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A 1,300-mile network of trails that connects Arlington to the two other sites of the Sept. 11 terror attacks could be granted federal designation next month.

Initially founded in the weeks after the attacks, the expansive September 11th National Memorial Trail, which runs through six states and D.C., has yet to be fully completed.

Federal designation would give the network of trails name-recognition and help the nonprofit alliance administering the trail fund its completion in the coming decades, proponents say.

A bill advocating for federal designation, put forward and sponsored by Northern Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer, respectively, is with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last week.

If approved by the Senate, locals riding on the Mount Vernon Trail — which is part of the 9/11 Memorial Trail — or near Arlington National Cemetery may see new, standardized signage within the next year heralding the “September 11th National Memorial Trail Route,” according to Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, which administers the trail.

“The designation will help in our visibility of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail and will enhance our partnership with the National Parks Service,” the trail’s founder, David Brickley, tells ARLnow. “It’ll enhance the experience of the visitor and assure that that story of what happened on 9/11 are not forgotten.”

Brickley, a Virginian, says the move will be at little to no cost for local municipalities or the taxpayer. Outside of consistent signage across the six states and D.C., other practical implications — such as new construction — have yet to be teased out, according to Beyer’s team.

The trail route from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania will be administered by the National Park Service. Brickley said maintenance will remain the responsibility of the trail’s alliance.

Still, the connection to NPS will help, as much of the trail runs through national park land, he said.

To make sure the trail isn’t too much of a burden to municipalities, Baxter said the trail alliance works with local community foundations to maintain individual sections.

In Arlington, “we are in discussions with several community foundations, but one has yet to be selected,” he said.

As for whether designation will bring long-term projects down the road, Beyer’s spokesman Aaron Fritschner said “we don’t know yet.”

“The first step is to get the federal designation, which is what Rep. Connolly’s bill does, and which would create a federal status so the 9/11 Memorial Trail remains protected by federal law along its full length, some of which runs through jurisdictions where you might have less certainty about it remaining protected without a federal designation than you would expect in a place like Arlington.”

About 51% of the 1,300-mile trail is designated for off road multi-use trails, meaning another 49% is not built up or runs through land that could one day be developed, Baxter said. Finishing the trail involves securing property, writing grants and working with local partners.

“It’s going to take a long time, probably decades, to get it all the way complete,” he said.

Designation will make the trail more competitive when applying for state, federal and private grants for building the trails and maintaining them, he said.

With federal designation possibly coming soon, Brickley thanked Beyer and Connolly for their support.

“Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer have been tremendous friends to the trail and the alliance,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for better congressmen helping with this project.”

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Voting on June 8, 2021 at the Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County will hold a mock election tomorrow (Tuesday) to test out ranked-choice voting.

Voting will be open to the public from 2-4 p.m at the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd). Those interested can then attend a second session from 5 -7 p.m to witness the process by which the ballots are counted.

The county will use the mock election to get feedback from voters on ballot layout, voting instructions, and on “tabulation scenarios,” officials said.

Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballot. Advocates for the system say that it leads to elections that are less negative and reduces the chance of an extreme candidate being elected, compared to a traditional winner-takes-all format. Some communities have ditched the election format after adopting it, however.

Arlington County and other Virginia localities have state authorization from the General Assembly to try out ranked-choice voting, but so far the county has held back from adopting it. Regulations are still being finalized by the state and are unlikely to be ready in time for an election until 2022, the Sun Gazette reports.

At a County Board meeting on July 17, proponents for the election system expressed frustration about the lack of progress in the transition to ranked-choice voting. In response, Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol noted that the mechanics of ranked-choice voting were “complicated,” according to the Sun Gazette.

Earlier in the year, the Arlington County Civic Federation held Zoom meetings to discuss county voting reforms, chief among them ranked-choice voting.

Although not yet in use by the County Board, the Arlington County Democratic Committee does use ranked-choice voting to decide its nominations for government seats.

Last May, the ranked-choice system propelled Takis Karantonis to victory in the Democratic primary, even though his opponent Barbara Kanninen, who now chairs the School Board, collected the most first-preference votes. Karantonis went on to win the special election to fill Erik Gutshall’s County Board seat in a landslide over his Republican and independent opponents.

