WaPo Endorses Garvey — The Washington Post has endorsed Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey in the Democratic County Board caucuses being held tonight and Saturday. The Post said Garvey and Melissa Bondi “stand out” in the five-way race, but lauded Garvey as “cool, competent and a quick study” while expressing reservations about Bondi’s tax troubles. [Washington Post]
Bondi Statement on Accusations — County Board candidate Melissa Bondi has responded to new allegations against her. The accusations, largely spread by anonymous blog commenters, insinuate that Bondi illegally voted twice in recent elections — once in Virginia and once in Ohio, where she used to live. Bondi says the basis of the accusations — Ohio voting records referencing someone with her exact full name and middle initial — is a result of the fact that her mother is also named Melissa M. Bondi. [Bondi for County Board]
D.C. United Practices at Long Bridge Park — D.C. United held its first outdoor practice of training camp yesterday on the synthetic turf soccer fields at Long Bridge Park. The team practiced at the new county park, near Crystal City, due to poor turf conditions at RFK Stadium. [Washington Post]
Moran Statement on Pipeline Decision — Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reacting to the Obama administration’s decision to reject the a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. Moran said, in a statement: “I applaud President Obama’s decision to deny the application for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Our collective national interests, whether economic, environmental, or national security, would be better served by reducing our addiction to fossil fuels… Building a pipeline to tap one of the dirtiest sources of fuel and the few temporary jobs it might create are not in our nation’s best long term interests.” [Office of Rep. Jim Moran]
Donna Gets Job in Arizona — Disgraced local chef Roberto Donna is trying to turn over a new leaf in Arizona. The 50-year-old has taken a job as a chef at an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office, which is trying to collect more than $150,000 in back restaurant taxes from Donna, has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to look into whether the new gig would pay enough to allow Donna to increase his court-ordered payments on the debt. [Washington Post]
Republican Files for County Board Race — Arlington County Republican Committee Chairman Mark Kelly has filed to be the GOP nominee in the upcoming County Board special election. It’s not the first time Kelly has run for County Board. In 2010 incumbent Chris Zimmerman defeated Kelly 57 percent to 36 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Progressive Group Endorses Bondi — Democratic County Board candidate Melissa Bondi has garnered an endorsement from Virginia New Majority, a statewide progressive organization. “As a long-time advocate of affordable housing and Smart Growth, she was worked tirelessly to ensure that the county’s plans for economic development have not been pursued at the expense of the county’s working and poor families,” the organization said in its endorsement. “And, we expect Board Member Bondi to pursue a transportation plan that won’t encourage displacement of low-income communities.” [Virginia New Majority]
ACDC To Offer Free Trips to Caucus — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is offering free transportation to its caucus tomorrow night. (The caucus is being held to select a nominee for County Board.) “Rides will be available from the Ballston Metro every 15 minutes from 6:45PM to 8:30PM,” ACDC said in a press release. “Voters can meet the Ride Coordinator at the top of the Ballston escalators… next to Tivoli.” Thursday’s caucus is being held at Washington-Lee High School, while a caucus on Saturday is being held at Kenmore Middle School.
Four Mile Run Footbridge to Be Replaced — The bike and pedestrian bridge that connects the W&OD and Custis trails near the East Falls Church Metro station is being replaced. The new bridge should be complete in the next couple of months and, unlike the old bridge, will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool by ddimicky. ACDC is presently an ARLnow.com advertiser.
MLK Day in Arlington — Arlington County government offices, libraries, and schools will be closed today in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. See the full list of closures here. ARLnow.com will return for a full day of news coverage on Tuesday.
GGW Endorses Bondi — The influential local blog Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Melissa Bondi in the upcoming Democratic caucus for Arlington County Board. GGW said Bondi’s “experience, openness to citizen input and dedication to smart urban development” outweighs her recent “tax controversies.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Wardian Runs Two Marathons in Two Days — Local marathoner Michael Wardian didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, but he did manage to run two marathons in two days, attracting some media attention in the process. [Houston Chronicle]
Tattoo Convention Comes to Crystal City — The Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City hosted the second annual D.C. Tattoo Expo over the weekend. Organizers expected the event to attract about 10,000 tattoo aficionados. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by mj*laflaca
30th Anniversary of Air Florida Crash — Thirty years ago today Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Reagan National Airport, slammed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the icy Potomac River, killing 78 people. Only five people on the plane survived the crash. [Wikipedia, Washington Post]
Bondi Releases Statement on Tax Lien — County Board candidate Melissa Bondi has released a statement to supporters regarding the recent revelation of her tax troubles. “Blog commenters very recently have begun attacking me about two issues,” Bondi began. “The attacks have been sudden, nasty, highly personal, and intended to derail the excellent work we have done together as a campaign.” Bondi said that she has hired a tax advisor “to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.”
Il Radicchio Back Open After Sewage Backup — Il Radicchio (1801 Clarendon Blvd) closed temporarily on Jan. 3 due to a sewage backup, according to public records. The Italian restaurant reopened on Jan. 6. [Washington Post]
Seller’s Market in Arlington — Only 0.5 percent of all homes in Arlington were listed for sale late last year — a statistic that is a likely indicator of stiff competition between home buyers. [Washington Times]
Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil
Over the past two nights, civic association debates between the six candidates running for County Board have been a remarkably civil affair. The candidates — five Democrats and one Green Party member — touted their records, focused on the issues, politely disagreed with some county policies, and refrained from directly criticizing one another.
Behind the scenes, however, mud is being slung, and it’s being directed at one Democratic candidate in particular: Melissa Bondi.
For the past couple of weeks, Republicans and Democrats alike have been bombarding local media outlets with dirt on Bondi — on and off the record — claiming she failed to register a car in Arlington and she has been late in paying her taxes on multiple occasions.
In an interview with ARLnow.com on Tuesday, Bondi had some answers, but professed surprise at the most serious charge: that she failed to pay the IRS $19,252.23 in taxes accrued between 2005 and 2006, resulting in a federal tax lien being filed in March 2011. (See: document provided to ARLnow.com.)
According to Bondi, she was not notified about the lien at the time and only found out about it this week via a post on a local blog. She said she immediately contacted the IRS and tried to find out why the lien was assessed.
“I learned about when I learned about the blog post, and I was shocked and extremely concerned,” Bondi said. “I believe it’s an error, I believe it’s a mistake. I don’t know what the circumstances are, but I’m anxious to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.”
Asked if she has, to her knowledge, paid all her federal taxes “in full and on time,” Bondi said yes.
But according to the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office, Bondi has not always paid her local taxes on time. A FOIA request filed by a local resident reveals that Bondi was twice delinquent in paying Arlington personal property taxes on her car. In 2004, Bondi was 14 days late in paying the tax. In 2005, she was 53 days late, and only paid “following a threat of seizure by the Treasurer’s office,” according to Treasurer Frank O’Leary.
O’Leary, who’s supporting the campaign of County Board candidate Terron Sims, did not mince words when sharing his professional opinion of Bondi with the Clarendon Patch.
“She is a scofflaw and tax evader,” O’Leary told the website. “If I sound a little angry about it, I am. She simply ignored us.”
Asked about the past delinquencies, Bondi would only discuss her current county tax situation.
“I believe I am fully paid up with Arlington County with any obligations I have,” Bondi said. “I try to be responsible on my obligations, and I believe I am responsible on my obligations.”
If there were any tax delinquencies, she said, they were not intentional.
The questions surrounding Bondi’s personal property taxes don’t stop there. Critics say Bondi kept a car in Arlington from 2006 to 2008, despite the fact that her car was reported as sold and removed from Arlington’s personal property tax rolls in February 2006.
In fact, Bondi’s own campaign website seemingly supports the critics’ assertion.
“In 2008, Melissa gave up car ownership and now takes full advantage of Arlington’s walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods,” the “About Melissa” portion of the site says.
In our interview, Bondi confirmed that she drove a car up until 2008 — but asserted that it was her father’s car. Her father, she said, became sick in 2006 and let her use his car for her frequent trips to visit him in Pennsylvania. After her father passed away in 2008, she gave up the car.
The county frequently sends letters to owners of out-of-state cars observed parking in Arlington for an extended period of time, reminding them that “every vehicle garaged in Arlington County must be registered with the Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue.” Since the car was in her father’s name, Bondi said, he would have handled any correspondence with county tax authorities. Bondi said the car’s registration “was the furthest thing from my mind” as she tended to her ailing father.
ARLnow.com was sent a photo of a black Honda, purported to be the car in question, parked in a Courthouse parking garage. The car has an Ohio license plate — Bondi’s father lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania, she said — and had political bumper stickers for County Board member Chris Zimmerman and School Board member Sally Baird.
One final car-related accusation against Bondi concerns two citations issued in 2004. According to court records, however, the two traffic charges against Bondi — driving on a suspended license and an expired Virginia inspection sticker — were ultimately dismissed.
Bondi said she intends to “clear and explain the record” wherever there have been “errors or mistakes.” In the meantime, she says she’ll continue to run on her track record as a “proven community leader” and an “accomplished public policy professional.”
“I am proud of my personal record, I am proud of my professional record, and I am proud of my track record of accomplishment,” she said. “Every voter needs to decide for themselves what are the most relevant or important things that they’re going to look at… I respect that.”
As for what’s driving all the negative attacks from both Republicans and fellow Democrats, Bondi said that she wasn’t quite sure.
“I know that whenever you are going to assert priorities or positions… maybe not everyone is going to like everything you do all the time,” she said.
Off-the-record conversations with several of Bondi’s critics, however, have revealed one possible explanation.
Bondi is strongly endorsed by County Board member Chris Zimmerman. Since Zimmerman also worked to get Walter Tejada elected to the County Board, critics say that Bondi’s election would give Zimmerman a three-person voting block on the five-member Board — a virtual lock on legislative decision-making in the county.
Bondi, though, says she has disagreed with Zimmerman on votes before and will likely disagree again.
“I believe I already am serving as my own voice,” she said.
Democrats will choose their County Board nominee during caucuses on Thursday, Jan. 19 (at Washington-Lee High School) and on Saturday, Jan. 21 (at Kenmore Middle School).