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by Mark Kelly — June 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyLibby Garvey and I ran against each other in 2012. At the time, Libby was still undecided on the Columbia Pike streetcar issue. A point I made to everyone I met on the campaign trail who was against the project. Libby won the fairly (for Arlington) close race and eventually came down on the right side of the streetcar issue – becoming the sole dissenting voice on the County Board.

Regardless of whether you agree with her, speaking out against four other fellow Democrats on a signature big ticket issue like the streetcar was an act of political courage.

The streetcar project was emblematic of what the County Board had become — an insular echo chamber. In spite of escalating costs, the project’s questionable transportation benefits, and the failures of the similar D.C. project across the Potomac, the other four Board members were marching forward. They were relying on a years-old “decision” rather than honestly re-evaluating the plan based on current facts and circumstances.

Many Board watchers, including this one, knew that to shake up the status quo, it would require a seismic shift. Only if it was proven a Democrat could actually lose an election in Arlington, would there be an impetus for a change.

Libby seemed to put her finger on pulse of the community. And at the risk of her own career, Libby reached out to support John Vihstadt when he ran as an Independent candidate in late 2013 after Chris Zimmerman’s resignation.

Vihstadt not only won the Special Election, but he handily won the full term in November 2014. The streetcar project was shelved shortly thereafter.

Since that time, Vihstadt and Garvey have worked together on a number of issues to reflect the concerns of a majority of people in Arlington who want to see more fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability from the County Board. Late last year, they even raised concerns about the tens of millions of dollars spent in the closeout process being done with virtually no public comment.

Libby’s decision, however, was not without political consequences. Her willingness to think independently of her party earned her a primary challenge from a fellow Democrat this spring. The case for his candidacy is nothing more than Garvey’s decision to dare to upset the apple cart in 2014.

I offer no endorsement in this race for two reasons. One, I have never endorsed a Democrat. Two, it probably would cost a candidate votes in an Arlington Democratic primary.

I do offer a question. I have often heard Democrats say they want to find Republicans who are willing to work across party lines. Now that they have a fellow Democrat willing to work with an Independent, will Democrat primary voters toss her overboard for doing so?

Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — May 31, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Erik Gushall's "seniors" mailerUpdate at 4:30 p.m. — Gutshall’s campaign has published an explanation of its claims here.

Libby Garvey says she’s not “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington,” as alleged in a mailer from the campaign of County Board challenger Erik Gutshall.

The mailer, sent in advance of the June 14 Democratic primary, said that Garvey “wants to eliminate tax exemptions for seniors” and “repeatedly voted against funding for affordable housing.”

(Another Gutshall mailer alleged that Garvey, who formerly served on the School Board, did not act quickly enough to address the capacity crunch at Arlington Public Schools.)

Garvey is firing back at the “putting Arlington’s seniors at risk” mailer, posting a response on her website entitled “Setting the record straight: I want seniors to afford their homes.”

Here’s what Garvey wrote:

I work hard for an Arlington that provides affordable living options for all people, of many income levels and at all stages in their lives. We face many challenges in realizing this vision, and one particularly acute one is how to help seniors whose property tax bills are rising beyond their ability to pay because of the ever increasing value of their property. We need to make sure that they can remain in the homes where they built their lives and helped build our community.

My opponent in this election recently sent a flyer claiming that I am “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington.” I assure you that this claim is false.

Arlington has two major programs for senior tax relief. One defers taxes until the house is sold, at which time the back taxes are paid from the proceeds of the sale. I believe that we probably should lower the qualification levels for this program so that it is available to more seniors. The second program forgives the taxes entirely. Under this second program, when the home is sold, whoever sells — whether the senior or the beneficiaries after the senior’s passing — keeps the entire proceeds of the sale and never pays the taxes. This can provide quite a windfall to the beneficiaries.