“The Arlington Democrats have been using Ranked Choice Voting for our internal endorsement and nomination processes for several years, seeing a strong value in identifying the candidate that draws the broadest support from Democratic voters,” said Maggie Davis, deputy chairperson of Arlington Dems, after the Democratic primary last year.

At a statewide level, Virginia’s Republican Party embraced ranked-choice voting this May, using the system to nominate Glenn Youngkin as their candidate for governor.

Hat tip to Dave Schutz

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The Arlington County Board is looking to potentially use armed, private guards for security at county government headquarters in Courthouse.

The guards could help provide security at the building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) generally and during County Board meetings specifically, relieving pressure on the understaffed local police force.

According to an item on this weekend’s County Board meeting agenda:

The County currently stations armed police officers at the Bozman Government Center, as well as armed sheriff’s deputies at County Board meetings. To enhance public safety and security, the County would like the option to use armed private security guards.

The agenda item says that adding private guards would enhance the security at County Board meetings without taking law enforcement officers away from other jobs around Arlington.

The prospect of private security came up in the wake of the Virginia Beach shooting at a municipal building.

“After the Virginia Beach shooting in May, 2019, the County Manager hosted a virtual employee town hall meeting to discuss workplace security,” the agenda item said. “[This item] merely expands the choices that the County may make for the provision of that security.”

“Funding for the potential costs of enhanced security in the Bozman Government Center was included in the Adopted FY 2020 Budget,” county staff noted in the report.

File photo

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FCC logoAn FCC commissioner is questioning an Arlington Public Schools plan to build a backup fiber optic network with the help of federal funds.

Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, a Republican appointed by President Obama, says the APS plan, first reported by ARLnow.com, is an example of wasteful “overbuilding” under the federal E-rate program.

E-rate is funded via Universal Service Fund fees and is intended to make “telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America.”

O’Rielly, however, said in a Feb. 10 letter that APS using E-rate to pay for half the costs of building a backup system — when a county-run fiber system and Comcast connections are available — is “troubling.”

“As an initial matter, I do not believe that our rules permit funding for backup networks,” O’Rielly writes. “Regardless, I see absolutely no justification for using E-rate funds for such a purpose. Instead, any universal service funding for broadband deployment should be targeted… to underserved communities most in need of support.”

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snow plow jan. 24 2(Updated at 2:14 p.m.) Arlington County government offices and Arlington County Public Schools will be closed tomorrow due to anticipated road conditions.

Libraries across the Arlington area will also be closed tomorrow.

APS students will not have classes on Monday and Tuesday. Though school offices are closed tomorrow, the school has not yet said whether the offices would be closed on Tuesday.

Monday’s trash and recycling pickup is also cancelled tomorrow and Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday Service will resume on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.

The county is currently in phase two of its snow removal process.

Photo of snow plow from earlier this morning

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More than a hundred people swarmed the Z-Burger near Clarendon this afternoon (Tuesday), hoping to make the best of the first day of the federal government shutdown by scoring a free cheeseburger.

Z-Burger (3325 Wilson Blvd) is one of several restaurants in Arlington offering specials to workers with government IDs to try to ease the burden of workers forced to take a furlough after government shut down at midnight tonight. Z-Burger is offering free burgers to workers with government IDs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Jaleo (2250 Crystal Drive) is offering free sandwiches to government workers with valid IDs from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. every day of the shutdown, owner/chef José Andrés tweeted last night. District Taco (5723 Lee Highway) also announced that their brick-and-mortar store at 5723 Lee Hwy would be offering a free taco to government employees on furlough.

The Washington Post has a full list of specials restaurants in the D.C. area are offering during the shutdown.

Many of those waiting in the line that snaked all the way around the shop said they had resigned themselves to the shutdown well before Monday’s deadline. When one Department of Defense worker, who declined to provide his name, was asked if he was frustrated, he shook his head.

“It happens so often that if you get frustrated every time, you’ll get an ulcer,” he said. Defense employees began their second furlough of the year Tuesday morning.

Another government worker said after all the deadlines Congress has waited until the 11th hour to avoid, the shutdown was almost a relief, he said.

“It’s about time they gave us a day off,” he said. “It does suck for people living paycheck to paycheck, but I don’t expect it to last more than a week.”

