Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]
APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]
Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]
Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]
DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]
Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]
Arlington Public Schools is not alone in defying Virginia’s new governor.
One of the first acts in office for Gov. Glenn Younkin (R) was an executive order intended to let parents decided whether their children wear masks to school. But APS — along with Alexandria and Fairfax County, among other public school systems — says that masks are still required, despite the order.
APS argues that state and federal law still requires masks in schools and on buses, and thus the governor’s order is, essentially, invalid. Youngkin hinted that a legal clash may follow.
“The fact that that tweet came out from Arlington County within minutes of my executive order, what that tells me is that they have not listened to parents yet,” Youngkin said, when asked about it by a WTOP reporter. “We will use every resource within the governor’s authority to explore what we can do and will do in order to make sure parents’ rights are protected.”
On Twitter and in interviews, Arlington’s Democratic state lawmakers backed the local school system.
Governor Youngkin talks about parental involvement in schools. The overwhelmingly majority of Arlington parents want masks worn in schools. Does parental involvement only matter if the Governor agrees?
— Barbara Favola (@BarbaraFavola) January 16, 2022
“No authority at all.” Delegate Patrick Hope of Arlington County responds to Governor Youngkin who said he may use state resources to try to force the county’s school system to comply with his order – which effectively removes school mask mandates. @WTOP @HopeforVirginia pic.twitter.com/Z6ZoFGQ9yp
— Nick Iannelli (@NickWTOP) January 16, 2022
Also issuing a statement of support for APS was a notable Arlington resident: White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong),” President Biden’s primary spokesperson said on Twitter. “Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.”
Legality aside, Youngkin’s executive order suggested that, in practicality, requiring masks in schools is ineffective and fails to substantially reduce virus transmission.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends use of masks, and has published studies showing more Covid cases among schools without universal masking policies. But some have questioned the science behind the CDC’s guidance.
At last check, there were nearly 1,000 confirmed Covid cases among students and staff in the seven days following their return to school from winter break and a week of snow days.
What do you think: should APS stand firm on its masking policies, or do you support Youngkin’s call to make masks optional at schools?
Development Proposal for Ballston Macy’s — “The Ballston development pipeline continues to grow as plans come into focus for the Macy’s department store in northern Virginia. Insight Property Group is seeking Arlington County’s approval to raze and replace the Macy’s/office building at 685 N. Glebe Road with a 16-story development, delivering 555 apartments above a grocery store. The project would transfer development rights and density from the affordable Tyrol Hill/Haven Apartments off Columbia Pike.” [UrbanTurf]
‘Arlington Superwoman’ Invited to White House — “Mariflor Ventura, also known as ‘Arlington Superwoman,’ tells 7News she has been personally invited to the White House for July 4th celebrations. The Bidens have said they plan to host first responders, essential workers, and military service members and their families on the South Lawn for a cookout and to watch the fireworks over the National Mall… Ventura was first featured by 7News in April for her tireless dedication to feed, clothe and provide for hundreds of immigrant families.” [ABC 7, ABC 7]
Why There’s a Bit of a Haze in the Sky — From the National Weather Service: “If the sky seems milky to you, it’s probably because of the high altitude smoke which has moved into the area from wildfires in the western US and Canada. This smoke will likely hang around at least through tomorrow.” [Twitter]
Record Year for Local Pet Adoptions — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington found homes for a record-breaking number of dogs, cats and small animals during the fiscal year ending June 30, the organization announced on July 1. A total of 2,587 animals ‘were adopted into loving families and brought much-needed laughs, love and comfort’ during a tumultuous time, said Animal Welfare League CEO Sam Wolbert.” [Sun Gazette]
New Farmers Market Finds Success — “Vendors from Pennsylvania to the Northern Neck of Virginia traveled to Arlington Saturday morning to sell their vegetables and other goods at the inaugural Cherrydale Farmers Market in Arlington. The customer count was larger than organizers expected, especially from the time the market opened at 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. Some vendors sold out of their goods long before the market wrapped up at noon.” [Patch]
More Libraries Open Today — “Starting July 6, Arlington residents and Library patrons will have access to five open library locations — Aurora Hills, Central, Columbia Pike, Shirlington and Westover libraries. Arlington Public Library will prioritize access to library collections, reintroduce core library services and feature new operating hours across the system.” [Arlington Public Library]
Nats Offer Prize for Summer Readers — “This year, the Washington Nationals are offering each reader who finishes Summer Reading one voucher for an upcoming baseball game. Each voucher is good for two free Nats tickets, while supplies last.” [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy Beth Ferrill
Despite everything that transpired leading up to it, Inauguration Day saw a peaceful transfer of power as now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House and President Joe Biden was sworn in.