I, along with the entire County Board by a 5-0 vote, asked our staff to study these programs to see if we are publicizing them adequately. We did this to ensure that everyone who needs them is benefiting from them. We also asked our staff to review the criteria for appropriateness to see who is truly benefiting from them. Among the questions we asked our staff to consider is the possibility of eliminating that portion of the tax forgiveness that goes only to beneficiaries, because the program was never meant to benefit beneficiaries — it is meant to benefit seniors. I want our staff to explore whether making this change will free up more money to enable us to expand both programs for our most vulnerable seniors.

by ARLnow.com — May 27, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

American flag at the Georgetown waterfront, with Rosslyn in the background

Lanes Reopen on Memorial Bridge — Two lanes on the Memorial Bridge that have been closed for the past year for emergency repairs have reopened, just in time for Memorial Day. [NBC Washington]

W-L Soccer Advances to Semis — The Washington-Lee High School boys soccer team notched a 2-1 quarterfinal victory last night, to advance to the 6A North region semifinals next week. [Washington Post]

Dodgeball Tourney Next Weekend — For the second year in row, a pair of Yorktown High School students are organizing a free dodgeball tournament. The event, for ages 8 and up, will be held at Marymount University on Saturday, June 4. Proceeds from donations made by participants will be donated “to help support schools in need of better playground and physical education equipment.” [Arlington Dodgeball]

Arlington GOP Stops Short of Supporting Garvey — At a meeting on Wednesday, the chair of the Arlington County Republican Committee put the kibosh on a member’s proposal for Republican voters to support Democrat Libby Garvey in her County Board re-election effort. “We’re about Republican candidates,” said Jim Presswood. [InsideNova]

by ARLnow.com — May 26, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Morning Notes

Plane Makes Emergency Landing at DCA — An American Airlines flight taking off from Reagan National Airport had to turn around and make an emergency landing after a bird struck and disabled one of its engines. The incident happened around noon on Tuesday. No one was hurt. [NBC Washington]

That’s a Lot of Parking Tickets — Arlington County issued some 109,000 parking citations last year. The two most ticketed spots in the county: the county-owned surface parking lot in Courthouse and the county-owned parking strip next to Northside Social. [WJLA]

Vihstadt Pens Statement of Support for Garvey — County Board member John Vihstadt (I) writes of Board chair Libby Garvey, who’s facing a challenge in the Democratic primary: “While we don’t agree on everything, she continues to be my ally on key priorities like championing open, accessible and transparent County government, adequate schools funding, robust transit solutions on the Pike and elsewhere, and streamlining our business processes.” [Libby Garvey]

GGW Endorses Gutshall — Urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Erik Gutshall, who’s challenging County Board chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary. Writes GGW: “Overall, Gutshall has demonstrated a strong grasp of the challenges facing Arlington and an ability to work with others to find solutions. Libby Garvey, his opponent, has not demonstrated these qualities.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Paving on Columbia Pike — Crews are repaving the westbound lanes of Columbia Pike between S. Glebe Road and S. George Mason Drive, through Friday. [Twitter]

Raising Funds to Help Baby Hear — An Arlington resident has launched an online fundraiser to help pay for travel expenses and medical expenses associated with his baby daughter’s participation in a clinical trial that will help her hear via an auditory brainstem implant. [GoFundMe]

by Adrian Cruz — May 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

After months — maybe even years — of constant “harassment” from an anonymous neighbor, North Highlands resident Mary McCutcheon had enough, as did the rest of the community.

On Thursday, McCutcheon organized a neighborhood meeting in front of her house — in the small community just north of Rosslyn — to discuss a neighbor who was constantly calling Arlington County to report supposed violations of zoning codes in local yards. It was enough of an issue that even County Board Chair Libby Garvey showed up.

“The county enforces some of the property maintenance and zoning codes in response to complaints and almost never in a proactive way,” McCutcheon told ARLnow.com. “This wouldn’t be bad except it effectively deputizes the small number of complain-o-holics around town with a great deal of power.”

Over the last couple of years, McCutcheon has constantly battled Arlington County over her plants. The owner of three properties in the neighborhood, she has received numerous violation notices as a result of complaint-driven code enforcement. In a letter to the editor sent to ARLnow in 2014, McCutcheon described in detail an instance in which an Arlington County inspector deemed her in violation of a weed-related ordinance following a complaint.

And she’s not alone. Someone, it seems, does not like the aesthetics of other nearby properties, either. And neighbors are fed up with it.

“Finally there is a critical mass of people who have been complained about,” she said, of the meet. “We have approached the County Manager and the County Board and the higher-ups in zoning and code enforcement.””

Some 20 neighborhood residents attended the meeting, along with Garvey and the county’s new Resident Ombudsman, Robert Sharpe.

At the meeting, McCutcheon displayed the offending items including her overgrown rose bushes, a fence surrounding the property and a small library she kept in front of her home.

