Wednesday, February 25, 2015

County Board Majority Working to Bail Out Artisphere

Hi Yupette,

Latest on the Artisphere is the County Board Majority  (Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada) are working on a bailout much like they recently bailed out the wealthy elite who run the Signature Theater.

Under the deal that's being considered, the County would pay many of the Artisphere's operating expenses, like utilities, and give the Artisphere's Board of Directors a long-term loan at 1% interest. The County would also pay a theatrical management firm to run the Artisphere. Losses from the Artisphere's operations, like live theater flops, would be camouflaged as "community benefits", paid for by the County and hidden in the budget.

Hynes and Tejada are increasingly outta here and Jay Fisette never met a performing arts group he didn't want to build a live theater for. I was afraid the Signature bailout wouldn't be the last taxpayer bailout for the performing arts groups. It won't.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Media Boosters of the Status Quo Shouldn't Complain About Tax Rate Increases

Hey, Yupette,

I just read $cott McCaffrey's annoyed comments about the County Board's proposed 1.5 cent tax rate increase. What a hoot. Same old $ara$ota $cott who never saw a proposal, activity, program, personal, corporate, non-profit, or government agenda, he didn't want to promote via his Inside Nova blog and Sun Gazette newspaper? Starting with Frank O'Leary's car tax decal design competition that's not only illegal but has mushroomed into an annual festival costing the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars. Sheesh.

While $cott's expressing his annoyance with the County Board and its proposed tax rate increase he's been preparing to join APS's winter junket to San Diego for the coronation of Coach Patrick Murphy as National School Superintendent of the Year. How much did that P.R. campaign cost taxpayers? Maybe $cott can find out when he's out wining and dining with APS's VIPs.

I have to agree with what I  hear around the County: "The waste in Arlington County Government could fund the operation of two small counties downstate, and the waste in APS could fund the school systems in those counties".

Thanks for your blog.

Larry, 22201

Friday, February 20, 2015

School Board Lobbies County Board for 2-Cent Tax Rate Hike

 Hey, Yupette,

Coach Patrick Murphy and the Arlington School Board met last night. FY 16 APS budget will be $561.1 million (up from $239.4 million in FY 15)  to educate an estimated 25,620 students next year ($21,900 per student).

The School Board will be at least $13 million short because of the usual add-ons like $8.1 million for step increases and hiring 196 more teachers (Masters Degree and 10 years experience required) and staff . Which will bring the number of full-time APS employes to 4,363, or about 1 full-time APS employee for every 6 students.

What to do? Lobby the County Board for a 2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate, of course! Will be played out at Saturday's County Board meeting provided the meeting isn't cancelled due to snow.

We can expect more of the same until at least FY 20. If you create a school system that's expensive to the point of being extravagant people will want to enroll their kids.

Donna - 22201

Friday, February 13, 2015

Taj Mahal 'Transitional Facility' for Pub Crawlers to County Board on February 21st

Hey Yupette,

Please be aware, if you aren't already, that there's a site plan coming before the County Board on February 21st to replace low-density neighborhood infrastructure at North Rolfe Street and Fairfax Drive with a 395 unit mixed-use redevelopment with more than 400 parking spaces and 190 bicycle parking spaces on-site. There will also be a new County-owned 5-story 14-unit Taj Mahal "transitional facility" for pub crawlers coming out of rehab to replace the present transitional dormitory.

The County will also give the McLean developer more than 85,000 square feet of bonus density and 19,000 square feet of County-owned property on-site for 4 units of affordable housing at 40% or AMI and 4 units at 50% of AMI. The remaining 31 units at 60% of AMI are (according to County Staff) for the pub crawlers coming out of the transitional facility. The developer will also build a 6,400 square foot pocket park as a community benefit, though the County owns open space on site. The remainder of the bonus density will be awarded for the usual LEED Gold and Silver construction.

No estimate of the impact of the "family unit" housing, affordable and market rate, on the APS school population. No estimate of the impacts of 400 motor vehicles and 190 bicycles on the neighborhood's streets and sidewalks, except for the usual "don't worry, be happy, ride Metro." Another giveaway to a Fairfax County or out-of-state developer facilitated by County Staff who aren't County residents.

Thanks for your blog.

Mike, 22201

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

HB 2308 Independent Internal Auditor Legislation to House of Delegates Subcommittee February 4th


Several Arlington residents contacted their Delegates in the General Assembly and asked for information about the status of the legislation that would allow the County Board to appoint an Independent Internal Auditor.

The legislation has been assigned to a subcommittee of the Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns and will be taken up by the subcommittee at 7:30 AM on Wednesday, February 4th.

Here's the text of the Independent Internal Auditor legislation, introduced by Delegate Hope.

HB 2308 County manager plan of government; governing body (Arlington County) may appoint county auditor


County manager plan of government; county auditor. Allows the governing body in a county with the county manager plan of government (Arlington County) to appoint a county auditor. The county auditor shall have the power to make performance reviews of operations of county agencies or county-funded programs to to ascertain that sums appropriated are expended for the purposes for which such appropriations were made and to evaluate the effectiveness of these agencies and programs.

Please call your Delegate and Senator and ask them to support this legislation, including mandating that an independent internal auditor report directly to the Arlington County Board.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Clement, Dorsey to Run for County Board

Hi Yupette,

I ran into Christian Dorsey yesterday and he's obtaining petition signatures for a run for Arlington County Board. Heard through a friend in the Green Party that Audrey Clement will run for County Board again.

Chris Dorsey is not the local activist he once was. He works at the Economic Policy Institute, where he analyzes and re-analyzes the disparity between race and ethnic origin and wealth. He also serves on the board of the Arlington Free Clinic and on one of the committees that's planning the Abingdon School renovation, although he lives in North Arlington.

Audrey Clement is running for County Board again. How much coverage her campaign receives from media that are profoundly biased against third party candidates and independents remains to be seen, probably not much.

Anyway, thanks for your blog.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Time for Barbara Donnellan to Retire

Hey Yupette,

So Nada Tejada is retiring. To join his bud Zimmy at Smart Growth International? Soon to be followed by Pub Crawl Mary Hynes announcing her retirement? We can only hope.And Chief of Reactive Policing Scott is retiring in March.

But the one person in County Government who should retire, right now, is County Manager Donnellan.Every County Board meeting she gets worse.This past County Board meeting it was like she was elected County Supervisor and the County Board members were appointed by her.

Then there are the poor decisions and no decisions Barbara is responsible for that make her title an oxymoron....ranging from million dollar dog parks and bus shelters to welfare for wealthy corporations and non-profits to a bloated economic development bureaucracy that's been so spectacularly unsuccessful that homeowners are bearing the increase in the cost of County Government next fiscal year. But Barbara's worst performance involves fiscal management and the County's lack thereof. I have to wonder what's going on when, with all the slush funds Barbara controls, she vehemently opposes an independent internal auditor who reports to the County Board, to the point that the County Board has to go to the General Assembly for permission to hire one.

So I thank Barbara for her many years of service to the County but it's really time for her to retire.

Pike Rider, 22204