More on Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrest — A lobbyist known for his promotion of conspiracy theories, particularly theories about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, says he was the victim of an incident that led to the arrest of a man in Fairlington on Saturday. Jack Burkman says the suspect, Kevin Doherty, shot him twice and tried to run him over with an SUV in the parking garage of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn. [Washington Post]
Isabella Sued for Sexual Harassment — “Celebrity chef Mike Isabella, the head of a $30 million culinary empire based in the nation’s capital, was sued Monday by a former top manager who claims that Isabella and his partners repeatedly sexually harassed her in the workplace… [The plaintiff] told The Post she joined Isabella’s company as a regional manager in 2015, helping to open his three Arlington, Va., properties.” [Washington Post]
Sprynt to Reopen for Season — Local free ride service Sprynt will be reopening for the season “in a few weeks,” according to founder Alex Villanueva. One of the company’s electric vehicles was seen parked in Clarendon last night with a “now hiring” sign on it. [Twitter]
Hotel Company Moving HQ to Crystal City — Interstate Hotels and Resorts is moving its headquarters from Ballston to Crystal City, per a press release. The company is leasing 35,000 square feet at 2011 Crystal Drive. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.
Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.
Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]
County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]
Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Flickr photo by John Sonderman
That’s the response ARLnow.com received to a Freedom of Information Act request, filed in the wake of a wave of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood, politics and the news business.
The recent #MeToo awakening started with explosive allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and has since spread, with dozens of prominent men from Kevin Spacey to Matt Lauer to Rep. John Conyers Jr. facing accusations that have led to firings and resignations.
One common thread: often the men accused of serious wrongdoing — from rape to harassment — were in positions of authority, which they used against their victims.
ARLnow wanted to see if anyone in a position of high authority within Arlington County government has been accused of sexual harassment or assault since 2000. At first we asked a county spokeswoman, who then directed us to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Here’s the response we received to our FOIA filing:
This letter is in response to your Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for details of any allegations, known to Arlington County’s Human Resources Department, of sexual assault or sexual harassment against Arlington County elected officials or senior staff members (director level or above) since 2000.
Please note, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 2.2-3704(B)(3) the requested records could not be found or do not exist.
Thank you for contacting this office.
Arlington County FOIA Officer
Lost Hikers Found Near Chain Bridge — Two men who had apparently been hiking along the Potomac River got lost and had to call emergency dispatchers after one of them fell and hurt himself. The call came in around 2:30 a.m. this morning. Arlington, Fairfax County, D.C. and U.S. Park Police units helped to search for the men — Fairfax used its police helicopter — and eventually they were found and transported to the hospital. [WUSA 9]
Video: ACFD Responds to FC Vehicle Fire — A minivan caught on fire in Falls Church over the weekend and a camera was rolling as Arlington County firefighters arrived to extinguish the blaze. [Twitter]
Holiday Decorations Going Up — Around Clarendon yesterday — and perhaps in other parts of the county as well — lights, window paintings and other festive decorations were being put up in anticipation of the holiday season. [Instagram]
Arlington Mill Gym Floor Installed — The new gym floor has been installed and is ready to use at the Arlington Mill Community Center. The gym’s previous floor had to be removed due to water damage stemming from a March snow storm. [Twitter]
County Announces Human Rights Award Winners — Among the recipients of Arlington County’s 2017 James B. Hunter Award winners are: Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer; the Building Bridges community initiative; Saint George’s Episcopal Church and its refugee advocacy; Café Sazón and its support of immigrant rights; and Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City, which is considered the only gay bar in Northern Virginia. [Arlington County]
Reporter Accused of Unwanted Advances in Local Bar — New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush has been suspended following accusations that during his time at Arlington-based Politico, he made unwanted sexual advances at young, female colleagues while drinking at a Rosslyn bar. [Vox]
John Glenn to Be Buried Today — Astronaut, U.S. senator and one-time Arlington resident John Glenn will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this morning. Glenn died in December at the age of 95. Arlington County Police Department motor units are assisting with rolling road closures for the funeral procession. [Rare]
