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by Ethan Rothstein — January 15, 2015 at 11:00 am 0

Adam Ebbin and Alfonso Lopez before Arlington's first same-sex marriage on 10/6/14With former Gov. Bob McDonnell starting to serve a prison sentence on Feb. 9 after being convicted of federal corruption charges, Arlington’s state legislators are taking aim at the state laws surrounding political gifts.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has introduced SB 1289, called the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act. If passed, the bill would establish an independent commission on ethics, which would review all government disclosure forms, conduct random audits of legislators and grant waivers for certain gifts. It would also limit “tangible” gifts to $100 and intangible gifts, like flights and meals, to $250.

“Having a commission gives real teeth to our efforts and shows we’re serious about enforcement,” Ebbin said yesterday. “I’ve been working on this for a few years, for common sense ways to increase transparency and to penalize things that are beneath the standards of our public officials.”

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of receiving more than $177,000 in impermissible gifts from a high-profile donor, and the former governor and attorney general was sentenced to two years in prison. Despite the conviction, McDonnell wasn’t charged with corruption in any state case.

“You can drive a Mack truck through Virginia’s ethics laws,” Del. Alfonso Lopez said.

ARLnow.com spoke to several Arlington state legislators yesterday, and all of them pegged ethics reform as the biggest issue the General Assembly will face in its 2015 session. McDonnell’s conviction has helped drum up efforts for reform on both sides of the aisle.

“I’m confident there will be bipartisan support for increased reform, it’s just a matter of the details, and I’m a pretty detail-oriented guy,” Ebbin said. “I’m going to work hard to make sure the most effective elements of this legislation are adopted, I’m going to do everything in my power.”

Ebbin says his bill would aim to curb “unlimited dinners” for lawmakers and “private jets to golf tournaments,” which he finds “reprehensible.” There would be opportunities for public officials to get waivers if trips are educational or fact-finding, he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 15, 2015 at 10:00 am 785 0

Alfonso Lopez speaks at the Democratic victory party on Columbia PikeDel. Alfonso Lopez (D) knew his work trying to secure in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants wasn’t over last spring when Attorney General Mark Herring declared some “DREAMers” eligible for in-state tuition immediately.

The decision allowed children of undocumented immigrant who are legal residents because of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to receive in-state tuition if they meet other state residency requirements.

In this legislative session, there are bills in the House of Delegates and the state Senate that aim to undo Herring’s action. Lopez had previously introduced bills every year to do what Herring did in one fell swoop; now, he’s moving to block the new bills.

“We knew we’d have to defend against Tea Party attacks,” Lopez told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We assumed it would come. We hoped it wouldn’t, but now it has.”

The bills are HB1356, introduced by Loudoun County’s Del. David Ramadan (R), and SB722, introduced by Sen. Richard Black (R), also from Loudoun. Ramadan is himself an immigrant: he was born in Beirut, Lebanon, before immigrating to the United States.

Both bills declare that DACA-protected immigrants “do not have the capacity to remain in Virginia indefinitely,” and therefore are ineligible for in-state tuition. The bill applies to DACA children, those with temporary protected status — political refugees from foreign countries — and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.

“To think that Sen. Black would want to take the refugees of civil wars and deny them an opportunity of education… that is a huge step backwards.,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) told ARLnow.com.

Republicans control both houses in the General Assembly, and with a 67-32-1 advantage in the House of Delegates, so Lopez knows he faces a steep climb in trying to beat the bills.

“We’ve talked to the attorney general’s office, we’ve talked to the governor’s office,” Lopez said. “We also are organizing through education and religious groups, getting them to lobby in opposition against these bills. There are many groups around the state making calls who are saying this is the wrong attack to take, not only from a fairness and a moral issue to take, but also an economic development and job growth [perspective].”

“I think we’ll either be successful and able to defeat these bills in subcommittee or there will be a heck of a fight on the floor of the Senate and the House,” Lopez continued. “Even if by some miracle these bills pass, I don’t believe the governor will sign them into law. I think he’ll veto, but I don’t know.”

Lopez said the issue impacts “my family, my friends and my neighbors,” and highlights the importance of providing in-state tuition for the state’s economic growth. Arlington residents will directly be affected, like Dayana Torres, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax who commutes to school from Arlington.

