Parents Protest APS Proposal — “School officials tasked with the perpetual jigsaw puzzle of reassigning school zones have stirred new tensions… If you drive McKinley Rd., you can’t miss the printed signs ‘SAVE MCKINLEY: Our Neighborhood School Since 1951.’ The Madison Manor Civic Association has revved up with nearby PTAs and community groups to assemble contrary arguments.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Tafti Pushes Back on AG Comments — From Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney-elect Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “We are neither righteous warriors nor avenging angels. We are public servants. So a little humility in how we do our job and how we accept public critique of our work would go a long way toward building a system that is both safe and just.” [Twitter]
Free Holiday Grief Support Service — “For those who’ve suffered loss-whether recently, or even years prior-the holiday stress can make the season more difficult. To help those grieving in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia during the holidays, Capital Caring Health, a local non-profit, offers a wide range of free counseling and support services.” [Press Release, Arlington Public Library]
Special Burial at Arlington National — “Private Edwin Francis Benson was killed in action at Tarawa during World War II. In 2017, his remains were located. Earlier this year, his remains were identified and a couple weeks ago he was laid to rest in Section 60. We honor his service.” [Twitter]
APS Students Learn About the Census — “The U.S. Census Bureau kicked off its Statistics in Schools program, offering Arlington teachers and others a wide array of resources that teach students not only about data but also about the importance of being counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. Arlington Public Schools shared the free program with its teachers, who can integrate it into their lesson plans.” [Arlington County]
Road Closures for Race in Pentagon City — “The Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5K for Arthritis will take place on Saturday, December 7. Police will conduct road closures in the area of South Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive to accommodate this event.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
New Additions to Story Map — A number of properties have been added to the Arlington Historical Society’s Story Map, per organizer Charlie Clark, including: 817 N. Irving St. (Lyon Park), built circa 1904; Hendry House, 2411 N 24th St. (Woodmont), built circa 1900; 3405 N. Glebe Rd. (Country Club Hills), built circa 1907. [Arlington Historical Society]
(Updated at 9:15 a.m.) Leaders from Arlington’s Parent Teacher Associations are speaking out against Arlington Public Schools’ plans for a major elementary school boundary swap.
In a joint letter to the School Board, PTA presidents from seven Arlington elementary schools requested that members “not vote on any elementary school moves.” Rather, the PTA members presented a “holistic, twelve-month process” that incorporates more analyses and data review.
“We appreciate the complex nature of the task and the hard work of APS staff and believe adjustments to the process will result in more meaningful community engagement,” the group wrote in the letter.
In October, APS proposed a pair of options for shuffling up to a quarter of the county’s elementary school students, including moving the majority of McKinley Elementary School students to the new Reed Elementary School, among other switches.
The Arlington School Board is expected to take action on one of two final proposals during its meeting on February 6, 2020. If approved, it would take effect for the 2021-22 school year, per APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
During a Q&A session Monday night between area PTA presidents and APS staff, PTA leaders alleged that the plans fair to address issues of diversity or equity.
“While demographics and economic diversity might not be considered by everyone an element of equity, it is a pivotal factor,” said County Council of PTAs president Maura McMahon. “To leave it out is a major concern for many people.”
APS officials repeatedly defended their choice to leave out demographics in the proposals, and emphasized that because entire school communities will be moving, they are not defining this as a boundary change.
“When we say we’re going to move a school community, we assume the entire community will move,”said APS Integrated Project Planner Gladis Bourdouane. “When we do boundary changes, we will of course consider changes that include demographics, but if the school moves, the communities will move together.”
The first proposal — which APS said would require boundary changes that would affect around 2,400 students — would make the following changes.
- The majority of current McKinley students would move to Reed.
- The Arlington Traditional School (ATS) program would move to the McKinley building.
- Key Immersion School would move to the Arlington Traditional School building.
- The Key building would become a neighborhood school.
In the second — which APS says would require fewer boundary changes and thus affect around 2,100 students — involves the following.
