election signs lawfully placed in public street medians by the Arlington County Democratic Committee encouraging citizens to vote in the Nov. 3 election and to support Democratic candidates, including presidential nominee Joe Biden and Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, were destroyed and vandalized overnight,” the party said in a press release Sunday. “Signs not specifically referencing the Democratic ticket were not disturbed.”

Each election season, the signs for candidates of all stripes pop up in roadway medians 31 days before the election, as permitted by local and state law. Democratic signs are particularly prolific, given the party’s electoral dominance in Arlington and the committee’s organizing prowess.

But this time around, Democrats say, the signs appear to be the target of a wider-scale vandalism effort. Signs “along Sycamore Street between Williamsburg Circle and Lee Highway, and on Little Falls Road at Lexington Street were either destroyed or vandalized” over the weekend, according to the press release.

The latter intersection is about a 15 minute walk from where a church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized in June.

“We always get a certain amount of vandalism, but the vandals are off to a fast and aggressive start this year,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to the Arlington County Police Department, reporting the crimes. At Little Falls Road, “it looks like someone actually drove onto the median in order to run over the signs.”

“Arlington Dems understand the police department has more urgent issues to address, but wanted to document the destruction,” the press release adds.

Arlington Republicans tell ARLnow that the Democrats tried to pressure them into condemning the vandalism, which the local GOP says is nothing new.

“This is every election cycle’s ‘dog bites man’ non-story,” Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser said in an email to ARLnow last night. “Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party —  get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids.”

“Arlington Democrat campaign hacks attempted to pressure us into condemning this vandalism over the weekend,” Loposser continued. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable — whether it’s Antifa and BLM rioters destroying small business storefronts or bored high school students ripping up political yard signs.”

The Arlington Democrats press release goes on to report that signs in the front yard of famed local civil rights figure Joan Trumpauer Mulholland were also vandalized. In a bout of rhetoric not typically seen in Arlington politics, at least among official Democratic communications, the release quotes Mulholland in equating supporters of President Trump to “Klan sympathizers.”

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(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) Arlington Democrats have forced out a precinct captain for supporting a School Board candidate who had to withdraw from seeking the party’s endorsement because she’s a federal employee.

Heather Keppler said in an email obtained by ARLnow that she was pressured to step down as the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s captain for the Lexington precinct because of her support of Symone Walker, a “lifelong Democrat.”

Though School Board races in Virginia are technically nonpartisan, with no party designation next to candidate names on the ballot, Arlington Democrats endorse candidates each year through a party caucus. Walker, a federal employee, initially sought the endorsement, but withdrew after another candidate filed complaints about her candidacy being a Hatch Act violation due to her federal employment.

Walker is now facing the two Democratic endorsees, Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy, in November’s general election.

Keppler, according to a statement from the campaign, is Walker’s campaign manager. The statement called the situation “disturbing” and characterized the party’s actions as “shamefully undemocratic.”

“The ACDC caucus process disenfranchises Black and other minority voters and effectively blocks federal workers from serving in their local government when the Hatch Act provides a pathway to do so,” Walker’s campaign said. “We will not be intimidated and will continue to keep our students, teachers, staff, and families the priority of our campaign, unlike ACDC whose only priority is their own power.”

Jill Caiazzo, Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, said it’s against party rules to support the opponents of Democratic candidates and endorsees.

“The Arlington Dems bylaws require party officials, such as Precinct Captains, to support all Democratic nominees and endorsees in general and special elections,” Caiazzo said. “If a party official cannot do so for whatever reason, they are asked to take a step back from their party leadership role until the next election cycle, when they are welcomed back to party leadership.”

A similar situation played out with current Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who faced a temporary expulsion from the local party after supporting independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze in 2014.

Julius Spain, Sr., a community activist and supporter of Walker, said the move to oust her campaign manager from the local party’s ranks — even temporarily — is unnecessarily divisive.

“As a Democrat, I am highly disappointed by the recent decision of ACDC to remove Ms. Walker’s Campaign Manager, Heather Keppler, from her role as a local Democratic party precinct captain,” Spain said. “Ms. Keppler was yet another dedicated Democrat who has done so much over the years to advance inclusivity within our party. This decision did more to divide rather than unite us.”

(Spain is also the head of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, which does not endorse candidates.)

Keppler’s full email is below.

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