(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Yorktown High School’s homecoming football game Friday night was marred by “unacceptable behavior” by a group of students during halftime.
That’s according to principal, Kevin Clark, who sent a scathing email to Yorktown families on Saturday, ahead of the school’s homecoming dance.
“Students reported that during the halftime performance and thereafter, several students harassed fellow Yorktown students using inappropriate and unacceptable language of a sexual nature and inappropriately touched a student,” Clark wrote. “This created an unsafe environment and does not reflect the values of our students and staff at Yorktown.”
Clark promised to “fully investigate and address reported behavior from the football game.”
Several parents, citing a social post describing what happened, told ARLnow that the harassment was aimed at girls in the band and the color guard. That could not be immediately verified. No classes are being held today due to the federal holiday.
The Arlington County Police Department reported today that a girl was touched inappropriately during the game.
SEXUAL BATTERY (late), 2021-10090195, 5200 block of Yorktown Boulevard. At approximately 4:57 p.m. on October 9, officers were dispatched to the police station for the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:00 p.m. on October 8, the juvenile victim was walking in the area during the Homecoming Football Game when the unknown suspect inappropriately touched her. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
Last year Clark addressed another controversy with families, after a banner created for graduation was seen by some as racist.
The full letter about the behavior at the homecoming game is below.
Dear Yorktown Community,
I’m writing to follow up on last night’s Homecoming Football Game and provide an update about tonight’s Homecoming Dance. While the vast majority of our students enjoyed an exciting and positive experience, we are extremely disappointed and concerned about the unacceptable behavior of several students during the halftime performance and second half of the game.
Students reported that during the halftime performance and thereafter, several students harassed fellow Yorktown students using inappropriate and unacceptable language of a sexual nature and inappropriately touched a student. This created an unsafe environment and does not reflect the values of our students and staff at Yorktown, where we teach Respect for Others, Community and Self (ROCS) at all times.
We harshly condemn the actions of these students and will not tolerate such behavior at any Yorktown or APS activity. We are taking these reports seriously and are investigating them thoroughly. Students found to be responsible for this behavior will be held accountable. Additionally, we will take immediate measures (listed below) so that all students have a safe environment to learn and participate in school activities. This type of behavior impacts our entire school community. We need your support to address this moving forward and encourage you to speak to your child about the importance of positive and safe interactions.
If you have any information about what occurred last night or if you have any questions, please reach out to me directly […]
Next Steps Identified
- Limiting student ticket sales to future athletic events to reflect facility limitations and capacities
- On-field viewing of half-time performances for Seniors suspended
- Designating specific areas for each grade level of students
- Coaches of all sports will meet with their team to discuss appropriate behavior at events and to have players encourage peers to represent themselves appropriately at games
- Continued supervision of students by administrators and security staff
- Fully investigate and address reported behavior from the football game.
We also want to ensure that tonight’s Homecoming Dance is safe and enjoyable for all of our students who will be attending. We emphasize that inappropriate language and behavior will not be tolerated, and any student suspected of being under the influence will be denied entry and asked to leave. Tickets will not be for sale at the door, and there will be no re-entry if students leave the dance.
Work continues at the Serrano Apartments to improve living conditions for residents of the affordable housing complex.
Repair and maintenance work started in earnest after advocates brought to light the deteriorating conditions of the Columbia Pike complex in May. Since then, the County Board has kept tabs on housing nonprofit AHC Inc., which owns the building, and its commitment to make things right.
During the County Board meeting on Tuesday, members said they were pleased to see progress on the physical conditions in the complex. They were dissatisfied, however, with AHC’s communication efforts, after hearing reports from residents and advocates that communication gaps and “disrespectful” treatment persist.
“We’re in the middle, not at the end,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “I’m pleased with the micromanagement, candidly, but I think communication is absolutely critical.”
In a letter to the board, Housing Commission Chair Eric Berkey said the biggest strides have been removing the rodents and getting a handle on air quality issues.
“It is revealing that little of our September 9, 2021 meeting was dedicated to current physical conditions challenges,” he said.
Meanwhile, about two dozen units will be abated for asbestos and condensation on cooling pipes. Testing by Arlington County confirmed there were no “systemic air quality issues in the building, no airborne asbestos or lead paint,” she said.
Of the 280 units in the building, the county has inspected all 221 that opted into its inspection program. Arlington County Housing Director Anne Venezia said staff will begin inspecting other aging affordable housing properties for deferred maintenance.
