Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]
Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]
GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]
Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]
Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]
Arlington Democrats are promising a “blue wave” in a new round of yard signs distributed over the last few weeks.
The signs promote the full slate of Democratic candidates on the ticket in the county this fall — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), County Board nominee Matt de Ferranti and School Board member Barbara Kanninen — alongside images of a blue tidal wave Democrats are hoping sweep them back into power nationally.
County Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo told ARLnow that the party’s joint campaign committee designed the new signs, and Democrats have been distributing them for roughly a month now. She expects that they’ve given out a “few hundred” so far, and fully plans to distribute more as Nov. 6 nears.
While signs boosting the whole ticket might be a fixture of yards and medians every election season, Caiazzo hopes this specific design taps into the “broader movement” organizing around frustration with President Trump nationwide.
“We hope they convey a need for sweeping change in our politics, and that’s coming in November,” Caiazzo said.
Despite pushback and talk of a “red wave” by President Trump, a succession of polls has supported the notion that Democrats have a distinct enthusiasm advantage headed into the midterms, which figures to help out local candidates down the ballot as well. If a blue wave is on the way for Democrats looking to take back Congress, even local candidates like de Ferranti and Kanninen stand to benefit.
Kaine’s contest with Corey Stewart, the Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, isn’t projected to be a close race, yet it may drive Democrats to the polls all the same. Stewart’s embrace of Confederate monuments and past associations with white supremacist figures has made him especially controversial, even if polls regularly show him facing a double-digit deficit. Caiazzo expects Kaine to be “highly present” in Arlington leading up to the election, as driving up margins in the county is “important to their statewide strategy.”
Kanninen looks to be well positioned against independent Audrey Clement, a perennial candidate for county offices, but the “wave” Caiazzo hopes for might be especially meaningful for de Ferranti. He’s facing off against independent John Vihstadt, a well-funded incumbent who managed to win a pair of elections to the Board back in 2014 by wide margins and has earned endorsements from a variety of Democratic officeholders.
“We’ll take help from all corners and we’re certainly hopeful that the situation from national candidates will help us overall in Arlington,” Caiazzo said. “But we know it’s also important to campaign on local issues and we embrace that challenge.”
Clement to Face Kanninen Again — “The 2018 Arlington School Board race is likely to be a rerun of 2014. Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen have qualified for ballot access, county elections chief Linda Lindberg told the Sun Gazette, setting up a reprise of their campaign from four years ago.” [InsideNova]
PenPlace Sketches Released — JBG Smith has released new sketches of its planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City. The development includes “two seven-story apartment buildings totaling 300 units, 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a future park.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Palooza Set for Saturday — The second annual Arlington Palooza,”a free outdoor program for all ages with live music, art, games and more,” is set to take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Alcova Heights Park. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Arlington Historical Society Getting Donation — Per a press release: “The Arlington Historical Society will receive a significant donation this spring as Arlington welcomes National Capital Bank to the Courthouse/Clarendon area on Wilson Blvd. National Capital Bank President Randy Anderson, who grew up in Arlington, called to inform AHS President Johnathan Thomas that the Society was chosen as one of the charities the Bank will support with a grant award.”
Real Estate Inventory Crunch — “Long & Foster says… the number of houses and condos on the market, in D.C., Loudoun County and Arlington County was down 22 percent in March compared to a year ago.” [WTOP]
Live Construction Cam in Ballston — The new 672 Flats apartment building (an ARLnow.com advertiser) in Ballston set up a live camera to track the construction progress. The camera is viewable online and shows an aerial view of the apartments and a portion of the neighborhood. [OxBlue]
DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]
Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]
More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]
Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]
Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]
Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rex Block
Shortly after electing Jill Caiazzo as its new chair, the Arlington County Democratic Committee selected a County Board primary for 2018.
Last year, the race to select a Democratic nominee to replace retiring County Board member Jay Fisette was determined by a caucus. In an op-ed last month, Caiazzo said she preferred a primary this year as it encourages more voter participation, while a caucus “is seen by many as rigged in favor of the Democratic establishment.”