- Campbell Elementary School moving to the ATS building
- Key, along with its immersion program, would move to the Carlin Springs Elementary School building
- The majority of students at Carlin Springs would move to the Campbell Elementary School building
- Campbell building becomes a neighborhood school
- The Key building becomes a neighborhood school
If neither plan is put into place, APS says, more extensive elementary boundary changes will be required.
APS has several community events planned in December to discuss elementary school planning, including a “What We Heard” meeting on December 9 at 7 p.m. at Swanson Middle School , and another in Spanish on December 16 at 7 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School.
If there’s one thing that drives passions in residential neighborhoods, it’s parking. And Arlington County is gearing up to change some of its residential parking policies next year.
The forthcoming update to Arlington’s Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program promises to bring out strong opinions, with some residents very much in favor of keeping the program as is, and others saying it promotes inequity and should be scrapped. The county staff recommendation, however, is likely to be somewhere in the middle.
The RPP program focuses on neighborhoods around Metro corridors and other high-demand areas where commuters, diners, shoppers or hospital visitors tend to fill up street parking spaces. It restricts on-street parking to certain residents and their guests during certain times of the day.
“I know this program is important and popular — and not popular in certain places,” County Manager Mark Schwartz at Tuesday’s Arlington County Board meeting, as county staff provided an update on its work, which has been underway for more than two years.
The RPP program tends to favor single-family home owners over apartment dwellers, many of whom are excluded from receiving parking permits, raising questions about fairness, staff said.
“As a whole, there is little resident agreement on how the Program should function going forward,” said a staff presentation to the Board. “Resident opinions frequently vary with type of housing in which they live and whether they have RPP restrictions.”
Schwartz placed additions of new areas and other changes to the program on hold in 2017, at a time when staff said the county was receiving “a large volume of applications” from mostly single-family home owners who wanted parking restrictions on their streets. Most of those applications were being rejected, staff said, demonstrating a difference between program requirements — including at least 75% parking utilization on the streets in question on weekdays, with an abundance of parked cars registered in other areas — and resident expectations.
“Our public expects parking to be easy,” said Arlington County Parking Manager Stephen Crim. “They want to park in front of our houses and want their guests to park on the same block.”
County staff are still gathering public feedback but presented a number of guiding principles ahead of formulating recommendations for Board consideration this spring.
Among the changes to the program now being considered:
- Make all housing types eligible for RPP, but exclude housing developments that go through a site plan and use permit process.
- Cap the number of parking permits any given household can receive based on off-street parking availability (like a driveway or parking lot.)
- Make parking easier for household visitors, perhaps by enacting two-hour parking without permits on RPP streets.
(Two hour visitor parking in RPP zones is in place in a couple of parts of Arlington, but police say it is difficult to enforce and meters would be preferable. Board member Katie Cristol said she would be in favor of more parking meters in RPP zones, with those displaying parking permits exempt from the meters.)
RPP as currently conceived does have some interesting side effects, Crim noted. For one, it has a placebo effect: people in RPP zones who have parking permits said in surveys that parking was easier than residents in areas without RPP restrictions but similar street parking utilization. Also, people who have RPP restrictions are more likely to be supportive of new housing developments in their neighborhood — as long as the new residents won’t be eligible for residential parking permits.
(About 40% of survey respondents said they liked RPP because it discourages people in apartments and condos from parking on the street, according to Crim’s presentation.)
The current RPP moratorium is not expected to be lifted until the changes are enacted. And the public process related to those changes is expected to be contentious.
“No principal or policy will please everyone,” said Crim.
“I look forward to deliberating on this next spring, it’s going to be a doozy,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.
In Rosslyn, the owners of Chasin’ Tails, Tea’n You, and Lei’d Hawaiian Poke are opening a new food hall called Happy Endings Eatery. This time around, however, the double entendre name is generating some controversy.
The trio of Vietnamese-American brothers behind the successful restaurant group — two of whom are successful former poker players — may have just had their naming luck run out in the post-#MeToo era.
The names intended to reflect a light-hearted vibe — “we’re goofy people and we like to have fun,” one brother told ARLnow in 2015 — are now being questioned.