“I think that complaint-driven code enforcement has so many inherent evils that we must put an end to it,” said McCutcheon. “We must have codes in this county that are enforceable and will be enforced and are worthy of being enforced, otherwise rewrite them. When code is enforced capriciously like this, I hope the county stops accepting this type of complaint.”

Garvey seemed sympathetic, agreeing that the code should have room for interpretation in situations where the perceived violation is not a threat to safety or other people’s property.

“There are situations where things should apply where they shouldn’t and there ought to be a way to exercise judgment,” said Garvey. “This property is beautiful but it doesn’t fit the narrow definitions of what we have had. I’m not sure what the solution is because I can’t say we’re not going to enforce our code but maybe there is a way of giving the code a little judgment or some situational awareness.”

McCutcheon was not the only one there who experienced the passive aggressive wrath of an anonymous resident.

One resident mentioned an incident where her babysitter received an threatening letter from an anonymous source due to her parking her car in the wrong location. The letter contained profanity and other threats and it was signed “The County Board.”

McCutcheon claimed the harassment began after she took down a white mulberry tree that was on public land near her house. The white mulberry is known to be an invasive species, crowding out native species. After removing the tree, McCutcheon says that a particular neighbor immediately became hostile, claiming that the tree was the only thing blocking his view of townhouses in front.

After the initial event, she described how this neighbor — a particularly grumpy British man — would become increasingly aggressive and rude to her in later encounters on the street. Soon after, she began receiving calls from county officials about the complaints, which she assumed came from the same person.

“One time I was walking my dogs and he was walking backwards just to scream at me. I was so scared I wrote a letter to Adult Protective Services but I never sent it,” said McCutcheon.

Other residents shared their own experiences, suggesting that the prickly Brit was the source of the complaints.

While she was describing the chronology of events, the neighbor in question exited his house and quickly became upset with the gathered group. He also began aggressively questioning the presence of a reporter, an ARLnow.com intern, and threatened to call the police after another resident tried to intervene.

Sharpe arrived soon after, temporarily defusing the situation as he took the man aside to discuss the issue.

After speaking with the man, Sharpe recommended that for the short term, McCutcheon comply with the directives to trim her rose bushes in order to avoid further conflict while the county comes up with a more permanent solution.

The mystery, however, deepened after the meeting adjourned.

In a later email, McCutcheon notified ARLnow that after speaking with Sharpe, it was confirmed that the neighbor was not, in fact, the source of the complaints.

[He] is still a nasty man,” McCutcheon said. “But it is someone else who is complaining.”

by ARLnow.com — May 18, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Jay Fisette at County Board budget work session (file photo)The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to defer implementation of the “blue ribbon panel” it voted unanimously last month to create.

The six-person panel was intended to advise the County Board on strategic priorities. The rushed vote to establish the panel on April 19, and questions about what exactly it is intended to accomplish, led to criticism from some community groups.

Its principal backer, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has also faced criticism of the panel on the campaign trail from Democratic primary challenger Erik Gutshall, who has raised it as an issue of government transparency. Garvey defended the idea and clarified the intent of the panel at Tuesday afternoon’s Board meeting.

Jay Fisette, who was critical of the plan last month but voted to support it nonetheless, created the motion to defer its implementation. His motion was supported unanimously.

Fisette issued the following statement about his motion to defer.

Since we voted on the charge for this Blue Ribbon Panel in April, I have been inundated with questions and concerns. Many in our community are either angry at how this happened or confused about what actually happened. I was challenged to explain how I could vote for something after having publicly expressed significant concern about it. I had no good response.

This Board has received letters of concern from groups such as the Alliance for Housing Solutions (an umbrella group representing over 35 Arlington non-profits, churches and other organizations), the Planning and Urban Forestry Commissions and Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.

The letters raised concerns with the process. One stated, “There was virtually no notice that the Board would adopt the Charge and the language was not available for public review and comment. This flies in the face of repeated messages by many Board members of the need for greater transparency and adequate public advance notice of Board actions.”

And another remarked, “When the Board takes action in this manner, abrogating its own stated commitment to transparency and accountability, it seriously undermines the importance of citizen engagement that should be the goal of everyone in the County.”

Others spoke to the panel’s charge itself. One commission was concerned that “the Panel’s charge is largely duplicative of the responsibilities of the Planning Commission as outlined in the Code of Virginia” and that “it was unclear from the Panel’s charge how members of the public would participate in its meetings or contribute to its work.”

