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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Progressive Elite Opts Out of 'New Urbanism'. Time to End 'Smart Growth'.

Hi Yupette,

I drove through Ashton Heights the other day. Home of County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and many others who belong to the Progressive Elite. No bike lanes, no car-free diet, no pub crawls, no 5K anything. Neighborhood is right out of House and Gardens. These are the people who are imposing 'New Urbanism' on me, together with their bloated County bureaucracy who live in Fairfax County, and their corporate cronies who live in some other state. And their out-of-state boutique architects who only know how to design boutique country day schools and so that's what they're designing everywhere in Arlington.

Time to end 'Smart Growth' mixed-use redevelopment and time to fix-up and renovate existing low-density and medium-density infrastructure, and replace low and medium density infrastructure with new low and medium density infrastructure. New Urbanism has done to older suburbs like Arlington what Urban Renewal did to older cities 50 years ago. Why do we allow the Progressive Elite to inflict this 'ism' on us? I have never seen any cost-benefit analysis of this religion, cult, social and economic belief system or what ever you want to call it.

Douglas Park

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Debt Service as Percent of General Government Expenditures - A Dangerous Game

Hi Yupette,

As someone who followed the Arlington County Board's 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program deliberations over the Summer, I was often struck by the respect paid to the often-cited indicator of Arlington's fiscal health --- Debt Service as Percent of General Government Expenditures. According to County Manager Barbara Donnellan, Director of Management and Finance Michelle Cowan, and other high-level County employees the County's financial managers struggle mightily to keep the Debt Service to General Expenditures ratio around 9%.

However, if one looks at the manner funds are actually appropriated and spent, the Debt Services to General Expenditures ratio is meaningless and will never be allowed to exceed 10% because the County Manager routinely asks for, and the Count Board routinely appropriates, funds from pay-as-you-go General Fund accounts for capital projects, often via the County Board's consent agenda. For example, although the 2015-24 CIP calls for $28.8 million in funding for synthetic playing fields, as often as not synthetic playing fields are funded by paygo via the County Board's consent agenda, not from the sale of park bonds.

It gets worse, because cost overruns from capital projects are also paid from General Funds. And there are few limits on how the County Manager can move General Fund tax revenue around. So what appears to be a stable financial system is anything but stable, except when it comes to indebtedness. Bondholders can't be told they'll be paid when the County gets around to it, as you're told when you ask when your street will be repaved.

Thanks for your blog.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Same Sex Marriage Legal in Virginia? Time for an Updated Statement of Economic Interests from Jay Fisette.


A.Y. sent a volunteer to the Arlington County Board Clerk's office last January to peruse County Board Members' Statements of Economic Interests. One that immediately came to her attention was County Board Chair Jay Fisette's.

Surprise, though Jay was married (in D.C.) to his long-time domestic partner, Robert Rosen, founder and CEO of executive consulting firm Healthy Companies International, Jay didn't have to report their combined income or business interests because the State of Virginia didn't recognize same-sex marriages. Legal opinion by Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos.

So now that the State does recognize same-sex marriages, will Jay file an amended Statement of Economic Interests that could show how many of Rob's corporate clients have business interests with County Government and APS? We hope so.

One of Rob's corporate clients is Boeing, and even cynical County Staff admitted the new Boeing Government Operations Headquarters was a County Board 'giveaway deal' made during the Zimmerman era.

Jay didn't get to live in his and Rob's House and Garden home in exclusive Ashton Heights based upon the $40,000 - $55,000 he's been paid for being on the County Board.

Too bad A.Y. is the only media outlet that raises questions about local elected officials' outside sources of income.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Arlington is a World Class...Dump"


I recently visited Arlington from where I live in the Seattle area to interview for a position with a tech firm located in the Ballston area. First time I've been in the D.C. metro area in about 10 years.

Whatever the promoters of Arlington County may say about Arlington being 'world class' the reality is that the corridor between Ballston and Rosslyn is a dump.

I caught a Metro train from the airport to the Westin in Ballston, where I stayed 3 days. The Metro is incredibly dirty and run-down and the train I was on was filthy. I exited the Ballston Metro station, also appeared to not have been cleaned since being constructed, and immediately encountered broken brick paving, so I took a cab to the Westin only a couple blocks away. That was Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening I went for a walk around the Ballston neighborhood, more broken sidewalks. I didn't want to eat in the hotel restaurant so I entered Ballston Mall looking for decent food..Finding only squalor, I left and found World of Beer, which was packed with screaming and yelling urban hipsters. Finally had supper at Ted's Montana Grill.

Sunday, I took a long walk from Ballston to the Courthouse area and found all the brick sidewalks in Arlington are crumbling. It also seems that used car lots are a major, but unreported, business activity in Arlington. Oh, I was forced to repeatedly dodge urban hipsters on rental bicycles who believe they own the sidewalk. Took another filthy Metro train from the filthy Courthouse Metro station back to the beautiful Ballston Metro station.

Monday I had my interview with the tech firm's vice-president, who was effusive in his praise for Arlington and especially the Ballston-to-Rosslyn corridor. Afterwards I decided I had enough of Metro and started taking taxicabs. Took a cab to Mt. Vernon Monday afternoon, a place I had never visited.

Decided to not walk the broken sidewalks and had supper and breakfast at the Westin. Took a cab to the airport. Never received an offer from the tech firm. Doubt I would have accepted an offer if I had.

Thanks for your blog.

Mark, Seattle area

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Streetcar Design and Engineering Funding Goes to County Board

Hey, Yupette,

Streetcar design and engineering funding goes to the County Board for approval tonight. A $26 million waste of money. But first the County Board has to vote on consent agenda items - bicycles for all in Arlington 24/7/365 (still plenty of parking for non-residents who want to commute one-to-a-vehicle), and more video surveillance on everyone.

Given the experience of bicyclists in Tucson, where streetcar tracks are lethal weapons, you would think the County Board Majority would say no to streetcars and yes to ART bus service for all of Arlington neighborhoods instead. No way that will happen, since Jay Fisette, Mary Hynes, and Walter Tejada have long been infected by a virulent strain of the New Urbanism socioeconomic belief system...aka cult....aka religion which permanently and irrevocably alters the ability of adherents to think rationally.

Evening session of the County Board meeting starts at 6:30 in the County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Third Floor.

Pike Rider

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fairlington Resident to Fisette: Major League Arms Dealer Operating Out of Fairlington


AY attended last night's Fairlington monthly civic association meeting where County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was being grilled about the Pike Streetcar after doing his usual  civic association PR pitch promoting  the Pike streetcar.

Suddenly, out of the blue, a Fairlington resident asked Jay: "What can the County do about the arms dealer who is selling major league weapons out of his Fairlington townhouse/" Jay's response: "Oh we know about him, he tried to start a gun store in Nauck."

Jay then promised that he would definitely "do something" if the Fairlington resident contacted him. Consternation among the audience.

But of course County Government knows all about the arms dealer, since he has a business license from Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy and has to pay personal property and business taxes to Ingrid and County Treasurer Carla de la Pava. Arlington Police are obviously good buds with the arms dealer, as is ATF which licenses him. An ATF Class III firearms license (machine guns) is pretty tough to get. If (as the Fairlington resident complained) the arms dealer is dealing with the Pentagon he may be dealing some serious artillery, above and beyond machine guns.

But what else could Jay say? County Board Member Libby Garvey, who despises guns, was in the audience.

Stay tuned to Saturday's County Board meeting for further developments.