• Next Meeting--Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 7:00 PM at the Community Room of the Ballston Firehouse Station (located at Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive). All are welcome to attend.

January 28, 2015

Arlington Greens urge county board to expand recycling and ban styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, but board refuses

Arlington Greens Audrey Clement and Miriam Gennari spoke at the county board hearing on Jan. 27, 2015 urging the board to strengthen the proposed ordinance on solid waste and recycling at apartments and businesses in Arlington. Gennari spoke to the board and presented the AGP position on improving recycling and solid waste management in Arlington as follows:green recycling bag2

Unfortunately, the county board refused to heed the requests of Arlington Greens to modify the proposed ordinance and unfortunately single use plastic bags and Styrofoam will continue to litter our environment and be burned in our trash burn facility emitting dangerous gases. Billions of plastic bags litter our oceans, streams and planet, and Arlington Government once again passed up an opportunity to eliminate a harmful and unnecessary pollutant.

Position of the Arlington Greens on the proposed ordinance

January 27, 2015

Dear Esteemed Arlington County Board Members:

The Arlington Green Party is excited that the Arlington County Board is looking to improve its already successful residential solid waste program. Like all programs, there is always room for improvement and the Arlington Greens would greatly appreciate your consideration in the implementation of our suggestions.

Arlington County: Bans Plastic Bags
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality states that the County Board has the legal authority under Virginia law to ban single use plastic bags. The Dillon Rule does not bar the Arlington County Board from a “bag-ban” so long as taxes are not levied on bag use. In other words, Arlington County can ban plastic bags as a policy as long as it is not monetarily punitive.

Arlington County: Adopts a Styrofoam-Free Policy
Arlington County is as forward thinking as neighboring Washington, DC and Montgomery County and could be the ecologically correct example to the rest of Virginia in banning Styrofoam from Arlington County events. Further, events using independent coordinators could be required to follow Arlington County’s stricter standards of waste management.

Arlington County: Provides Additional Enforcement
As part of stricter waste management policy, we recommend more code enforcement personnel. These dedicated individuals are also tasked with safety enforcement such as the citation of “Inadequate lights at public corridors and stairways” in residential buildings and ensuring that individual property owners upkeep their homes and sidewalks, which neglected “might endanger the health or safety of other residents of the County.” It is clear that for these individuals to also adequately supervise commercial and multi-unit residential building recycling and waste management, the office of Code Enforcement would require additional staff.

Arlington County: Creates a Seal of Approval for Sustainable Practices
The Arlington Green Party is eager to collaborate with Arlington County Board and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services to develop guidelines of sustainable and achievable practices. With this list of guidelines, new and existing businesses could be encouraged to implement concrete changes that would affect the environment in positive ways; these forward-thinking businesses could be commemorated or otherwise incentivized, luring consumers to Arlington County businesses.

Thank you for your consideration,
Marie Pellegrino Arlington Green Party Chair
Sandra Hernandez Arlington Green Party Co-Chair

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Sandra Hernandez and Marie Pellegrino elected as 2015 co-chairs of Arlington Greens

Events,green meetings — @ 11:44 am

Sandra Hernandez and Marie Pellegrino were elected as co-chairs for 2015 for the Arlington Greens at the December general meeting. Sandra and Marie are longtime Greens who have extensive community involvement in Arlington, and worked hard on many prior Greens political campaigns, including on the successful campaign of John Vihstadt, an independent candidate for county board who the Greens endorsed.

Marie Pellegrino and Sandra Hernandez at January Green Filmfest at Central Library

Marie Pellegrino and Sandra Hernandez at January Green Filmfest at Central Library

Sandra has worked for historic preservation of her Columbia Pike neighborhood for many years, and also is a parent of two children enrolled in Arlington Public Schools. As a bilingual Latina, she has been a strong advocate for affordable housing and for the county schools and government to meet the needs of lower income Arlington residents.