Arlington Democrats “voted unanimously to choose this year’s County Board nominee via primary election rather than a caucus in order to achieve greater participation,” according to a press release.
The winner of this year’s Democratic primary is expected to face independent Board member John Vihstadt in the general election.
Also at last night’s ACDC meeting, School Board member Barbara Kanninen announced her reelection bid.
From a press release:
In her remarks, Kanninen pointed to a number of accomplishments during her tenure on the School Board over the past four years. “We’ve worked to support the whole child, to ensure that every child in our schools is healthy, safe, supported, challenged, and engaged,” she said. She highlighted increases in academic, social, and emotional assistance; supports for immigrant and LGBTQ students; expansion of STEM programs and career and technical education; and the launch of a strategic planning process to carry Arlington public schools into the 21st century.
“We’ve done so much together,” Kanninen said, “but there is still more to do. I’m running for re-election to continue building up the whole child, I’m running to support the voices of our teachers and staff, and I’m running to support our growth and build a stronger, more responsive school system.”
First elected to the School Board in 2014, Kanninen is an environmental economist, children’s book author, and community activist. In 2017, Washingtonian magazine named her one of the Most Powerful Women in Washington–the only elected official in Arlington and the only school board member in the DC metro area named to the magazine’s list. As a member of the school board, she was awarded the 2015 AGLA Equality Award and the Public Outreach and Engagement Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. Kanninen and her husband have lived in Arlington for 25 years and have two sons who were both K-12 Arlington Public Schools students.
In her speech to the assembled partisans, Caiazzo encouraged local Democrats to avoid complacency and continue fighting for progress.
“The Trump era represents a pivotal moment for the Democratic Party,” she said. “With progressive policies under attack daily, we have much to fight against — but we also must demonstrate that we have a positive, solutions-oriented vision that is worth fighting for. The dynamic and talented members of the Arlington Democrats are ready to meet this challenge.”
Photos by Kevin Wolf
County Seeking Cash for EFC Upgrades — Arlington County is seeking $30 million in congestion relief funds from the future I-66 toll lanes to help fund some upgrades at the East Falls Church Metro station. Among the hoped-f0r changes: a second entrance to the station, from Washington Boulevard, and the addition of two new bus bays. [InsideNova]
New School Board Leadership — Barbara Kanninen has been elected by her colleagues as chair of the Arlington School Board for the 2017-2018 school year. Reid Goldstein was selected as vice chair. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 24-year-old Arlington man was arrested in Arlington last week and charged in connection with a 2016 homicide in Waldorf, Maryland. Authorities say Bryan Aquice was the second shooter in the case; he is one of four in custody for the crime. [NBC Washington, Southern Maryland News Net]
High School Football Schedules — Fall high school football schedules for Wakefield, Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Bishop O’Connell have been released. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
School Board member Barbara Kanninen, serving the first year of her term, proposed pausing what’s called the “1:1 Initiative” during the School Board’s budget deliberations last week. Her motion failed, 2-3, with Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez voting in favor.
The initiative has already provided second- and sixth-graders with iPads and freshmen with MacBook Airs. Next year, devices will again be provided to students in those grades.
“We have conducted a very large pilot project this year in terms of this initiative,” Kanninen said, estimating about 3,000 devices are now in the hands of students. “That is a very large and potentially very informative data set. I made this motion because I believe it is now time to evaluate how it’s working and ask some basic questions. Is it helping students learn? Is it helping teachers teach?”
The Board and Superintendent Patrick Murphy had extensive discussions the week leading up to their meeting about the initiative, and the majority, including Murphy, agreed that an evaluation can be completed while pushing forward with handing out devices.
“I have moved from thinking we needed to pause to believing we can do that evaluation and do that assessment at the same time as we continue forward,” Board member Nancy Van Doren said. “Many people have called me about the problems we’ve been having … When I suggest pausing the program, I was surprised people said ‘don’t pause, just do it better.'”