And one letter summarized the concerns of many, “In short, the panel is duplicative; the charge is murky and invests far too much power in 6 people to potentially dramatically alter priorities resulting from the involvement of many Arlington residents already; and the Board’s action in creating it seriously undermines the good governance goal of encouraging and valuing citizen engagement. Thus, we urge you to rethink the panel.”

Clearly, the community has said that our April vote to approve this Panel without public notice was flawed, and today’s vote is a step toward rectifying that action. I very much appreciate my colleagues’ support for taking a step back and asking for feedback from some key stakeholders as well as from the larger community.

My support for this step should not be taken as support for the Panel. I remain skeptical, yet I am glad that the process will be opened, and I am willing to see if the purpose can be clarified and made useful.

Finally, we must thoughtfully consider the recommendations of the Community Facilities Study Committee (CFS Committee) and their relationship to the charge of this Panel. Many of the members of the CFS Committee have been unhappy with the lack of action on their recommendations, which was further inflamed by the creation of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

Honestly, if anything deserved the Blue Ribbon monikor, it was the CFS Committee. It was a model process with compelling and serious recommendations to guide our future.  It was a true collaboration between the schools and the county, with a clear charge and broad representation, and it concluded within the established 10-month timeline.

To remind us, the CFS Committee was tasked to identify the principal strategic challenges that Arlington faces, point out the barriers to overcoming those challenges and recommend ways to address them.

And the key recommendation they made for responding to these challenges was to establish, “A new system for more open, systematic and coordinated County and School Board decisions about setting priorities for future facility budget and location decisions.” And they told us exactly how to do this.

It is this recommendation, that provides guidance on how to set priorities for much of our community’s future capital needs, that deserves our immediate attention and should be top of mind as we reconsider this Panel. I am especially interested in the feedback that we have requested of the CFS Committee in this regard.

by ARLnow.com — May 16, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Erik Gutshall debates at an Arlington Young Democrats eventArlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall has picked up the endorsement of the political action committee that represents Arlington teachers.

Gutshall, who is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey for the Democratic nomination, is, according to APAC, “a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way.”

Garvey formerly served on the Arlington School Board.

From a press release:

APAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association, has recommended Erik Gutshall for the County Board seat to be contested in the Democratic primary June 14th. The APAC Steering Committee was impressed with Mr. Gutshall’s vision for the county, viewing his ideas as both far-sighted in scope and inclusive of all segments of the community. APAC Steering Team co-chair Gerry Collins noted that Gutshall has applied his knowledge of the county and experience at the planning level to lay out some well-considered ideas on housing, transit, schools and revenue streams.

Collins added, “Erik Gutshall approaches decision-making as a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way. We support his view of the schools as both institutions of opportunity for our students as well as assets for community activities and events, and are encouraged by his support for school funding.”

Gutshall, Garvey and independent candidate Audrey Clement will face off during an Arlington Chamber of Commerce candidate forum tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Blvd). The event is being moderated by ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck

by ARLnow.com — May 6, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Mannequins displayed in the window at Pacers Running Store in Clarendon

Two Add’l Endorsements for Gutshall — Democratic County Board Erik Gutshall has picked up two more endorsements. The campaign announced this week that Gutshall was endorsed by Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary. [InsideNova]

Garvey’s Idea for I-66 — In an interview with the urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who is running for reelection, talked about her belief in more Bus Rapid Transit service as a transit solution and her plans for making Arlington a “great” place to live. Among her ideas: building large decks over I-66 to provide more parkland, more bus parking and to “knit our community back together.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Barley Mac Grand OpeningBarley Mac in Rosslyn is holding its grand opening celebration this weekend: “The party will kick off each night at 8:00 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m., and we’ll serve [complimentary] passed appetizers and light bites in the bar from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [Facebook, Rosslyn BID]

Native Species Returning to Arlington — The removal of invasive species from Arlington’s parkland is paying off. A number of plant and animal species once thought to be gone for good have started returning to the county, including certain frogs, otters, foxes and turkeys. The county announced this in a press release with the alliterative headline “Nurtured Nature Nets New Natives.” [Arlington County]

Inexpensive Local Art on Sale — The Arlington Artists Alliance is holding an art show and sale later this month where every work of art is priced at $95 or less. [Patch]

Real Housewives Filming in Clarendon? — An episode of the Real Housewives of Potomac was reportedly being filmed at Oz restaurant in Clarendon last night. The restaurants is owned by cast member Ashley Darby and her husband. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com — May 5, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Long Branch Nature Center woods (Flickr pool photo by James L.)