Communication remains a primary concern for the Housing Commission and the County Board. Berkey said to its credit, AHC has made some improvements on that front. Cunningham says AHC now communicates with 85% of residents via text, sends out anonymous third-party surveys, and holds monthly meetings with professional translation services.
But poor treatment of residents continues, longtime advocate Janeth Valenzuela said.
“No one should be asked to put up with dismissive, rude and disrespectful treatment that makes them feel like a problem to be fixed rather than a human being,” she said. “There are fundamental and systemic changes that need to be made at AHC.”
The advocate suggested cultural competency and trauma-informed training for all AHC board members, employees and contractors, as well as customer service training.
Cunningham said a cultural competency curriculum could be in place next year, with trauma-informed training done in-house.
Finally, the County Board urged AHC to prioritize compensating residents whose belongings have been damaged. Residents had reported damage to their possessions when maintenance requests were ignored or mismanaged and during the relocation process some opted into.
AHC has launched a claims process that replicates renters’ insurance, which Cunningham said few residents have.
AHC “did not offer compensation to residents for property losses until advocates started a public fundraiser that received press attention,” Valenzuela told the Housing Commission, according to Berkey’s letter.
The four final logo design recommendations are in, meaning the process of picking a new logo to adorn county flags, vehicles and stationery is nearly over.
This Saturday, the County Board is slated to choose a logo that will replace the current logo and seal, depicting Arlington House, the plantation house of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at what is now Arlington National Cemetery.
In the summer of 2020, the Arlington branch of the NAACP called on the county to ditch the “divisive and racist” logo, given its connection to slavery, and in December 2020 the County Board voted to kick off a process for choosing a new one.
This spring, the panel winnowed more than 250 submissions down to five that elicited some strong, negative feedback. Hearing the dissatisfaction, the County Board asked the panel to try again while allowing more time for people to submit potential logos for consideration.
The four going before the County Board this weekend include the top two from the second round of submissions as well as two from the first batch. In the second voting round, folks consistently voted for blue logos depicting the county’s geography and bridges, a departure from the colorful logos centering the county name (and possibly featuring abstract bridges).
But the logo that got the most community votes is not the Logo Review Panel’s first choice. Here’s how 16,082 survey respondents ranked their top three choices from the second round of voting:
It turns out that bridges, although a common motif, caused some controversy.
The third logo, which depicts the Key Bridge, was nixed because “it came to the attention of the logo panel late in the process that Francis Scott Key was a slaveowner,” a county report said.
The county report did not say why the Logo Review Panel switched the first- and second-ranked logos — favoring a two-color design that abstractly depicts the geography of Arlington, D.C. and the Potomac River — but it did explain why the panel decided to keep the more generic bridge.
The panel determined the other bridge “was not based on a specific bridge, and was meant to signify ‘connection, and the open arch welcomes the future and encourages diversity and opportunity,'” the county report said.
References to the Key Bridge came to the fore during the second round of voting in part because local designers were asked to avoid federal monuments and state symbols, as the panel decided they did not represent what makes Arlington distinct.
Those who wish to speak at Saturday’s meeting about the logo choices can register to do so. Once the County Board chooses a design, it will consider a timeline for phasing out the current logo and seal. That will happen in stages as time and maintenance schedules allow.
“The new County logo will be introduced in all electronic media as quickly as time permits,” the report said. “Replacement of the logo on all vehicles, signs, and other materials will take place as materials are replaced over the coming years… Replacements of logos that appear on free standing signs and entrances to our buildings will be done within current building maintenance budgets over the course of time.”
So far, the costs for consultants, trademark-related fees and outreach during this process total $50,000, the county staff report said.
Update on 9/30/21: Charges against Briscoe were dropped earlier this week.
Earlier: Celtic House Irish Pub on Columbia Pike says it “does not wish to embroil itself” in the ongoing saga involving a local TikTok personality.
The bar released a statement on its social media channels yesterday, in response to allegations traded between TikToker Coco Briscoe, who attracted a sizable following with her videos about dating in the D.C. area, and a bartender the business now calls “a former employee.”
While the statement suggests that the bartender who Briscoe accuses of harassing her is no longer employed by Celtic House, it does not specify the circumstances around her departure. The bartender previously testified in court, during a hearing about an emergency protective order she obtained against Briscoe, about being “terrified” of the social media personality and her devoted followers.
