Fmr. CIA Officer Charged — Former CIA officer and current Arlington resident John Kiriakou, 47, was charged yesterday with repeatedly leaking classified information to journalists. Kiriakou is best known for his 2007 interview with ABC News in which he described the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda operative. [Washington Post]
Cigarette Tax Bill Dies in General Assembly — A bill proposed by Del. Patrick Hope (D) that would have raised Virginia’s cigarette tax from 30 cents to the national average of $1.45 has died a quick and unsurprising death in a House of Delegates subcommittee. [Sun Gazette]
Senator’s Arlington Condo for Sale — Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) has put his swanky Arlington condo up for sale in advance of his reelection campaign. The condo, which is reportedly on the market for nearly $2 million, is located in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood and overlooks the Iwo Jima memorial. [US News & World Report]
Newly-elected delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) has introduced a bill that would provide prenatal care for recent legal immigrants.
Low-income women in their first five years of lawful residence in the United States are eligible for a number of pregnancy services under Virginia’s Medicaid system, including payment of labor and delivery costs and costs associated with the child once he or she is born. Prenatal costs, however, are not covered. Del. Lopez’s bill would change that.
“Prenatal care can reduce maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weights, and other preventable problems,” Lopez said in a statement. “Women who receive no prenatal care are three and a half times more likely to have a low birth weight baby and nearly three times as likely to give birth prematurely as other pregnant women.”
“For every dollar we spend on prenatal care, it is estimated that we will get back 150% of the funding due to reduced neonatal costs,” Lopez noted. “Providing this coverage is both the right thing to do and the fiscally responsible thing to do. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Delegates to join me in supporting this legislation.”
Similar legislation has been introduced by Richmond-area delegate John O’Bannon (R) and Sen Adam Ebbin (D).
Here is the unedited response from Kathy Gillette-Mallard (I):
There are some serious issues confronting the citizens of the 48th District and all Virginians but there are solutions which the incumbent has not addressed. You should vote for me because, as your delegate:
- I will seek equitable policies to resolve the crushing $20 billion dollar unfunded liability problem caused by Virginia state employees’ pension plan (VRS). I will propose a plan similar to the “Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy” plan. (See “Pension Plan Reform in Virginia” at www.thomas jeffeersoninst.org). I will take on the challenge of finding ways to remove this $20 billion financial “Gorilla” from the room.
- I will work to cut spending and reduce onerous government regulations to entice new businesses and companies to invest in Virginia. A business friendly environment is the best way to attract new businesses and keep old businesses. This in turn creates jobs, expands the tax base and increases revenues in the natural cycle of the free market system. (See “Research and Development Tax Credit”).
- I will insist state programs are audited regularly. There is waste and mismanagement in our state as we learned with the nearly $1 billion fund “found” at VDOT (Performance Audit of Significant Operations of the Virginia Department of Transportation- Prepared by: Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, L.L.P.- August 2010). In addition, cost-benefit analyses should be conducted regularly by bill sponsors and patrons if spending is involved.
- I will support protection of private property rights by voting in favor of the Amendment to the Virginia Constitution to protect private property owners from government eminent domain loopholes such as “Kelo” for purposes outside proper government authority. The incumbent voted “nay” on this effort to protect private property rights ( see HJ693 Virginia Constitutional amendment; Eminent Domain Reform);
- I will encourage development of Virginia’s natural resources, primarily natural gas but oil and coal as well. New technologies offer safe and responsible development of our natural resources in a clean and responsible way. Virginia can become a leader in energy production and end our dependence on foreign sources especially from countries which use our dollars to fund terrorism;
- I will be prudent with your taxpayer dollars when it comes to “green” energy. We have learned with the Solyndra scandal that investing in “green” energy must be carefully scrutinized. Wind turbines, which the incumbent supports, destroy waterfowl and will have adverse effects on marine life. Putting a slew of wind turbines off Virginia Beach (which the incumbent proposes) is a bad idea at this stage of development because we know that wind turbines kill thousands of birds annually. In California, raptor birds in particular are prone to being killed – especially the Golden Eagle. In Pennsylvania, bat populations have been devastated by wind turbines;
- I will ensure that privacy in your home is respected and that the “smart meters” which power companies plan to install to replace regular meters are “opt in” devices not ”opt out”. Smart meters are a major invasion of privacy in our homes and pose health risks. The incumbent supports monitoring home energy consumption even if it means your privacy is compromised by these meters which emit microwave like EMF/RF frequency on a continuous basis. (See the following: www.holistichelp.net/blog/smart-meters-are-hazardous-to-your-health-and-violate-your-rights/ Jan. 2011 by Cynthia Perkins).
- I will support Virginia as a “Right to Work” state. The incumbent blamed Republicans for the Dulles Rail Phase II contract delays and in a Washington Post op ed, he grossly misrepresented the issue regarding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). He is on record supporting PLAs with unions before the Phase II contracts have been awarded. 94% of construction workers in Virginia are non-labor and are merit shop, thus PLAs discriminate against the majority of Virginia’s construction workers. Brink is on record stating that he is on the side of big labor construction workers from out of state.