County Board Contenders Debate — The two Democratic contenders for Arlington County Board, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall, debated who would be the most transparent and the best agent of change last night. Gutshall criticized Garvey for the lack of action on new transit options for Columbia Pike and for supporting the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” to study county priorities. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Residents Concerned About Sex Offender — Some residents in the Bluemont neighborhood and the area around Bon Air Park are concerned about a registered sex offender who recently moved to the area. There have been reports of the man watching children’s soccer games and leaving balloons in the backyard of a family home. Police say they’re investigating. [Fox 5]

Vornado Attracting Millennials With Cool Restaurants — “Vornado has carefully curated its retail in Crystal City and Pentagon City to appeal to creative Millennials, bringing in tenants like DIY design and fabrication space TechShop and hip restaurants like We The Pizza, Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet, which just opened Monday. That’s not to mention the Whole Foods anchoring the retail section of Vornado’s The Bartlett, a trendy ‘city within a city’ with nearly 700 residential units.” [Bisnow]

Chinese News Agency Profiles Arlington’s Tech Scene — Xinhua, the state-run news agency that’s said to be the largest and most influential media organization in China, has published a feature story that discusses how Arlington has become a “hot spot for tech startups.” The story notes that in addition to a robust talent pool and the availability of investment capital, “government has also played a vital role in the development of startups in Arlington.” [Xinhua]

Outdoor Lab to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — The Arlington Outdoor Lab, a nonprofit facility that hosts more than 9,000 students annually for outdoor and environmental education, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an event in Ballston next month. [Arlington Outdoor Lab]

Flickr pool photo by James L.

by ARLnow.com — April 26, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

WeWork and WeLive building in Crystal City

Watch Caps Practice in Ballston Today for Free — The Washington Capitals will be preparing for their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins this morning at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. The Caps’ practice starts at 10:30 a.m. and it’s free to attend and watch. The Iceplex, the Caps’ administrative and training home base, is owned by Arlington County and leased to the Capitals. [Arlington County]

Garvey Turns 65 — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey celebrated her 65th birthday yesterday. Garvey’s reelection campaign wasted little time in using the occasion to ask for donations of $65 as “a special birthday gift.” [Reelect Libby]

Yorktown’s Efforts to Narrow Achievement Gap — Yorktown High School has been working with the Minority Student Achievement Network, a project of the University of Wisconsin, to help it narrow the school’s achievement gaps. The program at Yorktown specifically focuses on minority boys, a relatively small group at the school. [University of Wisconsin]

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

A near-capacity crowd packed into Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon Wednesday night for a Democratic showdown between County Board member Libby Garvey and primary challenger Erik Gutshall.

The Arlington Young Democrats-hosted debate was perhaps not the battle royale some were expecting, but there were a few pointed barbs from Gutshall and an assertive defense from Garvey of her record.

Gutshall started his line of attack before the debate even started, by CCing news outlets that morning on a letter to Garvey, questioning why former Republican Congressman Tom Davis donated $1,000 to her campaign. (In 2014, Davis also donated $1,000 to the campaign of independent County Board member John Vihstadt, who Garvey endorsed over Democrat Alan Howze.)

“I was shocked to learn that someone running to be the Democratic nominee would so openly solicit, and accept, campaign contributions from someone whose job and mission it was to defeat Democrats,” Gutshall wrote. He asked Garvey to sign a pledge to only support Democratic candidates and to reject campaign contributions from current or former Republican elected officials.

At the debate, Gutshall said it was “not acceptable” that Garvey had not signed the pledge, also citing her decision not to endorse Del. Rip Sullivan during his campaign.

“Absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent I will support the Democrat, period,” Gutshall said.

Garvey, meanwhile, declined to make any absolute promises, saying she would make decisions based on “what is the right thing for Arlington… what is best for the people I serve.”

“Generally, that’s the Democrat,” she said. Her answer was followed by a couple loud boos from the crowd.