“I see being able to pay the in-state tuition rate as an essential benefit for my education that my parents and I have paid into through taxes,” Torres said in an email to ARLnow.com. She is the president of the Mason Dreamers and co-founder and former president of Dreamers of Virginia. “I affiliate with the Republican party in many key political topics, so it is always difficult for me to see Republicans in office actively trying to reverse decisions that benefit my family and I since we have been paying taxes and desperately need the in-state-tuition rates.”


by Ethan Rothstein — January 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm 832 0

Rip Sullivan celebrates 48th District victory at O'Sullivan's in ClarendonDel. Rip Sullivan (D) has already filed 16 pieces of legislation, and his first session in the Virginia General Assembly is just hours old.

One of his biggest priorities after being elected in August to replace Del. Bob Brink (D) will be reforming the process by which Virginia draws its districts for both state and federal legislatures. Sullivan’s legislation, HB1485, would follow through on recommendations made by a state government integrity panel last month.

Although a long-shot in the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly, Sullivan’s bill calls for redistricting to become a nonpartisan process.

Every 10 years, after a new U.S. Census, state legislatures redraw their district maps to align with the population changes. Often, these districts are drawn in a way to include certain blocks of voters with one another in order to gain seats in Congress or the General Assembly. The problems are not unique to Virginia, but they might be worse here.

In October, a three-judge federal court ruled that Virginia would have to redraw its congressional map after it ruled it was drawn to include too many black voters into Virginia’s 3rd District.. The court gave the state until April 1, 2015 to redraw its map, but the case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sullivan and state Democrats think a nonpartisan panel would make redistricting fairer.

“This legislation will go a long way toward creating legislative districts that are truly compact, contiguous and respect political subdivision boundaries,” Sullivan said. “By reducing the role of politics, we will establish a redistricting process that is fair, transparent, and takes into account the interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.”

Sullivan’s legislation appears unlikely to pass; after the state’s panel — co-chaired by former Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling — ruled the process should be changed, House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell told the Washington Post through a spokesman that he would resist redistricting reform.

Nonetheless Sullivan thinks that Republicans, who have a vast majority in the House and a one-seat majority in the state Senate, may come around to his ideas yet.

I’d like to think people come down to vote for what’s best for Virginia rather than what’s best for themselves,” he said just hour before his first regular session. He said he senses “real traction” from some Republicans on the measure. “The fact that redistricting affects my [district’s] lines ought to be way down the list of concerns for someone down here.”

If the Supreme Court decides to overturn the lower court’s decision, Virginia’s electoral map would be redrawn in 2021, after the next census. A statewide organization called One Virginia 2021, which claims to have members from across the political spectrum, has endorsed Sullivan’s legislation.

“Delegate Sullivan’s legislation takes a major step toward ending gerrymandering  in the Commonwealth,” Greg Lucyk, the president of One Virginia 2021, said in a press release last week. “Gerrymandering eliminates competition in elections, increases voter apathy, and promotes polarization and gridlock.”

If passed, the bill would prevent the use of election data in redistricting, except to ensure “racial or ethnic minorities can elect candidates of their choice.” It would create a nonpartisan panel to look at population size, makeup and communities of interest when redrawing the maps.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm 794 0

State Senator Barbara Favola at Arlington Democrats 2011 election victory partyThe 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly official begins at noon today, and a pair of Arlington lawmakers are using the session to try to protect victims of sexual assault on college campuses.

Del. Rip Sullivan (D), in his first regular session in the General Assembly after being chosen in a special election to replace now-retired Del. Bob Brink, has already filed a bill aimed to help campus sex assault victims. HB1508 would require college campuses to have a memorandum of understanding with “a local sexual assault crisis center” to allow those reporting sexual assault to be able to take their claims off campus.

State Sen. Barbara Favola (D) is co-patron of a bill in the senate, along with two Loudoun senators, Sens. Jennifer Wexton (D) and Jill Vogel (R). Favola said that despite Rolling Stone magazine retracting its story detailing a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house, she’s still concerned about university responses to reports of sexual crimes on their campuses.

The Rolling Stone article gave me great concern, even though I know there were questions on whether it happened,” she told ARLnow.com this morning. “The point is this is a pretty serious problem on college campuses… We wanted to empower victims to come forward and report.”

The bills would allow victims to make anonymous reports if they do not want to officially report an assault, and it would provide amnesty to students who are worried that the circumstances under which they were assaulted could jeopardize their academic standing — for example, if a 19-year-old student was raped while drinking underage.

“My bill shouldn’t be a burden” for colleges that have stringent sexual assault policies already on the books, she said, “but for the colleges and universities have not been as aggressive with this, this bill will actually be able to enforce a zero-tolerance for sexual assault policy.”