A National Science Foundation worker said multiple times that he wished that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) — a pivotal Senate Republican in the buildup to the shutdown — would “go back to Canada,” before lamenting the millions of dollars in grants in jeopardy at the NSF if the shutdown lasts an extended period of time.

“It’s so nice out, I want to use this time to go to the [National] Mall, some museums, maybe get my passport updated,” he said. “Oh wait, it’s all closed.”

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Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)A controversial bill amendment to limit the federal government’s collection of Americans’ personal information failed by a narrow margin last night in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Jim Moran (D) had voted in favor of the measure, which was defeated in a 217-205 vote.

The amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, would have ended funding for the program that allows the blanket collection of personal records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It would have placed restrictions on the National Security Agency and other federal agencies, only giving them the authority to gather data from individuals connected to ongoing investigations.

Amash brought forth the amendment in response to the information recently leaked by Edward Snowden, indicating the NSA collects residents’ phone and internet records. Moran voted in favor of restricting the NSA.

“I supported the Amash amendment because Section 215 opens the door to serious abuses by a future administration. I also opposed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act and FISA Amendments Act that provided the legal justification for this program,” said Moran in a statement. “We have to view these issues through the lens of how a future ‘Nixonian-style’ administration could misuse this type of information. It’s our best safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.”

Democrats and Republicans were split on the issue, which pitted national security against Americans’ privacy. Long-time adversaries Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), for instance, both ended up on the same side and voted against the amendment.

With the proposal’s defeat, the NSA may continue to collect residents’ private information.

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Last week, an opinion piece in Bloomberg View theorized that the Washington area is boring and un-hip “because it’s full of people who work for and around the government.”

Undoubtedly, there are lots of people in the area, and in Arlington in particular, who work for or around the government. And employment estimates bear that out. But does that really tell the full story?

Putting aside whether we’re collectively boring, let’s find out just how many of us are directly connected to the government.


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You may have seen the IBM ads on TV talking about “building a smarter planet.” Those ads reference the company’s Smarter Cities Challenge, which seeks to award 50 cities (or counties) in North America with $250,000 to $400,000 in free technology and consulting services to solve a key problem facing each locality.

The company is now hoping that Arlington applies to the program.

“There could be a number of ways for IBM to help in Arlington, from traffic problems to Metro efficiency and safety,” said IBM rep Max Luckey. “The IBM grant could help fund new infrastructure improvements, streamline administration costs, or even help with projects like the Rosslyn Gateway Park redevelopment.”

The solutions provided by IBM are data and technology-driven, but such solutions can be applied to most problems facing local governments, we’re told. Better citizen engagement and improved delivery of services are two other examples of ways in which the Challenge can help.

The deadline for applying to the program is Dec. 31.

If you ran the county government, what problem would you try to solve?

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Governor Robert McDonnell has appointed two Arlington lawmakers to his government reform panel.

State Delegate Bob Brink and state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, both Democrats, will join 29 other appointees on the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.

“The Commission members will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s agencies, programs, and services to find out how we can make our state government work better for its owners, the people of Virginia,” Gov. McDonnell said while announcing his selections for the panel. “I look forward to working with these reform-minded leaders to examine how Virginia can better serve the taxpayers.”

In addition to Del. Brink and Sen. Whipple, several top government reform thinkers who live or work in Arlington were appointed to the commission.

One appointee, Bill Eggers, is a government reform expert, a global director for Deloitte Research and the brother of author Dave Eggers.

Maurice P. McTigue, a distinguished visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, and Geoffrey Segal, director of privatization and  government reform at the Reason Foundation, were also named to the governor’s commission.

Commission members will hold their first meeting next month.

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Arlington Makes AP’s “Least Stressed” List — Arlington has placed 12th on the Associated Press’ list of the 20 least economically stressed counties in the U.S.

County Gov’t Getting Paid By Feds — Arlington County will be reimbursed more than $300,000 for expenses associated with President Obama’s inauguration, the Sun Gazette reports. The county government is now turning its attention to securing about $800,000 in reimbursements from FEMA for December’s “Snowpocalypse” snow storm.

Affordable Housing Lawsuit Dismissed — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the county’s plan to partner with Clarendon’s First Baptist Church for an affordable housing development. More from ABC7.

Health Dept. Asks “How Are We Doing?” — The Arlington County Public Health Division wants public feedback on how it handled its H1N1 vaccination campaign. Fill out the online survey here.

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