Overlooking it all from across the Potomac, Arlington played a bit part in pomp and circumstance.
Those with a vista across the river could catch a clear view this morning of President Trump departing the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One.
The view from Arlington of Marine 1 as the Trump family left the White House headed for Joint Base Andrews. Just past the U.S. Capitol, Marine 1 turned back for a final tour along the National Mall. @HelicoptersofDC @ARLnowDOTcom @WTOP @hhowardWTOP #Inauguration2021 @DildineWTOP pic.twitter.com/ZAiVgiJ8Gc
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) January 20, 2021
The inauguration ceremony that followed was devoid of members of the general public, as security and virus concerns closed the National Mall. Some who wanted to experience history unfold in person headed instead to the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Rosslyn.
— Victoria Sanchez (@VictoriaSanchez) January 20, 2021
A sizable security presence could be seen near the Rosslyn Metro station as the inauguration ceremony concluded and as President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — joined by former residents Clinton, Bush, Obama — headed via motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.
Biden and Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before heading back into D.C., via the Memorial Bridge, for their arrival at the White House.
At Arlington National Cemetery, @POTUS and @VP, joined by former Presidents @BarackObama, @BillClinton and George W. Bush, honor our men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/tAsx9NoRiM
— Biden Inaugural Committee (@BidenInaugural) January 20, 2021
Earlier today, President @JoeBiden and @VP Kamala Harris participated in a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Biden and Harris visited ANC after Biden was sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States. pic.twitter.com/B4RM0Sbt4l
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) January 20, 2021
Rent Falling in Arlington — “The median rental price in Arlington for a two-bedroom apartment of $2,032 at the end of the year was down 14.8 percent from March, when the pandemic hit, according to the analysis. Arlington is among of 12 major urban communities that have seen rents fall by more than 10 percent since COVID’s arrival.” [InsideNova, WTOP]
Hotel Guest Arrested for Punching Cop — “Hotel management requested police stand by while they removed individuals from a room for violation of hotel policies. Management advised the guests they would need to leave, and while two of the occupants began to collect their belongings, an argument ensued between them. The dispute continued outside of the room and began to escalate, at which point officers separated the parties. The suspect then allegedly threw an unknown object into the elevator and rushed towards an officer, striking them with a closed fist.” [ACPD]
Compass Apologizes for Rogue Social Post — D.C.-based cafe chain Compass Coffee is apologizing for posting a screenshot of a tweet that said “Republicans are not our countrymen. They are terrorists…” on its Instagram account. “Sorry about this!” Compass said about the post. “Absolutely not what we believe or in line with our values. Currently investigating what / who posted this.” [Twitter]
Bishop Reflects on Capitol Riot — Writes Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge: “The mutual respect we must have for law and order was disregarded. Rather than being treated with respect for the inherently noble work with which they are entrusted, police officers and federal agents in and around the Capitol buildings were, in many cases, attacked, injured and harassed in the line of duty. We should all thank them for their courage and service.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Local Nonprofit Has New Leader — “Diana Ortiz, who has more than two decades in the social-safety-net world, has been tapped as president of Doorways, the non-profit safety-net provider. She succeeds Caroline Jones, who departed earlier this year to take a post with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.” [InsideNova]
Beyer Staffer Tapped for White House Role — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today congratulated his departing Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, who was appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Council… Beyer announced that his Acting Chief of Staff Zach Cafritz, who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, would take over as Chief of Staff.” [Press Release]
Possible Microwave Attack in Arlington — “Shortly after Thanksgiving 2019, according to three sources familiar with the incident, a White House staffer was hit while walking her dog in Arlington, Virginia… the staffer passed a parked van. A man got out and walked past her. Her dog started seizing up. Then she felt it too: a high-pitched ringing in her ears, an intense headache, and a tingling on the side of her face.” [GQ]
Arrest in Arlington Mill Shooting — “Charges have been sought against a juvenile suspect related to the shooting that occurred on October 21, 2020. The suspect has been charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony.” [Arlington County]
‘Headlines’ Mobile Art Project in Arlington Today — Updated at 10:30 a.m. — Per a press release: “The exhibit is called #HeadlinesAreFrontlines, a multimedia show deployed on mobile trucks featuring 12-foot screens of 1,460 daily news headlines, in order, about Donald Trump. The traveling exhibit moves through the streets of DC and Arlington on October 26th at 9am. Look for the multimedia truck in Rosslyn and Crystal City.” [Instagram, BYT]
Locals Recognized for Good Works — Two Arlington residents were recently featured on ABC 7’s local news broadcasts: 26-year-old Dominique Cross, an abuse survivor writes song to uplift victims of domestic violence, and 15-year-old Chip Nordlinger, who spends his free time helping homeless veterans.
