Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Va. Rolls Out Contact Tracing App — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced the launch of COVIDWISE, an innovative exposure notification app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.” [Commonwealth of Virginia, DCist]

Rosslyn Metro Closes During Rush Hour — The Rosslyn Metro station closed during yesterday’s evening rush hour, reportedly for a COVID-related cleaning. In what may be a sign of just how low ridership remains, ARLnow did not receive a single tweet or email tip about the closure of one of the system’s busiest stations. [Twitter]

Amazon Still Planning on Pen Place Purchase — “It will be some time before the public knows what Amazon.com Inc. has in store for Pentagon City’s Pen Place property, but we have a pretty good idea of how much it’ll cost the e-commerce and cloud computing giant to acquire what will become the second phase of HQ2. Amazon is expected to buy the 10-acre plot from JBG Smith Properties for just under $150 million sometime next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Hotel Gets Financial Lifeline — “Berkadia announced today the $19 million refinancing secured for Hilton Garden Inn, Crystal City… The global COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected the hospitality industry, leaving many owners struggling to secure the financing they need.” [Press Release]

Matchbox Files for Bankruptcy — Local restaurant chain Matchbox, which has a location in Pentagon City, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. “Despite the bankruptcy, Matchbox says it’s in talks with its landlords to keep the restaurants open and will even look to open more locations in the future, albeit with smaller footprints.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

County Board Defends COVID-19 Response — “Arlington leaders continue to push back against accusations they could be doing more to address the COVID-19 crisis within the county’s 26 square miles. A number of civic-activists used the public-comment period of the County Board’s April 25 meeting (held ‘virtually’ after the government received state authority to do so) to rap officials for not imposing more aggressive regulation of daily life.” [InsideNova]

More Contributions for Small Biz Grant Fund — “The Arlington County Industrial Development Authority has joined Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) efforts to help small businesses… [The authority] approved a contribution of $326,000 of its own funding. Together with the $674,000 of funding from the County, and the recently announced contributions of $100,000 each by the Crystal City and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts, total GRANT program funding has reached $1.2 million.” [Arlington County, Rosslyn BID]

Ballston Hotel Donates Rooms to Healthcare Workers — “The Ballston BID is collaborating with local organizations to coordinate free accommodations at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston for essential healthcare workers in the community. Chesapeake Hospitality, which manages the Ballston-based Holiday Inn on North Fairfax, is donating a complimentary block of 50 rooms per day… to frontline medical staff, their families, and those most vulnerable within the community.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets Okay Social Distancing Marks — “Falls Church has a C+, Fairfax County has a C and Arlington gets a B- in social distancing grades from @Unacast. Virginia’s grade is D- and the U.S. as a whole gets a D+.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

New Deputy Chief for ACPD — “Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Adrienne Quigley to the position of Deputy Chief of Police, effective Sunday, May 10, 2020. Deputy Chief Quigley will assume command of the Systems Management Division at a later date.” [Arlington County]

Historic Home and Huge Lot Not for Sale, Yet — “Long coveted by developers and planners for schools and parks, the home built just after the Civil War has stirred interest since the death in 2017 of owner Randy Rouse, the homebuilder and equestrian. But his widow still lives in the home. And this week, it appears that some speculation on marketing the house was premature, the chances that the county could purchase it almost nil.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Case Shuts Down Credit Union Branch — “The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is closing one of their branches after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the credit union announced Monday morning.” [Patch]

Bankruptcy for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles — “Ratner Cos., the Vienna-based parent company of hair salon chains including the Hair Cuttery, Bubbles and Cielo, has filed for bankruptcy protection after closing more than 80 locations across the country in March. The company and related entities, including Creative Hairdressers Inc., filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Christian Dorsey’s four colleagues on the Arlington County Board are “disappointed” in him and “considering what, if any, are the next appropriate steps to take.”

That’s according to an email from Board Chair Libby Garvey, sent to a constituent who expressed concern about Dorsey’s conduct and obtained by ARLnow.

Dorsey, who’s currently in personal bankruptcy proceedings, resigned from the Metro board last week after it was revealed that he had not returned a $10,000 political donation from Metro’s largest labor union, as he had been directed to do after being found to have violated Metro’s ethics rules.

Dorsey later told ABC 7 that he does not have the funds to repay the donation, but still plans to do so eventually. He also told the TV station that he has no plans to step down from the County Board.

