Sunday, November 23, 2014

Post, Local Media, Continue to Censor Bus Alternatives to Streetcars

Hi Yupette,

So, the County Board majority said NO to streetcars last week? Where are the information and photos about streetcar alternatives, like bus rapid transit, double deck buses, and high-capacity city buses?

Here's a short video:

And here's another:

Where are the local media? Obviously still shilling for dumb growth streetcars.

Never mind THEM. I want MY tax dollars spent on information about alternatives to streetcars on the Pike and in Crystal City. Don't see any information on the County's Web site and AVN? Call the Arlington County Board at 703-228-3130.

Pike Rider, 22204

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Time for a Transit System We Can All Live With


County Board majority (except for Walter Tejada) finally came to its senses. Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcars cost way too much for way too little benefit. The long-term costs would have included hundreds of injuries every year from pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles encountering streetcars and streetcar tracks.

Now it's time for EVERYONE to become involved in bottom-up planning for a state-of-the-art transit system that serves all Arlingtonians and seamlessly connects with other local transit systems across the region. We don't need any more major decisions (transit or otherwise) made for us behind closed doors at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.

No way I and tens of thousands of other Arlington residents are going to ride bicycles in Winter, meaning from mid-November to mid-April. Tens of thousands more Arlingtonians won't and/or can't ride bicycles.  There has to be a modern transit system for everyone. The County can start with new ART bus routes (not merely lengthening current routes) to provide ART bus service to every neighborhood. Time to evaluate state-of-the-art bus rapid transit vehicles (also known as articulated buses) rather than ignoring them.

So, we're looking for more and better local bus service soon, now that County Government has a dedicated revenue stream for transit improvements unencumbered with having to fund two streetcar systems..


Friday, November 7, 2014

Homeowners Will Be Hit With Big Tax Increases in FY 2016 -- Updated


County Board and School Board met this morning in a joint work session and the topic was the Arlington Public School System and the County's and APS's FY 2016 respective budgets.

According to Arlington County Finance Director Michelle Cowan, assessments for single family homes in Arlington are rising by 8%, condominiums by 5%, apartments by 0-2%, office building assessments are declining. Other sources of revenue, like the meals tax, are flat. County Government can expect a 2% to 3% revenue growth over the next several years. Given County Government's various increasing commitments, like employee healthcare, Cowan foresees a FY 16 budget gap for County Government in "single digits".

APS predicts a budget shortfall of $28.3 million in FY 16, largely caused by an unexpected increase in student enrollment. (According to APS insiders, the jump in student enrollment was the result of more than 300 refugee children from Central America being resettled in Arlington this year). The School Board, Superintendent Murphy, and APS Facilities and Operation Staff were unable or unwilling to supply the County Manager and County Board with specific data about the demographics that are driving the increase in student population. Latest projections by APS indicate Arlington's public school enrollment will grow from 24,529 in September 2014 to 32,305 in September 2024.

Various statements made by School Board members and APS Staff indicate that APS is operating a very expensive school system and is unwilling to make any changes. For example, Superintendent Murphy revealed that APS hires few inexperienced teachers and many experienced teachers who have advanced degrees. Both the School Board and Superintendent are unwilling to cut programs or increase class size. Both are unwilling to provide data which would show what it costs to educate students in various programs.

The County Board will discuss the FY 16 budget at length at the November 18th County Board meeting, agenda items 31 and 32, which are now posted on-line at

Update - the Powerpoint presentations at the November 7th County Board / School Board joint work session are available online at:


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big Winner in County Board Race - Libby Garvey

Hi Yupette,

I live in South Fairlington and based on what I could see during John Vihstadt's election campaign the biggest winner, besides Mr. Vihstadt, is Libby Garvey. Her common sense approach to County Government is a significant change from Chris Zimmerman, who could have cared less about anything but Chris Zimmerman.

Libby was largely responsible for helping John Vihstadt get elected. She was very active in the last weeks of the campaign in Fairlington and Abingdon precincts, which went overwhelmingly for Vihstadt, and also overwhelmingly for Beyer and Warner.

It will be interesting to see what happens early next year when candidates begin organizing for the 2015 elections. Yes, there are electable County Board candidates out there who are not Democrats. It remains to be seen whether Libby can again help a non-incumbent overcome the institutional and media bias against non-Democrats. So I guess we'll have to stay tuned until early next year.

South Fairlington

Monday, November 3, 2014

John Vihstadt for Arlington County Board

A.Y. endorses John Vihstadt for re-election to the Arlington County Board.

In the six months John Vihstadt's been on the County Board there have been significant positive changes for the better in Arlington's quality of life.

The out-of-control pub crawls have been controlled. Big ticket vanity projects that were never scrutinized are being scrutinized. Spending priorities have been reversed. Basic infrastructure needs that were ignored for years - like street paving - have priority. For the first time in more than a decade someone on the County board is asking questions like 'Can we afford this?'.

As for Alan Howze, he and other Arlington Democrats are, de facto, 21st Century Rockefeller Republicans. Same tax-borrow-spend for huge vanity projects while government, corporations, and non-profits move away because taxes and the costs involved in maintaining office space here and/or doing business here are too high. We really can't afford Alan Howze and other Zimmerman Democrats on the County Board.

Another clear choice for Arlington taxpayers and voters - John Vihstadt for County Board.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Audrey Clement for Arlington School Board

A.Y. endorses Audrey Clement for School Board.

The choice could not be more clear. Barbara Kanninen makes a living from massaging 'problem data'  to make corporations, non-profits and government agencies look as good as possible. Audrey Clement makes her living turning raw data into useful information for federal agencies like the Census Bureau.

Barbara Kanninen is a product of a 30-year Arlington Democratic Party Machine, and her campaign is based largely on Democratic Party politics. Her priorities are inflicting more of the same New Urbanist ideology on us, only the APS version. That is, 'More Seats for Students' aka 'More Parking for Parents' Every school a Country Day School, latest will be Abingdon. Huge amounts of the APS budget spent on activities that have nothing to do with education. Don't believe it? Ask yourself -- how many millions did APS spend on Halloween celebrations this year?

Audrey Clement is running as an Independent and has shown that Arlington can save a lot of money for taxpayers while providing the same or better education for students. Her proposal that APS retrofit older schools with solar thermal and photovoltaic is reason enough to vote for her rather than continue unlimited spending for extravagant boutique schools, where providing increased parking for parents is a significant item in APS's capital improvement program.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Will Arlington's Elementary Schools Become Country Day Schools?

Hey Yupette,

Latest about Abingdon Elementary School is the 'More Seats for Students' architects at APS and their good bud architects who design country day schools in upscale outer suburbs are going to make-over Abingdon, and many other Arlington schools, into Country Day Schools.

What's a 'Country Day School'? Origin of Country Day Schools was in the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th Century. So Country Day Schools are big on arts and crafts and other activities that don't directly relate to education (i.e., Sports). Most Country Day Schools are in the outer suburbs, or are in what were once the outer suburbs. So everyone drives to school, parents, staff, and teachers. That includes rituals like the daily drop-off and pick-up of students by parents in upscale SUVs.

Word about Abingdon is that a 1950-1970 vintage suburban elementary school that's needed a renovation for years is going to be massively made-over into an expensive boutique County Day School with lots of additional parking and a big parent drop-off and pick up area. All that will remain of the open space around the school will be a lighted multi-purpose athletic field. Most of the $28.75 million budgeted for Abingdon's renovation and expansion will go for expensive sports, recreation, and other activities.

But what else could you expect from a school system that has increasingly sacrificed trees and open space around schools to build parking lots and drop off areas for parents?

Karen, 22206