Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.
Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.
“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”
“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”
Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.
“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”
“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”
On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.
Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.
“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.
“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington Democrats are decrying what the local party describes as a wave of vandalism of Democratic election signs.
Almost every election cycle in Arlington there are reports of small-scale vandalism and mischief involving campaign signs. Rarely do those reports, on message boards and community listservs, rise to the level of county-wide news.
But the Arlington County Democratic Committee says the latest vandalism spree, which happened just after the signs went up, is different.
“At least 30 election signs lawfully placed in public street medians by the Arlington County Democratic Committee encouraging citizens to vote in the Nov. 3 election and to support Democratic candidates, including presidential nominee Joe Biden and Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, were destroyed and vandalized overnight,” the party said in a press release Sunday. “Signs not specifically referencing the Democratic ticket were not disturbed.”
Each election season, the signs for candidates of all stripes pop up in roadway medians 31 days before the election, as permitted by local and state law. Democratic signs are particularly prolific, given the party’s electoral dominance in Arlington and the committee’s organizing prowess.
But this time around, Democrats say, the signs appear to be the target of a wider-scale vandalism effort. Signs “along Sycamore Street between Williamsburg Circle and Lee Highway, and on Little Falls Road at Lexington Street were either destroyed or vandalized” over the weekend, according to the press release.
The latter intersection is about a 15 minute walk from where a church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized in June.
“We always get a certain amount of vandalism, but the vandals are off to a fast and aggressive start this year,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to the Arlington County Police Department, reporting the crimes. At Little Falls Road, “it looks like someone actually drove onto the median in order to run over the signs.”
“Arlington Dems understand the police department has more urgent issues to address, but wanted to document the destruction,” the press release adds.
Arlington Republicans tell ARLnow that the Democrats tried to pressure them into condemning the vandalism, which the local GOP says is nothing new.
“This is every election cycle’s ‘dog bites man’ non-story,” Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser said in an email to ARLnow last night. “Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids.”
“Arlington Democrat campaign hacks attempted to pressure us into condemning this vandalism over the weekend,” Loposser continued. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable — whether it’s Antifa and BLM rioters destroying small business storefronts or bored high school students ripping up political yard signs.”
The Arlington Democrats press release goes on to report that signs in the front yard of famed local civil rights figure Joan Trumpauer Mulholland were also vandalized. In a bout of rhetoric not typically seen in Arlington politics, at least among official Democratic communications, the release quotes Mulholland in equating supporters of President Trump to “Klan sympathizers.”
Restaurant Closes in Pentagon City — “Sad to report that A-Deli at @PentagonRow has gone out of business. Mr. Kapoor and his wife are great people. I hope they can rebound in a new venture.” [@CartChaos22202/Twitter]
Another Hazy Day on Tap — “It will be another day without much in the way of cloudiness. With at least some smoke likely to be in the air once again, highs will be held back somewhat, as readings will mainly reach the low and mid-70s.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Some COVID Tests Come With Steep Price — “When Lisa Robertson sought coronavirus testing for her college athlete daughter, a pediatrician recommended a small, independent pharmacy in Arlington, Virginia. Preston’s Pharmacy charged $35 to take a nasal swab specimen and sent it off to a lab, Principle Diagnostics, for quick results. The lab billed her insurance company $864 – more than eight times what the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimburses for COVID-19 test.” [USA Today]
GOP Congressional Candidate Presses Case — “If you’re going to go down anyway, you might as well go down swinging. That seems to be the feeling of Jeff Jordan, the Republican nominee attempting to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th)… Jordan used a debate sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation to press his political philosophy. ‘I have fought socialism and tyranny my entire life,’ he told the online audience.” [InsideNova]
Marymount Rises in Rankings — “For the third consecutive year, Marymount University has risen in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings. After jumping more than 20 spots in last year’s list, Marymount is once again moving up among the Best Regional Universities in the South – now ranked at No. 31 in the region” [Press Release]
‘Space Jam’ Outdoors Tomorrow in Ballston — “Ballston Exchange will be hosting three separate movie nights on the Paseo in between 4201 and 4121 Wilson Blvd. One ticket is required for each group of four or less. Ticket includes a 6’x6′ feet picnic blanket and a $10 gift card to a Ballston Exchange retailer.” [Eventbrite]
Alexandria Architectural Board Disses Arlington — “‘They’re very nice buildings, but they don’t belong in Old Town,’ BAR member Lynn Neihardt said during the Sept. 2 meeting. ‘We’re getting buildings that don’t reflect the Old Town context at all under the guise of providing affordable housing… The buildings to me speak Ballston, Crystal City, but not Old Town.’ BAR member Christine Sennott underlined that point in saying: ‘This is Ballston. We don’t want to be Ballston.'” [Washington Business Journal]
County Board to Consider Bridge Pact — “The Arlington and Alexandria governments are planning to formalize their long-shared responsibilities for maintenance of five bridges that span Four Mile Run between the two communities. The new agreement sets out the share of funding for future short-term and long-term rehabilitation of the five bridges – at West Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge Road, Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue – as well as maintenance costs.” [InsideNova]
Meal Donation to Hospital — Per a spokeswoman: “At 12:45 p.m., roughly 1,500 meals from local restaurants will be delivered to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington as part of a 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen initiative to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The local restaurants participating in the delivery to Virginia Hospital Center are Arepa Zone, La Ceiba and Bistro Bis.”