It doesn’t help that “Happy Endings,” which is also the name of the restaurant group itself, makes one suspicious of the big posted signage in Rosslyn announcing that Happy Endings Eatery is “coming soon” and “get ready to be blown away.” (The now hiring signs are more innocuous.)
From a Washington City Paper article published Tuesday:
Safe Bars Director Lauren R. Taylor had a strong reaction to the name of the forthcoming food hall. Her D.C.-based organization works to make bars, restaurants, and clubs safe and welcoming spaces.
“It diminishes massage body workers, it diminishes sex workers, diminishes women in general,” Taylor says. She believes the “jokey” innuendo contributes to “the dehumanization of all of those groups of people I mentioned before, especially women. It’s really not OK. Personally I wouldn’t even feel comfortable going there even though they probably have the greatest food in the world.”
“We do not support the exploitation of people in any way,” a statement from the company to the City Paper said. “Our name is meant to be lighthearted, memorable, and positive in the same way that a children’s fairytale has a happy ending.”
Some seem to be saying that the fairytale explanation, however, is just that — a fairytale meant to explain away an obviously bad name.
One Rosslyn resident who reached out to ARLnow suggested that Happy Endings has taken things too far.
“Its signage says in big letters get ready to be blown away,” the resident said in an email, while asking where he could file a complaint. “It’s all quite inappropriate.”
It won’t get much better inside, once Happy Endings opens: the food hall will focus on Vietnamese food, with food stalls sporting names like Roll Play and Pho Play.
What do you think about the name controversy? Should the food hall’s name be changed?
Last night the account posted a screenshot of a post by a High View Park resident who says she was reprimanded by the owner of the recently-renovated Taco Bell at 4923 Lee Highway for taking “15-20 sauce packets” for a take-out meal for her family.
“Suddenly a man sitting and eating yells at me to leave sauces for other customers and that I’ve taken too much,” she writes. “He yells and says he’s the owner and that I have too many sauces. “It tell him it’s not like I’m stealing I just bought a bunch of food!”
“Neighbors beware, don’t take too many sauces or you will be yelled at and berated at Taco Bell,” she concludes.
Comments on the post show split reactions.
“No offense but 20 sauce packets is taking more than your fair share,” said a Leeway Overlee resident.
“What’s the proper fair share, according to the taco sauce police?” retorted a Waycroft-Woodlawn resident.
As of this morning, the Best of Nextdoor post about the Taco Bell had more than 1,800 likes and 100 replies, ranging from “you need all that sauce so you don’t have to actually taste the Taco Bell” to “if you’re going to grab 20 individual hot sauce packets, maybe just bring your own bottle of hot sauce.”
Meanwhile, in Virginia… pic.twitter.com/OmTPJNwqud
— Best of Nextdoor (@bestofnextdoor) November 12, 2019
School Shuffle Blowback Starts — “Alicia Rich, president of Key’s PTA, said she has been fielding texts and messages over WhatsApp from parents and staff members worried about the prospect of moving. ‘This issue is so huge for us,’ Rich said.