- I will support efforts to elevate the public’s awareness of “human trafficking”. 80 locations in Northern Virginia where human trafficking occurs have been identified, including Ballston Mall.
- I will work to increase the foreclosure timeline from 15 to 45 days; fight costly cap and trade green home inspections before selling or buying; and require that home titles be recorded in courthouses.
Please email me with questions at [email protected]
Here is the unedited response from incumbent Del. Bob Brink (D):
For the past 14 years it’s been my honor to represent the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I ask for your vote for my re-election on Tuesday, November 8.
I understand our priorities because I’ve been actively involved in our community for over three decades. Throughout that time, I’ve sought to provide thoughtful, effective leadership to see that these priorities are addressed. I know how much we value our public schools because my kids, now grown, attended Glebe, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. I know the importance of Virginia’s world-class higher education system because I’ve seen the contributions that Northern Virginia’s public and private higher education institutions make to our economy. With the 48th District running along the Potomac from Chain Bridge to National Airport, we’re reminded every day of our obligation to protect the environment.
In Richmond I’ve taken the lead on issues that are important to our region and the Commonwealth.
HEALTH CARE: I worked to expand the federal-state partnership that provides medical care to the children of the working poor — stepping up outreach, easing restrictive regulations, and getting more kids enrolled. And I teamed with community activists to advance programs to address the mental health needs of older Virginians.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: I know that we can maintain our region’s prosperity through uncertain economic times by building a 21st Century “Knowledge Economy” – one that’s based on research and development of intellectual capital. I led the effort to keep the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – a magnet for our region’s research community – headquartered in Arlington. I’m dedicated to helping George Mason University and Northern Virginia’s technology community achieve their potential as academic and business leaders in discovery and innovation.
TRANSPORTATION: As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I’ll continue to press for long-term solutions to our transportation gridlock rather than stopgap measures – providing adequate funding from sustainable revenue sources, supporting public transportation such as rail to Dulles, and seeking a comprehensive statewide effort that addresses the transportation needs of all Virginians.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Preserving clean air and water is our responsibility as stewards of the environment. Based on my strong support for vigorous environmental protection, the League of Conservation Voters named me a “Legislative Hero” in 2010 and 2011.
MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK BETTER: In current fiscal conditions, it’s more important than ever that government services be delivered as efficiently as possible, and that taxpayers have confidence their dollars are being spent wisely. I spearheaded the effort to establish a statewide Office of Inspector General, to examine the management and operation of state agencies and investigate cases of fraud, waste, abuse or corruption.
The progress we’ve made in Richmond has been a team effort: Arlington’s Delegates and Senators work closely together to advance our priorities. To meet the challenges we face, we need to maintain the quality of leadership that our area has enjoyed in the legislature. With the retirement of Mary Margaret Whipple and Patsy Ticer — two thoughtful and dedicated State Senators — I hope you’ll join me in supporting Barbara Favola and Adam Ebbin to succeed them. I also hope you’ll help re-elect Senator Janet Howell, whose district includes a portion of Arlington.
I appreciate the confidence the 48th District’s voters have shown in asking me to be their voice in Richmond, and I look forward to representing you in the future.
Here is the unedited response from Janet Murphy (IG):
I am Janet Murphy, the Independent Green Party Candidate for the Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates. My district, the 48th, includes parts of Mclean out to the Beltway, North Arlington, Crystal City, Rosslyn. So its fun for me to get around most of this district on my bicycle, which I do. Naturally, I applaud and support expanded Arlington Bike Share. It has been an exciting pleasure from the beginning to be involved as a candidate and I recommend it.
The Election: More Candidates, Less Apathy
The legislative body I aspire to is the oldest in the USA. It was initially the House of Burgesses where George Washington served. During the Revolution it became a bicameral General Assembly. The job pays $17,640.00 per year. The assembly meets starting in January in Richmond for 1-1/2 or two months. One day per year they meet in Williamsburg. The business of the General Assembly is to decide on the commonwealth budget, and pass legislation.
Many of the incumbents run unopposed. There is no limit in Virginia to the amount of money a candidate can accept from a donor. Many companies and public utilities donate money to the candidates. www.vpap.org shows the sources of contributions to candidates. There are only two independent members of the general assembly. I call for more Independent and Green Party candidates to run for all public offices. We need more candidates, less apathy.
Transportation: More Trains, Less Traffic
We need more trains, less traffic. Cut taxpayer subsidies to auto, oil, asphalt and cement. Shift funds to dedicated passenger track for Virginia Rail Express. Install electronic signs by VRE to show next train. Build a new rail tunnel under the Potomac to cut crowding on the Orange Line. Align with the Sierra Club http://vasierraclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/NO-Virginia-Transit-Vision.pdf Transit plan for Northern Virginia, which is the product of study.