With Vogel as a co-sponsor, Favola and Sullivan hope the bills can draw votes from the Republican side of the aisle — a requirement if either were to get passed by the Republican-controlled houses in the state legislature.

“I hope this bill with Sen. Favola is one that will receive bipartisan support in this environment,” Sullivan said. “There is a lot of attention paid to the hot-button issues in which there can be disagreement and things turn into partisan wrangling, but a lot of good law is, as I understand it, made every session on a bipartisan basis that doesn’t attract much attention.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — January 13, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,546 0

Ballston and I-66, as seen from a commercial flight

Unitarian Church Named Historic Place — The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The church’s modernist building was designed by noted architect Charles M. Goodman. [Arlington County]

Va. Lawmakers Fight Over State Song — Virginia is one of two states currently lacking a state song. The old song was “retired” 18 years ago due to questionable lyrics that drew complaints from African Americans. State lawmakers are against trying to settle on a new state song, but so far there are no clear frontrunners. [Washington Post]

College Game Almost Cost Arlington Man $16K — Arlington resident Patrick Leonard was told by the ticketing website Stub Hub that he was buying four tickets to Monday’s college football championship game in Dallas for $1,600. The next day, however, the bill came back for $16,000. Leonard, a die-hard Oregon Ducks fan, shared his tale of woe on social media and the school arranged four end zone seats for him at face value. [CBS DFW]

Hike to Arlington’s Highest Point — Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation is organizing a family hike to the highest point in Arlington on Saturday, Jan. 24. The highest point in Arlington is Minor’s Hill, which rises 459 feet at the western tip of the county. The hill has a history that includes roles in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — November 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm 2,125 0

Marijuana and handcuff (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents part of Arlington, has proposed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use.

Ebbin’s bill, SB686, is similar to the marijuana decriminalization statute that went into effect in the District earlier this year. (D.C. has since voted to legalize marijuana.) SB686 changes simple marijuana possession from a crime punishable by a $500 fine, and/or up to 30 days in jail, to a civil infraction — a ticket — with a maximum $100 penalty, payable to the state’s Literary Fund.

The distribution of marijuana would remain a crime, but would be reduced to a lesser misdemeanor for all marijuana quantities less than a pound. Growing up to up to six marijuana plants would be considered personal use and not an intent to distribute.

Ebbin, who was endorsed by the marijuana advocacy group NORML earlier this year, told Richmond’s CBS 6 that Virginia’s current marijuana laws do more harm than good.

“I don’t think marijuana decriminalization has ever been introduced in the Virginia Senate,” Ebbin told the TV station. “I think criminalizing marijuana, disrupting careers and families, does more harm than the drug itself does.”

The bill has a co-patron in Del. Kaye Kory, the Falls Church Democrat.

“Marijuana decriminalization is trending across the country and this bill will get us talking about it in Virginia,” Kory told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “The conversation will go back and forth over what steps we want to take and when to take them. There’s no telling how long the process will take, but the important thing is that we’re having the conversation.​”

There’s some history of support for marijuana-related reforms among local politicians and politically-active groups. In 2012, then-Del. David Englin (D) proposed studying whether Virginia ABC stores should some day sell marijuana. In April, the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans hosted a forum to discuss marijuana sentencing reform.

Ebbin’s bill will be considered once the Virginia General Assembly convenes in January. With both the House of the Delegates and the state Senate now controlled by Republicans, the bill seemingly faces long odds of passage.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,620 0

Columbia Pike streetcar renderingThe three state senators and four delegates that represent Arlington in the Virginia General Assembly have sent a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne in support of the Columbia Pike streetcar project.

The letter calls out County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt for their continued opposition to the project. On Friday, Garvey laid out alternative uses for the hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local transportation funding that are being directed toward the streetcar.

“We strongly disagree with the efforts of Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt to deprive Arlington of those state funds dedicated to the streetcar project,” the letter states.

The letter also cites the return on investment study the county funded that predicted more than $3 billion in economic impact in the first 30 years of the streetcar system. It refers to the support the streetcar has already received from state officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The letter was signed by state Sens. Janet Howell, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Patrick Hope, Rob Krupicka and Rip Sullivan.

The full letter is posted, after the jump. (more…)

by Barbara Favola — September 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm 721 0

The following letter to the editor was submitted by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) and Del. Kaye Kory (D-38), the chairs of the Reproductive Health Caucuses in the Senate and House of Delegates, respectively.