“I’m afraid to be in my house. I’m afraid to be in this courtroom with her,” the bartender testified. “I just want to be left alone and don’t want attention.”
The judge allowed the protective order to expire, suggesting that it should not have been issued by a county magistrate in the first place due to a lack of evidence of legitimate physical threats, but Briscoe is still facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly violating it by continuing to post about the situation on TikTok. She is next due in Arlington General District Court in two weeks, on Sept. 23.
Briscoe says the bartender is among a group of people, including employees of two Columbia Pike bars, who “bully, stalk and harass” her, making her feel unsafe in her neighborhood.
The Celtic House statement references at least some of Briscoe’s specific claims, which she has repeated in many of her dozens of TikTok posts over the past month — namely that video taken of Briscoe riding her bike near one of the bars, along with derogatory comments about her, were shared in a group chat.
“It would be improper to further comment… or to engage persons who have attacked the Celtic House, or the reputation of its owners and staff,” the statement says, before adding: “To be clear, the Celtic House does not condone the filming of any patron by employees, nor the public dissemination of pictures or comments on the actions of its patrons, except where such matters are required by, or, in furtherance of some interest of law enforcement or required as part of a civil or investigative action.”
The bartender in turn testified in court that it is Briscoe who has been the aggressor, weaponizing her following to harass her and others via hundreds of phone calls, social media messages and online reviews. The video sent to the group chat, which Briscoe subsequently obtained, was intended as a warning to local restaurant employees about an erratic customer, the bartender said.
Briscoe, meanwhile, has continued to rail against the two bars — Celtic House and Rebellion on the Pike — and their employees in videos posted since her last court appearance. She has also levied various accusations against the Arlington County Police Department, ARLnow, the Washington Post, and online review site Yelp.
Celtic House, in its statement, asserted that its business has been unfairly targeted. The bar “does not tolerate, nor wish to participate in on-line posturing or bullying,” it said.
Celtic House’s owner has not responded to emailed requests for further comment.
A statement issued by Rebellion on the Pike last month insisted that the accusations against it were an “attempt to smear our business [that] has zero evidence and truth to it.”
The full statement from Celtic House is below.
(Updated 9:25 a.m. on 9/8/21) The new virtual learning program in Arlington Public Schools, available to anyone uncomfortable with going to school in-person, has gotten off to a rocky start due to severe teacher shortages.
During the first week of school, 340 of the more than 700 students enrolled in the program were assigned subs rather than permanent teachers, and many did not receive class schedules. Instead, many virtual students saw their classes canceled or they were shuffled into multi-grade classes and “virtual waiting rooms” without teachers or monitors.
And today (Tuesday), APS announced another upheaval: the administrator assigned to the new program, Verlese Gaither, has been replaced. Amy Jackson, Supervisor of Educational Technology & Programs, will lead the Virtual Learning Program until a new administrator is appointed.
Complaints started shortly after the first day of school. A discussion thread on a local parenting message board titled “APS VPL is a dumpster fire” has garnered more than 200 comments since it was first posted last Tuesday.
Parents of virtual students are also raising their concerns with the School Board and administrators, asking for appropriate staffing and improved communication. One of their requests — a meeting with APS — will be met with a town hall set for tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 7 p.m.
“The VLP is a critical program for vulnerable students and their families during this unprecedented pandemic,” Laura Haltzel, whose son is learning at home for health reasons, tells ARLnow. “Families want the virtual program to succeed and would like to work with APS to try to resolve some of the challenges we experienced in the last week. We believe that many problems can be solved with the appropriate allocation of teaching staff and administrative support.”
APS apologized in a School Talk email sent to families this afternoon.
“As we prepare to start the second week of school, we want to apologize for the challenges students encountered accessing their classes in the Virtual Learning Program last week,” the school system said. “We understand that this was a frustrating and unacceptable start to the school year for our VLP families and are working to ensure that these issues, related to staffing, scheduling, technical support and communication, are addressed as quickly as possible. We are also committed to ensuring that VLP students will have permanent teachers assigned to their classes as soon as possible.”
School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen likewise apologized and affirmed the board’s commitment to making the program work.
“I want to personally apologize to our VLP students and families,” she tells ARLnow. “Our goal is for the Virtual Learning Program to be an innovative, engaging, and rewarding academic experience for our students. The School Board is 100% committed to the program and we support the immediate steps APS is taking to ensure its success.”
Haltzel is part of a group of parents who wrote to administrators and School Board members on Monday outlining their concerns, which include a lack of staffing and a lack of communication.