Board to Vote on ART Facility Contract — “The Arlington County government is moving forward with planning for reconstruction of its Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility, located on Shirlington Road in the Four Mile Run/Green Valley area. County Board members have been asked to approve a contract of roughly $3.9 million for planning, design and construction-administration services for the $81 million project. Stantec Architecture is receiving the contract.” [InsideNova]
Local Bars Welcome NFL Season — “‘We’re delighted to have live sports back,’ said Dave Cahill, general manager of Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, Virginia. ‘We’re fortunate here at the Four Courts; we have three different rooms, and we have a large outdoor area. So we have 18 televisions inside and three TVs outside. Having three rooms, it’s going to allow us to spread people out all over the rooms, 6 feet apart and still enjoy the football,’ he said.” [WTOP]
GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Civ Fed — “His longshot candidacy notwithstanding, Daniel Gade received a polite reception from delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. ‘I’m the sort of person who will always tell you the truth,’ the Republican U.S. Senate nominee said at the Sept. 8 event. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, was invited but did not attend the forum, convened online due to the public-health pandemic.” [InsideNova]
County Encourages Local Hotel Bookings — “For most of us with out-of-town family and friends, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to get together. And with safety being everyone’s top priority, you may not be comfortable yet hosting guests in your Arlington house, condo or apartment. With plenty of space, great fall deals and packages, and an array of enhanced health and safety programs, Arlington’s 44 hotels can offer the ‘spare bedroom’ for your visitors this fall.” [Arlington County]
Changes Proposed for Rosslyn Development — “The Dittmar Co. is tinkering with it plans for the redevelopment of the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, shrinking the size of a planned hotel and adding more residential to account for Covid-19’s impact on the hospitality industry. The developer filed revised plans for the project with Arlington County earlier this month, outlining its new designs for a 326-room hotel and a 523-unit apartment building” [Washington Business Journal]
County Stats on Missing Middle Housing — “So, just how missing is this missing middle? 6%. That’s the percentage of Arlington’s 116,000 homes that the county estimates are townhomes, side-by-side duplexes, or stacked duplexes. If you count low-rise multifamily apartments as missing middle, the percentage increases to a little less than a third of the county’s current housing stock.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Mulch Available for Arlington Residents — “Free wood mulch for pickup is available for the first time since March. Get it while it’s hot. The stuff doesn’t grow on … nevermind.” [@ArlingtonDES/Twitter, Arlington County]
Lebanese Taverna Owners in Beirut — “Monday’s kitchen at full swing from @WCKitchen HQ’s over 11k meals between 9 total kitchens with amazing committed partners and volunteers! Thankful to @lebanesetaverna Abi-Najm family for showing up in person and supporting Beirut operation financially #ChefsForBeirut” [@chefjoseandres/Twitter]
Rep. Beyer’s GOP Challenger — “Jeff Jordan has his work cut out for him. The Republican supports President Donald Trump, and he’s running an uphill battle against Rep. Don Beyer for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District seat, which has remained solidly in Democratic hands for the last 30 years.” [ALXnow]
Hockey: W-L Defeats Yorktown — “It took nearly five months and some intricate planning. Then at last, the popular and annual all-Arlington ice hockey high-school club match between the Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots was played Aug. 1. The Generals won, 5-3, at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex. The season-ending rivalry match was originally scheduled for March 13, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [InsideNova]
Online Home Lighting Discussion — Sponsored — “Olson Weaver Lighting Design & is hosting a Q & A session to answer lighting questions from designers/architects, contractors, & homeowners” on Friday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. [Eventbrite]
Storm Results in Minor Damage — Isaias only caused minor damage in Arlington as it roared past the D.C. area as a tropical storm. Arlington received about 2 inches of rain and some gusty winds as the storm passed. The rain did cause Four Mile Run to top its banks and cover the bike path near Carlin Springs Road. [Twitter]
Thousands of Local Renters Seeking Help — Arlington County “has been besieged with requests for help — in the eight months before the county declared an emergency because of the pandemic, her division received 821 requests for financial- and eviction-prevention assistance. Between March and May, that number was 2,378. The county hired temporary workers to supplement the county workers, who are working from home, and is trying to assist residents, some of whom don’t have Internet access and must rely on sending and receiving forms by mail.” [Washington Post]
