Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Police Searching for Groping Suspect — “N. Glebe Road at 24th Road N. At approximately 7:45 p.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 7:30 p.m., the female victim was walking in the area when the unknown suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The victim turned around and yelled at the suspect, who fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Concerned About Small Biz Loan Program — “U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) this evening held an urgent conference call with representatives of over a dozen Virginia lending institutions to discuss questions and concerns about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program.” [Press Release]

Caps Player Helping to Feed First Responders — “Caps player Garnet Hathaway may be off the ice during this pandemic, but he’s leaning into giving back. He’s got a program that is providing meals to Arlington County’s first responders.” [Fox 5]

Should Some Lanes Become Pedestrian Zones? — With greatly reduced levels of traffic, and guidelines for those out and about to maintain six feet of distance from one another, some localities are mulling temporarily repurposing vehicle travel lanes into pedestrian zones. A few residents are calling on Arlington to consider something similar. [Twitter, Twitter]

Follow ARLnow on Instagram — Stuck at home and want to see more of what’s going on around different parts of Arlington? Follow our Instagram account for daily updates from ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott. [Instagram]

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington’s Congressman, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), was among the “yes” votes on the historic $2 trillion stimulus package that passed the House earlier today.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Trump Friday evening.

Beyer released the following statement after the bill was approved.

The only way we will get the economy going again is by first containing the spread of the coronavirus. This bipartisan bill will help us do that by providing public health and economic resources to cities, states and hospitals, as well as those who are doing what experts are saying we all must – staying home to flatten the curve.

Workers who lose their jobs will have 100% of their wages replaced, including those who are self-employed or contractors and were — until now — previously ineligible for unemployment insurance. These same workers will also receive direct cash payments from the federal government, a progressive policy that I was among the first to push for. There’s also substantial support for small businesses that lose customers or are under state or local directives to close temporarily.

In addition, the Marshall Plan for hospitals will enable them to care for the rapidly rising number of coronavirus patients and buy the much needed medical supplies they’re running out of. In no country should healthcare workers have to make their own masks but that’s what’s happening right now at hospitals across America. I urge the President to help hospitals out soon by using the powers he has under the Defense Production Act.

As Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, I’ll continue to closely monitor how the economy is doing over the coming weeks. The American people will need sustained help from their government to weather this crisis, and Congress must take every action necessary to protect their health and prevent another Great Depression.

(The president did, as Beyer urged, reportedly invoke the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to start producing ventilators Friday afternoon.)

“Beyer was among the first in government to call for direct payments to support families,” a press release from Beyer’s office said. “He helped shape negotiations on the stimulus package as Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee and as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner also released statements supporting the bill after it passed in the Senate on Wednesday.

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Morning Notes

Fire Union Raises Alarm About Lack of Quarantining — “An Arlington County firefighter tested positive for coronavirus this week and the union is concerned that colleagues were not told to quarantine.” [NBC 4]

The Toll for First Responders During the Outbreak — “We are starting to see the mental and physical toll that this pandemic is having on our members and their families. Please continue to practice social distancing and listen to the local leaders.” [Twitter]

Signs of Support From the Community — Signs and other expressions of appreciation for first responders have been popping up around Arlington, as have signs urging continued social distancing. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

GMU Prof Trying to Spur Coronavirus Solutions — “George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen hopes to incentivize a stronger response to the coronavirus by distributing more than $1 million in prizes for research leading to immediate help in fighting the pandemic.” [George Mason University]

Beyer Supports Relief Bill — Said Rep. Don Beyer, regarding the record 3.3 million new unemployment claims: “These numbers are far worse than anything we saw during the Great Recession. We need to move quickly to help those that are getting hurt… That is why the bill passed by the Senate to increase unemployment insurance by an extra $600 a week for four months and make billions available for small business grants and loan payments is so important.” [House of Representatives]

Local Testing is Taking a Long Time — “An Arlington, Virginia, resident told Axios he got tested a week ago, but his results have now been delayed twice; he’ll likely end up waiting nine to 10 days for his results.” [Axios]

Ambar Offering Family-Style Meals to Go — “Street Guys Hospitality, renowned for its neighborhood restaurants that offer set price, next-level Balkan & Mexican dining without limits, is stepping up with a plan to help feed the communities it serves while supporting its staff members during this crisis.” [Press Release]

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While many companies have started requiring employees to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, one really large employer is conspicuously absent from the telework trend: the federal government.

The Trump administration had previously been cutting back on telework, but Rep. Don Beyer, who’s currently in self-quarantine, says enough is enough — it’s time to send federal office workers home. He penned a letter to the director of the federal Office of Personnel Management today.