Boy Gets Award for Saving Ailing Mom — “On October 13, 2020, tragedy struck one of our own. While playing outside, Aiden, son of Firefighter Josh Wise, noticed that his mom began suffering from a serious medical emergency. He recognized the situation and courageously called 911, providing his address and full details… Aiden was awarded an honorary Lifesaving Award, one of the department’s highest honors, for his efforts in saving his mother’s life.” [Facebook]
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Nearly 50 new coronavirus cases were reported in Arlington overnight, the biggest one-day spike for the county since late May, although part of the spike may be attributable to a reporting issue.
This morning the Virginia Dept. of Health reported 49 new cases in Arlington, bringing the county’s cumulative total to 4,132 and the trailing seven-day average of new daily cases to 19.3 from 12.6 yesterday. The last time the daily average was higher was Sept. 1.
October had thus far been relatively uneventful in Arlington, with the trailing seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 infections here staying below 16 — until today.
Statewide numbers also jumped this morning, with 1,844 new reported cases in Virginia, the second-highest spike since the beginning of the pandemic.
As of publication time, the state health department had not indicated, as it sometimes does, that there was a reporting issue that might account for the anomalous jump in cases. After the publication of this article, a note was added to the VDH website.
“Today’s case count includes 689 cases that should have been reported on Wednesday, October 7, but were excluded,” the note said. “A reminder: cases are not reported on the day the patient became ill, but on the day they have been classified as meeting the case definition for COVID-19.”
In Arlington, no new hospitalizations or deaths were reported overnight. Since the start of October, eight new hospitalizations and two new deaths have been reported, bringing the cumulative total of each to 508 and 152, respectively.
The test positivity rate in Arlington has risen slightly in the past few days and now stands at 3.3%, which is still considered to be relatively low.
Arlington’s health department, meanwhile, has joined D.C. and other local jurisdictions in urging anyone who has worked in the White House recently, attended the Supreme Court nominee announcement at the White House, or who has had recent contact with any of the previous two groups of people, to contact public health officials.
“Given the growing numbers of positive COVID cases reported from staff working in and near the White House, people who attended the event hosted by the White House on Saturday, September 26, 2020, and our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals,” said a jointly-signed letter from nine local health departments.
Prior to her involvement in the Trump campaign and administration, Conway — a D.C. resident — was a consultant and pollster. Her financial disclosure includes prior work for organizations like the American Conservative Union, National Rifle Association, Tea Party Patriots — and Arlington Public Schools.
“Her company did do work for us a few years before she worked on the Trump campaign,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow. “Her company did our climate survey which was the predecessor to the Your Voice Matters Survey.”
One publicly-posted document shows some of the work she did for the school system.
In 2014, two years before Conway joined the Trump campaign, her firm The polling company, inc./WomanTrend conducted the APS Community Satisfaction Survey, writing in an executive summary of the poll’s findings that APS “earns high marks across-the-board.”
“90% of parents, 85% of staff members, and 79% of community members give the public schools in Arlington either an ‘A – outstanding’ or ‘B – very good’ grade,” Conway wrote to then-Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. Conway also pointed out that most APS staff were happy with their level of compensation and that 18% of APS students had been bullied during the past school year, among other key findings.
Conway was paid in excess of $5,000 in a year for her work with Arlington Public Schools, according to her 2017 executive branch financial disclosure, though an exact figure was not given.
APS appears to be the only public school system in Conway’s financial disclosure, as compiled by ProPublica. The list also includes one local university: Catholic University of America.
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr
President Trump may have agreed to stop separating families at the Mexican border, but Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) fear the administration could soon concoct a plan to jail immigrant families indefinitely instead.
At a gathering of local faith leaders and immigrant advocates today (Thursday) at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd), both senators expressed relief that Trump backed down from his policy of breaking up migrant families that attempt to cross the border illegally.
Yet Warner lamented that Trump’s executive order “raises as many questions as it answers,” and the senators are deeply concerned that the White House will now try to convince Congress to pass some sort of compromise legislation on the issue.
Trump’s order yesterday (Wednesday) required families to be detained together until their criminal and immigration proceedings are completed — but a federal court order requires children to be released after 20 days, and Kaine and Warner both worry that Trump could try to push through legislation to supersede that order and remove any limit on detaining families.
“We could see version two, or version three, of this, that will get presented as something that’s not as bad as what came before,” Kaine said. “But I’m not going to agree to something bad just because he’s being cruel.”
Priscilla Martinez, a fourth-generation Mexican American with Loudoun’s All Dulles Area Muslim Society, worried that such an approach by Trump might prove effective.