Lots of Retail Rent Not Getting Paid — “Retail tenants have been hardest hit during the pandemic, across the board and for JBG Smith. The company collected 58% of rent due from those tenants in the second quarter, compared with nearly 99% for office and 98.5% for multifamily… JBG Smith is exploring the possibility of incorporating ghost kitchens, or food preparation facilities for delivery-only meals, to fill some of the void created by empty retail spaces as a temporary measure.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington GOP vs. WaPo Reporter — The Arlington County Republican Committee, in response to a Washington Post article about its chairman’s social media posts, posted the following on Twitter last night: “#FakeNews opinion columnist @psullivan1 was forced to change her slanderous headline… She apologizes for Communist China, but falls all over herself for a headline. lol, Peopermint Patti” [Twitter]
This One Time, Not at Band Camp — “APS has decided to cancel all August activities until further notice. The WL marching band camp for 2020 has been canceled.” [Twitter]
(Updated at 8:20 p.m.) The chairman of the Arlington GOP has been booted from the “Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19” Facebook group for threatening to expose those who file complaints about local businesses.
In a post on Sunday, one of the group’s moderators said that Andrew Loposser posted screenshots showing the names and contact information of people who filed complaints about COVID-related violations in Virginia. He also threatened to reveal information others who complain.
“We have removed and blocked the chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee, Mr. Andrew Loposser, from Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19,” wrote moderator Joshua Farrar.
Threatening to dox and protest members of our community who report potential violations of our public health policies, developed and enacted in response to COVID-19, in the interest of public health, is entirely unacceptable. Comparisons of those who support public health restrictions on local business to Nazis are horrid and inappropriate, and diminish the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and are an affront to the memory of the millions of lives upended and extinguished, murdered, by Hitler and his machinery of extermination. We do not know how this individual was able to obtain complaint data and we do not know what other data this individual possesses. As such, we have reported this incident to local authorities.
Loposser appears to have also made a “Nazi” comparison in response to a post about Arlington’s new restrictions on sidewalk gatherings and queues.
Loposser tells ARLnow that he decided to write the post about those filing complaints to combat what he described as a culture of “hysteria” over the pandemic.
“I believe people who are fomenting hysteria across Virginia and in our community should be criticized for creating an unsafe environment surrounding coronavirus guidelines,” he said. “The ‘Arlington Neighbors’ Facebook group is… being driven by misinformed busybodies who are wreaking havoc on businesses they don’t like. I posted about those busybodies, and the partisan admins block people they don’t agree with.”
Though outdoor gatherings are believed to be safer than indoor gatherings during the pandemic, a number of recent posts on the Facebook group have focused on outdoor behavior perceived as risky.
“I was out walking in my neighborhood and a rude runner ran literally right up on me, close enough I felt him breathe on me on an exhale,” wrote one user. “Should I be worried about being breathed on? Ew. I’m obviously annoyed and shaken, especially since I was a bit startled.”
Comments about the encounter were split between those criticizing runners and cyclists who don’t wear masks and those who do not believe such momentary outdoor encounters are likely to spread the disease.
“Hi, does anyone think The Lot in Clarendon is a nightmare and coronavirus mega spreader?” asked another user, regarding the outdoor beer garden, in a post that received more than 100 comments.
“Businesses like The Lot are being constantly harassed… with no regard to state or federal guidelines on outdoor gatherings,” Loposser said. “There are dozens of posts in the ‘Arlington Neighbors’ group driving this ridiculous narrative… The group used to be a net positive in our community, and it’s devolved to ‘Lord of the Flies.'”
Loposser said the Facebook group is private and “can do what they want,” but decried treatment of those skeptical of the prevailing views around ways to prevent COVID-19 infections.
“People with minority viewpoints are constantly personally attacked in this group,” he said. “It’s certainly a microcosm of the kind of intolerance we see in liberal communities like Arlington… Stepping outside the majority groupthink will get you personally belittled and attacked.”
The “Arlington Neighbors” group has been trying to combat toxic discourse that seems endemic to any online forum of a certain size in 2020. In a new post this morning, co-founder Kellen MacBeth outlined new posting guidelines intended to make the group a more welcoming and helpful place.
Among them: no posting photos of people “with the intent to shame” and no “unverified information about businesses or COVID-19 that could cause harm.”