Many of the complaints around the devices have focused on teachers not being adequately trained to use the devices, preventing an optimal environment for the students. Murphy said many teachers have “emerged as leaders” in using the devices while other teachers are more hesitant.
“I will say, with any new initiative, there have been a variety of issues with the rollout,” Murphy told the School Board. “We need to continue to strengthen our training models. I think we’ll continue to focus on professional development, working with families so they understand and working with safety, so students aren’t spending an excessive amount of time in front of these devices.”
The 1:1 Initiative is budget neutral because it is funded by diverting money away from APS’ annual technology replacement funds. While Murphy and the School Board majority acknowledged hiccups with the rollout, Kanninen pushed for a more detailed look at what went wrong.
“One of the main reasons a pause would be necessary is we also need to ask, “are we implementing this model the right way?'” she said. “There are other models and ways we could be rolling this out. By taking a pause here, we then can work on developing curricula, designing professional development programs, developing our principles for use, clarifying our budget implications.”
School Board member Abby Raphael said many of the concerns expressed in the community have been alleviated by a more thorough explanation of the program.
“It’s all about personalizing learning, it’s not about the devices,” she said. “I agree that we can continue to roll this out and evaluate what we’re doing, because I really do think this is a very valuable tool in eliminating the achievement gap.”
Here is School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen’s unedited response:
I am Barbara Kanninen, and I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe that together we can make Arlington Public Schools the best that they can be.
Our schools and community face complicated issues right now, from meeting capacity needs, to budgeting, to achieving our most important goal: optimizing classroom learning and addressing the needs of our students. I bring an expansive set of experiences to the job of tackling these challenges. I have volunteered in schools and worked with children in Arlington and DC for over 20 years, and I have served on School Board and County Board advisory committees. I am a Ph.D environmental economist, children’s book author, and Democratic activist. These experiences have given me a deep familiarity with data analysis, hundreds of hours with kids and teachers, and a history of working at the community level on grassroots organizing and engagement. I will ask tough questions and dig deeply to find new, creative solutions to our budget and capacity challenges.
In the coming months and years, we’re going to have to make tough but important decisions. As we look ahead, here are my priorities for our schools:
- Promote critical thinking over standardized testing.
Our kids spend too much time in class prepping for and taking tests. Teachers tell me this takes too much time away from instruction. We need to take a hard look at the testing schedule and process to see which tests are essential to classroom learning.
- Tackle overcrowding with strong leadership, constructive community engagement, and transparent decision-making.
As we work to catch up with the growth in our school population, we need to create a long-term plan that considers instructional needs and programs first, work closely and collaboratively with the County Board and the community to consider the full array of potential school sites, improve community engagement to allow for true dialogue and transparency, and build a safety net of potential temporary solutions.
- Give teachers the support they deserve.
To create an environment in which every child can excel, teachers need support and resources. They also need the flexibility to adjust their teaching approach and pacing to their students’ needs as well as avenues for providing feedback to school principals and county administrators.
- Support children with mentors.
An adult mentor is a developmental asset that contributes to kids’ problem solving, self-esteem, and achievement. I’d like every student in Arlington to know that there is at least one adult in school who knows them, whom they can go to with problems, and who believes in them.
- Continue investing in the arts and strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.
We should strengthen STEM skills through, for example, more hands-on science programs in all elementary schools and more accessible STEM programs across all schools, including the Arlington Career Center. At the same time, students need opportunities to express themselves creatively, so we need to give students at all levels access to a variety of art forms.
- Be budget-minded by prioritizing funding for teachers and classroom learning.
In this time of tight budgets, we need to be both disciplined and principled about spending decisions. My number-one principle is the need to focus on the day-to-day classroom experience and teacher-student relationships, so my budget priorities will be teachers and the resources they need.
This year, as part of my School Board campaign, I canvassed door-to-door in all 52 precincts in Arlington, engaging parents, teachers, and community activists and learning about our school issues neighborhood by neighborhood. These experiences have given me a holistic understanding of our diverse community. Collectively, we have the energy, the brains, and the will to do great things for our kids and our community. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I would be honored to have your vote.