While she noted that the public may be outraged about the family separation policy now, she’s concerned that people could become “anesthetized” to less extreme versions of it. She drew a parallel to the public reaction to Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries — while the initial executive order prompted mass protests, the administration subsequently proposed less draconian versions of the same policy that gradually drew less attention.
“They could easily put something forward that’s still bad, but people accept it because it’s less awful that what came before,” Martinez said. “I’m concerned it’s so bad right now, people might run out of steam.”
That’s why Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, the legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s immigrant advocacy program, urged the senators to not accept that this debate is over simply because Trump has changed the family separation policy. He suggested that they press the administration to allow children to be released to other family members instead of being held in a jail cell, a process he says Trump has worked to make increasingly difficult.
“Kids don’t belong in cages, and that’s the bottom line,” Sandoval-Moshenberg said. “Whether it’s the same cage as their mother and father or two separate cages… Any solution that results in kids being kept in cages is no solution at all.”
Kaine and Warner agreed to that request, and they’re pledging to visit Virginia’s detention facilities for immigrant children in Bristow and Staunton to inspect their conditions. They do take some hope from reports today that the Border Patrol plans to stop referring migrant parents who cross the border illegally with children for criminal charges, but they say they can’t be sure what the White House will do next.
“This administration has no plan,” Warner said. “As we’ve seen continuously, he zigs and zags on an hourly basis.”
Porter Drama Centers Around Arlington — The resignation of White House aide Rob Porter, which has been a national headline this week, has a number of Arlington connections. Porter reportedly has an apartment here, which he shared with a girlfriend before starting to date White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and the protective order Porter’s second wife filed against him was to keep him away from her Arlington residence. [Daily Mail, New York Times]
Arlington Kid’s Star Continues to Rise — Nine-year-old Iain Armitage stars as the title character in the CBS comedy Young Sheldon and also was featured HBO’s Golden Globe-winning Big Little Lies. That’s in addition to film roles Armitage, an Arlington native whose family owns a house in Ashton Heights, is getting as he continues to build his Hollywood career. Just 3.5 years ago, Armitage was best known for his viral reviews of Signature Theatre shows. [Toronto Star]
Flyover This Morning — There will be a military flyover around 11:30 this morning for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]
Local Lawmakers’ Bills Defeated in Richmond — A number of bills introduced by Democratic lawmakers that represent parts of Arlington have, predictably, failed to gain traction in the GOP-controlled state legislature. Among the current batch of bills being defeated in committee: a bill to force the release of presidential candidate tax returns (Sen. Janet Howell), create an state-level Office of Immigrant Assistance (Sen. Adam Ebbin) and expand the list of IDs accepted for voting (Del. Rip Sullivan).
Photo via @NCPCgov / Twitter
Minutes after President Trump announced his decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia elected officials began to share their disapproval.
Trump said his decision to withdraw from the pact, signed by 195 nations, would help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers.
Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, highlighted how Trump’s decision to withdraw will negatively impact the United States’ foreign relationships.
“Trump’s decision will be a self-inflicted wound on our allies’ trust in American leadership,” Beyer wrote in a statement alongside fellow members of the House Safe Climate Caucus. “The Paris Agreement was a vision reflecting decisive action, hope, ingenuity, and the ideals with which we would define our country’s place in the world. Withdrawal from that agreement represents a triumph of ignorance, nativism and political pandering, and the message it sends to other countries will be disastrous for the relationships which have built and sustained our prosperity.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) released a statement condemning the president’s decision. He wrote that despite the withdrawal, Virginia will continue to do its part to fight climate change.
“The President’s dangerous action today will have a devastating impact on our environment, our economy, and our health,” McAuliffe said. “The United States economy is dependent on leadership in the world, yet the President seems inclined to sit back and let other nations pass us by. Climate change is a threat to our way of life. If President Trump refuses to lead the response, Virginia will.”
McAuliffe also detailed how his own actions have differed from Trump’s. He wrote how in early May, he signed an order to reduce carbon emissions in the Commonwealth.
“The President seems to think that the U.S. commitment to cut about [one quarter] of our carbon pollution by 2025 is beyond the grasp of the country that won World War II and put men on the moon,” Kaine said in a statement.
Kaine added that he wants to be able to tell his future grandchildren that the US met the environmental challenge “head-on and triumphed over it, not shrank and cowered from it.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called the president’s announcement a “rejection of settled science.” He also highlighted how this historical decision will impact Virginians in the future.
“It poses a direct threat to Virginia’s environment, economy and way of life,” Warner wrote in a statement.
But Kaine managed a few optimistic words amid the swirl of pessimism and condemnation.
“I am confident that our nation’s optimistic, can-do spirit will eventually prevail over this short-sighted dereliction of America’s leadership role,” he said.