Sunday, November 30, 2008

Summer Flashback: About Arlington with Deb Byrwa

This is another piece that should have run over the summer but was cut short by the Great Basement Flood of '08. I'm getting to it now, and am including it under the column title "About Arlington." I used to write About Arlington for the Arlington Connection, and I'm hoping to bring back here at the HeraldTrib. --ST

I walk my dog daily for one-and-a-half hours at a good clip. Even with stops to buy coffee, to clean up after her, to chat with people and let the dogs run around together, I still make better than three-miles-an-hour over 90 minutes, covering anywhere from four-and-a-half to five miles, and I feel fine at the end.

The writer in his borrowed wheelchair. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Despite that, two hours in a wheelchair the other day and my legs were rubbery. I was propelling myself with my arms, mind you, but I felt it in my legs. I felt it as well in my shoulders and neck, as you might imagine.

My forearms, I realized a day later, were incredibly tired and so knotted from two hours of self-propulsion that the knot in my left arm pinched a nerve that cut-off feeling to my left index finger if I carried anything. A few bags of groceries in from the car and I couldn’t feel my fingertip for 30 minutes. This sensation carried on for days whenever I picked up anything of weight.

I ended up in the wheelchair because Deb Byrwa invited me.

She is a Buckinghamster who has a heart condition that makes her blood pressure plummet and a nervous system condition that makes her flail her arms and head at times. She can walk short distances, but is awkward at it, and it tires her quickly, so she rides a scooter everyday and invited me to come along to see what it was like.

Deb Byrwa. (Click to enlarge the image.)

I’ll admit I jumped at the chance.

My story is one of unexpected little annoyances, but I am trying to steer clear of the clichés. I did not have any moment of true epiphany where something I never thought of jumped out at me. My morning spent in the wheelchair was not a moment of self-revelation. I knew people in wheelchairs had it tough before I tried it. But there were moments where I saw more clearly.

I knew my legs would get tired. I knew they would be working to keep my balance and posture, but how tired they were surprised me.

I’ve known that sidewalks tilt toward the road in order to drain water. What I did not realize was how that translated into a dirtier right hand, the hand keeping me from rolling straight in to oncoming traffic.

My dirty right hand. (Click to enlarge the image.)

As we made our way up N. Glebe Road to the Harris Teeter, my right arm ached just trying to maintain a straight course. Manhole covers, uneven pavement, those small, gas-line and water-line covers all bumped and bounced me away from straight travel. Brick sidewalks, squares that have been worn down to the small cobbles beneath the cement façade, and just the roughness of old cement slow any chance of momentum.

And when I did get a little momentum, I could have sprained my thumb because it would get caught between the rubber wheel and the aluminum rim that I pushed to propel the chair. I felt a tug, and twisted my hand out of the way just in time.

Rubber wheel and aluminum rim. (Click to enlarge the image.)

By the time we made it three or four blocks from her house to the Harris Teeter with its large, flat, creamy smooth aisles, I was sweating down my back and pooling into my unforgiving seat.

I could not by myself get up the ramp and onto the bus. The 23A stopped for us near Hyde Park Condominium, the doors opened and that black tongue of a ramp unrolled so I could wheel myself up. No doubt it was designed to be negotiated by a wheelchair driver, but about halfway up—my front wheels just inside the doors of the bus—I needed to roll back, or I was going to tip backward. I saw pictures in my mind of me, staring into the trees from a flopped-over wheelchair.

I could not get a good running start up the ramp because I could not go fast and straight enough at the same time to be sure I would get all four wheels onto the ramp. I tried again, and a stranger behind me gave a helpful, and in all likelihood necessary, push.

But then Deb warned me about helpful strangers. She told me not to put my camera, which I was using to shoot video and stills, somewhere that people could easily snatch it from the chair. People steal from the handicapped.

Strangers might act like they are helping, when really they are getting a better look at what you are carrying that might be taken. She knows people who have lost bags and purses that were hanging from wheelchair handles. She has felt hands pawing around her body looking for her purse after he faux-tripped into her.

The man who helped me onto the bus, I do not believe, had any such intentions, but I never even would have thought of that, and my feeling of helplessness was strong enough just to be thankful for his help.

