VDOT Holds HOT Lane Meeting — Last night VDOT gave the first formal public presentation of its plan to expand the I-395 HOV lanes and convert them to High Occupancy Toll lanes. The meeting was held at Wakefield High School and addressed issues from toll pricing to transit improvements to sound walls. [WTOP, Fox 5]
Bike-on-Bike Crashes Problematic for the Law — A new article asserts that Arlington County Police normally do not file reports for bike-on-bike crashes. “This is a bike accident. Life happens,” an officer reportedly told a victim after one recent incident. Incomplete or nonexistent police reports have frustrated victims and attorneys seeking legal redress — and led to the hiring of private investigators who try to gather evidence and find witnesses. [Washingtonian]
Disability Advocates Protest in Arlington — Disability rights advocates made their frustrations personal yesterday by protesting in front of the Arlington home of Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division. [Disability Scoop]
Proposal: Allow Older Cabs in Arlington — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to consider a policy change that would allow older cabs on the road, among other changes. Currently, cabs entering service may be no older than two years old and then must be retired after reaching seven years old or 350,000 miles. Recognizing advances in vehicle reliability, the new policy would do away with the two year provision and set the maximum age of cabs at 10 years old. [Arlington County]
Free Donuts for Lawyers Today — It’s Be Kind to Lawyers Day and to mark the occasion Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike is offering a free “house donut” to lawyers today. Sugar Shack is also beginning a promotion that will give select customers free donuts to distribute to their favorite local teachers. “To participate, folks just need to use the hashtag #Treats4Teach to tell us on Facebook or Twitter why they should be picked to deliver donuts to their local school teachers and to which school,” said a press release.
Nice Weather at Last — After this morning’s rain, expect clearing skies and pleasant weather that should stretch into next week. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
About 20-30 protesters are on the march from Courthouse to Georgetown to the White House this morning.
The “March for Immigrant Families and an End to Deportations” started outside the Arlington County government building in Courthouse and as of 9:30 a.m. was at Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd in the center of Rosslyn.
Demonstrators will cross the Key Bridge into Georgetown, before making their way to the White House. From the Washington Peace Center website:
Come walk from Arlington Virginia to the White House in recognition of the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement concerning Immigration Relief (DAPA, DACA extended). With the recent 5th Circuit decision to keep both programs blocked, it is imperative that we demonstrate the urgent need for relief for millions of immigrant families including those with US citizen children, all of whom continue to live in fear of deportation.
Press Conference at the White House: Marchers will hold a press conference at 11:30 A.M. in front of the White House.
The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development says it “organizing a peaceful demonstration opposing the plan” at 6:30 p.m., at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Wayne Street. The group will also hold signs and “observe the markup process” at the meeting.
CARD says the county has been concentrating affordable housing along Columbia Pike, hurting student achievement. The group says county officials have not been responsive to its concerns.
From a CARD press release:
Over the past decade, Arlington has become socio economically segregated, with pockets of poverty along the west end of Columbia Pike. This area continues to be targeted for even more affordable housing. The second-order effects on schools like Randolph and Barcroft are 80% free-and-reduced-meal rates and an achievement gap. The coalition is dismayed that county leadership is not responding to its concerns and wishes to see affordable housing as an avenue for upward economic mobility for tenants. We want children living in affordable housing to have access to the highest-achieving schools.
ITT Tech Protest Only Included One Student — A protest outside ITT Tech’s shareholder meeting in Rosslyn earlier this week reportedly included only one person who had actually been a student at the for-profit school. The rest were from advocacy groups and a labor union. [Inside Higher Ed]
New Food Delivery Service Comes to Arlington — DoorDash, an online food delivery business that promises to get food to your door in 45 minutes or less, has launched in Arlington. DoorDash joins similar food delivery services like Seamless and Eat24 in entering the Arlington market. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Teacher Recognized at the White House — Arlington Career Center teacher Thomas O’Day was one of 10 educators nationwide to be honored as a 2015 Career and Technical Education Innovator. O’Day, who has been teaching television production at the career center for 27 years, received his recognition at an event hosted by the White House. [Arlington Public Schools]
New Affordable Housing Video — The group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is producing a series of videos in support of affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The first video profiles Marcos Rubio, a janitor at H-B Woodlawn who currently commutes from the Springfield area. [Vimeo]
House Fire in Alcova Heights — A small house fire broke out on the 3800 block of 6th Street S. in the Alcova Heights neighborhood around 7:00 this morning. The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Approves Seven Corners Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved a sweeping redevelopment plan for the Seven Corners area, near Arlington. The plan, which was fought by residents in nearby single family home neighborhoods, calls for several thousand new homes, a revamped street grid and new shops and restaurants. [Washington Post]
(Updated on July 28 at noon)A group of protesters, including students, teachers and members of advocacy group Higher Ed, Not Debt, chanted and waved signs outside of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn this morning.
