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Arlington Sun Gazette endorsement: Special elections for treasurer, School Board

In coming months, we will turn our attention to the relatively large number of races to be confronted by voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Recent Headlines

Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 8/28/14 edition

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

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Letter: Taxpayers ultimately will foot the bill for Columbia Pike streetcar

Editor: We urge Arlingtonians concerned about the cost of the proposed streetcar project to read the Aug. 15 issue of The Economist, which contains the article “Streetcars and Urban Renewal: Rolling Blunder.”

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Letter: Even potential supporters have questions about streetcar plan

Editor: I’m not for or against the Columbia Pike streetcar project; since there appears to be no independent data to support (or non-support) it, it is difficult to make an informed decision.

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 8/21/14 edition

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

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Letter: Fisette defense of streetcar at variance with economic reality

Editor: In a letter to the Sun Gazette, County Board Chairman Jay Fisette tried to defend spending over half a billion dollars on streetcars. I disagree. Streetcars make neither transit nor economic sense.

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Letter: Sen. Warner a champion of small business

Editor: Small-business support is a common talking point for politicians on both sides of the aisle. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

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Letter: Sen. Warner touts common-sense solutions to immigration

Editor: The current border crisis has brought immigration reform to the public eye in a way that it hasn’t been in a while. Instead of using this opportunity to have a substantive discussion or work towards solving this pressing problem, most politicians have used this time to divide even further along party lines.    

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Letter: Volunteers continue to support Latin in Arlington schools

Editor: Thank you for two recent articles about Arlington students in the Latin program at Arlington Public Schools.

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Sun Gazette endorsement: 48th House of Delegates special election

Voters in the 48th House of Delegates district – at least those inclined to brave the depths of summer to cast ballots – go to the polls Aug. 19 to pick a successor to Democrat Bob Brink, whose 16-year tenure ended June 30 when he accepted a job in the McAuliffe administration.

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Letter: Revised funding plan for streetcar best for Arlington

Editor: I would like to provide some additional information for your readers about funding for the full, 7.4-mile streetcar project, both the Columbia Pike segment and the Crystal City segment.

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Letter: Arlington leaders should just level with public on streetcar

Editor: The county government and boosters of the idea are using some interesting claims to sell the Columbia Pike streetcar to Arlington residents.

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Letter: Foster has experience, focus to work well in Richmond

Editor: “Can a Republican win an election in a district that includes Arlington?”

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Letter: Foster would add to, not subtract from, partisanship in Richmond

Editor: I received a mailer from David Foster, the Republican candidate in the August 19 special election for the House of Delegates in Arlington and McLean, in which he deplored “hyper-partisanship” and promised to “bring reason to Richmond.”

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Letter: Dominion, McDonnell were right, Foster was wrong, on offshore wind

Editor: In the Aug. 5 debate between Rip Sullivan and David Foster, who are vying for the 48th District House of Delegates’ seat, Foster implied that wind energy wasn’t a big deal by saying that “one problem with windmills offshore is the wind is not always blowing.”

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Letter: Foster’s experience on education isn’t enough in this race

Editor: I write to respond to Louise Epstein’s letter [“Foster is Candidate of Specifics on Education”] in the July 31 edition.

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Arlington Sun Gazette Highs & Lows, 8/7/14 edition

Our editorial page view on the local scene.

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Letter: Sullivan is specific, Foster nebulous in addressing issues

Editor: The recent article about the candidates to replace Bob Brink as the delegate for the 48th District raised the question of which candidate voters should trust. But the article missed the point.

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Letter: Using more of Thomas Jefferson site imperils Arlington County Fair

Editor: If the Arlington County government goes through with the idea of destroying Thomas Jefferson Park to build a school on that property, it will result in the death of a very popular County Fair that thousands look forward to each year. It is always very crowded and a lot of fun.

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Letter: Foster will bring right skills to General Assembly

Editor: I urge voters of the 48th District to vote for David Fosterin the Aug. 19th special election.  

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

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

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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: 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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