Arlington, VA

(Updated at 8:50 p.m.) None of the three contestants on Jeopardy last night knew that Arlington is, in fact, a county.

The bottom-row, $1,000 clue under “American Superlatives” contained the following answer: “At 26 square miles, Arlington is the smallest self-governing this in the United States.” The quiz show contestants remained silent until host Alex Trebek revealed the correct response: “it’s a county.”

The trio otherwise got most of the questions right during the round.

While Arlington is a county, its compact geography and dense urban corridors confuse many outsiders into thinking it is a city. There are some, like former County Board member Jay Fisette, who say that Arlington should take the leap of changing its form of government and becoming a city under Virginia law.

This post previously included a short video clip from the show, but it was taken down by YouTube after a copyright claim by Jeopardy producer Sony Pictures Television.

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Morning Notes

Expensive Bike Parking Spaces — “Metro has spent nearly $20,000 per bike parking space at three bike facilities, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found. Metro has spent over $5.9 million on the construction of 304 bike spaces at the three facilities… located at the College Park, East Falls Church and Vienna Metro stations.” [NBC 4]

Short Waits to Vote in Arlington — “Eager to avoid waiting in line while casting an early ballot? Try to avoid peak times and you should be fine. ‘Wait times are minimal,’ said county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer, with the exception of early morning and occasionally at lunchtime. Other than that, voters have been experiencing waits of 10 minutes or less, and ‘most people are just walking straight in to vote,’ she said.” [InsideNova]

Voters Flocking to Ballot Drop-Boxes — “Arlington has set up nine dropboxes for the secure collection of ballots at points across the county, representing another option for those who neither want to vote in person nor wish to trust the U.S. Postal Service with their ballots. That network has proved ‘very popular,’ Arlington elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

Biden Leads in New Va. Poll — “Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among likely Virginia voters, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll — roughly double Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the state in 2016. Biden’s advantage cuts across most demographic groups, with regional strength in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area.” [Washington Post]

Local Nonprofit Featured on GMA — “Lights, camera, action! We had a wonderful experience filming with the Good Morning America team last week. The piece aired early this morning… We were thrilled by an unexpected and very generous gift from Amazon.com to help our residents weather the pandemic.” [Facebook, Vimeo]

Police Investigation Bill Signed into Law — “Gov. Northam has signed my bill (HB 5072) to empower the Atty Gen to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations of police forces that appear to be violating constitutional rights, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, or racially biased policing.” [@Lopez4VA/Twitter]

Pupatella Now Available for Delivery — “UBER EATS Now available at all locations – DC (Dupont Circle), both the Original Wilson Blvd spot and South Arlington, as well as Richmond too! We’ve partnered up with UberEats to bring you some of the best pizza around.” [@PupatellaPizza/Twitter]

Local Beer Biz Figure Dies — “Ben Tolkan, a popular figure in DC’s beer industry who was the subject of a Washingtonian feature story, died late Saturday night after a five-and-a half-year battle with cancer. He was 37.” Tolkan is survived by his wife, Abby, an Arlington County public school teacher. [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Parking Lot Staying Put — “Crystal City has been a scalding hot market for new development ever since Amazon.com Inc. moved in — but one well-positioned lot will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future. Gould Property Co., which owns a small parking lot at 2661 S. Clark St., filed a request with Arlington County last month asking for permission to maintain the property as surface parking through early 2026.” [Washington Business Journal]

Westover Apartment Building Named — “Kathleen Sibert, who led the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) from 2008 until earlier this year, will remain a permanent part of the organization through a facility named in her honor… Located in Westover, Sibert House is designed to provide permanent-supportive housing and a foundation to help individuals achieve better health, overcome substance abuse and mental illness, obtain job security, and attain their goals.” [InsideNova]

Schools Also Facing Budget Gap — “Superintendent Durán said that APS is facing an estimated budget gap at this time of between $24 million and $31 million. The APS budget gap continues to fluctuate and is based on continued unknowns including more possible revenue loss, more possible savings and more costs as APS works to return students to in-person learning while continuing to provide distance learning. The school district is examining its current practices and reviewing the budget.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Water Facts — “In a year, Arlington residents use some 8 billion gallons of water. That’s about a trillion 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Clean, safe and always at the ready.” [Twitter]

Real Estate Costs on the Rise — “Not only are home prices on the rise across the Washington area; the average cost on a per-square-foot basis continues to grow, too… In Virginia, Arlington led the pack, with its average per-square-foot cost of $455 up 4.4 percent from $436.” [InsideNova]