School system officials said they ‘urgently need’ the Key building as a neighborhood school because of the lack of space for students.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Office Market Improving — Arlington County landing Amazon HQ2, a selection announced one year ago this month, has helped move its office market in the right direction after years of struggles. The office vacancy rate in National Landing, the newly branded area comprising the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, dropped from 19.6% in Q3 2018 to 16% as of Sept. 30, the lowest level since 2012, according to JLL.” [Bisnow]
Chamber Supports Keeping Dillon Rule — “Facing a possible Democratic majority in the General Assembly, @ArlVAChamber is standing firm in its support of the Dillon Rule. Why? A Dem majority could allow localities like Arlington to raise the minimum wage.” [Twitter, InsideNova]
Storms Don’t Deter Trick or Treaters — From a family that tracks the number of trick or treaters visiting their Arlington home: “Despite threatening weather and a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service… 2019 was our second best year ever with 161 visitors, 13 goblins behind the all-time high of 174 visitors in 2016.” [Facebook]
ACPD Helps With Snakes, Too — “Sgt. Morrison proves he’s a jack of all trades! Yesterday he responded to a citizen assist call and helped safely relocate this snake.” [Twitter]
Opera Fans Plan Outreach Effort — “Reports of the demise of a certain musical genre are not just premature. They are just plain wrong, supporters say. ‘Clearly, opera is not a dying art – the music is still transcendent,’ said Paul Dolinsky, a board member of Opera Nova, which on Oct. 27 held its annual fund-raising brunch at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]
Local Teen Is Runner Up in Entrepreneurship Competition — “Ela Gokcigdem has good news to share about her ePearl noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. They were a big hit in the Big Apple… The 17-year-old senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington participated in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. More than two dozen competitors from around the country pitched their products to a panel of judges.” [WJLA]
Nearby: Road Closure Planned in Seven Corners — “The Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) bridge over Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 4 to 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 5 for bridge deck work, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Eastbound Wilson Boulevard traffic will be detoured via Route 7, Patrick Henry Drive, Route 50 and the westbound Route 50 service road back to Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]
A cotton plant growing at Campbell Elementary School drew criticism online today, but Arlington Public Schools said allegations that staff were going to make kids “pick cotton” was a misunderstanding.
“At no time, never, was the school going to have students pick cotton,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
Catherine Ashby, the Director of Communications for APS, tells ARLnow that a teacher planted cotton seeds in pots as an experiment to see how they would grow. Social media posts about the experiment from the teacher prompted objections from other educators.
“She tweeted about her experiment and what she was growing, and that’s what got other staff members upset about what she was doing,” said Ashby.
Community members started talking online about the incident after an email circulated from Campbell Principal Maureen Nesselrode, who called a staff meeting to discuss what to do with the plant. Bellavia said the plant was destroyed after the meeting.
“Once they realized staff had concerns about the prospects of this they decided to remove the plants,” Ashby said of yesterday’s meeting with the principal. “End of story.”
So @CampbellAPS @APSVirginia in Arlington, Virginia @ARLnowDOTcom is holding a discussion today to decide whether or not it’s offensive to have students pick cotton as part of a history lesson. What do y’all think? Is this okay or offensive? @AngieAnge @DJQUICKSILVA black twitter pic.twitter.com/BUSW8xeEGP
— Live Laugh Love (@MissGodley) May 16, 2019
One Twitter user, who said her name was R. Jones, shared a screenshot of the email. She told ARLnow that a school staff member had forwarded it to her and they were both “angry and offended” about the racial undertones of a teacher planting cotton.
“What do y’all think? Is this okay or offensive?” asked Jones on Twitter.
In the email, Nesselrode asked that “anyone who would like to discuss the prospect of planting cotton seeds” join the Tuesday afternoon meeting “so we can address various viewpoints and come to a mutual understanding.”
Bellavia and Ashby said that Jones had drawn the wrong assumptions about the planting.
Photo via Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr
The County Board is poised to pass a controversial incentive package for Amazon this Saturday, which could help bring tens of thousands of jobs and millions in added property taxes to Arlington County, at the cost of tens of millions in tax subsidies for one of the world’s largest companies.
The Board is scheduled to vote on the multi-million dollar incentive package during their regularly-scheduled Saturday meeting, which is Amazon’s last hurdle to clear before beginning development on their new headquarters slated to start construction in 2021.
The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Bozman Government Center in Courthouse, however, the Amazon part of discussion isn’t scheduled to start until after 1 p.m., per an agenda summary and the hearing is expected to be dogged with public protest from critics opposing Amazon.
The county’s incentive package was first publicly released earlier this month and features a 15-year, estimated $23 million incentive given to Amazon if the tech-and-retail giant meets office space occupancy goals over several years. The company would need to fill 60,000 square feet of office space starting in June of 2020 and meet benchmarks towards occupying 6 million square feet by 2035.
The incentive is funded from a portion of the increases in hotel tax revenue that officials predict from Amazon’s “HQ2” moving to the region.