Our health care system is neither healthy nor accessible for many women, but Richmond lawmakers have an opportunity to make improvements. They need to stop playing politics with people’s lives and begin to start governing.

In large swaths of Virginia, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, women are suffering. This suffering affects the well being of all of us, not just the children and communities that are directly affected.

You probably didn’t know that childless, uninsured women are not eligible for Medicaid in Virginia even if they are planning to have children. Moreover, for many mothers who are eligible, they lose their Medicaid coverage 60 days after giving birth because they exceed the very low income requirements to qualify for Virginia’s sparse Medicaid program. This exacerbates an already stressful period in a mother’s life.

In fact, mothers in most parts of Virginia qualify for Medicaid only if they earn less than 40 percent of the federal poverty line. This means that a single mother in Richmond cannot receive Medicaid if she makes $6,100 a year or more. But if Virginia participated in Medicaid Expansion, a program for which we are already sending tax dollars ($5 million per day) to Washington, hard working individuals, including women, earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line would gain insurance coverage. Virginia’s tax dollars are supporting Medicaid Expansion in 29 other States but not here at home!

Medicaid expansion may not be perfect, but the cost of not going forward is astronomical. We all know that maternal health is critically important for the healthy development of a child. This means that prospective moms can only achieve a healthy state if they have access to care before pregnancy as well as access to pre- and post-natal care.  Preventing low-birth weight babies and developmentally delayed babies is something we must embrace. Virginia cannot afford to wait; we must pass Medicaid Expansion now.

by ARLnow.com — August 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm 918 0

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)This month, we asked the candidates for the House of Delegates 48th District special election to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Aug. 19.

Here is Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan’s unedited response:

The election on August 19th is not just about the candidates. It’s about the values of this District’s voters and our shared vision of a more welcoming, innovative, forward-looking society.

I’m running to be your next Delegate because I share the core values of 48th District voters — opportunity, inclusiveness, and equality. I’m running because I refuse to sit back as 400,000 Virginians are denied healthcare services. I’m running so that our children inherit a clean environment. I’m running because voters of the 48th district deserve a Delegate who will passionately fight for their values, not minimize the importance of those values for the sake of winning an election.

The Washington Post endorsed my candidacy last week, noting that I’ve taken “forthright stances” and that “voters would know what they are getting with Mr. Sullivan.” Throughout this campaign, I’ve made clear where I stand and how I will vote on all the issues of importance to the 48th District.

  • On Medicaid, I unequivocally support expansion immediately.
  • On gun control reform, I support reinstating the one-gun-a-month law, universal background checks, limits to high capacity magazines, banning assault weapons, and closing the gun show loophole.
  • On women’s reproductive health, I believe those decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.
  • On LGBT issues, I fully support marriage equality and ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • On the environment, I’ve shown how we can create a 21st century economy, with Virginia as a leader in creating jobs through clean technology and energy innovation.

In telling voters who I am, I have not tried to reposition myself or suggest that this is a single-issue election, because voters in the 48th District should base their vote on the many issues that will come before the General Assembly.

This is in stark contrast to my Republican opponent, Dave Foster, who is on the wrong side of so many issues. After interviewing him, the Washington Post concluded that Mr. Foster is a “shape-shifter,” saying “he has scrambled to rebrand himself… by taking vague, wait-and-see stands on several key issues.” The Editorial Board went on to highlight that his campaign strategy is “designed to mainly shift attention away from tough votes.”

And Mr. Foster acknowledges as much. At our most recent debate, Mr. Foster — again — refused to reveal to voters what his positions are on choice, gun control, marriage equality, or climate change. He sheepishly concluded to the audience that “I don’t talk about gun control and abortion… as I campaign for this because I know one has to establish priorities.”


Those are issues Dave will have to vote on in Richmond, and they are priorities to the voters. Voters are entitled to know where he stands before they cast their vote. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — August 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm 873 0

Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)This month, we asked the candidates for the House of Delegates 48th District special election to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Aug. 19.

Here is Republican Dave Foster’s unedited response:

I have demonstrated as a two-term chairman of the Arlington School Board and President of the state board of education that my problem-solving, consensus-building style gets results for our citizens. We need effective bipartisan representation in Richmond to address the Arlington streetcar, Medicaid, schools, the state’s economy, and the many other pressing issues we face. I will be that voice for the citizens of the 48th District.