Real Estate Firm Opening Second Office — “McEnearney Associates is excited to announce a new office location in the heart of Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia located at 3033 Wilson Boulevard… This will be McEnearney Associate’s second office location in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Airport Concession Sales Way Down — “Roughly 33 concessionaires were open at Reagan and 44 at Dulles, or just over 40% of all shops in the two airports… the shops that are open are still struggling with very low foot traffic and a customer base that is spending less than normal. Sales per passenger were down 20% at Reagan National and 22% at Dulles in August compared to the same month of 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Early Voting on Irish TV — “Irish TV RTÉ was in Courthouse filming the early voting for the election.” [@Irelands4Courts/Twitter]

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) There’s a “Bachelorette” contestant from Arlington.

Jason Foster, 31, is a former pro football player who lives in the Courthouse area and works as an Account Manager for a local staffing firm. His official ABC biography says he loves animals, spending time outside, and visiting Arlington’s historical sites.

“Jason prides himself on being able to have fun everywhere he goes,” the network’s bio says. “On the weekends, Jason loves to spend his days visiting historical monuments around Arlington or kayaking on the Potomac River.”

Foster was an NFL lineman after college at the University of Rhode Island, with stints on the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before wrapping up his pro career with a year in the Canadian Football League, according to his LinkedIn page.

“After suffering too many concussions on the field, [Jason] decided to prioritize his health and change the direction of his life,” the network bio says. “Since leaving the NFL in 2016, he has lost 120 pounds and started a career in IT staffing and solutions.”

One of two contestants from the D.C. area this season, Foster says on the show that he was born on Long Island but moved to Vermont with his family as a young kid.

Foster made an impression on Bachelorette Clare Crawley, 39, by getting out of the limo with a pillow tucked under his dress shirt — a reference to Crawley’s “pregnant” limo exit when she was a contestant on a previous ‘Bachelor’ season. There was, however, an awkward moment when Foster compared Crawley’s looks to his mom’s.

In the end, Foster was one of the lucky guys to get a rose and advance to next week. If he continues to advance he might end up courting a different lady — reports suggest that Crawley exits the show early after falling for one of the contestants, at which point previous ‘Bachelor’ contestant and fan favorite Tayshia Adams is brought on as the new lead.

Foster is not the first Arlingtonian to appear on the long-running reality franchise.

A local high school teacher failed to get a rose from Brad Womack on the first night of the 2011 Bachelor season.

Jillian Anderson, a former TV producer who currently works as a publicist, produced a memorable moment in 2015 when she slipped on a rug when accepting a rose early on, before being eliminated soon thereafter. She also appeared, briefly, on the ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ spinoff show, but found her happy ending last year after getting engaged to a work colleague, Mike King, who goes by the Twitter handle @kingofarlington.

Another Arlington connection to the show: Chris Bukowski, co-owner of the Bracket Room in Clarendon, is a repeat ‘Bachelorette’ and ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ contestant who holds the title of most appearances on the franchise.

Here’s what Foster said last night on Instagram about his five minutes (so far) of reality show fame:

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Morning Notes

Girl’s Study Shed Featured on NBC — With the help of a local Facebook group called “Buy Nothing,” an Arlington dad built a study shed for his daughter using materials donated by neighbors. The project was featured on Saturday’s national NBC Nightly News broadcast. [YouTube, Washington Post]

APS Graduation Rate Improves — “Arlington’s public-school students posted a 93.4-percent on-time graduation rate up from 92.5 percent a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education. Rates rose among both genders and in major racial/ethnic groups compared to the Class of 2019, while the school system’s dropout rate showed improvement, declining from 5.6 percent in 2019 to 4.9 percent in 2020.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Halloween Shop Struggles — “This was supposed to be the biggest Halloween of Lorenzo Caltagirone’s career.
For the first time in 95 years, it would fall on both a full moon and a Saturday — an equation that normally would mean big profits for his Virginia costume shop. Instead, sales are down 80 percent and he is running low on cash.” [Washington Post]

Vehicle Tampering Suspects Flee — “Police were dispatched to the report of two subjects trespassing and tampering with vehicles in a parking garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that security observed two suspects enter the garage on motorcycles and begin trying door handles. Arriving officers observed the suspects, however, when they attempted to stop them, Suspect One got on a motorcycle, then fled on foot and the Suspect Two fled on a motorcycle.” [ACPD]

