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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 7/31/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's view on the local scene.

Recent Headlines

Letter: Arlington spending far too little on acquisition of parkland

Editor: Exactly how much parkland would $2 million get us in Arlington? That’s the amount of open space the County Board is offering in an up-or-down vote this fall. [“$219 Million in Bond Referendums Head to Voters,” July 24].

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Letter: Va. Republicans need to give way, embrace Medicaid reform

Editor: On July 1, a large group of Virginians gathered at Arlington’s Courthouse Plaza for a candlelight vigil to mark five months since Republican members of the House of Delegates excluded Medicaid expansion from their original budget proposal.

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Letter: Foster trumps Sullivan in understanding of education issues

Editor: On Aug. 19, voters in parts of Arlington, McLean and Falls Church will select a new member of the House of Delegates for the 48th District.

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Letter: State wants a quid-pro-quo from Arlington on streetcar funding

Editor: The cash-strapped state government found a way to fund a significant portion of the Columbia Pike trolley project. Setting aside the question of whether running a trolley in traffic is a bright idea, you cannot deny that Virginia’s money solved a serious political problem that not only split the county but the notoriously unanimous County Board and its Democratic Party.

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 7/24/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's editorial page view on the local scene.

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Letter: Debate streetcar proposal on facts, not emotions

Editor: I have lived in North Arlington since 1977 and have seldom witnessed a more uninformed “debate” about such an important and expensive venture as has taken place over the Columbia Pike streetcar.

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Letter: Third-rate streetcar system benefits no one

Editor: Letter-writer Matt Gillen [“Streetcar Commenters Should Address Own Biases,” July 17] asks “how can we keep the conversation civil?” and suggests that  “letter-writers should state how long it takes to walk from their home to fixed-line public transportation.”

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Letter: Voters in 48th should not let streetcar color judgment

Editor: Some Arlington voters believe that next month they again will have an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the County Board and the Columbia Pike streetcar.

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Letter: Expired IDs should be valid for voting

Editor: The spate of special elections coming up in Arlington will bring some recent changes in election law into focus. Chief among these is a new law limiting the forms of identification required in order to cast a vote.

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Arlington Sun Gazette editorial: Departed treasurer deserves community’s thanks

An era truly came to an end July 7, as Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary wrapped up his lengthy tenure by submitting his resignation and heading off to retirement.

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Letter: Streetcar debaters should provide more details on their locale

Editor: As we, as a community, debate the possible Columbia Pike streetcar –  pro and con – on the letters page of your newspaper, how can we keep the conversation civil?  

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Letter: Big, bold statement needed on Arlington transit

Editor: When did we become so timid?

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Letters: Arlington Democrats may face wrath of voters over streetcar

Editor: As a lifelong Democrat who served as assistant to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1964, I wonder: How many good Democratic candidates will be sacrificed because of the County Board Gang of Three’s devotion to the streetcar-without-a-referendum?

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Letter: Arlington school crisis did not necessarily happen by accident

Editor: In her July 10 letter about our school-capacity crisis, Nancy Sylvester [“Elected Officials to Blame for School Crowding”] seems to have been following the advice of Napoleon: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”  And that’s charitable, I guess.  

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Letter: Public needs to weigh in on standards for abortion providers

Editor: Gov. McAuliffe has instructed the Virginia Board of Health to review the current Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) rules, opening up a public comment that runs until July 31.

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Editor's Notebook: In rush to report on streetcar, subtleties are left by the wayside

Color me not terribly surprised that a number of news outlets didn't get it quite right when reporting yesterday on the state government's plan to pump money into the Columbia Pike streetcar project.
 
One online-news site, citing an Arlington government press release, stated definitively that the state government had committed $65 million more funding to the project. Wrong. Another newspaper's reporting was mostly accurate, but then was undermined by an online headline that suggested the money was on its way.
 
(Headline-writers don't have an easy job, but they do have the tendency to make reporters crazy by taking necessary short-cuts that can change the meaning of a story before readers even get to the first paragraph.)
 
Facts are funny things, so let's whip them out: The state government says it will provide "up to" $65 million in additional funding, and gives itself so many outs in the letter to Arlington and Fairfax officials that I wouldn't bank on the money.
 