Marie is a longtime Arlington resident who recently completed the Arlington Neighborhood College course, and is an English tutor volunteer with REEP program (the English program in Arlington County for recent immigrants). She began her Green Party activities working with the Greens efforts to help the unemployed in Arlington in 2009-10. Greens proposed a Green jobs program for unemployed and homeless persons to be trained and employed weatherizing low income housing using then available stimulus funds, and advocating in Richmond for Virginia to expand its unemployment program.

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January 13, 2015

Green Film Festival: Battle for Brooklyn Film, Tue. Jan. 27, 2015, 6:30 PM at Arl Central Library, free

The film Battle for Brooklyn will be screened at the Arlington Central Library Auditorium starting at 6:30 PM on Jan. 27. Pizza and drinks will be served.
Free. Following the film we will have a panel discussion on the film’s implications and lessons for Arlington’s growth and development. Arlington Central Library is located at N. Quincy Street and Fairfax Drive just 4 blocks from Va Square Metro Station.

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January 1, 2015

Greens support ending police violence rally and march December 2014

racial justice — @ 2:21 pm

Arlington Greens Sandra Hernandez and John Reeder attended the Dec. 13, 2014 rally and march against police violence against blacks at the Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. Tens of thousands of people from all over the U.S., including from Ferguson, Missouri and New York City attended in a peaceful and organized fashion to demand that police killing and violence against people stop. The NAACP, ACLU, churches, unions and youth groups participated.
police violence march pic1police violence march pic2police violence march pic3

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November 15, 2014

Providing public land and public funds to Arlington housing providers does not help tenants

Arlington Greens chair John Reeder spoke to the Arlington County Board on November 14, 2014
(his testimony was his own responsibility)

Good morning members of the board.
I am here to talk about affordable housing assistance and to caution you against just naively giving away public land to developers who fail to actually produce affordable rental apartments under the AHIF program.

AHIF is so ineffectual that it should be abolished, and its funding instead go to the housing grants program which directly and transparently helps mainly lower income people in Arlington. No public land and no more public funds should go to these developers.

The $12 million spent for the AHIF program in 2014 is really welfare for crony developers and delivers few benefits (in the form of lower rents and significantly more apartments) to tenants in Arlington.

In FY 2014, Arlington County spends $37 million from its local revenues for housing assistance, the largest category being the affordable housing investment fund (AHIF) with $12 million, and the second category being direct housing grants ($8 million).

The $12 million spent for AHIF may add at most 125 new CAF units this year (last year only 55 were added), and probably rent for $100 or so per month less than at market rate complexes, yielding a total benefit to low income renters of $150,000 a year. Even over 30 years, AHIF provides far fewer benefits even than its costs.

The new apartments added under the AHIF are very expensive; their rents charged are close to or at market rate rents; and the households served earning generally 60-percent of the area median income ($65,000 for a family of four).

On the other hand, the $8 million spent for housing grants directly and transparently helps about 1,200 households with about $500 per month each in lower rents paid. Its cost equals its benefits.

Households getting a housing grant earn no more than $46,000 (for a family of four), and must be 65 years or older, disabled, clients of county DHS programs (such as formerly homeless) or a working family with a child. Housing grants go to Arlington residents who are the most needy in our community.

The $12 million used today for AHIF could alternatively provide 2,000 households with a monthly rental grant of $500 versus 125 households receiving a $100 a month rent reduction in a new AHIF unit.

What is the better use of scarce local tax revenues to help low income Arlington residents?

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November 7, 2014

Rosslyn residents protest Wilson development of park, Sat. Nov. 8, 8:30 am at Key Elementary

Development,environment,Events — @ 10:43 am

wilson school photo2
Rosslyn residents gather to fight elimination of Wilson School greenspace

The Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) has proceeded over the past year toward its pre-designated conclusion to develop the Wilson site (School, Park, Playfields). The WRAPS recommendations are terrible for the Rosslyn community: preservation is dismissed, most of the site would be intensely developed with access roads and tall buildings; and very very little open space would be preserved for park and recreation. This in a community which is densely populated and provides limited public green space.