“The combination of these above concerns, coupled with the silence from the APS School Board and Dr. Duran, has left VLP Parents concerned, frustrated and unsatisfied,” the group’s letter said. “Most critically, VLP students are demoralized and distraught.”
There are about 740 students enrolled in the VLP, including 63 students added since Aug. 16 via medical exemption appeals, a fluidity that APS says impacts staffing and class sizes.
With the changing class sizes and staffing shortages, some students were placed in courses through Virtual Virginia and other similar programs, while others were placed in a temporary classes to work on asynchronous assignments developed by APS teachers assigned to brick and mortar schools. These classes were monitored by an adult and students will receive feedback on their work from their teachers in September.
Families report incidents of online bullying between the younger and older unsupervised students in these mixed-grade “waiting rooms.” They say their younger students are upset and no longer enthusiastic about school.
Meanwhile, APS said in its email to parents today that it is committed to solving the teacher shortage quickly. As of Thursday, APS had 92 virtual teachers, but it still needed 106 teachers to fill out the program, a spokesman said. According to parents, some teachers initially assigned to the virtual program were later reassigned to teach in-person.
Parents say it wasn’t until they started asking questions that APS acknowledged that staffing was the problem.
Washington Gas’s customer service, or reported lack thereof, has prompted a flood of calls to Virginia’s utilities regulator.
The State Corporation Commission tells ARLnow that its utilities regulation division is receiving upwards of 30 calls a day from Virginians who say they can’t reach the Washington Gas customer service call center or are experiencing long wait times.
“This is unusual,” said Ken Schrad, the director of the SCC’s Division of Information Resources. “Typically, the division averages only about 40 a month, two-three per day, involving Washington Gas… And, that would include all matters brought to the division’s attention, including bill disputes, not just the current problem regarding the inability to get through to the company.”
Virginia’s largest natural gas local distribution company, in terms of customers served, has been the subject of a flood of complaints on social media, in internet forums, tips to ARLnow, and a letter sent to PoPville. Those affected include people moving, who who need services started or stopped and and worry about having the ability to cook and take hot showers in their new homes or getting charged for gas at their old residence.
Send me your stories here about your customer service experience @washingtongas and I will make sure head of corporate communications Brian Edward’s and all the people @wglenergy hear all about it. I almost miss @PGE4Me, which is saying a lot.
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) August 10, 2021
The delays appear to be tied to staffing shortages in Washington Gas’s call center. In response to ARLnow’s request for comment, Washington Gas, which also serves D.C. and Maryland, said it is addressing these shortages while rolling out new ways to connect with customer service workers.
“Washington Gas apologizes to our customers who continue to have difficulty reaching our call center over the last few months. We know that we have not met our customers’ expectations or our own high standards of service,” Washington Gas spokesman Bernie Tylor said.
These shortages made moving more stressful for Jesse Croft, who relocated from Ballston to the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood while pregnant and caring for two young children. She said she called Washington Gas about a dozen times trying to set up service, and at one point, she spent three hours on hold, having to hang up because she had to take a work call.
“It is truly shocking that they operating like this,” she said. “Not to mention, it appears to have been going on since at least last December. How have they not hired more customer service reps or an outside company to help?”
Another ARLnow tipster expressed similar frustrations with the two- to five-hour call center wait times required to set up gas.
“People are resorting to tweeting them or sending them messages on Facebook,” the individual said. “If this was a random business, that is one thing, but this is the area’s only provider of gas service! They really need some press shined on this!”
Hundreds of customers are able to use the website to start and stop service, Tylor said. But, certain circumstances require additional review of an address and customer service intervention.
“In these instances, customers have experienced excessive hold times,” he said, adding that the volume of requests via Facebook and Twitter has “strained our resources as well.”
That happened to one person whose address wasn’t being recognized in the company’s new system. In a thread on the online forum D.C. Urban Moms and Dads, the poster described trying Twitter and Facebook, and being ready to show up at the gas company’s D.C. office: “I’m desperate… I’m ready to throw my phone out of the window.”
Another poster said that during a call with Washington Gas, the company “blamed [the delays] on COVID and said lots of people were out sick, or no longer working for them, or something dumb like that.”
The SCC said a contributing factor could be a recent change to a third-party customer service provider.
“Staff is aware that the company recently changed its third-party provider to perform both the non-emergency and emergency call center functions and the transition may be contributing to the delays customers are experiencing,” he said.