Getting off the bus onto the sidewalk of S. Glebe Road near the Walter Reed Center was just as bad. I careened headlong over the slick black chute, the pebbly roughness of the surface doing little to stop my chair from skidding; I could barely steer to keep myself on the ramp.

I told Deb that, and she said, “You should try it when it’s raining.”

I’d take the ramp over the lift, though. Our trip from the Walter Reed Center back up to Buckingham had me get onto the 10B using a lift. I had watched Deb do it first. I saw her drive her red scooter onto the platform. When the platform started up, the little ramp at the back lifted into place to form a little gate so she could not roll backward off the platform.

The problem was that I found it tough to see that little gate. And the lift does not lift level; it tips back. There I was hunched forward in the seat, white-knuckling those aluminum rims to keep from rolling backward off the platform and dropping the foot or more back onto the sidewalk. It’s just a platform, no walls, and it bumped and swayed while lifting me.

By the time we were back in Buckingham, I was tired. I was tired of thinking about how to get from one place to another. I was hot, both from the summer heat and the exertion. And I was glad to stand up again.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 23, 2008

Future Bham Center without CVS but with Glebe Market…say again?

CVS might, just might, pull out of the Buckingham Shopping Center redevelopment project if they cannot get a drive-thru prescription window, and Do Chon, the son of retiring Glebe Market owner Sam Chon, might run a scaled-down Glebe Market in the new development afterall, all this according to Bob Moore, a principal at Georgetown Strategic Capital the developer working on the site.

If all of this came to be, it would be a rather large shift in the plans for the west side of N. Glebe Road at N. Pershing Drive where the Glebe Market and CVS buildings sit.

For the year or so that these plans have been public, Georgetown Strategic has said they had committments from (and included in the plans) all the businesses west of Glebe—the CVS, ElPaso Café, Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, Woofs Dog Training, and the Ravi Kabob—except for the Glebe Market which would close as Sam Chon, the owner, planned to retire. CVS would move across Pershing Drive once the new building was built.

I was on the phone with Mr. Moore because he had been scheduled to speak at the Buckingham Community Civic Association meeting last Monday, and I was curious to know why he wasn’t there (I don’t know that I ever got an answer). Our conversation quickly shifted to what’s at issue:

Drawing courtesy Georgetown Strategic; illustration Thurston (Click to enlarge the image.)

The county’s transportation and planning staff cannot support the prescription drop-off, drive-thru window that Mr. Moore said is a linchpin for CVS’s move across Pershing Drive. CVS, he said, puts these in all their suburban stores, and they consider this one “suburban.” No drive-thru, no CVS in the new building.

Earlier plans for the building had the window close to Glebe Road, but the architects have moved the window about five car-lengths away from the road. The idea of this window is that drivers pull in and drop off prescriptions on the way somewhere else. Mr. Moore said that CVS reports never having more than six cars in the lane.

Still, no dice from the county.

“We could just see that this wasn’t going to happen,” Mr. Moore said.

So he has been making the rounds to civic groups trying to drum-up support for the new drive-thru location. (He said he did make it to Ashton Heights Civic Association meeting recently.)

If CVS decides not to move across the street into the new building, they will simply stay in their current building for five years (they just signed a five-year extension to their lease), Mr. Moore said. Georgetown Strategic will wait them out, offering them space in the building that will replace the current CVS building. If they do not want space in that building, they just will not be part of a redeveloped Buckingham Shopping Center.

On another note, part of the plan for the shopping center was that Do Chon might open a coffee shop in the building that will replace the CVS, but now, Mr. Moore admitted, his company is talking to the father and sone about a small grocery store.

What if all the plans fall through?

“We’re not worried at all about the retail,” Mr. Moore said, adding that leases are plentiful.

Landscaping at issue at BCCA meeting...

Speaking of Georgetown Strategic and the BCCA, the group, with about seven members present, voted to write a letter to the county asking that they not allow Georgetown Strategic to move landscaping to the second floor gardens.

The developer has asked that the county rules be bent to allow them to move some of what should be street-level landscaping onto the second floor of the proposed building on the northwest corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive.

BCCA member Bernie Berne's winning argument to the group said that this allowed the developer to make a really nice garden for the residents who will inhabit upper floors of the building, but the neighborhood residents will have little or no landscaping (there are trees planned for the sidewalks along N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road).

For his part, Mr. Moore said in an interview, "Whatever it is [that is built], it's going to look a whole lot better than it is now." He has long maintained that his company plans to improve landscaping on all four corners of the intersection.

UCC Would Like You to Join Them...

(Click to enlarge the image.)

One final note from the BCCA meeting. Donna Zadnik, from Bethel United Church of Christ, asked if I would be willing to place a flyer of their church on my web site. They are a non-profit on the corner of Arlington Boulevard and N. George Mason Drive, so what the heck? There you go, Donna.

By the way, I have seen their game night flyers on a number of occasions, and have wanted to go. Maybe I just will.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Telesis' Planning for BV3 Called "Very Responsive."
  • Letter: Hokies Not Planning Mini-Golf Site
  • Police Notes for the Area
  • Labels: ,

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Telesis' Planning for BV3 Called "Very Responsive"

    Whether a redeveloped Buckingham Village 3 turns into a co-operative or a condominium—or some other mix—is still at issue; as is exactly how many of the apartment units will receive additions, or what the interiors will look like.

    However, Telesis Corporation, Arlington County staff, and the tenants of the apartments which are changing hands as part of a major redevelopment, are working at these problems, and things, if Monday night’s meeting is any indication, are working out.

    The meeting drew about 50 tenants and a handful of county staff including Walter Tejada, the chair of the county board. He told the residents that their destinies were in their hands.

    County Board Chair Walter Tejada told the Buckingham Village 3 tenants that "the economny does affect how we [the county] do business in the future,...but we're moving forward." (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Beatriz Torres said she understood that Mr. Tejada was supportive of the project, but she wondered if the rest of the county board felt the same.

    The project requires the county to be an intermediary purchaser of the property from Paradigm Development Corp.; it will then be sold to Telesis Corp. for redevelopment.

    (Telesis, of Washington, D.C., won the right to purchase and redevelop the site earlier this year. They focus on urban communities including affordable home ownership and mixed-use rentals.)

    As part of the redevelopment agreement voted on last year, Village 3 was protected by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board, meaning any landscaping or exterior changes to the buildings must be approved by the HALRB.

    Telesis should take over the property next March; the whole redevelopment is not scheduled to be completed until the end of 2010.

    Mr. Tejada reminded Ms. Torres that the county board unanimously approved of the redevelopment plan last year and that the support is shown in the county staff who attend the meetings. (Most of this was said in Spanish, and some was not translated until after the fact; hence, no quotes. –ST)

    Much of the meeting’s focus was on what has already been done, including a tenant survey and the results of discussions from previous meetings.

    As with other projects in the neighborhood, this one has Telesis balancing the issues of quality construction and quality of life against affordable rents. And since this project will take some of what are now rental units and turn them into ownership opportunities for current residents, the question of how to do that, and make it affordable, is at issue.

    “We want to preserve not just the buildings, we want to preserve this housing for you. And we can figure out how to do that with the right information,” said Bert Mason, senior development advisor with Telesis. “Our goal is to try to make this housing affordable to the households.”

    The commitment to the people appeared to be appreciated.

    Lois Athey, a long-time activist with the tenants, said she thought Telesis has been “very responsive” to the needs of the community.

    And the people have been responsive, too. About 165 people in the villages completed household surveys regarding family make-up, ethnicity, income and other factors.

    “You’re talking about people who care, Buckingham people,” she said.

    Some results from the survey of Buckingham Villages apartments:

  • The average length of stay in Arlington: 10 years.
  • Over 60 percent of the apartments are home to nuclear (39 percent) or extended (24 percent) families.
  • The average household size is 3.2 persons, with 42 percent of those households having children under 18.

  • The income range per household:

  • Under $25,000: 17.6 percent.
  • $25,001 to $40,000: 23.1 percent.
  • 40,001 to 55,000: 29.6 percent.
  • 55,001 to 70,000: 15.7 percent.
  • Over 70,000: 13.9 percent.

  • Ethnic make up:

  • Hispanic: 83 percent.
  • White/caucasian: 8 percent.
  • African/American: 4 percent.
  • Asian: 4 percent.
  • Other: 1 percent.

    Buckingham Village 3 sits on the north side of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street.

    Village 2, at the intersection of N. Henderson Road and N. George Mason Drive, has been torn down, and high-end townhouses are being erected “by-right” meaning that the owner, Paradigm Development Corp., can do what they wish with the property so long they stay within current zoning regulations.

    The large apartment building being under construction on the northwest corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing Drives sits in the heart of Village 2.

    Related stories…
  • Summer Flashback to BV3 (HeraldTrib Today Nov. 1, 2008)
  • BV3 Sale and Resale to Be Studied (July, 2007)

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  • Letter: Hokies Not Planning Mini-Golf Site

    Dear Steve:

    I would like to bring to your attention some inaccurate information contained in a Buckingham Herald Tribblog article dated Nov. 17, 2008 relative to Glebe and Randolph Park.

    The article, titled “Hokies to Tackle Mini-golf Site?” incorrectly states that “the County had turned the parcel [the triangular shaped green space next to the Ballston Common Mall parking garage] over to the Virginia Tech Architecture and Design School to serve a blank slate for ideas in a student design competition. Outdoor public dancing was cited as one of the potential functions.”

    First, given the constraints of the site and limited funding, the County is currently exploring a variety of viable and affordable options for the use of the site, and an urban mini-golf course remains one of the options.

    Second, the parcel was never “turned…over to the Virginia Tech Architecture and Design School” as the article suggests. Rather, professors selected this site for a theoretical exercise in site design and building functionality based on its challenging constraints and colorful history.

    The County has had no further involvement in the student project. Any Virginia Tech student ideas for the site will remain between the professors of the course and the students as their projects are finalized and will not be informing the County’s purview of the site.

    Please contact me if you would like to discuss this project further.

    Thank you,

    Scott McPartlin
    Urban Planner
    Arlington County Park Development Division

    The incorrect story has been pulled from the post. My apologies for the error. --ST

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    Police Notes for Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights: Nov. 11, 2008

    Nov. 13: Commercial Burglary, 3500 block of Wilson Blvd. Between 7p.m. Nov. 12 and 7a.m. on Nov. 13, an unknown suspect entered a business through the ceiling and stole money. There are no known suspects.

    Nov. 14: Stolen Auto, 500 block of N. Glebe Rd. License tag number: DC X6833026. The car is a 2007 black Mercedes.

    View Larger Map

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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 17, 2008

    Running Miles…

    Buckingham’s own Miles Grant is running for the House of Delegates' 47th District in Arlington. Incumbent Democratic Al Eisenberg told David Schultz at the Arlington Connection that he is unsure if he will seek another term. Read Mr. Schultz’s story here.

    I think there’s more to this, so I’ll keep you posted if I find something.

    In the story, Mr. Grant calls himself a resident of Ashton Heights, which technically he is since he lives in Historic Ballston Park, but he lives maybe two blocks from the Buckingham Shopping Center (behind the Eastern Carryout) and he has paid attention to what goes on in Bham, so I’ll claim him for our own.

    Good work if you can get it…

    A number of people have asked me how it is being back to work after a year-long sabbatical. I took the 2007-2008 school year off at half pay to run this blog and study hyperlocal and electronic journalism. Now I’m back to a full schedule teaching at Montgomery College in Rockville, and let me tell you: half pay without working totally beats full pay if you have to work for it.

    The posts have been skimpy and the coverage spotty this fall because so much of my time is taken up elsewhere. I did run this blog, however, for the school year prior to my sabbatical. I just revisited November and December 2006 to find that I kept up postings—not great, but they were there.

    Adjustments will be made. Don’t give up on me yet (a mantra I have repeated to my readers many times in the past). Thanks for sticking with me.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Today's Headlines:

  • Proposed Mixed-Use Replacement for Goodyear Building

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • "H and H Report" (the HeraldTrib's companion, for-kids-by-kids entertainment review) checked out "Madagascar2: Escape to Africa"
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
  • Labels: , ,

    Proposed Mixed-Use Replacement for Goodyear

    Zoning changes will be required. The BCCA president hopes to get a pedestrian bridge over Glebe.

    Crimson Urban, Inc., owners of 650 N. Glebe Rd., are looking to redevelop that parcel of land where the Goodyear Auto Service Center now stands.

    “This application is requesting approval for a five (5)-story approximately 115 unit residential building with approximately 9,234 square feet of ground floor retail,” a letter from the owner’s lawyers states.

    Under a proposed redevelopment plan, the Goodyear building at N. Glebe and N. Carlin Springs roads would be replaced with a five-storey, mixed use building. (File photo, Click to enlarge the image.)

    Current zoning allows for a four-storey mixed use building, which means the developer will have to go before the county’s Site Plan Review Committee, a sub-set of the Planning Commission, for approval.

    The letter says that the apartments will be “reasonably priced,” that the building will have 146 parking spaces, and that the building will try to receive 26 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits from the U.S. Green Building Council.

    County planners and residents have long wanted to improve pedestrian safety at the corner of N. Glebe and N. Carlin Springs roads where the building sits.

    “This may be our chance to negotiate the overhead crosswalk over N. Glebe we've been discussing for years. I hope to make this part of the discussions,” wrote Pat Hope, the Buckingham Community Civic Association president in an email. That crosswalk would connect to the Goodyear site to the Ballston Common Mall parking lot. Mr. Hope forwarded the attorney’s letter to the HeraldTrib.

    The U.S. Green Building Council, an independent group, has four levels of certification. A LEED credit score from 26 to 32 is “certified,” from 33 to 38 is “silver,” from 39 to 51 is “gold,” and platinum buildings range from 52 to 69 possible points, according to the council’s web site.

    The current zoning allows for four storeys. The building under construction on N. Thomas Street, near the Goodyear, is covered under the same zoning and is being built “by right” meaning basically that it is staying within current zoning.

    Related stories…
  • Glebe and Carlin Q&A: No Changes to Pedestrian Crossing Times (July 12, 2007)
  • A Decade for New Lights and Curb Cuts (July 11, 2007)
  • Pedestrian Meeting Coming to Bham (June 25, 2007).

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  • Friday, November 14, 2008

    Police Notes for Buckingham Oct. 31 – Nov. 13

    Nov. 5: Burglary, 3800 block of N. 6th Rd. Between 10:30a.m. and 1p.m., an unknown suspect entered an apartment and stole several items. There is no suspect description.

    Nov. 4: Destruction of Property (Arrest), 400 block of N. Thomas St. At 8p.m., an intoxicated man argued with his roommate and police were called. The suspect threw property on the floor in front of police, damaging it. He then jumped out a window and fled. He was later apprehended. Ramiro Lopez, 35, of Arlington, was issued a summons for Destruction of Property.

    Nov. 3: Malicious Wounding, 4100 block of N. 4th St. At 12:30a.m., police were called to the hospital for a man with a knife wound. The victim claimed he was walking when an unknown subject walked up to him and stabbed him for no reason. The victim did not want police involved, and his story changed multiple times.

    Nov. 2: Larceny from Auto (series), 400 and 600 blocks of S. George Mason Dr. Between midnight and 1a.m., police observed four suspects break into several vehicles and steal items from inside. The suspects were apprehended and charges are pending.

    Nov. 2: Burglary/other charges (Arrest), 4500 block of N. Carlin Springs Rd. At midnight, officers responded to a fight. Once on scene, police found that a man had repeatedly thrown various items through a neighbor’s windows. The suspect had also entered the house. Kyle Martin, 46, of Arlington, was charged with Burglary, Destruction of Property, Attempted Malicious Wounding, and Drunk in Public. He was held without bond

    Nov. 1: Assault and Battery, 600 block of N. Randolph St. At 1p.m., a man and a woman had a verbal disagreement. The man later approached the victim in her vehicle, and struck her several times. A warrant for the suspect was obtained.

    View Larger Map

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Buckingham Turns Out the Vote

    At about 8a.m. voters were lined up out the building and halfway down the basketball courts at Barrett Elementary School. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    About a dozen people were in line when Buckingham precinct polling officials arrived at K.W. Barrett Elementary School yesterday morning at 5a.m. Within hours, the line snaked out of the door, around the back of the building, and along the perimeter fence, stopping just short of the gate near the parking lot where party volunteers handed out materials, officials and voters said.

    Alan Swanson, the chief of elections at the precinct, guessed the line to be close to a quarter mile at its longest.

    “It’s a lot different than previous elections,” the veteran poll worker said.

    Few glitches with the machines, speedy computerized voter registrar books, and about 20 poll workers (a record) kept the line moving throughout the morning.

    By about 8a.m., the line was about one-third the length, ending on the basketball courts behind the building.

    One man, moving off after voting, said that it took him about 90 minutes, but he had gotten in line near the ball field. Others inside, within 20 people of voting, said they had waited just short of an hour.

    Poll officials use new computerized voter books to check voter registrations. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “When we had that mass, everyone was working really hard,” Mr. Swanson said. With the record turnout of volunteers, people were able to take breaks and stay fresh, he said.

    After the morning rush, most of the day was a steady trickle of voters, but the turnout was “phenomenal” overall Mr. Swanson said.

    Near 4:30p.m., Buckingham had logged about 2,600 voters, 1,700 on-site, and about 900 absentee. The official numbers are not available on the county’s web site yet, but the percentage might be in the 70s.

    If these numbers prove accurate, they dwarf the voting in the last two national election cycles. In 2006, when Jim Webb raced for the U.S. Senate against George Allen, about 1,500 of the 3,300 registered voters, about 45 percent, went to the polls. In the 2004, Bush versus Kerry race, about 1,000 of the 1,800 registered voters, or 60 percent, went to the polls. Both were heavy turnouts for the precinct.

    “This is a very active precinct,” said Carter Moore, the Democrat Precinct Captain for Buckingham. The precinct roughly spans from Arlington Boulevard to Interstate 66 between George Mason Drive and Glebe Road. Mr. Moore said the precinct has added about 15 percent more voters since 2006.

    Yet for those people who arrived late in the day, it felt almost uneventful.

    Mauricio Trujillo of Arlington Oaks, said rather than feeling historic, his vote just before 5p.m. felt the same as others.

    Party faithful waited for more voters to show up late in the day. By 4:30p.m., the voting was down to a trickle, but 2,600 people had voted at the precinct. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “There was, like, no line,” he said.

    Karin and Joel Paque also said the emptiness of the Barrett gym felt unhistoric.

    “I definitely would have voted anyway,” even if it had not been an election in which either an African-American or a woman would enter the White House for the first time, said Ms. Paque, but she and her husband were hoping to find the spirit at an election night party they were planning to attend.

    One first time voter who refused to give his name, said the atmosphere did not feel historic, but, “The whole election has seemed like it is to me….I got caught up in all that was going on this year.”

    The county is reporting that nearly 51 percent of registered voters in the county voted:

  • Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden won decisively over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin. 51,912 to 22,904.
  • Mark Warner (D) crushed Jim Gilmore (R) for the open U.S. Senate seat, replacing the retiring John Warner. 54,783 to 18,683.
  • Jim Moran (D) handily beat Mark Ellmore 48,249 to 23,236.
  • Barbara Favola (D) easily beat John Reeder (Green) 46,629 to 15,797.
  • Both Libby Garvey, with 52,255 votes, and Emma Violand-Sanchez, with 46,512 votes, won the seats on the county school board. They ran unopposed.

  • Related stories and sites…
  • Arlington County Election Results 2008.
  • Buckingham Precinct Notes 2007. (What a difference a year makes!)
  • Precinct Notes 2006.

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  • Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Letter: Lines Shorter Mid-Morning


    The voting lines may have been long at the Barrett School when you were there early in the morning, but by 10:30 a.m., they were gone. People were walking in and voting with written ballots or on the touch screen machines without any delays at all.

    The lines may reappear later this afternoon.

    Bernie Berne

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    GMU's Election Day Hoax

    George Mason University officials are investigating a hoax email sent under the provost’s name stating that election day has been moved to tomorrow.

    “The person, whoever did this, was able to enter a closed listserv,” said Dan Walsch, a press secretary with the university. He said that the hoax email did not target one party or another.

    Provost Peter N. Stearns responded with at least two real emails:

    “Dear Colleagues,

    "It has come to my attention early this morning that a message was hacked into the system fraudulently stating that election day has been moved.