I have been married for 33 years to Martha Tyahla Foster, of McLean. Our two children attended Arlington and Fairfax public schools and graduated from Virginia universities. I was President of the Arlington County Civic Federation and involved in numerous other community nonprofits, advisory committees, and PTA’s. It is my concern for the welfare of our community that led me to seek the office of Arlington School Board and the same concern motivates me to seek the office of House of Delegates.

I am concerned, as you are, about having a balanced, rational approach to transportation issues in our area. Unlike my opponent, I oppose the Arlington Streetcar proposal because it is neither practical nor affordable and will consume up to $164 million in state transportation funds that could be better used elsewhere. Roads and Metro, schools and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than this ill-considered project, which will not only require an initial investment of over $500 million but also an annual operating subsidy of several million dollars. If elected, I will introduce legislation to create a public referendum on the streetcar proposal so that taxpayers can have a voice in this decision just as they do on local bond proposals.

As a two-term Chairman of the Arlington School Board and former President of the Virginia Board of Education, I have worked for lower class sizes, improved school safety, enhanced foreign language offerings (Mandarin and Arabic), Virginia’s “No Child Left Behind” waiver, improved Standards of Learning (SOLs), and many other shared priorities. I would like to continue to my work to strengthen our public schools as your Delegate in Richmond. We must protect the cost-of-competing adjustment to state funding that recognizes the higher cost of providing high-quality education in Northern Virginia. We should also give our school boards increased local control over public school calendars and budgets. I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.

We must once again make Virginia the best place to start, expand, or relocate a business. I will protect our right to work law and oppose mandatory project agreements of the kind that almost derailed the Silver Line Metrorail. I will also resist the imposition of costly and unwarranted state regulatory mandates that duplicate federal mandates. Building upon the transportation package passed by the last General Assembly, with a focus on projects that reduce congestion, improve safety, and spur economic development, is also a priority.

Because I am the most experienced and effective candidate, I ask for your vote on August 19th.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 7, 2014 at 10:20 am 1,185 0

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Richard “Rip” Sullivan was selected as the Democratic nominee to replace Del. Bob Brink (D-48) during an instant runoff primary election on Sunday.

Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled “firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.

In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.

Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.

“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”

Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.

Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”

“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”

Sullivan and Foster are both attorneys: Sullivan is a partner at Reed Smith and Foster is a partner at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski.

Photo (top) via Facebook. Photo (bottom) via Foster for Delegate

by ARLnow.com — June 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm 1,183 0

Del. Bob Brink (D-48)(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who for the past 17 years has represented Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, announced his retirement today.

Brink will retire as of June 30. His 48th District includes Crystal City and parts of north Arlington and McLean.

Brink said in a statement that being able to serve in the Virginia legislature, which counts founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry among its former members, made him feel like “the luckiest guy on earth.”

It is “very likely” that Brink will be replaced in a special election in August, according to Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg. The final order will come from the speaker of the House of Delegates.

Brink was reelected to a new two-year term this past November. He ran unopposed. He is leaving the legislature after accepting a position as Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced this afternoon.

Brink’s office issued the following press release this afternoon.

Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington/McLean), who has represented the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for the past 17 years, announced Friday that he will retire from the House effective June 30.

“I’ve been honored beyond words to serve my fellow citizens as a member of the House,” Delegate Brink said. “But, ‘To every thing there is a season.’ It’s time for a new person to have this privilege, and it’s time for me to move on to new challenges.”

First elected in 1997, Delegate Brink is 13th in seniority in the 100-member House. He is the Dean of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation.

The 48th District includes north Arlington, Crystal City, and part of McLean in Fairfax County.

A member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Health Subcommittee, Delegate Brink cited as some of his proudest achievements in office his work on the FAMIS program which provides health coverage to children of the working poor, as well as efforts to maintain the health care safety net of services to vulnerable Virginians. The ranking Democrat on the House Privileges and Elections Committee, he has advocated for reform of the redistricting process and expansion of access to the vote for all eligible citizens. He also serves on the Education and Transportation Committees as well as on numerous legislative study commissions.

Delegate Brink has received recognition from a variety of groups for his service in the General Assembly. In 2013 the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia presented its Commonwealth Award to him for his efforts on behalf of blind and vision-impaired students. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has consistently commended him for his legislative record on environmental issues. He headed the Virginia YMCA’s Model General Assembly Program board for a number of years and received the YMCA’s Service to Youth Award in 2001. He is a board member and former chair of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and also serves on the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

Delegate Brink concluded, “On a personal note: A few weeks before I was sworn into office in 1998, I was in Richmond for freshman orientation. One night I took a walk around the Capitol and I stopped outside the House chamber. The curtains were open and the lights were on, and for the first time I saw the vote board with my name on it.