“Now is the time to act before more employees become sick and lose their lives because of inaction,” Beyer wrote.

The full letter is below.

Dear Director Cabaniss:

I write today to encourage you to implement remote teleworking for all capable federal employees as the country takes steps to mitigate the COVID-19 global pandemic and to protect our federal workers and their families. As the virus continues to affect Americans in almost every state, it is vital that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) take immediate steps to mitigate community spread of the virus, including social distancing measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to stress the importance of social distancing practices to reduce the likelihood of being infected by the coronavirus. Currently, it is believed that the virus is spreading primarily through person-to-person contact via airborne particles from those infected. Expanded telework would decrease the susceptibility of spread via person-to-person contact and therefore is essential that it is mandated for all capable federal employees. The current lack of telework options increases social contact and limits the positive effects of social distancing to reduce community spread.

Federal employees make up a significant portion of my constituency and I have heard from numerous federal workers who feel uncomfortable taking public transit and working in environments with hundreds to thousands of people, potentially unaware they have the virus.

Cases are continuing to spread at a rapid rate and OPM has not yet issued guidance on expanded telework options for federal employees. In keeping with guidelines recommended by the CDC, we urge you to expand telework options for all capable federal employees before the virus continues to spread. COVID-19 has been spreading in the United States for months without a sufficient response from federal agencies. The current OPM policy for individuals deferring to their direct supervisors to telework is not an acceptable response given the severity of this outbreak. Now is the time to act before more employees become sick and lose their lives because of inaction.

Sincerely,

Donald S. Beyer Jr.
Member of Congress

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Morning Notes

Coronavirus Case in Falls Church — “On Mar. 9, a U.S. Navy civilian employee at the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) in Falls Church, Virginia, tested ‘presumptive positive’ for the coronavirus (COVID-19)… The individual is currently at a hospital in Northern Virginia.” [U.S. Navy]

Northam Signs Arlington Tourism Tax Bill — “The governor’s signature on March 2 made it official – Arlington will now be able to impose a surtax on hotel stays, with the proceeds going to tourism promotion, in perpetuity. Gov. Northam signed legislation patroned by state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax-Arlington) removing the ‘sunset clause’ from existing legislation allowing Arlington to tack on an additional 0.25 percent to the 5-percent transient-occupancy tax imposed by the county government on those staying in hotels and motels.” [InsideNova]

Lawmakers Support Long Bridge Project — Virginia’s delegation to Congress “sent a letter to Secretary Chao in support of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s (DRPT) application for an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant for the Long Bridge Project.” [Press Release]

No Arlington Rep on Metro Board — “For the first time in recent memory, Arlington will have no representation on the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates the Metro system… The shifts came about due to the resignation from the WMATA board of Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, due to issues over reporting of campaign contributions during his 2019 re-election bid.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Gains a GOP Challenger — “On Friday, Mark Ellmore officially filed to seek the Republican nomination for Congress from Virginia’s Eighth District in 2020…. It is currently represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Don Beyer.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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As coronavirus continues its rapid spread, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among those self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who had the disease.

Beyer announced Tuesday night that he recently dined with a friend in D.C. who later tested positive for COVID-19. The congressman, who represents Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County, made the announcement shortly before a telephone town hall meeting he organized about coronavirus.

Beyer said in a statement that his office will be closed and he will not attend votes until Monday, when he hopes to return to the Capitol.

This afternoon my wife Megan and I were contacted by the Virginia Department of Health to share details with us about the illness of a friend who tested positive for COVID-19 after dining with us. They informed us that the timeline of his infection began shortly after our contact on February 28.

At the request of the public health officials, I will self-quarantine to ensure that I do not pass on any potential illness to others. In the 10 days since that dinner neither of us has shown symptoms, and we understand that the probability that we have an infection is low.

Representing Northern Virginians is an honor and privilege which I love, and I especially hate to be away from the Capitol at this time of national crisis. But I feel strongly that one of the most important contributions people in positions of leadership can make at such times is to share the best advice from experts, and where necessary, to model it in our behavior.

My office will close for public business and I will not attend votes or hearings until Monday, when medical advisers say I should be clear to return.

In an interview with ARLnow on Monday, Beyer discussed why he has been sharply critical of President Trump and his response to the outbreak.

“My criticism of the president has been based around poor leadership, poor coordination of response, and deferring on the testing capacity,” he said. “Very clearly, a number of his statements over the past several days have flatly been not true… I know the president believes he’s good at a lot of things, but he’s making scientific pronouncements with no basis of fact.”

“It was disappointing to see the president playing golf this weekend,” Beyer continued. “I have never been critical of his golf playing, presidents need to rest too. But this seems like a national crisis like a 9/11, where you want everyone playing attention… [and Trump] criticized Obama all the time for playing golf.”