The demonstration was held while for-profit college ITT Technical Institute held its annual shareholders meeting inside. The approximately 20-person protest group received honks from passing cars as they shouted complaints about how ITT Tech handles its marketing, course credit, loans and executive compensation.
“ITT what the Hell? Your CEOs should go to jail,” protesters chanted at the cars driving into Arlington from Key Bridge.
ITT Tech’s marketing promises students a sought-after degree and transferable course credits, but this is not always the case, said former ITT Tech student Anthony Byrd. Byrd attended ITT Tech in 2011 in order to get course credits he needed to attend Drexel University. However, when he called Drexel, he found out that his credits did not transfer.
Other students often leave ITT Tech only to find their degrees don’t count for much or that their credits are only transferable to another for-profit college, Byrd said. ITT Tech does say that the transferability of credits is at the sole discretion of the institution receiving the credits.
“I think a lot of students who attend ITT have no idea what’s going on until after they graduate,” Byrd said. He ended up leaving ITT Tech, but he still has debt for his time there, he said.
ITT Tech has a problem with students defaulting on student loans, with more students defaulting on loans than graduating at many of the ITT campuses, said Maggie Thompson, the campaign manager for Higher Ed, Not Debt.
ITT Tech CEO Kevin Modany spoke with Bryd at the protest, but Thompson said it is important that the shareholders pay attention. Shareholders are able to pressure the school into giving more support to students, reducing executive pay and focusing less on advertising.
“We really feel the schools needs to stop investing in executive compensation and more in students and teaching,” she said.
ITT Tech is not the only for-profit school where there are problems with loans and transferring credits, said Dahn Shaulis, an adjunct teacher at Burlington County College. Shaulis researches for-profit colleges and has found there are multiple instances where students end up defaulting on loans or cannot use the degrees they earned.
“These students have been defrauded,” he said. “They were lied to.”
This morning’s protest was also supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group Student Debt Action and the Center for American Progress.
ITT Tech Vice President of Government Affairs Nicole Elam said that the protests are often staged with recruited protesters. ITT Tech has lowered its tuition and increased scholarships to help address debt problems, she said.
“We believe these protests are staged and have nothing to do with providing accurate information to students or shareholders about the debt or success of our students,” Elam said.
ITT, Modany and another executive were charged with fraud in May, with federal regulators alleging that the company hid the poor performance of student loan programs from shareholders.