GOP Senate Primary Today — “Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election. Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.” [The Center Square]
Pike Housing Proposal Delayed Amid Outcry — “Faced with criticism on multiple fronts, Arlington County Board members on June 16 essentially threw a staff proposal under the bus, delaying for three months consideration of a controversial plan on how to prioritize affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor… It would have increased the maximum threshold, from the current 60 percent of area median income to up to as much as 100 percent, for individuals to qualify for assistance in buying properties.” [InsideNova]
River Rescues Near Chain Bridge Saturday — “D.C. firefighters and police officers on Saturday rescued eight adults and four children who became trapped on rocks in the Potomac River and were cut off from shore by rapidly rising waters in a sudden rainstorm.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Arlington Home Show Cancelled — The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, which had earlier been rescheduled for Saturday, June 27. [Arlington County]
ACPD Investigating Brandishing Incident — “On June 21, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving in the area of 31st Street S. and S. Abingdon Street when he was allegedly cut off by the suspect. The suspect then waved the victim in front of him and began following him. When the victim parked, the suspect pulled alongside his vehicle and a verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect brandished a firearm.” [Arlington County]
Traffic Getting Back to Normal — “Car and truck volume trends in Virginia are moving back toward normal after plummeting during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to numbers released Friday by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Pandemic traffic on state-maintained interstates and primary roads hit a low on April 12, a Sunday… The numbers have gradually rebounded since, climbing back to around 20 percent below normal by the end of May.” [Virginia Mercury]
Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]
Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]
Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]
Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]
Masks Required on Metro Starting Today — “Face coverings or masks be required when traveling on Metro effective Monday, May 18. The move strengthens Metro’s position on the matter, which has ‘strongly recommended’ the use of face coverings since early April.” [WMATA]
ACPD Officer Lends a Hand — Despite the challenges facing emergency responders during the pandemic, an Arlington County police officer helped a pair of residents with some heavy lifting for a DIY project in their yard over the weekend. [@dmvbbacademy/Twitter]
Little League Still Hoping to Play — “Arlington Little League has not yet given up on some kind of spring and summer baseball season… Until now, the 2020 season has not started in a league that consists of nearly 1,500 players because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [InsideNova]
VHC Gets Gear Donation from Ford — “Many thanks to @Ford for their donation of 10k face shields! We are grateful for this show of support for those on the front lines.” [@VHC_Hospital/Twitter]
Local GOP Planning Drive-Thru Convention — “The 8th District Republican Committee is still finalizing the details, but expects to hold an unassembled caucus – dubbed a ‘drive-through convention’ – on May 30 in Springfield… delegates will be able to drive up, pick up a ballot, complete it and hand it back without leaving their vehicles. The results of voting will determine whether Mark Ellmore or Jeff Jordan will be the Republican nominee facing U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) on Nov. 3.” [InsideNova]
Celtic House Looking Forward to Dine-In — “At Celtic House in Arlington, the business owners say they’re down at least 80 percent due to the coronavirus closures. They hope leaders will soon allow dining inside as their space is very limited on the patio… ‘It has really affected us a lot,’ said co-owner Michael McMahon about the coronavirus crisis… So far, he says they’ve been able to keep on all of their 19 workers.” [Gray DC Bureau]
Unease About Va. Reopening — “Local leaders and business owners in Northern Virginia were uncertain about Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement that parts of the state could begin reopening as soon as May 15. ‘Our first reaction was whoa wait a minute, talk to us,’ said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. David Guas, the owner of Bayou Bakery in Arlington County, said the state’s guidance on reopening business is becoming unreliable.” [NBC 4]
Republican Candidate Running for County Board — “The Arlington County Republican Committee, which in recent years has found it challenging to field candidates, announced May 7 that retired attorney Bob Cambridge had won the GOP nod for the special-election ballot. ‘Bob will bring a robust discussion of important local issues to this race – focusing on fiscal accountability, government transparency and planning for the future,’ GOP chairman Andrew Loposser said.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Startup Secures More Funding — “Stardog, the leading Enterprise Knowledge Graph platform, today announced it has expanded its Series B round to $11.4m, securing an additional $3 million from new investors Contour Venture Partners, Dcode Capital, and Presidio Ventures… The additional capital will be used to scale go-to-market operations.” [Stardog via Potomac Tech Wire]
CPRO Launches ‘Feed Our Families’ Initiative — “As the pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives, access to fresh food has become the most urgent need for many families along Columbia Pike. That’s why we’re partnering with our Columbia Pike Farmers Market vendors to assemble weekly produce boxes that can be distributed to families in need.” [Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization]