Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Police Notes for Buckingham

Aug. 20: Malicious Wounding, 3900 block of N. 5th St. At approximately 12:43 a.m., two men outside of an apartment building got into an argument. One man produced a knife and stabbed the other man in the abdomen. The 43-year-old victim was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries but is expected to survive. The suspect was located near the scene and arrested. Unurchuluun Tseveljav, 36, of Arlington, was charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding and held without bond.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blasé Feelings at Bham Fest

Hot. Late afternoon. My son and I arrived at the Buckingham Festival late Sunday, after 4 p.m. I had to deliver family to Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport, so I was beyond fashionably late to the party, which started at 1.

I went with my son who’s 5. I may just be “faired-out” or maybe I am just ready for the school year to start, to get more structure back into the day—I don’t know—but this year’s fest felt dead to me. I write this knowing full well that many people worked very hard on this, and that I missed the first three hours of the party when I may have seen dancers from someplace like Bolivia.

When I arrived, though, the block of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Glebe Road was, relative to previous years, empty, desolate. A couple hundred people crowded under the gazebo roofs or in the shade of the Glebe Market’s wall. A couple people tried dancing, but it just didn’t take. The county’s Carol Hoover, who helps run the event, told me the street had been much fuller earlier.

For my son, 4 p.m. can be a slow time, a good time to veg in front of a DVD, take a nap or read a book, so the games and face painting did not win his appeal.

We bought a flavored ice of blue raspberry, grape and banana from a small cart that was so close to the stage where a band played, the sound whisked my son’s voice away, and I had to bend close and tell him to look directly at me while he spoke.

We took our flavored ice on a shaded curb near the Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits, and shared a spoon. The space was empty, despite being shaded. As we ate quietly, I looked at the different tables. Some standards for the festival were there. Bridgeway242, a Ballston-based church, painted faces and made balloon animals. BU-GATA, the neighborhood’s main tenant association, had an information table. The county had an information table. A couple tables were makeshift restaurants with food like roasted chicken. Another was a jewelry store.

I wondered where some others were. Had I missed them where the crowds were thickest, or had they left or never shown up? Where was the Buckingham Community Civic Association this year? Where was AHC Inc. dispensing affordable housing information? Last year a legal services organization set-up a table, where were they?

A good journalist would have worked the crowd, talking to the people (like the couple who set up canvas folding chairs in the middle of the street nearby and held hands while they listened to the music), but I just wasn’t up for it. I really only spoke to Carol Hoover and the woman who sold the ice (business was good, she said).

I didn’t even talk to Pate McCullough or Lois Athey who were working the BU-GATA table. I didn’t re-introduce myself to Charlie and Lora Rinker, long-time housing activists, as they said hello to other people.

The ice tasted sweet, and I don’t get enough time just to sit and be with my son, so eating that ice quietly next to him was the highlight—and a damn fine highlight—of the event for me. The sugar and the cool air refreshed him enough that he wanted to throw the balls to knock over a stuffed animal. He missed all three times, but won a stuffed lizard anyway. (Thank you, event staff, for that.)

We walked then, and I thought of interviewing people, but didn’t. I snapped a few photos. But I think my son was just as happy to walk home a few minutes later, swinging his lizard by the tail.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Buckingham Events This Weekend

Although Lubber Run’s amphitheatre will be quiet this weekend, there’s still stuff to do.

Friday, Aug. 24
6:30 p.m. County Board Vice President and candidate for the board this November, Walter Tejada to Speak/Meet at the Buckingham Outreach Center, 4114 N. 4th St. (between N. George Mason Drive and N. Glebe Road).
Sunday Aug. 26
1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Annual Buckingham Neighborhood Festival, N. Pershing Drive, between N. George Mason Drive and N. Glebe Road (the road is closed during festival hours, so plan driving trips accordingly). It’s an afternoon of music, dancing, food, games for the kids. Past years have been a lot of fun. See you there.

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Clarification: HALRB Did Not Nix Faux Shingles

[Apologies go to the county’s Mike Leventhal; this notice should have been posted first thing this week. --ST]

The story last month about the redevelopment of the N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road corner, reported that the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board did not allow faux slate roofs on the renovated Gates of Ballston apartments. That was not correct.

Mr. Leventhal, a historic preservation coordinator with Arlington County, wrote in an email shortly after the story was posted: “Fairly accurate reporting. Please note that the HALRB did approve the use of slate alternatives, but because this was a Federal and State historic tax act project the Fed and State reviewers requested real slate be used.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

HeraldTrib Today: Aug. 22, 2007

Well, I’m back, but not for long, and you might notice a dearth of “real news” on the site. Sorry, it’s kinda fluffy today. Still, you might want to check out what’s been happening with the police, and my quick take on the county fair. My favorite story this week has been covering the HeraldTrib’s First Anniversary and its place in the Knight Citizen New Network (the link is below).

I’ll be posting this week and a little next as I also watch my kids and get ready for another short trip out-of-town. In September I’ll be right up to speed, and I think I have a couple exciting things going on, so stayed tuned.

By the way, you can thank me for bringing the chillier, rainier weather back from Colorado. Yeah, I did that. (Missed that whole “heat wave” thing at 9,000 feet up the side of the mountains.)

Stories since I emailed you yesterday:

  • Boy Loves the Fair’s Carousel
  • Officer Florio’s Attitude

  • Stories from earlier this week:
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
  • Happy Birthday HeraldTrib (1st Year!)
  • How Crosswalks Should Work

  • Boy “Loves” Fair Carousel Despite Age

    I leaned against the gray metal fence surrounding Arlington County Fair’s carousel in the midway. It was last Sunday and hot-but-not-terrible, yet the place I chose to stand allowed me to view my kids on “Silver” and “Buttercup”—names they chose—while being in the shade of the carousel’s tented top.

    A couple horses behind my children sat a boy in blue-and-white striped gabardine shorts who strummed a little air guitar to the carousel music when the sound began but the ride hadn’t.

    We caught each other’s eyes, and the boy, he may have been 11 or 12, said, “Despite my age, I love this ride.”

    [This is a very grainy, grainy movie of the carousel--sorry, my cell phone movie camera is for slow, slow moving images only! --ST]

    Yeah, I love the Arlington County Fair.

    Two vendors, though, told me sales were a little down. One ran the sausage hut and said he was a little disappointed in sales this year. The other was my friend Dan Redmond who sells Usborne books and had a booth inside the Thomas Jefferson Center. He sold about half of what he expected, he said.

    Even though I love the fair, generally, I get frustrated with the overpriced rides and food. I must say, having the county’s T.E.A.M. program running free bouncy houses was key. (T.E.A.M. gives teens 13 to 17 opportunities to operate a small bouncy house entertainment business.) My kids loved bouncing through the different houses. And the price was right.

    I’m a tightwad, I must say, and though I have never seen a carny driving a ’52 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing coupe, I have often thought their carnival rides are highly overpriced. But maybe they aren’t.

    In the interest of full-disclosure, the family and I hit “Burro Days” in Fairplay Colorado in July. It shares much of the staples of a fair with Arlington (without the humidity): vendors, rides, funnel cakes—all of it overpriced, but fun. Still, once I have done one fair, I become a bit faired-out.

    The centerpieces of their town festival are llama races on Saturday and burro races on Sunday. We missed the llama race this year, but on Sunday we watched their burro race, “Get Yur Ass Up the Pass,” a re-creation of the gold rush route miners took up Mosquito Pass more than a century ago. The burros’ packs are loaded with panning and mining equipment and the runners lead their donkeys (or the other way ‘round at times). Runners never ride, and the race, starting at about 10,000 feet in downtown Fairplay, rises 3,000 feet into Mosquito Pass.

    Racers take one of two paths, the 15-mile “short” course or the full 29-mile run. Two years ago I met a woman who was using this race to prepare for a marathon!

    This year marked the slowest finishing time in the history of the long course (which began with 1973’s race) the Fairplay Flume reported. Here’s the first 45 seconds or so of the race:

    Officer Florio’s Attitude

    Three police cars, were parked in front of the CVS at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road Sunday evening, about 7:00. It was a beautiful, clear night. Great weather, still very bright on the street.

    I was heading out to dinner at the new Ravi Kabob next to the CVS, so when I saw the cars in Buckingham, I approached the officers and asked what’s up.

    If you’re a journalist reading this (or any person who wants info out of someone else) you might see a problem right away—I didn’t introduce myself. In my journalism classes we have “the mantra” which I force my students to memorize and use—“Hello, my name is ________, and I’m writing a story for my journalism class and for possible publication in the Montgomery Advocate newspaper.” I use a similar version for this blog.

    See, but I was forced off my game just as I was to say “Hello—” when Ofr. Mike Florio, a tall intimidating man, asked me if I always came up from behind people when approaching them.

    Now, he was standing on the edge of the sidewalk directly in front of the Glebe Road side of the CVS. When I had approached from the south, a small group of people approached from the north, forcing me to walk up behind the officer before circling around to his front.

    I understand that police officers must be careful of their surroundings and that they never know who is about to slide a shiv between their ribs and into their lungs. My brother-in-law is a county sheriff in New York, and he tells me stories.

    However, given that the two officers with Ofr. Florio could see me clearly as I approached and neither said, “MIKE WATCH OUT!” probably I was not too big a threat.
    So his question threw me off—I was not ready for attitude even before I’d said hello—so, without my standard introduction, I explained what I just wrote—the approaching people forced me to walk up behind him, and I ended it with, “I just wondered what was going on?” (Or words to that effect.)

    Ofr. Florio said that nothing was going on. Absolutely nothing. “We’re just standing around wasting taxpayer money,” he said curtly. “Any other questions?” He asked it in such a way that he clearly did not want any other questions.

    I asked if I should just check with Det. Gomez, the police officer in the public relations department who I often consult for police notes stories. Ofr. Florio either did not hear me or did not care to answer, and I walked away, annoyed.

    It’s funny because I spoke with Ofr. Murphy later that evening. He was standing around talking to other officers and paramedics in the Glebe Market parking lot across the street from the CVS. I approached him, and his attitude was a little tense, but friendly enough, especially given the half-dozen police cars, Fire Engine 101 and a paramedic's truck all standing at-the-ready nearby. It was clear the excitement was over, but no one had left the party yet.

    I introduced myself, and asked what was going on and he told me there’d been a stabbing.

    Now, here was an officer who, given that one stabbing had just occurred, could reasonably be on the lookout for the shiv with his name on it. Instead of attitude, I got answers. Kudos to him!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Stabbing, Robbery, Grand Larceny Auto
    [Editor’s Note: Normally “Police Notes” would appear on Wednesdays, but given that I have been on vacation for a few weeks, I thought I would update everyone. There is a lot to report here, but that is more a function of playing “catch-up,” than there being a crime spree. The number of crimes for three weeks is not that much above average, but maybe a little high, I’d estimate. I’ll admit there are few doozies. –ST]

    Aug. 19: Attempted Armed Robbery/Malicious Wounding, 200 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:47 p.m., the male victim was outside of the CVS store and was approached by a man known to him who asked him for money, police reported. When the victim refused to comply, the suspect produced a knife, stabbed the victim, and fled on foot. The victim was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect is described as a white Hispanic male, 45, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 180 pounds, with black hair and green eyes, last seen wearing a long-sleeve yellow shirt, and green pants.

    [Police and Paramedics responded as a small crowd gathered at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive Sunday evening.]

    Aug. 10: Robbery, 4300 block of N. Pershing Dr. At approximately 11:10 p.m., an officer saw three suspects rob two men and run to a nearby car. According to a press release, a police officer saw three suspicious men corner two victims, rob them, and flee to a nearby vehicle. A fourth suspect drove the getaway car.