County Seeks Input for County Manager Search — Arlington County is seeking public input as it begins its search for a new county manager. “In the coming months, [executive recruiters] will be evaluating candidates for the position,” the county said in a press release. “They are seeking your input, suggestions, and comments on what will be important in the selection of a County Manager.” The county is conducting an online survey and holding a public meeting on July 20 to gather public input. [Arlington County]
Tejada Attends Trump Protest — Retiring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada is getting a bit of national media attention after joining other local officials in a demonstration in front of Donald Trump’s under-construction hotel in D.C. The “Dump Trump” protest was held in response to the Republican presidential candidate’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants. [CBS News, MyFoxDC]
Bernie Sanders Speaks in Ballston — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drew a “boisterous crowd” of nearly 500 supporters at a policy forum in Ballston last night. Sanders railed against the political influence of the “billionaire class” while calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage, expanded Social Security, guaranteed health care coverage and free public college tuition. [Washington Post]
Arlington College Student Gets Reality TV Show — Monica Ten-Kate, a 21-year-old Fairlington resident who is currently attending Penn State, has scored her own reality TV series — “Monica the Medium” — on ABC Family. Ten-Kate claims she can talk to the dead, and the “docuseries” will follow her as she balances classes and homework with her part-time profession of charging people money for “readings.” The show will premiere on Aug. 25. [Patch, ABC Family]
Signature to Launch Revamped Singing Competition — Signature Theatre in Shirlington will launch “Signature Voice,” a new singing competition, at its annual open house on Aug. 2. “The new ‘Signature Voice’ competition will replace the popular Signature Idol Competition held over the last five years,” according to a news report. “Held in Signature’s MAX Theatre, the competition will host a panel of three celebrity judges in search of the best undiscovered singers in the DC region.” [Broadway World]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Young Republicans to Rally Against Sanders — The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans will “welcome” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to Ballston tonight with a “rally for limited government and free market ideals.” The rally will be held outside the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association, where Sanders will be speaking. [Facebook]
Tree Down on Custis Trail — A tree is down across the Custis Trail near Cherrydale and the ponds, cyclists report. The tree came down following last night’s heavy rains. [BikeArlington Forum, Twitter]
Head of Ex-Offender Group Stepping Down — Gail Arnall, the head of Arlington-based Offender Aid Restoration, is leaving the group, but staying involved as a consultant. OAR helps ex-offenders readjust to life outside of prison. The group notes that it costs only $650 for them to help ex-cons re-integrate into society, while re-incarcerating them would cost $27,000 per year. [Washington Post]
New Clarendon Office Tenant — HDR Architecture has signed a 30,000 square foot lease for the recently-built office building at 3001 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. “Consolidating two existing regional offices into the new Clarendon facility, HDR will now be able to tap into the highly educated population for which Arlington County is well-reputed as well as avail itself of the well-situated project easily accessible via public transportation and multiple roadways and airports,” building owner Penzance said in a press release.
A group of Arlington residents held signs and sang before a County Board meeting to protest the decision to sell Reevesland farmhouse.
The residents were unhappy with the Board’s decision as well as what they described as a lack of transparency surrounding the hastily-called vote to sell.
“The Arlington community was not informed about the vote until only hours before it happened and thus there was zero public discussion of the issue before May 19. The sneaky, unresponsive vote by the Board majority was a complete slap in the face to thousands of Arlington residents,” said Sandra Kalscheur, the chair of the Reevesland Learning Center, during the public comment period on Saturday.
The County Board decided to sell the farmhouse in May after deciding it couldn’t find the projected $2-2.5 million it needed to restore the building for public use. Making the farmhouse available to the public would require a large restoration effort, including strengthening the floors, upgrading utilities and making it compliant with the American Disabilities Act, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said.
The county had been trying for three years to find a community group that could take over the farmhouse.
Protesters sang American classic “This Land is My Land” with words changed to make it “Reevesland is Your Land, Reevesland is My Land.” They also sang the “Ballad of Nelson Reeves” in the lobby before moving into the County Board meeting room.
The Reevesland Learning Center and some residents would like the County to turn the farmhouse into a community space where children could learn more about the farm’s history and healthy eating. It’s a vision that other members of the Arlington community share, Kalscheur said.
“We don’t want an unresponsive Board to sell off our history or sell out our kids,” she said.
The lack of transparency around the decision was another sore subject for the protesters. The five members of the Board acknowledged the problem, saying there would be a review of the process in the coming months.
“As a former government employee, I am surprised and disappointed in the three members whose recent action with no consultation or meaningful opportunity to comment and virtually no notice is a new low in transparency, community involvement and informed decision making. Even the few Arlingtonians that might agree with your outcome have universally condemned your methods,” said Arlington resident Ronald Battochi, who was a part of the protest group.
The Board’s May 19 decision was a 3-2 split of County Board members, with Hynes, Libby Garvey and John Vihsdaht voting to sell the building.
Hynes explained that the costs were too great for the county, but that the Board would be open to having the Reevesland Learning Center fundraise and work with private donors to fund the restoration. However, the group has been against private fundraising, Hynes said.
Despite the building’s sale, the public will still be able to access the lands around the house and see the historic sites, Hynes said. She was backed up by Garvey and Vihstadt, who pointed to the Arlington Arts Center, the Arlington Historical Society and the Arlington planetarium as examples of private groups that have partnered with the county and helped to preserve aging public facilities.