ARLnow reported last week that Dorsey only had a few thousand dollars in his campaign account at the end of 2019, after paying himself and his wife $25,000 in the form of loan repayments and compensation for work on the campaign, respectively. (He is not accused of any legal wrongdoing.)

In the email to concerned constituents, below, Garvey said Dorsey showed a “lack of judgement” with respect to the $10,000 donation. It does not mention the bankruptcy or other campaign finance matters.

On behalf of my colleagues on the County Board, thank you for writing regarding Christian Dorsey’s failure to return the $10,000 contribution to his campaign from a union of Metro workers.

Mr. Gutshall, Mr. de Ferranti, Ms. Cristol and I understand your concerns and are deeply disappointed in our colleague’s lack of judgement. We appreciate hearing from you. The views of our residents are always important to us, but particularly on this serious matter.

As you may know, Mr. Dorsey has stepped down from the Metro Board. He has told us he fully intends to return the $10,000 donation as soon as he is able. We are considering what, if any, are the next appropriate steps to take. We are very disappointed in Mr. Dorsey’s lack of judgement in accepting the donation, failing to report it in a timely manner, and not returning it in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Libby Garvey, Chair
Arlington County Board

At the Board’s organizational meeting last month, Garvey expressed support for Dorsey.

“Christian is a real asset to this board, to this community — we’re lucky to have you,” she said.

A county spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of Garvey’s email but declined to provide additional comments.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey says he should have, upon reflection, informed the community about his personal bankruptcy filing before November’s election.

Dorsey, who was sworn in for a second term last night, answered a series of questions from ARLnow about his bankruptcy, which was first reported by the Washington Post a few days after the election.

The Post reported in November that Dorsey, 48, “filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.” The paper noted that the bankruptcy filing came as Dorsey’s South Arlington home was facing possible foreclosure and as his wife dealt with health problems.

Questions have arose in the wake of the bankruptcy revelation. For one, given that the filing was made on Oct. 16, should voters have been informed prior to the Nov. 5 election?

Dorsey tells ARLnow that he now regrets not letting people know despite how personal the issue is for him and his family.

“In retrospect, I should have had a conversation with the community, no matter how difficult, when I filed for bankruptcy in mid-October,” Dorsey said via email Thursday evening. “I do believe, however, that I will demonstrate over the next four years that those who voted for me did not make a mistake.”

Dorsey was also asked about an assertion made by the bankruptcy trustee that he had not submitted his previous year’s state income tax return. Dorsey contended that he did, in fact, file his state taxes.

“I filed, yet I discovered at my bankruptcy hearing that the Commonwealth has no record,” he said. “I have resubmitted my 2017 filing.”

(By law, Virginia’s state tax office is prohibited “from providing information or commenting on specific taxpayer situations,” a spokeswoman said.)

Court documents show that Dorsey expects $5,000/mo in “other income” besides his annual County Board salary of just over $60,000. The bankruptcy trustee objected to that, writing that the $5,000/mo figure “has not been documented or verified.” Dorsey says that income comes from consulting work.

“I do policy and communications consulting,” he said. “I am not comfortable talking about my clients within the context of your article, but attest that they are exclusively 501(c)3 non-profits, political non-profits, philanthropic foundations and universities.”

“None are foreign entities,” Dorsey added. “None do business with Arlington County. None have given to my political campaigns.”

Dorsey’s most recent conflict of interest form filed with the Clerk of the County Board discloses outside work with a pair of firms that paid him more than $5,000 annually: KNP Communications and Upswing Strategies, both in D.C.

Though serving on the Arlington County Board is ostensibly a part-time job, Dorsey’s work for Arlington extends beyond the County Board dais to representation on a number of regional bodies. Dorsey serves on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board, is a commissioner on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and represents Arlington on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).

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Morning Notes

Amazon Offers Millions for Affordable Housing — “Amazon is offering $20 million to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund in exchange for being allowed to build a bigger headquarters complex in the county than zoning allows… it would be the greatest single infusion of money ever into Arlington’s housing fund.” [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]

Alexandria Home Sale Prices Rise Above Arlington — “The Amazon HQ2 effect on home prices in Northern Virginia continues and, at least by one measure, the Alexandria housing market is now more expensive than Arlington County. At least it was in October, the most recent month for which data is available.” [WTOP]

Racing Presidents Offer DCA Travel Tips — The Washington Nationals racing presidents star in a new video offering holiday travel tips to those flying out of Reagan National Airport. [Twitter/@Reagan_Airport]