    Arlington County and Fairfax County police officers converged on the suspects' vehicle when it pulled into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in the 6700 block of Arlington Blvd., near Annandale Road in Fairfax County, the press release said.

    The four men inside the vehicle were taken into custody without incident. Several weapons were recovered in and around the vehicle. Each of the suspects was charged with Robbery and held without bond.

    The four men in custody are: John Fofanah, 18, of Alexandria; Alhaj Sheromie Carew, 21, of Alexandria; Tanseh John Nicholas, 21, of Chantilly; and Alusene Kanu, 18, of Alexandria. Additional charges may be filed, police reported.
    Detectives with the Arlington County Police Department's Homicide/Robbery Unit would like to meet with the two male victims who left the scene before speaking with police. At the time of this posting, the two male victims still had not stepped forward. In addition, detectives believe the arrestees may be responsible for several robberies and want to hear from any other victims who have not yet come forward, a press release said.

    Since the victims have not stepped forward, police are releasing very few details of the alleged crime, including its exact location, what was taken and what, if any, weapons were used in the crime, wrote Det. Steve Gomez in an email.
    Investigating detectives have reason to believe that additional persons who reside or frequent the Buckingham area have been victims of robberies but have not reported the crimes. Police are seeking the public's help to identify the two victims from Friday's robbery as well as any other victims from unreported incidents so that justice can be served in those cases. Anyone with relevant information is asked to call the Arlington County Police Tip Line at 703-228-4242, a press release said.

    Aug. 14: Robbery, 400 block of N. Thomas St. At approximately 9:49 p.m., A man, 29, was riding his bicycle when two men approached and knocked him to the ground. While one suspect held the victim down, the other suspect searched his pockets. The suspects took cash from the victim’s wallet and then fled on foot. The victim called police and when officers responded they apprehended one of the suspects in the area. Victor Vazquez-Chavez, 21, of Arlington, was arrested, charged with robbery, and held without bond.

    Aug. 9: Attempted Robbery by Force, 600 block of N. Glebe Rd. At approximately 3:52 p.m., the male victim was walking down the street. He was approached by a man and a woman who engaged him in conversation. The male suspect then reached into the victim’s pants pocket. The victim pulled away from the suspects and called 911. The two suspects fled in a nearby vehicle which police later located. Suspect #1 is described as a white Hispanic male, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 200 pounds, with a mustache, last seen wearing a black shirt with horizontal white stripes and blue jeans. Suspect #2 is described as a white Hispanic female in her 50s, 5 feet 5 inches tall, heavyset, with long hair down to the middle of her back, last seen wearing a tan shirt and tan pants.

    Aug. 7: Stolen Auto, 4300 block of N. Pershing Dr. 2004 Mazda 3, gold, Delaware tag number: 435951. According to police, at approximately 7:15 a.m., the male victim parked on N. Pershing Drive. His windows were half down. Before the victim left the vehicle, a man reached through the partially opened rear passenger-side window and tried to grab a wallet on the back seat. The victim grabbed his wallet before the suspect could get it and fled from his vehicle, leaving his car keys, cash, and other valuables in the car. When the victim returned a short time later, the Mazda was gone. The suspect is described as a dark-skinned black male in his mid to late 30s, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 220 pounds with a muscular build, with short dark hair and a beard, last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jean shorts. The officer taking the report classified the incident as attempted larceny of person and grand larceny of an auto, wrote Det. Steve Gomez in an email.

    Aug. 3: Burglary, 200 block of N. Glebe Rd. At approximately 3:37 a.m., a man known to the residents of an apartment entered the apartment by opening the kitchen window, removing the screen, and climbing in the window. People in the apartment saw the man breaking in and were able to push him back outside. Arriving officers saw the suspect fleeing over a fence but were unable to catch him. Thaddeus S. Huston, 21, of Falls Church, was located and arrested later that day.

    [The links to the crime reports below are no longer available on the web site. –ST.]