Arlington Spends More on Low-Income Students — Arlington Public Schools spend about $21,000 per pupil on low-income students, compared to the $12,000 it spends on more affluent students, according to data from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. [Greater Greater Washington]
Tornado Struck Alexandria Last Week — A weak EF-0 tornado struck part of Alexandria this past Wednesday. A Tornado Warning was issued for Arlington as the tornado tracked north. [National Weather Service]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen — The Arlington Education Association’s political action committee has endorsed Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The teachers group said “Barbara understands that all types of students need personal support and that teachers are important partners in making this happen.” Kanninen is running against Audrey Clement.
Arlington’s ‘Ten Commandments’ — A parody video showing “Arlington County Government’s Ten Commandments” has been created by someone calling themselves “Jim Taxpayer.” The video includes commandments like “With These Riches, Which Have Become Thine, Build A New Covenant, A Glorious Car of Street, Thy Chariot of Vanity.” [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Kanninen, who narrowly lost to School Board member James Lander in last year’s Democratic endorsement caucus, defeated Nancy Van Doren by a similar margin this year, with 1,812 votes to Van Doren’s 1,794. Before an instant runoff was conducted, and Greeley’s votes were distributed to voters’ “second choice” candidates, the margin was a bit wider: Kanninen received 1,549 votes, Van Doren 1,329 and Greeley received 839.
Kanninen campaigned for reduced standardized testing among Arlington Public Schools students and said she was “uncomfortable” when Arlington was announced as the top-spending school system in the state. She also said that one way to solve APS’ growing capacity issue was flexible spending during a debate among the three candidates last month.
Kanninen, an economist and children’s book author, said through working on advisory boards for both the School Board and County Board over the years, as well as with children in Arlington and D.C., she has the experience needed to be a productive Board member.
“Our schools are important to all of us, whether we are parents, teachers, homeowners, or citizens who want to live in a community that values education,” she wrote in her candidate essay for ARLnow.com this month. “Collectively, we have the energy, the brains, and the will to do great things for our kids and our community.”
Kanninen told ARLnow.com in an email Monday afternoon that she enjoyed “the many lively and informative discussions” she’s had with the community during what she called “a vigorous campaign that highlighted Arlingtonians’ deep commitment to making our schools the best they can be.”
Van Doren announced after the caucus results were counted that she would be throwing her support behind Kanninen for the general election in November, for which Kanninen now becomes the odds-on favorite. She will run to fill the seat left vacant by retiring School Board member Sally Baird.
“I wholeheartedly support Barbara in the upcoming general election as she faces the challenges in our school system,” Van Doren said in a press release. “Our community needs to work together to face the challenge of continuing to improve educational outcomes while working with the county to find space for our growing student population.”
Greeley, in an email to ARLnow.com, also congratulated Kanninen, saying the campaign was a chance to have “a great discussion about the future of our schools.”
“Barbara ran a strong campaign,” Greeley wrote. “She had the experience and organization from her campaign last year. Last year’s campaign also provided a degree of name recognition that ultimately proved decisive this year. I look forward to working with her to address the important issues our school system faces, most notably our looming capacity crisis.”
Flickr pool photo by wolfkann
Earth Day in Arlington — Today is Earth Day around the globe, but Arlington County has declared that “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county detailed the steps it has been taking to enhance environmental sustainability and also highlighted some environmentally-friendly events around Arlington. Among the upcoming events are the Green Living Expo on April 26 and Bike to Work Day on May 16. [Arlington County]
School Board Candidate Visits All 52 Precincts — Arlington School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen says she has now knocked on doors in all 52 Arlington electoral precincts. Last year Kanninen was criticized for reportedly holding all of her published campaign events in north Arlington. [InsideNoVa]
Rally Against Rape in Rosslyn — The annual Rally Against Rape will be held in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to raise awareness of sexual violence in Northern Virginia. The event is free and includes speakers, music and a resource fair. [Clarendon Nights, Eventful]
Barbara Kanninen, Nancy Van Doren and Greg Greeley are running for the Democratic endorsement for school board, hoping to replace the retiring Sally Baird. The endorsement caucus will be held on May 15 and 17. Kanninen and Van Doren announced their candidacies over the weekend.