ACFD Responds to Prince George’s Co. Fire — “Today, @ArlingtonVaFD Truck 105 in the Crystal City area was dispatched to 3800 St. Barnabas Road in Marlow Heights for a @PGFDNews building fire. They were the 3rd due special service on the initial dispatch.” [Twitter/@STATter911]

Bankruptcy for Quarterdeck’s Sister Restaurant — “District Anchor, the bar that replaced the decades-old Dupont Circle mainstay Rumors in 2016, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization… owner Patrick Morrogh — who also owns Arlington’s Quarterdeck Restaurant, similarly known for its crabs and seafood-based menu — doesn’t intend to close the Dupont bar.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]

Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]

Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]

County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]

County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]

Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]

DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

‘I Voted’ Sticker Design Competition — “The Arlington Electoral Board is teaming up with the Arlington Artists Alliance and the county library system on its first-ever ‘I Voted’ decal competition. Modeled on a similar effort in New York City, the contest encourages Arlington residents to submit designs for the decal that will be distributed to voters on Election Day and used in a variety of outreach campaigns.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Startup Implodes — “One of Trustify’s investors is asking Delaware’s Chancery Court to appoint a receiver to oversee the company, claiming in court documents that founder and CEO Danny Boice ‘misappropriated Trustify corporate funds for personal use’ and effectively abandoned the business.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington No. 1 for Working Moms — Arlington is the No. 1 best “city” for working moms, according to a new study. “Women in Arlington earn a median salary of $76,438, and the pay gap is narrower than the U.S. average,” the study notes. [Haven Life]

Local Gov’t Contractor Makes Acquisition — Clarendon-based By Light Professional IT Services LLC yesterday “announced the acquisition of [Tysons-based] Phacil, Inc., a diversified software, cybersecurity, systems engineering and managed services provider to the US Government. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” [PR Newswire]

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Many students at Argosy University’s Rosslyn campus are now stuck in limbo, waiting anxiously for the financially struggling school to release federal financial aid cash they desperately need.

Argosy’s parent company, Dream Center Education Holdings, has been in serious financial trouble ever since it starting working to acquire Argosy, the Art Institutes and South University. It recently entered into receivership, essentially declaring bankruptcy, and has now run into problems with federal loan money.

The U.S. Department of Education recently revealed that it sent millions in aid cash to DCEH, but Argosy failed to turn over any money left over after students’ tuition is covered. In all, that worked out to about $13 million, which students usually rely on to cover living expenses.

Federal officials say they aren’t sure what DCEH has done with the money, and could cut off all of Argosy’s access to federal aid cash going forward.

DCEH would not say when it might send the aid money along to students, but it did confirm that students at the Rosslyn campus (located at 1550 Wilson Blvd) have been affected by the discrepancy.

“We are working day and night to secure the release of funds from the Department of Education owed to students of Argosy University for federal financial aid,” Mark Dottore, the court-appointed receiver for DCEH wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “These are funds that both belong to these students and, in many cases, are critical to them.”

Dottore was also adamant that the Argosy campus in Rosslyn will remain open and “there are no plans to close the campus.” DCEH recently shut down all of its Art Institute locations, including the Rosslyn campus, in July, and officials in other states have warned Argosy students to prepare for imminent closures of the campuses.

“The university remains committed to providing our students with a quality education that makes an impact in their lives and the lives of others,” Dottore said.

But that leaves many students, including the roughly 500 students attending the Rosslyn campus, a bit stuck while Argosy gets its affairs in order. The Education Department says it plans to cancel student debts for the current spring semester, but anyone relying on the loan money to afford rent or other living expenses will be out of luck.

One concerned mother, who declined to use her name given the sensitivity of the matter, says her son, Joshua, is waiting on $9,000 from Argosy to afford the basics like rent and food. He enrolled in the Rosslyn’s campus doctoral program for psychology last fall, and is relying on a loan from his parents just to stay afloat.

She points out that her son left a full-time job to pursue a degree from Argosy, as do many students attending the school, and doesn’t feel he has much time left to wait before trying to return to the workforce.

“Argosy and its administration have strung him and all the students along with false hope and empty promises,” she wrote in an email. “He trusted the program and the school. He aspires to have a career as a psychologist so he can help others and those in the DMV community who suffer mental health issues. We have no idea what to do… and many are in the same boat.”