“I’ve looked up at that board thousands of times since that night. Some days it seemed like the only vote where I was in the majority was the quorum call. But every day, the knowledge that I’m one of a handful of Virginians whose numbers include Jefferson, Madison, and Patrick Henry made me think that I must be the luckiest guy on earth.”

Fellow Arlington delegate Alfonso Lopez issued the following statement about Brink’s retirement.

Delegate Brink has lead an extraordinary career in public service. Having served our community for over sixteen years in the House of Delegates, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped him fight for Arlington’s values and priorities in Richmond. As a friend, mentor, and leader in the Arlington delegation, Delegate Brink’s presence in the General Assembly will be sorely missed.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin also released a statement about Brink’s retirement.

For 17 years Delegate Bob Brink has brought Arlington’s values to Richmond in an outspoken, yet gentlemanly, way.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Bob has played a key role in the financial stewardship of the Commonwealth. He was an early and effective advocate of Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). He is responsible for easing enrollment, expanding outreach and the increased enrollment of underprivileged Virginia children in insurance, improving health outcomes. Thousands of blind and visually impaired children have benefited from Delegate Brink’s work securing funds for specialized teaching assistance.

On a personal level, Bob has been a great friend and taught me a lot about being a legislator.

Though the people of Virginia will benefit from his services as he assumes the position of Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services in the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, he will certainly be missed in the General Assembly.

by ARLnow.com — June 13, 2014 at 9:00 am 904 0

Plane above the runway at DCA, Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]

Library to Launch Tool Lending — Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]

Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]

Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — March 12, 2014 at 9:05 am 1,650 0

"Walking Mann" (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

County Relies on Tips for Snow Violations — All recent snow-removal ordinance violation notices sent out by Arlington County were sent as the result of tips from residents, not a proactive enforcement effort. [Sun Gazette]

Sewage Spill in Spout Run — Arlington residents and their pets are advised to avoid Spout Run south of Lee Highway for the next day or so due to a “minor sewage spill.” [Arlington Alert]

Yorktown Senior Is Top B-Ball Prospect — Yorktown High School senior Mikayla Venson is one of the top-ranked girls’ basketball players in Virginia. However, due to injuries she hasn’t played for the Patriots since 2011. She will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall. [Yahoo! Sports]

Historic Fraber House’s New Owners — Last year, a large oak tree fell on the Fraber House in Cherrydale, just days before the county-owned home was set to receive a local historic designation. Nonetheless, the county was able to fix up the 1913 home and sell it to a local couple. The pair, Charu and Colin McDermott, work in the building trades and are thus well-suited to help maintain the historic home. [Preservation Arlington]

Lawmakers Honor Arlington Notables — The Virginia General Assembly has passed resolutions honoring a number of notable Arlington residents and institutions. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

by Ethan Rothstein — February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am 810 0

Virginia Capitol (photo courtesy Del. Bob Brink)(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) In a bipartisan effort, the Virginia Senate passed sweeping mental health reform yesterday.

The bill, SB 260, establishes a psychiatric bed registry, extends the maximum duration of temporary custody from four to 24 hours and establishes and “clarifies procedures for placement of those subject to an involuntary temporary detention order,” according to a Senate Democrats press release.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), who police say was stabbed by his son, Austin, in the face and chest before Austin Deeds shot himself in November. Austin Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

Sen. Barbara Favola (D) was a co-patron of the bill, and announced its 38-0 passage Monday with a press release, below:

Senate Bill 260, of which Senator Favola is a co-patron, has passed the Senate today, providing a safety net for individuals suffering from mental illnesses. When an individual is evaluated under an emergency protection order and a determination is made that a temporary detention order (TDO) is needed, the bill ensures that a psychiatric bed will be available.

The bill will protect Virginia residents from the potential threats associated with mental health patients by providing sufficient time to determine the degree to which they are a threat to themselves and to others. The psychiatric bed registry will benefit these patients by guaranteeing them secure facilities in which they can be detained and will facilitate efficiency in law enforcement and crisis response services.

Furthermore, the liberty given to local community services boards to determine alternative facilities for such patients will also ensure their personalized, and therefore improved, treatment. This is filling an important hole in the mental health safety net.

Senator Favola said “Ensuring the availability of a psychiatric bed is crucial to providing much needed care.”

Under the current system, if a bed is not available a judge will not issue a TDO even if the individual needs a more comprehensive evaluation and a treatment plan.


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