Memorial Service for Erik Gutshall — A memorial service for the late County Board member Erik Gutshall was held last night at outdoor the Lubber Run Amphitheater. Some mourners attended in person, though the service was also broadcast online. [YouTube]

Beyer’s Warnings Unheeded By White House — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “specifically and directly warned the White House and the Trump Campaign in June, July, August, and September that refusing to wear masks or social distance could create ‘super-spreader events.’ We used those words,” said Beyer’s spokesman. [Twitter]

Cross-Country Tandem Bike Ride — “Terri and Bruce Brown are finishing up a more than 3,000-mile, three-month bicycle trip from Oregon to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, not with two bikes, but one.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Soldiers Nearly Struck By SUV on TV — “Two soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment — also known as the The Old Guard — gave D.C. early morning viewers a real-time safety briefing when a driver nearly ran them down in the background of a live TV report on” safety changes around Memorial Circle. [Military Times, WJLA]

APS Not Releasing Some COVID Info — “Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said 11.7 percent of school staff have ‘been excluded from work due to COVID health and safety procedures’… [Bellavia] refused to say how many schools within Arlington have seen cases of the virus, calling building-level data “private health information.” [Washington Post]

Local Resident Charged With Election Felony — “Jacob Wohl and [Rosslyn resident] Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies of intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election law and using a computer to commit a crime, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday, after thousands of residents from at least five states received the robocall aimed at discouraging absentee voting.” [Washington Post]

E*Trade Acquisition to Close — Morgan Stanley is expected to complete its $13 billion acquisition of Arlington-based E*Trade today. The online brokerage was founded in Silicon Valley but eventually came to be headquartered in Arlington after it acquired Arlington-based Telebanc in 2000. [Virginia Business]

Sierra Club Calls for Electric Metrobus Fleet — “The environmental group has laid out a detailed process by which it believes Metro can get to fully electric by 2045. It proposes that the transit agency convert half of its fleet by 2030, 75 percent by 2035, 90 percent by 2040 and 100 percent by 2045.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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PBS is asking the Arlington County Board permission to add its logo to the top of its new headquarters in Crystal City.

The public broadcasting network is moving from its current space at 2100 Crystal Drive to the northern corner of the neighborhood, at 1225 S. Clark Street, after signing a 15-year-lease for 120,000 square feet of office space last year.

There’s just one problem: the new headquarters building has a condition placed on it, from its original county approval in 1979, specifying that no rooftop signs be placed. PBS is asking the County Board, at its meeting this Saturday, to scrap the 40-year-old restriction and allow its logo to grace the top of the office tower.

From a county staff report:

The subject site consists of four (4) office buildings on individual parcels of land, and the associated underground parking; the buildings also have a small amount of below grade retail in the Crystal City Underground. The buildings are part of the larger Crystal Gateway mixed-use site plan that was originally approved in its current form by the County Board in 1979, with an additional major amendment approved in 1984. Crystal Gateway has approximately 1,380,000 square feet of office and commercial use and 242 dwelling units in two (2) condominium buildings.

The original approval of the Crystal Gateway site plan in 1979 included a condition (#3) that prohibited the installation of rooftop signs. A comprehensive sign plan for the Crystal Gateway site plan project was initially approved by the County Board in 1983 and was amended several times. Additionally, the site plan has been amended twice to specifically allow rooftop signs on separate office buildings within the project boundaries. The applicant now requests that the restrictive condition prohibiting the installation of rooftop signs be eliminated to allow for sign permits to be obtained for the buildings in a manner consistent with the current provisions of Article 13 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance

The new PBS headquarters is located next to the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters and a couple of blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2.

“We are thrilled that PBS will remain in Crystal City, especially during such a transformative and exciting time for this community,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said last year. “Keeping our headquarters in Arlington is great for PBS and our employees, and we’re proud to call ‘National Landing’ our home.”

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Brittany O’Grady, a Washington-Liberty High School graduate, is starring in Apple TV+’s new series, Little Voice.

O’Grady plays Bess King, a singer-songwriter trying to navigate New York City while pursuing a career in music with her earnest songs.

The show is executive produced by Sara Bareilles, J.J. Abrams and Jessie Nelson, and is loosely based on Bareilles’ early days in the music industry. The soundtrack features original songs written by Bareilles.

O’Grady began her acting career in Arlington, with roles in Encore Stage’s 2007 production of The 12 Dancing Princesses and Signature Theater’s The Witches of Eastwick when she was 10.

She graduated from W-L in 2013 and has performed on major D.C. stages like Ford’s Theater, The Kennedy Center and The White House.