Environment: Green New Deal
We need green jobs. 100,000 new solar jobs have been created in the United States in the last two years. We can grow those green jobs and revenue from clean renewable energy in Virginia. Wind energy investment will create jobs as well as green power. Increase the Renewable Portfolio Standards to move to green clean energy. Dominion Power could and should move to over 20% RPS. We need to invest in geothermal heating and cooling systems for state buildings. We need expanded solar systems above parking lots like solar programs announced last week at Dulles Airport, and at James Madison University, and on the Redskins football stadium.
We need Home Rule for Virginia: We need to take control against environmental exploitation such as fracking or mountaintop removal. Virginia is one of only 7 states in the US still fully subject to Dillons Rule, which means that the local municipalities can be helpless to prevent environmental exploitation.
I support strong gun control. I ask for your vote on November 8. Thank you!
“Alfonso has been a leader on environmental issues that have been my passion in Richmond,” Whipple said in a statement. “[He] has a long record of fighting for our community and has the depth of knowledge on the issues that will make him an effective representative for the 49th District.”
Lopez, formerly an assistant administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Stephanie Clifford, formerly an events coordinator at the Podesta Group lobbying firm, will be facing off in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary for Virginia’s 49th District, which consists of parts of north and south Arlington.
Lopez has been endorsed by Arlington County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman, Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur, Arlington County School Board member Emma Violand Sanchez and former Virginia Lt. Gov. candidate Jody Wagner. Clifford has been endorsed by Arlington Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy, Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot and former U.S. Congresswoman Leslie Bryne.
Just when it looked like the hubbub was dying down over Arlington’s failed effort to withdraw from the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, the Virginia state legislature now appears poised to stir up the immigration hornet’s nest once again.
According to the Washington Examiner, Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) has indicated that he will be introducing bills that will deny driver’s licenses and government benefits for illegal immigrants, while permitting police to check the immigration status of anyone who is taken into custody.
That last proposal is intended to mimic the controversial Arizona immigration law that quickly turned into a hot-button national news story. It would fly in the face of Arlington’s stated policy that “it is not the role of Arlington County law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.”
“I hope the General Assembly will examine these measures very carefully,” said Del. Bob Brink (D), who represents part of Arlington. “I’m concerned that, in addition to their potential for stigmatizing some Virginians, they could actually make the work of law enforcement more difficult.”
Brink added that he wants to talk with Arlington’s public safety officials “to get their reaction to the proposed bills.”
Albo, meanwhile, told the Examiner that he doesn’t think his immigration bills stand much of a chance of passing the Democratic-controlled state senate, although he predicted the bills would likely pass the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
Photo via Creative Commons License
Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is hailing the passage of a bill that would create a pro-choice “Trust Women / Respect Choice” license plate option for Virginia drivers. The bill passed the Virginia House and the Senate over the weekend by votes of 64-30 and 22-15 respectively.
Brink, who introduced the original House version of the bill, called the vote “a victory both for reproductive rights and First Amendment principles.”
Brink says the bill will allow the state to “give equal treatment to the pro-choice position,” given last year’s creation of a “Choose Life” license plate.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who has said he doesn’t support Planned Parenthood, the organization that would receive revenue from the sale of the plates.
An imam from Falls Church gave a blessing at the state Capitol in Richmond today, despite protests from groups accusing him of being a “terrorist sympathizer.”
Del. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents part of Arlington and Falls Church, invited imam Johari Abdul-Malik of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center to give today’s opening prayer.
Groups including the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force and the Traditional Values Coalition protested, citing Abdul-Malik’s comments about due process for Muslims arrested on terror charges, along with his mosque’s brief link to two of the 9/11 hijackers. In the past, Abdul-Malik has spoken out against violence and terrorism.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement about the protests.
“We cannot let a vocal minority of hate-mongers deny American Muslims their constitutionally-guaranteed right to take part in the political process,” said Corey Saylor, the group’s national legislative director.
Abdul-Malik delivered the prayer around noon today. Del. David Englin (D), who represents part of south Arlington, said on Twitter that he “enjoyed” the blessing, adding that it was “very well done.”
In an earlier statement, Abdul-Malik said: “My hope is that from this gathering we will all get know each other and build new bridges of understanding, no matter how much some narrow-minded people dislike it.”
Del. David Englin (D), who represents part of Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, released a statement today about the proposed elimination of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Englin called the Republican-backed measure a “shortsighted, high-risk scheme.”
Del. Englin’s full statement, after the jump.
Almost missed this one. While we were in the midst of yesterday’s blizzard, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would ban the forced implantation of microchips in people.
RFID chips are already being implanted in humans voluntarily for use as portable health records. Some groups have objected to the use of implantable microchips due to privacy concerns. But some fundamentalist Christians — and at least two Virginia lawmakers — believe that the microchips may be used as the antichrist’s “mark of the beast,” from the Book of Revelations.
The House bill will ban companies from requiring their customers or employees to implant the chips. So far, there have been no reported cases of a forced microchip implantation, leading some to question the necessity of the bill.
Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington) said on the House floor that he did not find many voters demanding microchip legislation when he was campaigning last fall: “I didn’t hear anything about the danger of asteroids striking the Earth, about the threat posed by giant alligators in our cities’ sewer systems or about the menace of forced implantation of microchips in human beings.”