CivFed Rejects Tax Hike — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted “overwhelmingly” to call on the County Board to reject a proposed property tax rate hike and instead tap into reserve funds to provide needed funding boosts for Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Tears for Casual Adventure — Long-time customers, employees and owners of Casual Adventure in Virginia Square are all shedding tears as the 61-year-old store prepares to close. The outdoor retailer is holding a store closing sale to liquidate its inventory. [NBC Washington]
Lawsuit: Sexual Harassment in Arlington Apartment — A lawsuit alleges that a 72-year-old official with a small graduate school in D.C. coerced students “into sexually explicit physical examinations at his Arlington, Va., apartment, ostensibly to keep their jobs and advance their careers.” [Washington Post]
Buckingham Profiled by WaPo — Buckingham is a diverse, relatively affordable community near Ballston and the Orange Line. But its civic association president does not like the direction the neighborhood is headed — and he didn’t mind expressing that in the Washington Post’s “Where We Live” community real estate profile. “For Bernie Berne… the biggest issue is the ‘destruction of the neighborhood by affordable housing,'” the paper wrote. “Berne… said he believes the ‘increase in the density’ of the area ‘takes away open space and trees.'” [Washington Post]
Per Student Spending Questioned — Arlington Public Schools is again being questioned about why it has the highest per-student costs — $18,957 — of any suburban D.C. jurisdiction. Fairfax County, the largest school system in the state, has a per-student cost of $14,432. [InsideNova]
Woman’s Tireless TSA Protest — Alyssa Bermudez, a former Army staff sergeant and Bronze Star recipient, has been tirelessly protesting in front of Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City, claiming that she was sexually harassed and fired for complaining about it. Other complaints and a lawsuit point to an alleged culture of harassment within the agency. [Washington Post]
ACPD Officers Meet Shaq — NBA great Shaquille O’Neal visited with D.C. area police yesterday on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. Several ACPD officers were photographed with the 7’1″ O’Neal. [Twitter, Twitter]
LiveSafe Launches Navy Pilot Program — Arlington-based startup LiveSafe has launched a six-month pilot program with a big client: the U.S. Navy. LiveSafe’s app will be used by sailors in Hampton Roads, Va. and in Rota, Spain “in an effort to prevent sexual assaults and combat other destructive behaviors before they happen.” [Stars and Stripes]
Arlington Man Tweets Hillary Sightings — Arlingtonian Adam Parkhomenko, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide and booster, is helping grieving Democrats by turning the former presidential candidate into a “wandering folk hero.” He’s doing so via a social media account that keeps track of photos of Clinton “in the wild” since she lost the election. [Vanity Fair]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Post-Election Harassment in Arlington — Among the incidents of “harassment and intimidation” reported across the country following the election was one in Arlington. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a woman was crossing the street when two men in a car yelled, “you better be ready because with Trump, we can grab you by the p***y even if you don’t want it.” [Independent UK, Southern Poverty Law Center]
GOP Wants Va. Electoral College Change — Following another year of Virginia being a blue state in the presidential election, state Republicans are pushing to change Virginia from a “winner take all” state to one that allocates Electoral College electors by congressional district. [InsideNova]
Heavy Traffic This Morning — With rain and fog slowing things down, heavy traffic has been reported on local highways throughout the morning rush hour. [Twitter]
Chamber Threatens to Go to Richmond on Towing — If Arlington County follows through on a proposal that would make it harder for property owners to have trespassing cars towed off their lot, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce says it may go to Richmond to lobby for a law superseding Arlington’s regulation. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Drew H.
World Gym Now ‘Exercise Nation’ — The poorly-reviewed World Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive has changed hands and is now “Exercise Nation,” a small low-cost gym chain with existing locations near Baltimore. Memberships start at $10/month. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Ramps Up Anti-Harassment Campaign — This month Metro began tracking all forms of sexual harassment, one additional step in the agency’s ongoing anti-harassment campaign. [Greater Greater Washington]
Four Mile Run Watershed Cleanup — Arlington County is organizing a watershed cleanup for Four Mile Run on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will be asked to help clean up at one of several sites along Four Mile Run, Arlington’s largest watershed. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Forum to Feature Streetcar Supporters, Opponents — On April 10, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a forum about the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar. A streetcar supporter, Arlington Chamber of Commerce chairman David DeCamp, will face off against a streetcar opponent, “Peter’s Take” columnist and former Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Peter Rousselot. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Rosslyn Outdoor Movies Start Tonight — The season of weekly, political-themed outdoor movies in Rosslyn starts tonight with the 1999 Matthew Broderick/Reese Witherspoon flick “Election.” The movie is scheduled to start at dusk.