Upcoming on Saturday (tomorrow) starting at 8:30 AM at Key Elementary, county staff will lead a four and one half hour (!!!) presentation of WRAPS plans including some limited opportunity for citizen comment.

Rather than sitting through hours of power-point nonsense, a few of us plan instead to stand at the entrance handing out printed notices bearing statements like:

“Preserve Wilson School and Fields”

“Develop our Park ?? That’s Nuts !”

“Preserve our limited Green Space !”

I recommend people come to the meeting timely; grab a sign; hold it up awhile once you get inside; and then leave. You’ll do something to save our park, and you’ll save your Saturday for family and personal responsibilities.

Mark Antell

Co-chair of the CivFed Parks and Recreation Committee

CivFed delegate from the North Rosslyn Civic Association

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November 5, 2014

Vihstadt wins re-election with Greens support

John Vihstadt, an independent candidate for Arlington County Board, won re-election on November 4 with strong Green support, with about 55 percent of the votes cast. A number of Arlington Greens worked at the polls for him as well as contributing money. Democrats, Republicans, independents and Greens in Arlington all supported him. He was the first non-Democrat to be elected to a four year term on the county board in decades.

Greens supported him in his April victory for a midterm election, but he had to stand for election for the full 4 year term in November.

The key issues were the proposed Columbia Pike trolley projected to cost in excess of $300 million from local sources and other financial excesses of the ruling county board Democrats who have controlled Arlington for over 30 years. Arlington Green candidates for many years have opposed the Columbia Pike trolley because of its excessive cost (relative to a rapid bus system), its adverse effect on eliminating affordable rental housing on the Pike, and its negative environmental impact as compared to a rapid bus system.

greens photo with vihstadt nov 5 2014
Arlington Greens Marie Pellegrino and Sandra Hernandes are pictured alongside John Vihstadt at his victory celebration following the election

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October 20, 2014

Arlington school bonds–not ready for approval

Development,schools — @ 5:15 pm

westover library-reed school
(photo of Reed School with Westover Library)

Arlington Greens chairman speech to Arlington Council of PTAs, on Oct. 20, 2014

Good evening members of Arlington PTAs. Let me congratulate you for your volunteer work to improve our community’s public education.

I am John Reeder, an Arlington resident, graduate of Yorktown High School, father of three daughters all graduates of Arlington Public Schools, and chairman of the Arlington Green Party. My wife was a 40-year Fairfax elementary school teacher, and my daughter teaches English in Washington, D.C.

I support spending for public education for all children and excellent salaries for our teachers and school staff. I support capital spending to provide more class rooms, but cannot support throwing money at capital projects without foresight and planning.

I urge you and other Arlington voters to reject the $105.8 million dollar school bond on the November ballot.

Here’s the short answer as to why voters should vote no: the school system is not ready to thoughtfully spend $106 million to add seats to last 30 years.
We voters cannot trust APS to effectively invest these funds without a detailed and a comprehensive plan that parents, educators, and the community all can support. Unfortunately, the APS has failed to accurately project enrollment and capacity over the past two decades.
The board should first prepare a specific plan that supports students and educational programs and adds seats, with engineering and reasonable cost estimates. Then ask voters for an adequate bond for very specific projects, be it for $106 million or $306 million.

Capital funds do not immediately produce new seats. We should not hurry to waste and misapply one hundred million dollars building the wrong or too small schools, and then have to rebuild the same schools in five years. Just 5 years ago, a new, $100 million W-L high school was opened for 1,500 students, but now has 2,046 students.

The school board spends over $500 million annually for operating costs, and now without a detailed, engineering plan, it will get another $106 million to spend somewhere and hope for the best.

There is confusion and missing leadership among school board members and the superintendent. There will be two new school board members this year; parents and PTAs are still divided over where and how new seats should be added. The school board failed to timely adopt a CIP which would have settled the capacity expansion.

There are many unanswered questions:
Will HB Woodlawn move to the Reed School or to a new Wilson site?
Will APS build a new elementary school next to TJ Middle School?
Where should more seats be added and how?
Can we preserve green space around our schools?
Will engineering plans reduce the carbon footprint of new buildings?
Can APS reduce the over $70,000 cost of adding one seat?