Vice Chair Walter Tejada voted against the sale and emphasized his displeasure with the Board’s decision and process.
“This is the last working farm in Arlington’s history,” he said. “That should mean something.”
Elementary Student Fascinated by Fallout Shelters — Nathan Eberhart, a McKinley Elementary student, has been trying to unravel the mysteries of school fallout shelters for his school’s student newspaper. Eberhart thinks the Cold War relics could be better put to use nowadays “as a community-activities storage area for things like Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, recreational sports and enrichments.” [InsideNova]
Protest Planned in Rosslyn — The Mayday Project will be protesting outside the Infectious Diseases Society of America headquarters in Rosslyn today and tomorrow. The organization wants Lyme disease recognized as a chronic illness. The protest will be held from about 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]
Four Mile Run Cleaning Planned — Starting in a few days, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will begin a joint project to remove excess vegetation from the Four Mile Run flood control channel, which extends from I-395 to the Potomac River. “Residents will see crews working in or near Four Mile Run, removing trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing in the channel,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]
Washington Blvd Lane Closure — A northbound lane closure on the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 was put in place overnight, according to VDOT. A southbound lane closure, similarly reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from three to two, is expected to be put in place next week. The lane closures were originally planned for this past Monday.
Another County Board Straw Poll — Another straw poll in the race for the Democratic County Board nomination was held last night at Del. Alfonso Lopez’s campaign kick-off event at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. The reported results were: Christian Dorsey 27%, Peter Fallon 23%, Katie Cristol 22%, James Lander 15%, Andrew Schneider 12%, Bruce Wiljanen 1%.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The group DC Stampede is organizing the protest in conjunction with a national protest campaign that’s fighting a planned animal research lab at the University of Washington. The protests are targeting Skanska, the construction company selected to build the new lab.
DC Stampede is asking protesters to gather at the Rosslyn Metro station at 4:00 p.m. before marching to Skanska’s office at 1776 Wilson Blvd. There, protesters will hold signs, chant slogans and pass out flyers, until about 5:30.
Organizers hope to convince Skanska to terminate its contract to build the lab.
The University of Washington (UW) plans to build a new animal lab that will imprison thousands of dogs, cats, mice, rabbits and other defenseless animals. DC Stampede is joining the national campaign against UW’s Animal Research and Care Facility. What better way to do this than by stopping the lab from ever being built? That is why the campaign is focused on getting Skanska, the multinational construction company that is contracted to build the lab, to back out of its contract with the University of Washington.
So far, 30 people have RSVPed yes on the protest’s Facebook page.
A bomb threat was phoned into the Pentagon City mall on Christmas Eve, according to the latest Arlington County weekly crime report.
The bomb threat was called in around 1:00 p.m., just before a “black lives matter” protest at the mall. It’s unclear if the threat was in any way connected to or in response to the protest.
BOMB THREAT, 141224021, 1100 block of S Hayes St. On 12/24/14 at 1304 hours, unknown suspect called in a bomb threat to the Pentagon City Mall. Nothing suspicious found in garage area and mall did not evacuate.
PROTEST, 141224033, 1100 block of S Hayes St. On 12/24/14 at 1432 hours, approximately 15 individuals protested at Pentagon City Mall. No arrests made.
Also in the crime report, an armed robbery occurred in the Rosslyn / Courthouse area. The incident happened early last Monday morning.
ROBBERY,141229005, 1800 block of N Wilson BL. On 12/29/14 at 0330 hours, an unknown suspect displayed a handgun while demanding cigarettes and cash. Suspect description is black male, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
The rest of the weekly crime report, after the jump.
Dozens of protesters made their voices heard in Pentagon City this afternoon in response to the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
The demonstrators arrived via Metro around 2:30 p.m., after marching thorough the streets of Georgetown to protest the Nov. 24 decision not to charge Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. They held signs with slogans like “No Justice, No Profit,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”
The protesters marched through the Pentagon Centre shopping center, held a “die in” in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court, marched through Macy’s, and later exited the mall and blocked traffic on S. Hayes Street.
Arlington County Police described the protests as “peaceful” and closed some roads in the area. Some stores closed during the protest, which was timed to coincide with the post-Thanksgiving shopping period.