Update on 9/30/21: Charges against Briscoe were dropped earlier this week.
Earlier: Coco Briscoe, the local TikTok personality arrested for violating a protective order amid a spat with local restaurants, has had that protective order lifted.
Briscoe was in Arlington General District Court Wednesday afternoon for her arraignment. A judge also heard arguments about whether the 72-hour Emergency Protective Order issued early Monday morning by an Arlington magistrate should be extended.
During the hearing, the woman who asked for the protective order — Charlotte, an employee of Celtic House Irish Pub on Columbia Pike — testified that she was “terrified” of Briscoe and her army of devoted social media followers.
Charlotte said Briscoe was a regular customer at Celtic House but things between her and the bartenders deteriorated over time. At one point, Charlotte testified, she and Briscoe encountered each other in Georgetown and Briscoe followed her, yelling “crazy bitch.”
In another incident, Charlotte testified that Briscoe had been drinking for ten hours straight when she took a brief video of her riding her bike near the bar and sent it in a group chat to other Columbia Pike restaurant employees — including employees of Rebellion on the Pike, another target of Briscoe’s ire — to warn them, given what she described as Briscoe’s erratic behavior.
Briscoe somehow obtained the message sent by Charlotte and has since been posting TikTok videos about it and her spat with the restaurant employees. The videos accuse Charlotte of “stalking” Briscoe and of revealing her location in the group chat, as well as using Briscoe’s credit card and ID in order to obtain her name and date of birth for the protective order.
In addition to allegations against Charlotte, Briscoe accuses a larger group of Celtic House and Rebellion employees of creating social media accounts and fake online dating profiles to “bully, stalk and harass” her. In her videos, she expresses concern about her safety and that of other women who patronize the bars.
The videos also infer that police are protecting the bars and Charlotte, who is reportedly dating an Arlington officer, given that a police report filed by Briscoe did not result in action against any of them.
The videos have prompted many of Briscoe’s nearly 25,000 TikTok followers to come to her defense in social media comments, in negative online reviews of the restaurants, and via emails and phone calls.
“Unfortunately this bar is unsafe for single women,” a woman named Elizabeth from South Carolina posted on Rebellion’s Yelp page, echoing Briscoe’s accusations. “Several bartenders… have stalked, harassed and created an unsafe environment.”
“Be careful here, the bartenders like to share your location with a group of stalkers, get personal information off your credit card and share it with them. This happened to my friend,” wrote a woman named Nora from Utah. “When confronted the manager/owners did not investigate or fire the employee who was doing this.”
“Absolutely disgusting @ArlingtonVaPD for not protecting Coco after she filed a report with you,” an Arlington woman named Julie posted on Twitter. “And abusing your power to rush ridiculous restraining orders against her. Scary to thing as a woman in Arlington you are sh-t out of luck if your stalker has a friend that’s a cop.”
Charlotte testified that Celtic House has been getting “hundreds” of phone calls from angry followers of Briscoe, accusing Charlotte of things and calling her names.
A single mom, Charlotte said she has had to take unpaid leave from work, move away from her apartment, and bring her son to live with his father for fear of his safety.
“I’m afraid to be in my house. I’m afraid to be in this courtroom with her,” she testified. “I just want to be left alone and don’t want attention.”
An attorney for Briscoe briefly questioned Charlotte, who said she could have been more “tactful” with her message to the group.
Update on 9/30/21: Charges against Briscoe were dropped earlier this week.
Earlier: An Arlington woman has been arrested for allegedly ignoring a court order not to talk about a local restaurant employee on her popular social media accounts.
Crystal Briscoe, known to her nearly 25,000 TikTok followers as Coco, was arrested Monday morning at her apartment along Columbia Pike for violating a Emergency Protective Order (EPO) issued just five hours before. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Arlington General District Court tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.
The charge against her is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable in Virginia by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The arrest follows several days of posts from Briscoe on TikTok and Instagram in which she alleged an elaborate plot to harass her online via social media comments and fake online dating profiles created by employees at two Columbia Pike restaurants: Rebellion on the Pike and The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant.
Briscoe called one particular employee a “stalker” and alleged that the employee was able to obtain the protective order because she is dating an Arlington County police officer.