O’Grady’s first major television appearance was in a 2014 episode of ABC’s Trophy Wife, in which she plays an abrasive teenager at a mini golf course. She went on to play the main character’s sister in three seasons of Star on Fox, as well as have roles in thriller films Above Suspicion and Black Christmas.

Little Voice, which premiered July 10, has garnered O’Grady attention from some of entertainment media’s biggest outlets. She has done interviews with Vanity Fair, People, Variety, InStyle, E! and The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Amid questions about what it is like to work with Bareilles and how the show’s love triangle will work out, a recurring theme in these interviews is O’Grady’s candor regarding racial issues in the television and film industries.

“Now, as we’re progressing forward, people who are casting for roles, they usually go for… a Black person” with European features they believe to be more appealing, O’Grady, who is biracial, said to InStyle. “And I think that a lot of dark-skinned women in our industry have felt ignored, have felt overlooked, have felt that their beauty has not been appreciated or represented well, and usually only represented by lighter-skinned women.”

O’Grady has also been vocal in her support of social justice issues to her nearly 800,000 Instagram followers.

“Systematic racism… still affects Black people in our country today,” she said in one recent post. “It affects our beliefs, our school systems, and our communities. As a biracial black woman who often looks racially ambiguous to others, I have had minor experiences with racism and it took me till I left home and went to a private conservative college to experience the honest despair my peers have felt their whole lives.”

“If you are indifferent, annoyed or even offended by people addressing racism and racist systems in our country, that is your privilege and your ignorance, she continued. “It’s everyone’s responsibility in our country to address this and fix it, even if you think it doesn’t affect you. Because it does.”

O’Grady’s mother is Arlington School Board Chair Monique O’Grady. In 2017, O’Grady introduced her mother at a campaign event.

The eighth episode of the nine in Little Voice‘s first season is being released today.

Photo via brittanyogrady.com

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Morning Notes

Virtual County Fair Starts Today at Noon — “August 14-16, the Arlington County Fair will be hosting a variety of LIVE events on our Facebook page (via Facebook Live) to share the magic of the Fair even during unsure times. Check out our exciting schedule that includes fan favorites and some brand-new fun.” [Facebook]

County Considering More Early Voting Locations — “Arlington County Board members will hold a special session Aug. 25 to act on a request from county election officials doubling the number of ‘satellite’ early-voting centers across the county this fall. In addition to Madison and Walter Reed community centers, which had been used for early voting in recent presidential elections, the Electoral Board aims to add the Aurora Hills Community Center and Langston-Brown Community Center.” [InsideNova]

Local Movie Theaters to Open Soon — “Arlington’s two AMC Theatres are set to reopen on Aug. 27: AMC Courthouse Plaza 8 [and] AMC Shirlington 7… the movie theater chain said guests will pay just 15 cents per movie on that day.” [Patch]

Inside PBS NewsHour HQ in ArlingtonUpdated at 9:40 a.m. — From a magazine feature written pre-pandemic: “This is how PBS NewsHour happens every weekday: with a 9:45 a.m. meeting that feels, already, like midday. Each morning, some 30 people fit into a tight conference room in a low-slung brick building on the outskirts of Shirlington to discuss what the longtime public television fixture will air that evening at 6 p.m.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Fundraiser for Local Fitness Instructor — “Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many… He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy.” [Community Post]

Marymount Ditches SAT/ACT Requirement — “Beginning with applicants for the Fall 2021 semester, Marymount University will adopt a complete test-optional policy for submission of SAT and ACT scores. This decision builds off of the University’s longstanding commitment to a holistic review of applications, as Marymount has been test-optional for select students for a number of years already.” [Press Release]

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The owner of the Arlington Smoke Shop in Green Valley says charges have been dropped against the alleged burglar shot by a store employee.

Jowan Zuber said this week on a GoFundMe page for the employee, Hamzeh Abushariah, that the “mastermind of the burglary” was “allowed to walk free” by prosecutors — while Abushariah remains under house arrest, facing serious charges in connection to the March 29 shooting.

Two other alleged burglars are still facing charges, after police say they broke into the store at 2428 Shirlington Road early in the morning and attempted to steal items. Abushariah was sleeping in a backroom of the store at the time, but woke up and grabbed the store’s gun. Zuber says the person who was shot is being “protected” by prosecutors.