Clearly, the McAuliffe administration wants to support the project, but the state government, having given up control of the Columbia Pike right-of-way through Arlington to the local government some years ago, will not have the final say.
 
As the Sun Gazette long has reported but some others seem not to grasp, Arlington and Fairfax officials are now engaged in a game of "beat-the-clock" (thanks, Wayne Kubicki, for that apt analogy). They need to get a construction contract signed, sealed and delivered before Jan. 1, 2016, when it's possible - don't know if it's likely, but it's possible - that the anti-streetcar side could take control of the Arlington County Board and, in its first action, scrap the project.
 
The Arlington government is being somewhat, and probably purposely, nebulous about timing, financing and more. Trying to pin down the facts has not been easy.

Bottom line: Friday's action moves the streetcar project one step closer to reality. But unless a construction contract can be approved before the 2015 election season is wrapped up, there's no guarantee the streetcar is going to be built.

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Sun Gazette editorial: No way to run a democracy

It would be easy to throw stones at William Howell, the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, as being the one ultimately at fault in what we see as an irresponsible timetable for filling the 48th District House of Delegates seat that has been vacated by Democrat Bob Brink. But the situation is somewhat more complicated.

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Letter: School-capacity crisis in Arlington fault of poor management

Editor: Thousands of Arlington children go to class in trailers, or “learning chalets” as officials term these structures, and 2013-14 School Board Chairman Abby Raphael called the shortage of school space for students a “crisis.”

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Letter: Streetcar being forced on Arlington residents by out-of-touch leaders

Editor: Our family is in complete agreement with all of the statements made by Stephen Carey in regarding the misguided streetcar project [“Ruling Elite Won’t Determine Fate of Streetcar,” Letters July 3].  

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Arlington Sun Gazette editorial: Losing two fine public servants

It was not a particular shocker when Del. Bob Brink (D-48th) announced last Friday he’d be stepping down to take a job in the McAuliffe administration. The switcheroo had been rumored for months, and shifting from the legislative to executive branches is a not-unheard-of way for Virginia lawmakers to round out their political careers (and, ultimately, enjoy improved pension benefits).

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Letter: Coverage should have been given to Arlington Mill graduation

Editor: While I applaud the acknowledgement of graduates from Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield high schools and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in the June 26 edition, I question why APS’ Arlington Mill High School was omitted from the festive reports.

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Letter: Arlington oligarchy should not have final say on capital projects

Editor: The pure arrogance of it all [“Advisory Referendums Are Not The Way To Go,” Letters June 26] is almost unbelievable.

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Letters: Referendums are wrong way to go about governing

Editor: Advisory referendums are illegal in many Virginia jurisdictions, including Arlington, and for good reason. They are a terrible way of governing, a solution to political problems of a century ago that no longer exist.

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 6/26/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's editorial page view on the local scene.

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Letter: Will Beyer hold candidates he supports accountable?

Editor: His own election virtually reassured, 8th District Democratic nominee Don Beyer states that he will help other Democratic candidates, specifically naming John Foust in his contest against Barbara Comstock in the 10th District.

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 6/19/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's weekly view on the local scene.

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Letter: Parents have no interest in massive Arlington secondary school

Editor: Opinions certainly differ on the best way to address the middle-school overcrowding issue, but one theme persists: parents do not want their children to attend the proposed 1,300-seat school on the Wilson site.

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Letter: Arlington must do better in school-planning process

Editor: Arlington’s school-capacity crisis is a result of two things, both of which amount to being victims of our own success: a phenomenal school system and excellent quality of life.

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Letter: Parents will rebel against latest Arlington school proposal

Editor: As a resident of Arlington Heights and a graduate of Arlington’s public schools – Long Branch, Thomas Jefferson, H-B Woodlawn – I’d like to express my disappointment in the county school system and County Board planning process [“APS Capital-Spending Plan is Firming Up,” June 12].

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 6/12/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette’s editorial-page view on the local scene.