    July 25: Felony Hit and Run, 500 block of N. Quincy St. At approximately 6:00 p.m., several vehicles on southbound N. Quincy St. were stopped at the red light at N. Glebe Road. A Honda Civic driving southbound on N. Quincy Street rear-ended a Toyota Tacoma waiting at the red light. In an effort to flee the scene, the driver of the Civic backed up, striking a Land Rover which was also stopped at the red light. The Civic continued to back across the street and struck a parked Volkswagen in the northbound lanes of N. Quincy St. before pulling into a parking lot. The driver and all three passengers in the Civic then got out and fled on foot. No injuries were reported. Officers impounded the Civic and the investigation is ongoing.

    July 21: Graffiti, 4300 block of N. Pershing Dr. and 300 block of N. George Mason Dr. Between 9 and 11:11 p.m., someone spray-painted similar gang-related graffiti on numerous parts of two apartment buildings.

    July 19: Burglary, 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive. Between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., someone entered an apartment by unknown means and took electronic equipment.

    July 19: Burglary, 4300 block of N. 4th St. Between 3:00 p.m. July 18 and 7:30 a.m. July 19, a vacant apartment was broken into and tools belonging to maintenance workers were stolen. The resident manager reported that the same apartment had been broken into on two prior occasions. Investigating officers were able to determine that five juveniles, ranging in age from 11 to 15, took part in the break-ins. Charges have not yet been filed against the juveniles.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Happy Birthday HeraldTrib!

    Well, today’s it! One year. Whodathunkit?
    On my birthday back in June, I had the happy news to report that the HeraldTrib made it into the Washington Post’s Sunday Source. On the HeraldTrib’s birthday, I have the happy news to report that this blog has made it onto a national journalism web site: Knight Citizen News Network, a web site aimed at informing and training citizen journalists.

    The writer of that section is Arlington Oaks resident Wendell Cochran who teaches journalism at American University and has a journalism career that reaches back into the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was using the Buckingham Villages redevelopment as an example of a complex story a citizen might want to cover, when he came upon the HeraldTrib and gave me a call. (That was last Friday, August 17; we had never met each other before then. I’ll admit that I wish Mr. Cochran had found me sooner as I would have loved his feedback over the past year.)

    I’ll toot my own horn a bit by reporting that while talking to me, he said he’d feel better about citizen journalism and blogging if all the sites looked like mine. (Thank you!)

    And I have to thank everyone who reads the blog, especially those who have written emails, or posted comments at the end of the posts. I’m always surprised and happy when I go to an event or meeting and people tell me they read the blog. One of my neighbors told me that she prints it and gives it to some friends who don’t have a computer. That’s fantastic. So, thanks for sticking with me for a year, and for telling your friends about my site.

    In the course of the year, I’ve posted over 100 times, but that’s a little misleading. When I first began to post, I only updated twice a week, so I posted two or three stories each time. I’m estimating I’ve posted a couple hundred stories about Buckingham and Arlington on the blog.

    I thought I’d offer a few of my favorite stories from over the year, enjoy and thanks for reading:

    August 2006
    Why I do This
    September 2006
    The Price of Success
    December 2006
    Cooper’s Shmoopers
    January 2007
    Opening the Gates
    March 2007
    County Board Votes on Bham Villages
    April 2007
    Sparrow Pond Deluxe
    June 2007
    Affordable Apartments: Some Tenants Feel Harassed
    Affordable Apartments: The Paperwork Hassle

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    This Is How Crosswalks Are Supposed to Work, Virginia!

    Nice signs in Colorado alert motorists that they are to stop for people in crosswalks. It’s a law the county board has wanted to change at the state level and that has the support of Buckingham’s State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31).

    Watch (the very grainy video from Estes Park) and learn state senate:

    See how nicely it works? All that’s required is that Virginia change the law to: Cars must STOP for pedestrians in crosswalks.

    Stopping for pedestrians is not the norm because we haven’t changed the driving mindset that says, “I’ll go where I please, thank you.” Like the mindset change that came with seatbelt law changes, a requirement to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks will be a little tough on drivers at first, but then we will forget that it was not always this way.

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