The congressman said “only time will tell us how big of a deal” the coronavirus outbreak is, adding that it’s “a rapidly unfolding scientific story” and he’s “praying for mild cases throughout our society.” He said he expects Congress to vote for “some sensible stimulus” — maybe an infrastructure package — to “pull us out of any economic funk that we experience” as a result of the outbreak.

“I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to have to look at some sort of stimulus to stimulate the economy after this kind of a hit,” he said.

“People shouldn’t panic,” about coronavirus, Beyer said. “They should prepare.”

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Morning Notes

It’s Primary Day — Today is Super Tuesday, the presidential primary day in Virginia and 13 other states across the U.S. In Arlington, polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Arlington public schools are closed to students today. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Beyer, Lopez Endorse Biden — Following his decisive victory in the South Carolina primary, former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up endorsements locally from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D). Lopez and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe were stuck in an elevator in Richmond for a half hour yesterday while heading to a Biden event. [Press Release, Twitter]

County OKs Five Scooter Companies — “The lone applicant seeking to provide electric-bicycle service in Arlington has been rejected by county officials, but five operators of electric-scooter devices did make the grade, County Manager Mark Schwartz told County Board members on Feb. 25. The five e-scooter firms – Bird, Jump, Lime, Razor and Skip – were among eight that had sought permission to operate in the county. The other three were rejected for various reasons, including having no speedometers on their devices.” [InsideNova]

Cristol Encourages Volunteering for Erik — “As you may have seen in the news, our colleague and friend, Erik, is facing a tough health challenge…  here’s what we can do for him: Go to a civic association or commission meeting. Volunteer. Embody Erik’s example & make this place better by showing up. And take a picture, and tag it #HereForErik so we can share.” [Twitter]

I-66 Tolling Deemed a Success — “About 700 more people each day total are commuting along the Interstate 66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway now compared to before tolls for solo drivers and an expanded rush-hour period began, and there are also fewer car trips each morning… Virginia state officials have said the goal of the tolls has been to move more people in the corridor, and see the higher count of commuters as a sign the system is working.” [WTOP]

Coworking Space Coming to Courthouse — “Flexible workspace provider Venture X is making its first foray into the Washington, D.C., market, after reaching a deal to take the top floor of the Navy League Building in Arlington, Virginia.” [CoStar]

Cupid the Cat Now Up for Adoption — “Two weeks after undergoing emergency surgery to remove an arrow from his head, Cupid is ready to find a new home. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s veterinary director cleared Cupid on Monday, March 2, for adoption.” [Patch]

ACFD Assists With McLean FireUpdated at 8:25 a.m. — Arlington County firefighters helped Fairfax County’s fire department battle a massive house fire in McLean last night. [Twitter]

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A lot has changed for Grace Rubinger, an Arlington native who has been working for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) since she graduated college.

Rubinger started her career as an intern in Rep. Beyer’s office the fall after she graduated from Elon University in 2016, just before President Trump was elected. Four years later, she is now a legislative assistant to the congressman, working behind the scenes in various policy areas Rep. Beyer is passionate about.

She recently began taking on more responsibility in specific issue areas. Currently, she is handling the congressman’s work on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“When we’re in session there will be any given number of hearings for that committee during the week,” Rubinger told ARLnow.
“I’ll spend my time preparing for [the hearings], reading the background materials and witness testimonies and then coming up with questions that I’d like for the congressman to ask the witnesses.”

Rubinger also advises the congressman when deciding which bills he should support.

Rubinger’s interest in politics goes back to her upbringing near Cherrydale, where she attended Taylor Elementary and Williamsburg Middle School. Politics was always right across the Potomac River, she said, and at home her parents were in tune with current events. There would often be a nightly discussion of the news at the dinner table.

Her interest in policy, however, was shaped at Elon. In her senior year, Rubinger wrote a thesis on the intersection between the Catholic Church’s view on birth control and the women’s movement.

“Writing that thesis and figuring out my own views was the turning point for me,” Rubinger said.

Rubinger’s tenure at Rep. Beyer’s office has come at a unique time in history. Her work as an intern began prior to the 2016 election, and has stretched into what is now the third presidential impeachment trial in American history — an impeachment process her boss has been particularly vocal about.

“It is interesting to look back and see how many things have changed,” said Rubinger.

“The one thing that I’ve noticed just in my different capacities in the office is just how much more engaged people are,” she said. “People are so outraged all the time about different things that are going on and I think [public engagement] is probably the one bright spot in everything that’s going on. People are reading the news more and staying more engaged and calling us and writing us more.”