The incentive package up for a vote Saturday also includes plans to spend $28 million over a period of 10 years to update infrastructure around the proposed headquarters, in addition to the state’s multi-million-dollar contribution. That money will be pulled from a portion of the increase in commercial property tax revenue in the Crystal City area that results from Amazon’s arrival.
The county also offered to at least try to fulfill Amazon’s request for an on-site helicopter pad on-site despite residents’ ongoing complaints of existing helicopter noise and the region’s strictly-enforced no-fly zone.
Amazon announced it selected Arlington as the site for its second headquarters in November, promising to bring at least 25,000 jobs and occupy 6,056,000 million square feet of commercial space in the Crystal City and Pentagon City areas, which have experienced high vacancy rates for the last 15 years.
County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in February the expected number of Amazon jobs is now higher because the company cancelled its other headquarter plans in New York City.
The incentives have drawn persistent criticism from activists who believe the county shouldn’t be giving any incentives to a company run by the world’s richest man — and who fear its relocation to Arlington will exacerbate the county’s affordable hosing shortage. Critics have also raised red flags about a portion of the agreement that gives Amazon advance notice of FOIA requests.
On Friday, local activist coalition “For Us, Not Amazon” announced a noon protest outside the county government steps on Saturday before the vote.
“While the County tries to ignore us, For Us, Not Amazon has been doing the real community engagement, knocking doors, listening to community members’ concerns and it’s time to make sure Arlington County officials listen to every one of us before this sham gets voted on,” the description of the rally reads.
The head of Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce argued the package was a “good deal” for the county in a Thursday op-ed on ARLnow, writing that “focusing on the Transient Occupancy Tax means that taxes on Arlington residents and businesses will not fund these incentives and that Amazon will receive these payments only if our hoteliers grow their businesses too.”
For Us, Not Amazon’s member organizations knocked on doors earlier this week to gather petition signatures opposing the incentive package.
Thank you everyone from today's canvass in the Nauck community, a historically black neighborhood that was not included on the list of civic associations that the Arlington board has reached out to.
There must be a public hearing and real outreach before any vote on incentives. pic.twitter.com/kKVp7ESV5x
— SCAMAZON (@hqpoo) March 9, 2019
On Monday, 30 advocacy and community organizations — including the Nauck Civic Association and the Arlington NAACP, among statewide and regional groups — signed a letter requesting the County Board “postpone the vote on incentives and hold public hearings to foster transparency and understanding.”
The Board originally planned for a February public hearing and vote on the incentives but rescheduled to March, citing the need for more community discussions.
Saturday’s vote does not include the state’s $750 million-incentive package to Amazon, which the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly approved in January.
This weekend’s Board meeting will also not include ideas county officials pitched Amazon but didn’t officially include in the incentive package — such as suggesting Amazon take advantage of a little-used technology incentive program to potentially save millions in taxes, as first reported by ARLnow.
Jill Caiazzo, the chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, penned an email to the party’s mailing list Sunday (Feb. 10), in the hopes of buoying spirits dampened by recent revelations about Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.
While any one of the state’s top three elected Democrats could yet resign — Northam and Herring for admitting to wearing blackface as young people, Fairfax over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women — Caiazzo sought to remind party faithful that “the 2017 election was never about one or two individuals.”
She joined the growing calls for Fairfax to step down late last week, after a second woman accused him of rape, and has already demanded that Northam step aside. But, with all 140 state lawmakers and a variety of local offices on the ballot this fall, Caiazzo is urging her committee to work to “have an impact in our own community.”
Her full email to the committee is as follows:
We are all struggling to deal with the disturbing news from Richmond. I have sat down to pen this email to you multiple times over the past week, only to have my sentiments overtaken by the latest news cycle. I do not know how these controversies will end.
ARLINGTON DEMOCRATS’ ROLE IN NAVIGATING THIS CHALLENGE
But as I said at our monthly meeting on Wednesday, I do know that Arlington Democrats have a role to play in moving our community forward through these difficult times. We may not be able to affect the outcomes of the dramas happening in Richmond, but we can have an impact in our own community. We can reject hate and support sexual assault survivors. We can channel our collective anger that issues of racism and sexual assault still plague us into finding positive solutions for the manifestations of these issues in our own community.