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Letter: Protect green space, recreation options as Arlington dets denser

Editor: Every two years since 1992, Vote Yes For Parks Committee, of which we are members, led campaigns for bond issues for parks and recreation in Arlington. At the conclusion of each of those campaigns, Arlington’s voters approved the bond issues by majorities ranging from 65 percent to 80 percent, totaling $212,885,000 since 1992.

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Sun Gazette editorial: Our choice in the 8th District Democratic primary

The campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District is a prime example of what happens when legislative districts are gerrymandered, allowing one party to dominate.

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Letter: Arlington School Board member out of line in criticism of parents

Editor: As a parent with children in Arlington’s public schools, I was disturbed by Noah Simon’s public chiding of parents protesting elimination of the autism program in APS [“School Board’s Simon Seeks More Civility,” May 29].

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Letter: Costs are sure to sink Columbia Pike streetcar

Editor: I am a bit surprised that anybody in Arlington is still supporting the streetcar project, especially in light of the “evidence” found in the study that the county government cites.

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Letter: Cost of combined Arlington streetcar projects boggles mind

Editor: The recent Sun Gazette article discussing the hoped-for federal financing for the streetcar project contained a revelation for me.

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Letter: Streetcar subsidies will overwhelm Arlington taxpayers

Editor: Even if the Columbia Pike streetcar is constructed with federal and state money, as County Manager Barbara Donnellan wants, the problem comes after it’s built. Arlingtonians will be paying through the nose for it for years to come.

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Letter: 11th-hour Arlington school proposals an affront to parents

Editor: As parents of three young children, my husband and I are very concerned about the superintendent’s recommendation for a new 1,300-seat urban middle school on the Wilson property in Rosslyn.  

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Letter: Moving H-B Woodlawn school is one way to preserve it

Editor: A property the size of the Stratford site  is extremely rare in Arlington – the school system should use it, and all of the system’s existing resources, to their fullest potential.

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Letter: Plan to move H-B Woodlawn Program will not work

Editor: Arlington Public Schools is now proposing to move 700 students from H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Stratford Program to a new, 1,300-seat secondary school on the Wilson site in Rosslyn, and spending $10 million to renovate the existing H-B Woodlawn/Stratford building into a new middle school for 750 students.  

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Arlington Highs & Lows, 5/29/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's editorial page view on the local scene.

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Letter: More questions than answers in Arlington purchase of open space

Editor: Anytime Jay Fisette is “pleased to announce” anything, I check my wallet. Now we are told about this opportunity to spend $2.4 million was “too good to pass up” [“County Leaders Pleased with Purchase of Open Space,” May 22].

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Letter: If Columbia Pike businesses want a streetcar, they can pay for it

Editor: I ran for the Arlington County Board seat in the 2014 special election, and spent months walking around Arlington, talking to the people. None of the other candidates at that time mentioned that they did the same thing that I did trying to find out how the people felt about the issues concerning the operation of our county, and especially the Columbia Pike streetcar project.  

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 5/22/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette’s editorial page view on the local scene.

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Letter: Do not be misled by Arlington politicians pandering on streetcar

Editor: Arlington County voters, do not be fooled by Patrick Hope, Alan Howze and others claiming to promote democracy in calling for a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar.

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Letter: Time has come for referendum on Columbia Pike streetcar

Editor: The call by a growing number of Arlington Democrats for a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar is a salient example of U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen’s famous quote: “There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”   

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Highs & Lows, 5/15/14 edition

The Arlington Sun Gazette's editorial view on the local scene.

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Letter: Proposal for urban-style middle school makes little sense

Editor: The proposal in front of the School Board to create an eight-story, 1,300-seat “urban middle school” in Rosslyn is deeply concerning, and the School Board should not approve this proposal without appropriate analyses.  

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Letter: In Arlington as elsewhere, voters, not elected officials, have final say

Editor: The pitfalls of one-party governance were crystal clear in the May 8 Sun Gazette [“Streetcar Debate Takes New Twist: Referendum Sought by Howze, Hope”].

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Letter: Arlington Democratic leaders appear myopic, insular

Editor: As a longtime Democrat, I am saddened at the loss of Libby Garvey from the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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