A 39-year-old Virginia native who moved to Arlington during the pandemic after a time in Southern California, where she worked as a Zumba instructor and a comedy writer, Briscoe gained a following on TikTok for her candid commentary on the D.C. dating scene. She said in a video over the weekend that the harassment started following a bad date at one of the restaurants, after which the employees — who she dubs “the Pikeys” — started to bully her, take videos of her, and “plant” a person to date her.
In another TikTok post she threatened to call the FBI about the alleged harassment and suggested, without evidence, that the restaurants were complicit in their employees’ behavior.
“Call your dogs off, Rebellion and Celtic. Or I will do everything in my power to have your businesses shut down. Everything. I’ve only asked you to leave me alone,” she said. Each TikTok post has garnered tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of views, along with hundreds of supportive comments from Briscoe’s fans, who have also flooded the Yelp pages for Rebellion and Celtic House with negative reviews.
(Both Yelp pages have since been locked to new reviews in response to “unusual activity” and “increased public attention.”)
A police spokeswoman said the protective order was issued by a magistrate early Monday morning, ordering Briscoe to stop posting on social media about one particular person, and was quickly violated.
“On Sunday, August 8th, police responded to the Magistrate’s Office for the report of harassment,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “At approximately 2:29 a.m. on August 9th, the Magistrate issued an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) for the petitioner against Ms. Briscoe.”
“At approximately 5:35 a.m., officers… served Ms. Briscoe with the EPO and explained the conditions of the order which included ‘respondent is to keep the peace, not discuss petitioner on social media,'” Savage continued. “Ms. Briscoe subsequently violated the conditions of the EPO and an arrest warrant for violation of Virginia Code § 16.1-253.2. Violation of provisions of protective orders was issued by the Magistrate. At approximately 7:30 a.m., officers responded… and took Ms. Briscoe into custody without incident on the outstanding warrant.”
Briscoe was released on her own recognizance, court records show. A defense attorney was not listed. Briscoe could not be reached for comment.
Langston Blvd Plan Meets Resistance — “Following this May’s release of area planning maps and a presentation on density from consultant AECOM, a furious screed was published by Lyon Village Civic Association president John Carten. Though the process is still in the community engagement phase that precedes concrete recommendations, the hint of possible changes in the General Land Use Plan prompted the Lyon Village group to predict a parade of horribles.” [Falls Church News-Press]
New Clarendon Apartment Building Sold — “Trammell Crow Residential has sold the Alexan Earl, a 333-unit multifamily building at 1122 N. Hudson St., to Lincoln Property Co. for $192 million… The Earl represents the first phase of the long-planned Red Top Cab redevelopment… Shooshan continues to plan for the second phase, a roughly 250-unit building fronting Washington Boulevard at the intersection with 13th Street North. It expects to start demolition this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]
Online Fundraiser for Fallen Officer –” The family of George Gonzalez started a memorial fund Sunday for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer who was fatally wounded Tuesday on the platform of the Pentagon Transit Center… By 3 p.m. on Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $15,000, outstripping its original goal of $1,000.” [Patch, GoFundMe]
Local BBQ Joint Competing in ‘World Championship’ — “Arlington’s Smokecraft Modern Barbecue… has been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. Taking place in Lynchburg, TN on on October 8th and 9th, ‘The Jack’ as it is known, is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.” [Press Release]
Va. AG Continues to Fight Robocalls — “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology. Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general have in submitting comments to the FCC.” [Press Release]
Pentagon to Require Vaccinations — “The Pentagon will require members of the military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo on Monday. About 64% of active duty military members are fully vaccinated, a low enough rate to pose concern for potential outbreaks and international deployment.” [Axios]
An apartment complex in Lyon Park recently issued a warning to tenants saying the only place for child’s play is the playground.
A note provided to ARLnow, addressed to the residents of Washington & Lee Apartments (2200 2nd Street N.), said “children are to be playing in the playground and in no other areas,” in bolded, italicized and underlined letters.
They cannot play in “common areas which include… on the grass or trees,” only the area designated as the playground, according to the note.
It’s one of two notes ARLnow has obtained indicating that some apartment communities are cracking down on play in common areas in response to an uptick in complaints from other tenants about noise and property damage.
The Washington & Lee note was a first for Nicole Merlene, a Tenant-Landlord Commission member and ARLnow opinion columnist. She tells ARLnow it describes a potentially discriminatory practice and reveals the need for Arlington to offer mediation services between tenants and landlords.
“Since I have been on the commission we have not received a complaint of this kind where there is potentially discrimination based on age for activities,” she said.