“I can’t believe they’re protecting the criminal,” he said last night on Tucker Carlson Tonight, his second appearance on top-rated the Fox News opinion show. “I’m sure if the criminal broke into their house they would be doing 10 years in jail right now.”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, declined to confirm that charges were dropped against the suspect, who — like the other two — are juveniles.

“Based on the ethical rules which govern lawyers and prosecutors, we are very limited in what we can say about cases — and even more limited in what we can say about juvenile cases,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said Monday, in response to an ARLnow inquiry. “The only question I can answer is that the case of the adult (shooter) is still pending.”

ARLnow previously reported that the third suspect had not been charged and was still “in a medical facility” almost one month after the shooting. Zuber told the Daily Caller that he appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Despite the juvenile’s injuries, Zuber said last night that it was not fair for Abushariah to be facing charges and the alleged organizer of the crime to be free, suggesting without additional evidence that there might be a political motivation.

“This is so sad and so shocking, the justice system is not working in Arlington,” he said. “The prosecutor’s office is very upset that I came on your show and spoke the truth and now they’re looking at the whole thing a different way.”

Following a preliminary hearing on July 30, Abushariah’s case is now heading to Arlington Circuit Court. Zuber wants police to release the full surveillance video of the shooting, which he claims shows the now-free suspect “lunging” at Abushariah before the shooting. Prosecutors say the boy was shot “point blank” in the back.

“I hope that Arlington County will share the video exactly,” Zuber said.

Zuber noted that Abushariah is under house arrest and cannot work or take his kids to the park, but still has to pay more than $1,000 per month in child support and fees for his court-mandated GPS monitor. The GoFundMe for Abushariah has raised more than $10,000 since last night’s “Tucker” show, and now stands at $13,349 of a $100,000 goal.

Zuber said the handling of the burglary case sends a bad message to young people.

“Hey you can go rob and steal and the prosecutor will stand next to you and defend you,” he said. “This is sad for justice, this is injustice.”

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A proposal to expand public television station WETA’s Shirlington headquarters has been approved by the Arlington County Board.

The station is planning to construct a four-story addition between the existing office building, at 3939 Campbell Avenue, and its parking garage. The 17,000 square foot addition would then house the WETA studios that produce the national PBS NewsHour broadcast, allowing the current NewsHour studios to be razed and used to expand Jennie Dean Park.

In addition to housing more than 100 NewsHour employees, the addition will have a giant, outward-facing TV screen on the ground floor, adding some flair to Shirlington’s street life.

An even larger project may eventually come to the current WETA site, after the Board’s approval of a new Shirlington land use plan study on Saturday. The study suggests that WETA’s above-ground parking garage is a prime candidate “for demolition and redevelopment.”

More on the expansion approval, from a county press release:

The Arlington County Board has approved WETA’s plan to expand its Shirlington headquarters and an incentive grant to will keep the public television station in Arlington for at least another 5 years.

“WETA was born in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “Its headquarters lies on Campbell Avenue, named for Elizabeth Campbell, an educator and activist who worked tirelessly to create a public television station here that was educational and good for children. She then guided it for four decades. WETA is a big part of Shirlington’s success and an important part of our community. I’m thrilled that this respected educational and cultural institution, and its 292 jobs, will be staying in Arlington for years to come.”

The Board voted unanimously to approve the expansion, the performance-based incentive grant, and purchase and lease-back agreement for WETA’s 27th Street S. studio site…

WETA, the non-profit local PBS station, will add a four-story studio and office building to its existing six-story headquarters at 3939 Campbell Avenue, opened in 1989. The addition, with its state-of-the-art television studio, will be built in a private courtyard between the existing building and WETA’s above-grade parking garage, connecting the two existing structures. A large media screen will be installed at the building’s ground level on S. Quincy Street.

The expansion will allow WETA to vacate its aging television studio on 27th Street S., which the County is purchasing for the expansion of Jennie Dean Park.

The Board approved a $2.27 million Economic Development Incentive (EDI) grant for WETA. Under the grant agreement, WETA is committed to retain its 292 jobs and more than 88,000 square feet of occupied commercial space in Shirlington for at least 15 years and to invest at least $15 million in constructing the new studio. The EDI grant is performance-based, with WETA eligible to receive up to $112,500 annually over 15 years if it meets the jobs and base facility targets. WETA must repay the grant if it does not reach its performance targets. Staff estimates that the 15-year net tax benefit for the County will be approximately $4.8 million. The Board also approved the purchase, for a price of $8 million of WETA’s 27th Street S., studio, and a lease-back agreement that will allow WETA to lease the studio for up to five years.

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