Gutshall attempted to re-litigate the streetcar battle, saying that Garvey “has sat on the sidelines” since she and Vihstadt helped to scuttle the project, which would have brought light rail transit to Columbia Pike. (The county has said an alternative transit plan will be coming this year.)

“We don’t have the transit that’s there to meet the needs of density” along Columbia Pike, said Gutshall. “We have the right to expect more and do better.”

Garvey said that until January, when she took over the County Board chairmanship, she “did not have the votes” to push a Bus Rapid Transit plan for the Pike. With the addition of like-minded Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey this year, she said the County Board is functioning well as a team.

“Your board is a very exciting board right now,” she said. “I have done a lot since January. I would like to build on this experience and build on this work.”

Gutshall accused Garvey of abandoning the infrastructure investment mindset that led previous generations of local Democratic leaders to support, for instance, the building of the Metrorail system.

“Progress comes by investing in the future,” he said. “The main reason I’m running here is that I have heard rhetoric that we should turn and look inward and that we cannot afford to meet these challenges.”

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

Jay Fisette at County Board budget work session (file photo)A unanimous vote belies some bickering over a planned “blue ribbon panel” that will help the County Board consider its priorities for Arlington County.

The Board voted Tuesday afternoon to create the six-member panel, with each Board member and the County Manager appointing one member apiece. The panel will mull “recommendations for how the Board should develop strategic priorities” to supplement the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The panel was advanced by County Board Chair Libby Garvey, with the support of Board members John Vihstadt, Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. Jay Fisette, the longest-serving member of the Board, questioned the need for such a panel and the manner in which it was proposed.

“What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” Fisette asked, calling the proposal “a lot of foam and not a lot of beer.”

Fisette, the last of the former old guard Democratic establishment on the Board, worried that the panel could be used to reduce environmental or human services priorities in favor of “core services.”

Cristol and Dorsey, the newest Board members, disagreed with that assessment, with the latter saying he wouldn’t support the creation of the panel if he thought that was the goal.

Fisette also pointed out that while the idea of the panel had been discussed internally by the Board for several months, it had not been made public and was not part of the day’s County Board agenda online. That, he said, ran counter to the stated desire of other Board members that County Board agenda items be posted online at least 48 hours in advance.

“Nobody in the community has seen this quote blue ribbon panel charge to actually weigh in or give us feedback on whether this is a good idea,” he said.

Garvey said the panel would not be setting policy — it would be advising the Board. She also suggested that applying the “Arlington Way” to too many county functions may be a hinderance to good governance.

“This is not the traditional Arlington Way where we get input from as many people as possible and we have a huge process,” Garvey said. “This is really getting us a small group of smart, experienced people who are going to bring different things to the table that we value, and they will advise us. I’m looking for ways to be more adaptable and quick on our feet on things.”

Garvey said an overabundance of priorities in the Comprehensive Plan results in pressure to fund the many groups that come to the Board around budget time saying, in her words, “well this is a priority, you have to fund it.”

“They’re right, it is a priority, it’s one of many priorities,” she said. “I have been feeling for some time that we need to look through our priorities and set them in some sort of priority order.”

“Our own Facilities Study working group recommended that we do a better job of planning and setting priorities,” Garvey added.

Members of the panel will be announced “in the coming weeks,” according to a press release (below, after the jump).

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 18, 2016 at 9:20 am 0

Tree looking up at a beautiful day (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Arcing Insulator Causes Metro Delays — An arcing insulator in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom caused some Metrorail delays this morning. Arlington County firefighters responded to the track fire, which occurred around 6 a.m. [WUSA 9]

New Bus Lanes Open in Crystal City — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Sunday for Arlington’s portion of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, the region’s first bus rapid transit system. The system’s 1.5 miles of bus-only lanes that run through Crystal City are now open and serving riders. Cars that use the lanes during rush hour face a $200 ticket. [WTOP]

Gutshall Out-Raises Garvey, Speaks at Board Meeting — Erik Gutshall, who’s challenging incumbent Libby Garvey for the Democratic Arlington County Board nomination, raised almost $52,000 during the most recent quarter, while Garvey raised about $34,600. Garvey still maintains a cash on hand advantage, however. Gutshall, meanwhile, spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting and called for the Board to do more to oppose the gun store in Lyon Park. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Wardian Running Boston Marathon Today — Elite runner Michael Wardian is among the many Arlington residents competing in the Boston Marathon today. The 42-year-old, known for his prolific pace of race running, has been particularly prolific as of late — so much so that his international adventures recently prompted him to get his passport expanded. [Competitor]