    "I am sure everybody realizes this is a hoax, it is also a serious offense and we are looking into it. Please be reminded that election day is today, November 4th."

    And another one:

    "To the Mason Community:

    "I hear some troubling rumors, so here are a couple of facts: 1. The election is Nov. 4, for all political parties. The notion that one party votes Nov. 5 is UNTRUE. 2. It is also UNTRUE that any student jeopardizes financial aid by voting."

    The university is unsure if the hacker used a college computer, Mr. Walsch said. GMU has its main campus in Fairfax, Va., and a sattelite campus on Fairfax Drive in Arlington.

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    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 1, 2008

    Signs of Dirty Water…

    I have to give a little shout-out to the county government employee(s?) who posted signs recently alerting people to the sewage that flooded Lubber Run park, twice.

    You can read the full stories below about how and when the sewers overflowed, but what you need to know here is that back in June when someone purposefully emptied port-a-potties into the creek, the only signs posted by the county were near the entrances to the park. If you walked by the signs, and that was easy to do, you never saw them.

    I found the signage for this batch of sewage all over the place, on bridges and trees, and yes at the entrances. When I think about it, too, this is no easy task since Lubber Run drains into Four Mile Run. If they were posting in Four Mile Run as well as in Lubber Run, it was a bit of work, no doubt. So, thank you, whoever you are.

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Summer Flashback to Buckingham Village 3…

    Telesis Corporation of Washington, D.C. has won the right to redevelop Buckingham Village 3, the portion of the Buckingham Village Apartments that was placed under the protection of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board last year.

    Many companies vied for the right to renovate the apartments, and a working group of citizens, county staff and residents of Buckingham Village was set up to evaluate the choices.

    “The County and the Buckingham community reached an important milestone with the selection of the Telesis Corporation to lead the team that will renovate the Buckingham Village 3 apartments, offering both rental and ownership opportunities,” reports the August 2008 edition of Arlington Housing Online.

    Village three sits between N. Pershing Drive and N. 4th Road, and between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street. The county placed Village 3 on the list of protected historic places as part of the huge deal it brokered with Paradigm Development company which owns the property. In that deal, Paradigm was given higher density and the right to tear the garden-style buildings in Village 1, near the Culpepper Garden Assisted Living Center, and build the massive, four-story apartment buildings that is under construction on N. Pershing Drive.

  • Presentation of Telesis to the BV3 Working Group

  • Buckingham Village 3; click to view a larger map.

    Way to go, Pat…

    Buckingham Community Civic Association President Patrick Hope won the “Rusty Garth ‘You Are The Change’ Award for his work with the intellectually disabled community. The award was named after its previous recipient, a prominent local activist who died earlier this year of Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” wrote David Schultz in the Connection Newspapers.

    I have to give a cheer for Kristen Hope, Pat's wife, who supports him in all his civic activity. You go, girl!

    We need more yard signs…

    If you do not recall my “About Arlington” column in the Arlington Connection last October, then let me fill you in: I said the rule regarding when candidates can put yard signs on public spaces are too restrictive for political discussion. Thirty-one days before the general election is too few. I thought a compromise might be “any 31 days you choose.” More yard signs, earlier (if the candidates want to use their campaign dollars in that way).

    With the county practically making it official policy that people SHOULD vote early (how many emails have encouraged you to vote early so that lines are short and tempers don’t flare?), it would seems that my idea is even more important now. In-person absentee voting started on Sept. 22, a COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE Oct. 4, the date yard signs can go on medians legally.

    The proper day to allow the signs to go up in the general election was Aug. 22. Restricting political speech so that much of the speech comes AFTER people start voting is just ridiculous.

    Another reason to love Arlington...

    Businessweek ranked Arlington the best place to survive a recession, fyi.

  • Some Cities Will Be Safer in a Recession
  • Photos

  • The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Our Goodwill Is Best
  • Gates Center Opens with Fanfare
  • No Lease Yet for Outreach Center in New Gates Community Center
  • Police Notes Oct. 24-30.
  • Hoe, Hoe, Hoe the Boat!
  • Sewage Spills into Lubber Run, Again
  • County Lifts Second Advisory on Lubber Run

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