We also can remember that the 2017 election was never about one or two individuals. It was about a movement of grassroots activists of all backgrounds and ages rising up to provide a badly needed course correction for our country. The rise of progressive activism was the central victory of the 2017 election. No subsequent controversy, however hurtful, can take that victory away from us. Only we have the power to do that — only we can decide whether we will allow this heartbreak also to break our activist spirit.
TOO MUCH TO ACCOMPLISH TO GIVE UP
To that question, Arlington Democrats, I say NO. I will not allow the failings of individual leaders to dampen my activist spirit. I cannot — there is simply too much work to be done to achieve a fairer, safer and more prosperous Commonwealth. The stakes are too high. As in early 2017, I am once again picking myself up and dusting myself off. Two steps forward, one step back: it’s time for the heart of the Democratic Party — its local activists — to keep moving forward again.
In that spirit, and mindful that Democrats must re-earn the trust of voters and volunteers that has been lost over the past few days, I respectfully invite you to join me at several upcoming events, detailed below. Some are organized by Arlington Democrats; others are community events. Now more than ever, we need both: to lead in our own right, and to meet our neighbors where they are. I hope that you will join me in the struggle to lead our Party, our community, and our Commonwealth forward.
Caiazzo is referring both to previous listening sessions held by activists on both race and sexual assault, and to some upcoming community discussions on the county’s history with Nazism and school desegregation.
Meanwhile, the situation in Richmond remains unsettled.
Arlington Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) made headlines this weekend for threatening to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax if he refused to resign, and circulated a potential resolution to start the process among his Democratic colleagues. But he backed off that threat this morning (Monday), writing in a statement that he is “open to discussions on other avenues” that would allow for a full investigation of the accusations against Fairfax.
My statement this morning – I remain committed to the victims first. pic.twitter.com/01xynHwOdj
— Patrick Hope (@HopeforVirginia) February 11, 2019
Some reports have suggested that Hope faced resistance from within his own party for the move, particularly from members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
NEWS: A House Dem conf call grew heated last night when members of the legislative black caucus demanded @HopeforVirginia step back from trying to impeach @LGJustinFairfax, per 2 Dems familiar w the call.
Hence the Hope climbdown this am…
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 11, 2019
A third Va Dem, this one briefed on the call said none of @HopeforVirginia's allies spoke up. Members of @VaBlackCaucus, which has been steering much of the reax among Va Dems since last Fri, spoke first and that was that.
"It was a pre-set massacre," says this Dem.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 11, 2019
The lieutenant governor is still telling reporters that he does not plan to resign, and is currently looking for an FBI investigation into the claims against him — one incident is alleged to have happened in Boston in 2004, the other in North Carolina in 2000.
Northam also gave some of his first interviews since the scandal broke with the news that a racist photo appeared on his medical school yearbook, saying that he is “not going anywhere” and pledging a renewed focus to racial justice in the remainder of his term.
Herring has been silent, and criticism has been markedly more muted of his conduct, after he voluntarily admitted to wearing blackface once while in college, and apologized.
“I should additionally note that I have not called for the resignation of Attorney General Mark Herring, despite my strong disapproval of his conduct at age 19,” Del. Mark Levine (D-45th District) wrote in a Sunday email to constituents. “Herring’s voluntary admission of his blackface representation of a rapper, his lack of racist intent and his profound apology all seem sincere to me.”
However, Levine did note that he is one of just a few voices calling on Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3rd District) to step down, after reports that he edited a college yearbook that was filled with photos of students in blackface and racial slurs. Norment has denied any knowledge of the photos.
Photo via Facebook
(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) Arlington Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) now says he’ll introduce articles of impeachment to remove Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax from office on Monday if he doesn’t step down, now that another woman has come forward to accuse the second-most powerful Democrat in the state of sexual assault.
Hope announced the move tonight just a few hours after Meredith Watson accused Fairfax of raping her when the pair attended school together at Duke University in 2000. She wrote in a statement that the details of her assault mirrored those laid out by Vanessa Tyson, who previously said that Fairfax assaulted her in a Boston hotel room in 2004.