Dottore is set to report more details on DCEH’s finances in the coming days, but he’s already said he suspects that Argosy used the loan cash to cover staff salaries instead of sending it to students. If that’s the case, federal officials could revoke all of Argosy’s access to loan funds, which could force the university to shut down.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Arrest Made in Rosslyn Stabbing — “Police identified the [stabbing] suspect as Isiah Hill, 61, of Washington D.C. and obtained warrants for Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Abduction. At approximately 2:15 p.m. on December 12, the U.S. Marshals Service, with the assistance of the Arlington County Police Department, took the suspect into custody in Washington, D.C.” [Arlington County]

Isabella Restaurants File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy — Embattled chef Mike Isabella’s restaurant group has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. Barring a last-minute rescue, most of his restaurants, including Pepita, Yona, and Kapnos Taverna in Ballston, are likely to close by Dec. 27. [Washingtonian]

Home Sales Still Down in Arlington — “A total of 198 properties went to closing across the county in November… That’s down nearly 22 percent from a year before, coming on top of a 13-percent year-over-year drop in October sales. But year-over-year average sales prices were stable in two of the three segments of the market.” [InsideNova]

Another Big Metro Shutdown Planned — “Next summer’s shutdown of the Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport will run from May 25 through Sept. 2, 2019. Additional Blue Line single-tracking between Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield is planned from Sept. 3 through Sept. 29.” [WTOP]

Video: Dogs and Santa in Shirlington — “About 100 dogs got their pictures taken with Santa Claus by a professional pet photographer at Dogma Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique in Arlington, Virginia. From large Golden Retrievers to pint-sized Chihuahuas, the pups were dressed for the holidays.” [Voice of America]

Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal

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Taylor Gourmet might have shut down all its other sandwich shops around the D.C. region, but it seems hungry fliers at Reagan National Airport can still get their hoagie fix.

The chain revealed late last month that it would be shuttering its 17 stores after a major investor spurned the company, and Taylor’s Ballston and Arlington locations were closed soon after.

But, for now at least, ARLnow readers say the DCA location is still serving up sandwiches. The store is located in the airport’s Terminal B/C, near gates 23 and 24; getting there requires getting through security.

A spokesman for Taylor said the Reagan location is operated Marketplace Development, the company that manages concessions at the airport, and he declined to elaborate on why the shop is still open. The concession company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and no one answered the phone at the restaurant Monday morning.

Taylor has since filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Delaware, court records show. Company insiders have speculated that everything from co-owner Casey Patten’s meeting with President Donald Trump to the chain’s aggressive expansion plans ultimately doomed the business.

Photo (top) courtesy of @CartChaos22202

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Morning Notes

Remembering 9/11 — Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are planning to attend Arlington County’s Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony in Courthouse this morning. The event will feature a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. The county’s emergency management agency, meanwhile, this morning posted audio of police radio traffic from immediately after American Airlines Flight 77 struck the west wall of the Pentagon. [Twitter]

Would HQ2 Be Good for Arlington? — Amazon could be an economic boon, or a gentrification disaster for lower-income renters — or both. Washingtonian asked a number of people, including Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins and former Arlington County Board candidate Melissa Bondi — who currently works in affordable housing policy — to weigh in. [Washingtonian]

Isabella Talks About Bankruptcy — Celebrity chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella says “bad press” — in other words, the “extraordinary” sexual harassment he and his executives are accused of — caused customers to stay away from his restaurants in droves, decimating revenue and sending his company into bankruptcy. Isabella’s trio of Ballston restaurants — Kapnos Taverna, Pepita and Yona — remain open but their long-term fate is unclear. [Washington Post]

Student Population Still Rising — “It won’t be official until the end of the month, but Arlington Public Schools is on track for another all-time high in student enrollment. School officials counted 27,522 students in seats when the school year began Sept. 4. While that is lower than a projection of 28,022 made in the spring, it represents a 2.2-percent increase from the first day of school a year ago.” [InsideNova]

Car-Free Diet in Spanish — Arlington’s long-running “Car-Free Diet” campaign is also in Spanish — “Dieta Cero-Auto.” The campaign recently produced a new video. [Twitter, YouTube]

Yorktown Rolls Over Wakefield — Yorktown scored a decisive win over Wakefield on the gridiron over the weekend, notching a score of 48-0. Both teams are now 1-1. In other high school football action over the weekend, Washington-Lee fell in double overtime against West Springfield, 28-21. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon

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