“That is something that might have been missing beforehand,” she added.

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Morning Notes

Local Crossing Guard Honored — “Zeleke Taffesse, a crossing guard serving Taylor Elementary School in Arlington, was one of four crossing guards statewide named tops in their field as part of the Feb. 10-14 commemoration of Crossing Guard Appreciation Week.” [InsideNova, Twitter]

Inexpensive Condos Still Exist in Arlington — “There are still some bargains to be had in Arlington, particularly if you’re willing to downsize to an older condo. For example, Unit 49 in the Lorcom House Condo at 4401 Lee Hwy. in North Arlington is priced at $225,000. The monthly condo fee of $552 includes all utilities as well as trash and snow removal.” [Washington Post]

Hope’s Instant Runoff Bill Advancing — “A proposal that would allow, though not require, Arlington to elect its County Board members by ‘instant-runoff’ (also known as ‘ranked-choice’) voting has cleared its first hurdle in Richmond, but still faces an uncertain future. The measure, by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), won passage in the House of Delegates on a 68-30 vote and was forwarded across the hall for consideration by the state Senate.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Holds ‘Real ID’ Event — “Congressman Don Beyer partnered with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Saturday to host a REAL ID application event for constituents of the 8th District at Wakefield High School in Arlington… Beginning October 1, 2020, U.S. residents who want to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility using their state-issued driver’s license or ID as identification must have a version of the credential that is REAL ID compliant.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Hasn’t Returned Union Donation — Arlington County Board and WMATA board member Christian Dorsey, “who promised three months ago to repay a $10,000 campaign donation that violated the board’s ethics policy, has not yet refunded the money and is likely to be replaced as Virginia’s representative on the regional board. Dorsey said Wednesday that he is working on a wire transfer to return the money to a transit union that routinely negotiates with Metro.” [Washington Post]

Beyer Slams Impeachment Trial — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) issued the following statement… ‘Today Senate Republicans ended their impeachment show trial. It will go down as one of the most craven events in American history.'” [Press Release]

County Board Race Fundraising Update — “The two Democrats vying for Arlington County Board entered 2020 with roughly the same amount of cash on hand, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections. Incumbent Libby Garvey had $16,823 in her campaign kitty as of Dec. 31, while challenger Chanda Choun had $16,155, according to data reported after the Jan. 15 filing deadline.” [InsideNova]

West Glebe Road Bridge Open House — “The deteriorating West Glebe Road Bridge, on the Arlington border near I-395, will be the topic of an open house next week. The bridge is currently closed to large vehicles weighing more than 5 tons due to structural deficiencies. It’s set for a major rehabilitation project, likely starting later this year.” [ALXnow]

Forum to Discuss Repealing Second Amendment — “Encore Learning will present a forum on ‘Repeal the Second Amendment: The Case for a Safer America’ on Monday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. at Central Library. The speaker, American University professor Allan Lichtman, will discuss his perspectives on gun safety and will argue for national legislation and the potential revision of the U.S. Constitution.” [InsideNova]

Dirt Closes Restaurants in Miami, Too — “On Thursday at 11 p.m., employees were told via a text message from DIRT Regional Director of Operations Aaron Licardo that both the Sunset Harbour and Brickell locations were closing for good. The two Miami spots closed on the heels of the Virginia location shuttering; that restaurant, located in Ballston, lasted less than a year. The message employees received claimed the company ‘found no other way to keep these locations open.'” [Miami Herald]

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Morning Notes

Musical Send-Off for Kenmore SRO — “Kenmore Middle School students came up with a fun way to commemorate the retirement of School Resource Officer Jackie Pagan. They presented a musical dance number Friday, Jan. 11, as part of a flash mob.” [Patch, WJLA, Twitter]

Arlingtonian Has Olympic Aspirations — Arlington resident Sarah Anyan qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which will be held next month leading up to the Tokyo games this summer. [RunWashington]

Lots of Police Activity on Clarendon Nightlife — “The 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington County is a hot spot. There are bars, restaurants, and a metro stop all in a block radius… there’s also a surge of calls to Arlington county police, and problems that lead to those calls in the first place.” [WUSA 9]

Del. Levine Pushing Minimum Wage Bill — “A state delegate’s proposed bill to allow localities to set their own minimum-wage levels, provided they do not dip below the federal government’s level, has drawn a tentative response from one local official and outright opposition from two chambers of commerce…. But not everyone agrees with the thrust of [Del. Mark] Levine’s bill. Kate Bates, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, said chamber leaders oppose the legislation.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Tapped for Economic Committee — “Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today recommended Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) to serve as the Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee… The Speaker’s recommendation must be confirmed by a vote of the full committee to take effect.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

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