Van Doren, a mother of four and an Arlington Public Schools volunteer, says her experience “is deep and broad and it is exactly what the school board needs at this time.”
From a campaign mailer:
For ten years, Nancy has volunteered extensively in Arlington Public Schools to ensure the educational success of all children from all backgrounds.
Nancy focuses on the student. She always asks: What does the student need to succeed? What can I do to ensure each and every child is successful? She maintains this focus and works for demonstrable improvement at the student, school, and county level.
Nancy follows through and gets the job done. When it comes to educating students, collaboration, good communication, and community engagement are keys to success. Nancy has a very collaborative style, which she uses effectively to build coalitions to get projects done.
Van Doren, whose children attend Jefferson Middle School and Washington-Lee High School, is holding a campaign kick-off event from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, at the Lyon Park Community House (414 N. Fillmore Street).
Kanninen, an economist and author who unsuccessfully ran for school board last year, says the school system should improve its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs while also investing in the arts.
The press release from Kanninen’s campaign, after the jump.
Barbara Kanninen, a Ph.D. economist, children’s book author and 20-year veteran of volunteering in schools and community, has announced her candidacy for Arlington County School Board today. The seat being vacated by Sally Baird will be up for election this May.
“Arlington schools are among the best in the country, but we still have more to do,” said Kanninen. “We face the challenges of a growing student population, tight budgets, and a 21st-century economy that demands graduates who are not only proficient in technical areas, but also creative and capable of thinking critically. It’s time we have a broader conversation about how we can meet the needs of all Arlington students, and we need to put more solutions on the table. I believe that every child in every classroom should be given every opportunity to excel, and that’s what I’ll fight for from day one on the School Board. ”
Kanninen calls for strengthening STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs in every school while also investing in the arts. She would also like to see a special focus on providing students with adult mentors to further support inside the classroom.
Overcrowding and the need for increased school capacity have been persistent issues in Arlington in recent years. Kanninen proposes taking a flexible and forward-looking approach to coping with the county’s growing population of school-age children. “We need to think in a coordinated way about elementary, middle, and high school capacity in the long term and be open to using all of our resources—buildings, people, and technologies— to find solutions that work for teachers, staff, and families,” she said.
Kanninen, a Ph.D. economist, runs her own data consulting firm. She has also written extensively for children, including picture books, magazine articles, and curricula and is a 20-year veteran of classroom, school, and community volunteering. Kanninen served seven years as a school coordinator and coach of Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem-solving competition for students, and is a founding board member of the Youth Ultimate League of Arlington. A Democratic activist, she founded and chaired Arlington/Alexandria Women for Obama, a network of 600 grassroots volunteers, and was elected delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She and her husband have been Arlington residents for over 20 years and have two children attending Yorktown High School and the Arlington Career Center.
“Barbara has the enthusiasm, skills, and willingness to work hard that will make her a great School Board member. I have known her for many years, both as a fellow parent with children in Arlington schools and as a founding board member of the newly formed Youth Ultimate League of Arlington. In both roles, Barbara has impressed me with her insights, her problem-solving ability, and her commitment to youth,” said Deborah Duffy, an APS parent and president of the Youth Ultimate League of Arlington.
Aaron Rosenberg, former regional field director for Organizing for America, strongly supports Barbara, “She knows what it means to work for change. As the Arlington chair of Women for Obama, Barbara worked tirelessly to engage and empower the community. People trust and follow Barbara because they see that when something needs doing, she is the first to roll up her sleeves and get to work.”
Ed Fendley, Former Member of the Arlington County School Board, has endorsed Barbara, saying: “It’s refreshingly simple with Barbara Kanninen: her focus is on students and teachers. Barbara understands that schools are systems of people, and Arlington’s schools will be even stronger with Barbara on the Board.”