— J. E. Robinson (@curlyheadRED) November 29, 2014
Pentagon city mall y'all pic.twitter.com/XoCjwnEbAc
— mark essex (@madblackstudent) November 29, 2014
— Lnonblonde (@Lnonblonde) November 29, 2014
— Adam D (@AD_Renaissance) November 29, 2014
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) November 29, 2014
A group of environmental activists and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille gathered in Crystal City this afternoon to ask Dominion Resources, the parent company of Dominion Power, to end its membership in a conservative think tank.
The think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a membership-based, nonprofit group of state legislators — Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell sits on its board — and private sector businessmen and women focused on “free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments.”
A few dozen activists, organized by the Sierra Club, held signs and pinwheels outside of ALEC’s office along Route 1 and asked Dominion to cancel its membership in the group. The protesters say ALEC’s lobbying efforts include derailing legislation aimed at preventing climate change, attempts at voter suppression and support for stand-your-ground gun laws.
“We must not permit our future well-being to be held hostage by fossil fuel companies and others with a vested interest in maintaining the dangerous, unsustainable status quo,” Bill Euille said, according to a press release. “That means we must push back hard against groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization which has expressly opposed the EPA’s effort to curb carbon pollution from power plants as well as fought renewable energy while promoting dirty fossil fuels.”
Photos courtesy Caroline Wood
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington County’s new special events policy, revised this summer to ensure bar crawl organizers pay for the support costs of their events, has raised eyebrows for appearing to require permits and cost reimbursements for vigils and protests.
The Special Events Policy, approved by the Arlington County Board on July 19, states “the county will charge special-event organizers for ‘personnel and services on a 100 percent cost-recovery basis unless prohibited by law.’ Permits must be obtained for ALL special events and demonstrations.”
The county defines demonstrations, for the purpose of the policy, as “any picketing, speech making, marching, holding vigils or religious services and other like forms of conduct, in Public Spaces, which involves the communication or expression of views or grievances, is engaged in by one or more persons, and has the effect, intent or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”
However, county spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the administrative regulation is still being written, and the county will not ask those holding “First Amendment” activities like protests, rallies or vigils to recoup the county for its costs.
“The Policy is designed to address the impacts caused when large crowds gather in public spaces for any purpose, including demonstrations and other expressive activities,” Curtius told ARLnow.com in an email. “The Policy does not prohibit such gatherings, and does not apply to every instance where citizens or groups gather to exercise rights protected by the First Amendment. It only applies when the crowd that gathers is large enough to interfere with the use of the public space by the rest of the public, and presents significant public safety risks and other costs that will otherwise have to be borne by the public.
“This has been a part of County policy for a number of years,” Curtius continued. “To date, based on the size of the groups involved, a permit has not been required for a demonstration or other similar activity.”
While not necessarily required, the county is expected to encourage organizer of so-called First Amendment activities to apply for permits so police and county staff can make appropriate preparations. County officials said that any ambiguity in the policy will be clarified through administrative regulations.
Hat tip to Suzanne Sundberg. File photo
Beekeeping in Arlington — A number of Arlington residents keep bees in their Arlington backyards. These amateur beekeepers often bottle their honey and sell it to neighbors or to patrons at the Arlington County Fair. [Falls Church News-Press]
Protest Underway in Ballston — Several dozen protesters are demonstrating outside Ballston Common Mall this morning. They’re protesting a tenant in the adjacent office building, Arlington-based developer AvalonBay, for alleged construction safety violations and low wages. [Twitter]
Yorktown Student Places at Int’l Science Fair — Yorktown High School junior Margaret Doyle captured fourth place in the Animal Sciences category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, held earlier this month in Los Angeles. Doyle is also a former ARLnow.com summer intern. [InsideNova]
New Tysons Tower Will Be Region’s Tallest — The new 384-foot tall office building at 1812 North Moore Street in Rosslyn won’t be the tallest tower in the region for long. On Friday, Fairfax County approved a 470-foot tall skyscraper, which will serve as the headquarters for Capital One. It will be the tallest building in the D.C. area, aside from the Washington Monument. [Greater Greater Washington]