On Monday, I will be introducing articles of impeachment for Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax if he has not resigned before then.
— Patrick Hope (@HopeforVirginia) February 8, 2019
Democrats had been hesitant to call for Fairfax to step down since Tyson’s statement, but pressure is now mounting for the lieutenant governor to step aside. Friday night, the state House and Senate Democratic caucuses released a joint statement, urging Fairfax to resign.
Joint House & Senate Democratic statement:
"Due to the serious nature of these allegations, we believe Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the Commonwealth. He needs to address this as a private citizen. The time has come for him to step down."
— VA Senate Democrats (@VASenateDems) February 9, 2019
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a similar statement.
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Statement on Most Recent Sexual Allegations Against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax pic.twitter.com/Bbj8sn4gF5
— VLBC (@VaBlackCaucus) February 9, 2019
The bulk of Virginia’s congressional delegation has also demanded Fairfax’s resignation, including Arlington Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District).
“Lt. Governor Fairfax has also shown exceptionally poor judgment in his handling of these allegations,” Beyer and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-11th District), Elaine Luria (D-2nd District), Abigail Spanberger (D-7th District) and Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District) wrote in a statement. “He repeatedly attacked his accuser, he reportedly used vile and degrading language to describe her, he mischaracterized an investigation into the encounter, and he sought to blame others for events in his own past. These actions do not meet the standard to which we hold Virginia’s highest elected officers.”
For now, it would seem Fairfax is resisting pressure to step aside.
Statement from VA Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denying second sexual assault allegation, ends with “I will not resign.” pic.twitter.com/Tuj81iPRP7
— Sarah McCammon (@sarahmccammon) February 8, 2019
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has been similarly steadfast in the face of calls to resign over a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, writing an email to state employees today saying he does not plan to step down. The fate of Attorney General Mark Herring (D) is also unclear, after he revealed he wore blackface while in college.
Earlier today, Hope posted a video on Twitter urging Northam and Herring to learn from their experiences, but stopped short of demanding their resignations. He’d previously supported calls for Northam to step down, but was silent on Herring, who he previously endorsed in Herring’s early stages of mounting a campaign for governor in 2021.
Hope said in the video that he believed Fairfax’s first accuser and thought an investigation was necessary.
Around 9 p.m. Friday, Hope held a press conference in front of Arlington Central Library in Virginia Square, laying out his case for the impeachment of Fairfax, should he refuse to resign. The press conference was attended by CNN, CBS, NBC and local D.C. stations.
Del. Patrick Hope (D) holding a press conference in front of Arlington Central Library https://t.co/1UWsA2DLdX
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) February 9, 2019
Photo via Facebook
County Democrats and local activists are planning a series of community forums to talk through the issues of race and sexual assault that have roiled Virginia politics for the past week.
With all three of the state’s top Democrats — Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring — now mired in scandal, many within the party are searching for a way forward. There’s no telling whether any or all of the group will resign, leading to quite a bit of uncertainty at the top ranks of the party’s leadership.
In the meantime, the county’s Democratic Committee is planning two “listening sessions” covering some of the matters at the heart of the scandals in Richmond.
The first will focus on “racial equity” and will be held tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.).
The revelation that a racist photo appeared on Northam’s medical school yearbook page, and the governor’s subsequent admission that he once wore blackface, kicked off the current crisis plaguing state government. Herring’s admission yesterday (Wednesday) that he too once donned blackface added further fuel to the political fire.
The next listening session will focus on sexual assault, after a college professor accused Fairfax of assaulting her in Boston in 2004. The lieutenant governor has faced a bit less pressure to resign than Northam, but some have started to ramp up calls that his accuser deserves to be heard.
The event will be held on Sunday (Feb. 10) at 6:30 p.m. at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).
A group of local activists also plan to hold a listening session to discuss the Northam controversy and its “implications for those who want to be allies in the fight for racial justice,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
The event will include four panelists, and will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd) at 7 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 8).
Photo via Facebook