The note responds to an increase in complaints from tenants about damaged cars from kids playing in the parking lot, a property manager for the complex told ARLnow. In a phone interview, the manager said five complaints have come in the last few months of kids hitting cars with rocks or scratching them up with scooters and bikes. As for the trees and grass, the manager said kids were breaking limbs and digging holes.
“It’s just gotten to the point where the damage and complaints were so bad I’d have to take action,” the manager said. “Because of COVID… [parents] didn’t have adequate care and the children were just left at home on their own.”
The note also bans sidewalk chalk because kids drew on the brick walls, according to the manager. The note said “stricter action will be taken” if the problems continue. In 2014, the same apartments launched a campaign against tenants feeding squirrels.
Merlene said that these kinds of landlord-tenant disputes could be resolved through an out-of-court mediation service — one that Arlington has not had since it was defunded a few years ago, she said.
“This type of out of court service requires both parties to willfully participate, but after conversations with both Alexandria and Fairfax, it is by and large extremely successful at finding a solution when a tenant is the one bringing a grievance,” she said. “The Tenant-Landlord Commission is in the process of looking into ways in which other jurisdictions have successfully provided this service and will recommend a system that works for our community for the Board’s consideration.”
Asked to evaluate the letter, she said commission members are not lawyers or trained in discrimination policy, so commissioners avoid determining if something is illegal. Instead, those with complaints are referred to the county’s Office of Human Rights.
But taking apartmentment owners to court, while a recourse for Arlington tenants, rarely happens.
“Reasons range from fear of potentially losing the case against a big landlord’s lawyer and having to pay their attorney fees, immigration status, cultural barriers, and various other hurdles,” she said.
Complaints of noise and kids’ behavior have also registered with the management office at Union on Queen (1515 N. Queen Street), near Rosslyn.
Tenants received a “friendly reminder” that no residents can hang out in or around the courtyard fountain. It told parents they are responsible if their children play there, according to a screenshot shared with ARLnow.
“Thus far we have seen trash left in the courtyard and in the fountain, and we’ve seen children playing in the courtyard [spraying] water on other resident’s [sic] windows,” the letter said.
The Union on Queen reminder also noted that the office “has received numerous complaints about increased noise levels due to groups being in the courtyard and around the courtyard’s fountain.”
“We will unfortunately have to issue lease violations should the issue persist,” the note said. “Again, we don’t want them to hurt themselves or others in the building. We want all of our residents to be safe and comfortable.”
Photo via Google Maps
Voters can choose their top three from the expanded list of 10, which includes two finalists from the first round of voting. A Logo Review Panel tasked with soliciting and vetting submissions, refining a handful of designs and recommending one final look to the County Board will use voting results to make their final recommendation this September.
This is the second chance that community members have to vote on a design that would be emblazoned on everything from documents to vehicles to County Board members’ pins.
The first voting period this spring elicited some strong, negative feedback about the top designs. After hearing of the dissatisfaction, County Board asked the group tasked with refining designs and making recommendations to try again.
“I do like the idea of looking at a few additional logos,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said at the time. “Providing this one additional short opportunity might give us broader ownership of this decision.”
In June, the county called for new submissions. Notably, the Logo Review Panel asked aspiring logo designers to avoid referencing Arlington’s well-known monuments — such as the Air Force Memorial, Netherlands Carillon, Tomb of Unknown Soldier, and the Pentagon — or state symbols like the dogwood flower and “Virginia is for Lovers” icon.
“Arlington is a special and unique place that encompasses more than federal presence,” said guidance from the panel on the submission page. “We want our logo to convey what’s distinctive about Arlington on its own merits.”
Of state symbols, the guidance added: “These are not unique to Arlington and are used in commonly used in many other places.”
The new logo options include visual references to the county’s skyline, its geographic shape, and the Key Bridge.
Around this time last year, the Arlington branch of the NAACP called on the county to change its current logo — depicting Arlington House, also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial — amid a national discourse on current and historical racism in the U.S. In December, the County Board voted to kick off a process for choosing a new logo.
Eager to see the logo changed, Board members agreed to speed up the timeline by one month.
In May, when the deadline was extended, staff members said part of the reason why the process took shape the way it did was that they were trying to meet the initial deadline set by the County Board.
Despite the change in timing, de Ferranti said in May that a new logo will be chosen at the end of this latest feedback process.
“The letters we’re signing right now have no logos on them,” he said.
Hat tip to Smiley456