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by Chris Teale October 12, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

With Election Day less than a month away, candidates for the Arlington County Board and School Board are honing in on their final pitches to voters.

And at a forum Wednesday night at Marymount University hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, the six candidates clashed on a range of issues, from how to engage more millennials in county government to closing the achievement gap in Arlington Public Schools.

The format varied from previous forums, as each candidate was able to ask a question of their opponents before taking further questions from the audience.

Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady, who were victorious in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s caucus earlier this year for County Board and School Board, respectively, both touted their experience in county issues.

Both agreed that while Arlington is largely on the right course, it can do better. Gutshall, who is the current chair of the Planning Commission, said the county must not make too many concessions to developers on proposed site plans.

“If we don’t stick to our plans and our negotiations… and we don’t stick to our values, then we’ve lost,” he said.

Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement pointed to her regular attendance at the body’s monthly meetings as relevant experience.

And fellow independent Charles McCullough II said that beyond his involvement in the South Arlington Working Group among others, he would represent a fresh face with new ideas if elected to the County Board.

“We need to have other ideas, other experiences,” he said.

On the budget, Clement criticized the Board’s practice of spending closeout funds from higher tax revenue than anticipated. She said that the money should be paid forward to the following year to relieve the tax burden, rather than directed to “pet projects to satisfy its particularized constituencies.”

McCullough argued that developers in Arlington must pay their “fair share” to help make up budget shortfalls, while Gutshall said that rising property values must not be treated as a “blank check” for increased spending.

Among the School Board candidates, there were some sharp differences. O’Grady and fellow candidate Alison Dough agreed that the Arlington Career Center represents a “good opportunity” for a fourth comprehensive high school. But Mike Webb, running for School Board after an unsuccessful tilt at Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, disagreed.

Instead, he said, School Board members should focus on ensuring instruction is as good as possible, and that no students are left behind.

“Before we build another high school, we have to think about the achievement gap that affects all our students,” Webb said.

And on the subject of the upcoming boundary changes in Arlington Public Schools, Dough said that more immersion schools where classes are taught in more than one language could help relieve the capacity pressures on other buildings.

Dough, who said her special needs child inspired her to run for School Board, suggested more language programs, like immersion in Chinese, French or Russian to help APS students embrace new cultures.

“Let’s look at the boundary issue differently and give our parents a reason to switch schools,” she said.

And with the nationwide opioid epidemic also touching Arlington, O’Grady said parents and students alike must be educated on the risks and solutions.

“It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our communities,” she said. “Let’s come together to learn how to deal with this.”

All six agreed on the need for elected officials to encourage more county residents to get involved, and help uphold the so-called “Arlington Way.”

“We need to be opening that door,” Webb said. “We have to build that pathway to leadership.”

The candidates will face off in another forum Sunday (October 15) hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).

by ARLnow.com September 5, 2017 at 8:35 am 0

Today Is ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, when students in Arlington and around the region go back to school. As a result of the extra school buses, parents and students on the roads, and the end of summer vacations, it is also dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid-Atlantic. In reality, however, the day after — which now has a name: “Woeful Wednesday” — is worse in terms of commuting times, and next week should be even more woeful. [Washington Post, WTOP]

Chili’s Dying Out in D.C. Area — The Chili’s in Bailey’s Crossroads has closed. The restaurant chain closed its Crystal City location last year and its Reston location the year before that. The nearest Chili’s to Arlington is now along Route 1, outside the Beltway, in Fairfax County. [Twitter]

Roosevelt Profiled by Conservative Media — GOP candidate Adam Roosevelt is getting some attention from conservative media outlets. Roosevelt “is a moderate Republican running for the Virginia House of Delegates against current Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who has never before faced a GOP opponent during his six years in office,” writes the Daily Caller, calling the district he’s running in, which includes part of Arlington, “far left.” The lead sentence in Newsmax’s article about Roosevelt has a different focus: “A conservative Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, who happens to be black, has recently emerged as one of the most spirited advocates of keeping Confederate statues up in the Old Dominion State.” [Daily Caller, Newsmax]

Webb Removed from Civ Fed Debate — School Board candidate Mike Webb has had his invitation to tonight’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate — the unofficial kickoff to campaign season in Arlington — rescinded because he reportedly “failed to return required paperwork in time to allow participation.” Allison Dough, the other candidate to challenge Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, has said she has other commitments and will be unable to attend the debate. [InsideNova]