Board Approves Car2Go, Google Proposals — The County Board on Saturday approved a proposal to allow the Car2Go car sharing program to operate seamlessly between Arlington and D.C. (approval is still needed from the District). The Board also voted to join Google’s Connected Citizens Program, which facilitates the sharing of traffic and road condition data. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Van Doren, Talento Endorsed By Education Association — The political action committee of the Arlington Education Association, which represents local teachers, has endorsed incumbent Nancy Van Doren and newcomer Tannia Talento in the race for the Democratic School Board endorsement. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — April 14, 2016 at 9:35 am 0

Plants rising on the forest floor (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Arlington Man Found Dead in Canal — Police have identified the man found floating dead in the C&O Canal in Georgetown as 51-year-old Arlington resident Osbaldo Lemus Bernal. So far, his death has not been deemed suspicious. [DCist, Patch]

Gutshall Steps Up Campaign Against Garvey — Planning Commission member and County Board hopeful Erik Gutshall is stepping up the rhetoric against his Democratic primary opponent, County Board member Libby Garvey. Gutshall, in an email, called Garvey a “failed… career politician.” At an event last night he blasted her tenure on the School Board — saying she did not do enough to address the school system’s capacity crisis — and her alleged lack of effort in addressing transit issues along Columbia Pike, following the cancellation of the streetcar project. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]

Gutshall Wins Straw Poll Landslide — Those attending Del. Alfonso Lopez’s (D) second annual straw poll event on Columbia Pike last night favored Erik Gutshall over Libby Garvey in a landslide. One could argue that the event was attended by a select group of Democrats pre-disposed to oppose Garvey, but Gutshall captured 88 percent of the vote to Garvey’s 12 percent. The straw poll also asked attendees about the School Board race (Nancy Van Doren – 46%, Tannia Talento – 35%, Michael Shea – 11%, Chaz Crismon – 7%) and the Democratic presidential nomination (Hillary Clinton – 77%, Bernie Sanders – 23%).

Dancer’s Video Features New Local Art Wall — A local dancer used Crystal City’s new art wall along 23rd Street as the backdrop for a psychedelic music video. [YouTube]

Registration Open for Rosslyn Social Event — Registration is now open for City Social, Rosslyn’s annual meeting. The event, on May 11, is open to residents and will be attended by a number of Rosslyn movers and shakers. In addition to live music and giveaways, attendees at this year’s City Social will be able to enjoy wine, beer and a bourbon bar from Barley Mac, which is preparing to open in the former Red, Hot & Blue space on Wilson Blvd. [Rosslyn BID]

Wegman’s Inches Closer to Arlington — Arlington’s favorite unattainable grocery store obsession will soon be closer than ever. Wegman’s is reportedly planning to open a store in Tysons Corner in 2019. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — April 8, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Tulips in bloom at the Netherland Carillon (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Rapper Arrested in Arlington — D.C. rapper Martrel Reeves, better known as Fat Trel, was arrested by Arlington County Police early Thursday morning after a traffic stop in I-395. Reeves is reportedly facing charges of DWI, narcotics distribution, speeding and driving on a revoked license. [WJLA, XXL]

APS May Hire Horticulturist — In its new budget, the Arlington School Board is considering hiring a horticulturalist — “to help us keep our trees healthy” — along with a public engagement specialists and more psychologists and social workers. [InsideNova]

Beyer Dines With Undocumented Family — Earlier this week, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) sat down for dinner with the Pintos, a local family of five that includes a set of parents who are in the U.S. illegally but eligible for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Beyer is encouraging Republicans to follow suit and get to know immigrant families like the Pintos. [Think Progress]

Garvey Wants Easier Access to TR Island — County Board Chair Libby Garvey says she is committed to getting a more direct connection from Rosslyn to Roosevelt Island built. Such a connection would require a bridge over I-66 and the GW Parkway. It could potentially get built as part of the massive Rosslyn Plaza development, which was recently approved by the County Board. [InsideNova]

Congratulations to Borderstan — A big congratulations to our sister site, Borderstan, for being recognized in this year’s “Best of D.C.” list. Borderstan — which covers the Dupont, Logan and Columbia Heights communities of D.C. — was named “Best Revival,” after being relaunched last year. [Washington City Paper]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

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