Anti-Harassment Ads at Metro Stations — WMATA has placed anti-sexual harassment public service announcements in 28 Metro stations. In Arlington, the ads can be found in the Ballston and Clarendon Metro stations. [Stop Street Harassment]
Opening of Refurbished Affordable Apartments — Community members, local elected officials and affordable housing advocates gathered Wednesday to celebrate the preservation and renovation of Buckingham Village 3 — now renamed “Buckingham Gardens” — as committed affordable rental housing. Ninety-two apartments have been renovated and a new community center has been built as part of the project. [Arlington Mercury]
Margot MacDonald to Play Encore –– Arlington’s own singer/songwriter Margot MacDonald will be performing at Encore Stage, a local youth-oriented theater. The performance will take place this Saturday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre (125 S. Old Glebe Road). “Join us for an evening of Margot’s own eclectic rock and favorite covers,” Encore says on its website. “Recommended for ages 10 and up.” [Encore Stage & Studio]
“This purpose of this outreach is to let people know that it’s not okay to sexually harass people on Metro,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles on WMATA’s website. “We are encouraging anyone who may be harassed to report the incident to Metro Transit Police.”
Phase one included this week’s launch of an online reporting system. Victims have the option of remaining anonymous, but all reports will be sent directly to Metro Transit Police. An email address, [email protected], has also been set up to allow customers to send photos or video to assist in an investigation.
According to the website, reportable behavior includes “extended leering, sexual comments, indecent exposure, stalking and groping.” Even if an incident doesn’t seem like a crime, victims are asked to still report what happened so Metro can spot trends and try to prevent future crimes from occurring. Right now, WMATA does not track such statistics.
“Prior to this initiative, we were not collecting data on reported harassment that did not rise to the level of a crime,” said WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. “Over the next few months, we will track the data, develop a baseline for future comparisons, and report statistics publicly on a quarterly basis.”
A number of Arlington incidents of harassment on Metro have been made public over the last couple of years. An apparent repeat offender at the Courthouse station was reported to police by at least one woman whom he grabbed after taking a cell phone photo up her skirt. Another apparent repeat offender has been reported at the Pentagon stop in posts on the advocacy website Collective Action for Safe Spaces.
“The changes that Metro is making to address public sexual harassment and assault is a testament to the hundreds of stories we received on our site,” Collective Action for Safe Spaces Co-founder Chai Shenoy said on WMATA’s website. “We see this partnership as a step in the right direction and a model for other transit agencies around the world to follow.”
As part of the anti-harassment initiative, soon customers will see posters for the campaign displayed on buses and in train stations. Materials will be handed out throughout the system. Metro is also working on enhancing training for its employees on the front lines.
The woman’s story was published on the Hollaback DC blog, which chronicles gender-based harassment in the Washington area. The woman said the driver’s suggestive comments about her height made her feel “paralyzed.”
“I was so mad, so pissed, I nearly cried,” she wrote.
The alleged incident took place during the evening rush hour on the 10B bus, which travels from Hunting Towers in Alexandria to the Ballston Metro station, via Shirlington and Buckingham.
Metro riders can submit complaints about employee conduct here.
He is apparently known to Metro employees as “the guy who stands at the bottom of the escalators every morning looking up girls’ skirts.” And Erica Walters, the local blogger behind Books Are My Boyfriend, says she had an up-close, personal and very disturbing encounter with this creepy dude at the Courthouse Metro station this week.
Erica writes that she was going up the escalator at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday when the man suddenly took a photo up her skirt with a cell phone camera, grabbed her and walked away.
To make matters worse, as tears were streaming down her face she asked a “nicely dressed older woman” for help. The woman’s reaction? To shake her head and keep on walking.
Erica goes on to say that she spotted the man on the Courthouse escalators again on Thursday. This time, she had the presence of mind to turn the lens on him. She snapped her own cell phone camera photo, then filed a report with Arlington police (who she says have been “immensely helpful”).
She also talked to a Metro employee, who said she recognized the man in the photo as someone who has a track record of sexual harassment in the station (see the quote above). It’s not clear whether anybody at Metro has ever tried to do anything about it.
Photo via Flickr. No association with the story is implied.