Arlington Man Evicted From ‘Big Brother’ House — Arlington resident Matt Clines, 33, has been evicted from the Big Brother house. Clines had advanced about half-way through the CBS reality show before being voted off. [Reality TV World, Parade, Hollywood Reporter]

DeVos to Make Big Announcement in Arlington — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly planning to make a “major announcement on Title IX, the campus gender equality law,” from George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington on Thursday. [BuzzFeed]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster

by ARLnow.com April 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

CarPool Now Closed — A line out the door marked CarPool’s last day in business on Monday. The Ballston bar hosted a large crowd of patrons there to watch the Nationals opening day and the NCAA men’s basketball championship, and to say goodbye to the long-time watering hole. [Twitter]

Clement Opposes Tax Rate Hike — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement says she does not support the proposed property tax hike, which Arlington’s county manager says is necessary to fund Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]

Developments in School Board Race — Former congressional candidate Mike Webb has gathered the petition signatures necessary to get on this year’s Arlington School Board ballot, although he still has a couple of paperwork hurdles before he officially qualifies. Meanwhile, incumbent James Lander has received the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association as he faces two challengers in the Democratic endorsement caucus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Arlington’s Trees By The Numbers — “The County is proud home to some 755,400 trees of at least 122 species. If you had to put a price on all that priceless foliage, it’d be worth more than $1.4 billion.” [Arlington County]

Tour of the Trades Center — The latest “Around Arlington” video from the county gives viewers a tour of the Arlington Trandes Center near Shirlington, where school buses are housed, police cars get repaired and salt trucks get refilled. [YouTube]

Police Chief: See Something, Say Something — Although the vast majority of calls about suspicious people or circumstances turn out to be nothing, Arlington’s police chief is still encouraging residents to call the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 if they see something out of the ordinary. Said Chief Jay Farr: “Do not hesitate to call us about something suspicious. Some say, ‘I didn’t want to bother you,’ but I say, `Bother us.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

by ARLnow.com December 28, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Rainbow behind the Iwo Jima memorial (photo courtesy Mark T.)

Webb Running for School BoardFormer candidate for Congress Mike Webb says he’s running for Arlington School Board against incumbent James Lander. “Every problem that we face in Arlington’s public schools can find a solution in opening public charter schools,” Webb wrote in a Facebook post. [Blue Virginia]

Handbag Schemer Led Lavish Lifestyle — Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, the Arlington resident who was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for a fake handbag scheme, led a lavish jet-setting lifestyle that she documented on Instagram while perpetrating the $1 million fraud. [The Sun, Daily Mail]

Metro Installing More WiFi — After a six-station pilot program, Metro has announced that it will be installing public WiFi at all of its underground stations. The work is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the end of 2018. [The Hill]

VHC to Expand Mental Health Facilities — Virginia Hospital Center is being pushed to expand its behavioral and mental health facilities as part of a proposed expansion of the hospital. Currently, the facilities are located in the hospital’s basement and only include 18 beds. There are an estimated 6,000 people with serious mental illness in Arlington County. [InsideNova]

Arlington Suicide Prevention Survey — Arlington is conducting an online survey about the county’s suicide prevention resources and services. [SurveyMonkey]

Photo courtesy Mark T.

by ARLnow.com October 7, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Potomac River (Flickr pool photo by Yakfur)

ACPD Officer Played in NFL — Arlington County Police officer Dorian Brooks was formerly an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6’3″ and 280 lbs, Brooks has lost some weight from his playing days — which included a 2011 Super Bowl appearance — but remains an imposing figure on the beat. [WUSA]

Write-in Candidate: Congressman Stole My Porn — Write-in congressional candidate Mike Webb continued his press release barrage early this morning with a curious one: an evidence-free accusation that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) broke into his home and stole cell phone chargers, digital cameras and an external hard drive containing his porn stash. The subject line of the email: “VIP Beyer Steals External ‘Sex Drive’ and Impotent Webb Wants Good Porn Bac [sic].” Webb inadvertently made headlines earlier this year by releasing an image showing tabs for porn websites on his computer, later claiming that he was just testing said sites for viruses. [PDF]

Flights Canceled Due to Matthew — Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coast is leading to numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport. [WJLA]

New Bishop Is an Eagles Fan — The Diocese of Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins’ NFC East foe. He received the call telling him the pope had appointed him to replace Bishop Paul Loverde in Arlington during the recent Eagles-Steelers game — though he unknowingly let the call go to voicemail. [News & Observer]

Columbia Pike Fall Wine and Craft Beer FestSponsored — Sample Columbia Pike’s unique wines and rare craft beers at this family-friendly, ticketed event. It’s taking place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3-8 p.m. on Adams Street at Columbia Pike. Food and beverages from Pike restaurants will be available for purchase, and a children’s area and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained. [CPRO]

Flickr pool photo by Yakfur

by ARLnow.com May 17, 2016 at 12:20 am 0

Screenshot posted by the Mike Webb for Congress Facebook page

Congressional candidate Mike Webb has an explanation for why web browser tabs for two pornographic web pages could be seen in a screenshot he posted Monday afternoon.

Republican congressional hopeful Mike Webb (photo via Facebook)In an email to ARLnow.com, which he also posted to Facebook, Webb claims that he was testing the whether such sites could have been the source of the alleged “cyber attack” that prevented him from filing a report to the Federal Election Commission on time.

“Curious by nature, I wanted to test the suggestion that somehow, lurking out in the pornographic world there is some evil operator waiting for the one in a gazillion chance that a candidate for federal office would go to that particular website and thereby be infected with a virus that would cause his or her FEC data file to crash the FECfile application each time that it was loaded on the day of the filing deadline, as well as impact other critical campaign systems,” Webb said in a characteristically lengthy message that also included accusations of malfeasance against some critics and local Republican party members.

Google News search for "Mike Webb"Webb acknowledged that the episode has brought his quixotic campaign renewed attention, following his defeat in the race for the 8th District Republican congressional nomination. He insisted that it hasn’t cost him votes.

“We have not gained any new enemies or lost any friends today,” he wrote.

In fact, Webb said in a subsequent post, the whole thing has been an overall positive for his campaign.

“The truly amazing thing about today was that ‘I saw also the Lord, high and lifted up,’ and I was very much moved by the love and support of those who expressed their encouragement and support, even some in the national and local press,” he wrote.

Comments on Mike Webb's Facebook pageNational news outlets including Gawker, the Daily Caller and the New York Daily News have picked up the story. The media attention has driven scores of wisecracking commenters to Webb’s Facebook page. As of midnight, three of his posts Monday have garnered a combined 2,937 Facebook comments.

Webb, meanwhile, said he’s busy trying to get the signatures necessary to make the November ballot as an independent, which would allow him to face off against incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D) and Republican nominee Charles Hernick.

“As you know, we have to get 1,000 signatures in the next few weeks to get into the fight, and we are making great headway in this effort because people are very frustrated with our current politicians and their antics, as I probably should be, too,” he wrote.

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm 0

Screenshot posted by the Mike Webb for Congress Facebook page (highlighting added)

A screenshot posted on the Mike Webb for Congress Facebook page is going viral for all the wrong reasons.

The post was intended to suggest that an Arlington County Republican Committee officer might have had something to do with a prank call Webb received. Instead of getting that point across, as of 3 p.m. the post had some 80 shares and 60 comments on Facebook due to an apparent inadvertent inclusion: the screenshot shows two web browser tabs associated with pornography websites.

Mike Webb for Congress Facebook postWebb, an Arlington resident, was soundly defeated in his recent bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), but has announced his intention to run as an independent. In his voluminous press releases and social media posts, Webb has blamed the local Republican establishment for his defeat. There’s no evidence, however, to support the suggestion that the individual named in the post might have prank called him.

A Google search for the web page titles in question — “LAYLA RIVERA TIGHT BODY” and “IVONE SEXY AMATEUR” — point to a number of pages on various porn websites. Webb has not responded to a request for comment sent earlier this afternoon.

Some of those commenting on the Facebook post seemed incredulous that it had not yet been taken down.

“Still up 2 hrs later. Priceless,” said a post from more than an hour ago.

Some commenters, however, suggested the post might be a stroke of inadvertent genius.

“Refreshing for a politician to air their vices publicly instead of trying to hide it till a leak,” said one. “Keep up the good work.”

“What if he was desperate to take his social media platform to the next level?” asked another. “Genius. Tight booty porn for the win.”

While many comments were critical, others took a somewhat more forgiving tone.

“We all f–k up from time to time,” said a Facebook user, “but I’ve never used Yahoo instead of Google.”

Last month ARLnow.com reported that Webb had failed to file a report to the Federal Election Commission on time and had blamed the failure on a “cyber attack.”

Update at 12:25 a.m. — Webb said in an email to ARLnow.com that he was testing the porn sites for viruses.

Photos via Facebook

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

Home in bloom (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Arlington Resident, 101, Goes to First Caps Game — Gert Friedman, who’s 101 years old and has lived in Arlington since 1940, attended the Washington Capitals playoff game Saturday night and even got to ride around on the ice resurfacer during the first intermission. It was the first time Friedman had attended any NHL game. [Yahoo Sports]

Hernick Gets GOP Nod — GOP congressional candidate Charles Hernick will challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in November. Hernick, an environmental consultant, was nominated at the 8th District Republican convention Saturday. Hernick’s opponent for the GOP nod, Mike Webb, said in a press release that he was “bamboozled.” [InsideNova]

County’s Reaction to Metro Track Plan — County leaders released a statement about Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance plan on Friday. It said in part: “We saw during the March all-day shutdown of Metrorail that our region is resilient and alternatives are possible. Our residents and businesses are resourceful and inventive. And Arlington’s emphasis on providing many travel options, which we’ve developed over many years, will continue to serve us well during this challenging time.” [Arlington County]

APS Plan Identifies Pressing Needs — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his proposed 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan last week. The plan “identified high school seats countywide and elementary seats in the Rosslyn/Ballston/Lee Highway corridor as the most pressing needs for APS in the next 10 years.” [Arlington Public Schools]

SoberRide Program Usage Rises for May 5 — The regional SoberRide program, which provides free taxi rides on certain festive holidays, served 225 people on Cinco de Mayo. That’s up 37 percent compared to last year. [InsideNova]

LEED Gold for Wakefield — Wakefield High School has officially earned LEED Gold sustainability certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. [Arlington Public Schools]

Donuts Popular on Mothers Day — There was reportedly a 90 minute wait at Duck Donuts yesterday, on Mothers Day. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com April 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm 0

Republican congressional hopeful Mike Webb (photo via Facebook)Mike Webb, who’s running for the Republican congressional nomination in Virginia’s Eighth District, which includes Arlington, says a “targeted cyber attack” prevented him from filing his quarterly campaign finance report.

The Federal Election Commission sent Webb’s campaign a notice on April 22, stating that it had failed to file its April quarterly report.

“Failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, an audit or other legal enforcement action,” the letter says. “The civil money penalty calculation for late reports does not include a grace period and begins on the day following the due date for the report.”

As of today, there was still no quarterly report for January through March 2016 on the FEC page for Webb’s campaign committee. A previously-filed financial report includes a note from Webb apologizing for it being late.

Webb’s campaign, meanwhile, said in a press release that it had not filed the April report due to technical difficulties it attributed to computer hackers. Here’s what the campaign said in the lengthy April 21 press release, one of more than 100 it has sent to local reporters since December.

… this morning, sources close to the campaign of Arlington resident Mike Webb, the putative front-runner in the Republican Party nomination race in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District disclosed that they have been the victim of what appears to have been a targeted cyber-attack.

Shortly before the filing deadline for the quarterly disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission, the Webb campaign indicated that it began to experience glitches with the filing software, making it difficult to input information. However, on the deadline filing date, the software would just crash whenever the data file was loaded, thereby blocking access to all previously entered data. The Webb campaign indicated that it made several attempts to re-install the program, and to install the program on a separate computer, but the attempts to address and remedy the situation appeared to confirm that there was nothing wrong with the software, but rather that the data file had somehow been corrupted.

“The Webb team had no further comment this morning regarding the incident, but did indicate that they were continuing to work with the FEC on submitting the report and recovering the lost data,” the campaign itself said in a press release, before continuing on for two additional paragraphs.

Webb is running against environmental consultant Charles Hernick for the Republican nomination. A district convention will be held on May 7 to select a nominee. The winner will face long odds against incumbent Democratic Rep. Don Beyer in the fall.

While Webb has participated in Republican-sponsored events leading up to the convention, his campaign has adopted an outsider’s stance, often speaking out against the local GOP establishment. In a press release today, in fact, Webb said he has notified local police and the FBI about a persistent Twitter critic who goes by the monicker “GOP Establishment.”

Accusing the anonymous Twitter user of “extortion,” Webb claims that he gave law enforcement the name of “every potential suspect from the long list of establishment officials and Young Republicans.”

Webb, an Arlington resident, has been idiosyncratic in other aspects of his campaign, particularly on social media. On April 20 he posted an image wishing his supporters a “Happy 4/20.” On January 11 he accused ARLnow of “censorship” for our moderation of the comments section of a Dec. 23 article about his candidacy.

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