Voters: Please reject this bond request.

APS should come back to voters in a year and provide citizens with a well thought out, detailed plan to address the enrollment increase, and then present a detailed bond question to voters so that we in the community can make an informed decision.
Thank you

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October 14, 2014

Adding new schools in Arlington–follow Fairfax’s example and convert an office building

Development,schools — @ 12:06 pm

The Washington Post reported on October 13 about a new elementary school in Baileys Crossroads, Fairfax that is a former office building that can hold 800 students. The cost of the Baileys building including the $9 million cost of buying the empty office building was about $20 million for a student capacity of 795 (they have 700 students today). Baileys Elementary is considered one of the premier elementary schools in Fairfax County, specializing in art and music and drawing students from all over Fairfax as well as the Baileys Crossroads.

baileys elementary new school
(photo of new Baileys Elementary School, courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools)

So an 800-student school cost $20 million; that’s about $25,000 per student. Arlington is building a new elementary at Williamsburg MS for a $73,000 per student cost, nearly 3 times the Fairfax cost, and the land there is free unlike Baileys.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2014/10/08/what-to-do-with-dying-suburban-office-buildings-turn-them-into-schools/

Why can’t Arlington Public Schools buy an empty office building and convert it into a 800-student elementary like Fairfax for $20 million? Drive a hard bargain like FCPS did, and buy a vacant office building. Several months, we wrote an article for Arlington Greens about the over 25 percent office vacancy rate in Crystal City and Rosslyn and the need to recycle these empty office buildings into residential apartments and schools.

Suppose APS paid $20 million for a similar sized building in Crystal City or Rosslyn, and spent $14,000 per student to remodel it into a school like FCPS, a 800 student school would still cost only $32 million or $40,000 per student.

APS is spending $46 million to build the new elementary for only 630 students at the Williamsburg MS campus in 97,000 square feet of space, slightly smaller than the new Baileys Crossroads School. APS cost does not include any funds to buy an existing office building just construction costs using public land. Also, do they really think that only 690 students will enroll there?

http://www.apsva.us/Page/18930

So the cost per student is $46 million / 630 = $73,000 per student seat at the new Williamsburg ES

Arlington is supposed to add 6,000 more students over the next ten years; at $73k per student seat, the APS will need to spend about $440 million for 6,000 more seats. That would mean issuing $440 million in school bonds.

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October 6, 2014

Arlington Greens Vote to Oppose All Four Arlington Bond Questions on the November Ballot

Arlington Greens Vote to Oppose All Four Arlington Bond Questions on the November Ballot

October 6, 2014

The Arlington Greens voted unanimously at their October 2nd meeting to ask Arlington voters to deny the four bonds on the ballot on November 4: the four bonds total $218 million, the largest being $106 million for Arlington Public Schools.

The Greens indicated that the bond questions on the ballot for voter approval or denial were too broad and non-specific, and were essentially blank checks to the Arlington School Board and to the Arlington County Board to spend money for undefined purposes and without any cost or engineering plans.

John Reeder the Arlington Greens chairman said, “Arlington parents distrust the school board, and many feel duped by the School Board’s failure to approve a detailed CIP (Capital Improvement Plan). South Arlington parents were promised years ago a new elementary school, now proposed to be built on scarce parkland next to TJ Middle School.” He added, “Arlington parents should remember that critical on-going school programs were put on the chopping block in the past spring; and now a confused school board and a superintendent propose to rush spending $106 million on plans that are less than educationally optimal for our students.”

Reeder said the County Board similarly failed to specify for its three bond questions exactly where and how it will spend $61 million on transportation infrastructure, $13 million for local parks and recreation, and $39 million on “county facilities, information technology, and infrastructure.” He said, “voters should be wary of allowing the county board to spend over $100 million without detailed engineering and vetted plans because of these past abuses.”

Reeder added, “This county board built a million dollar bus stop on Columbia Pike, diverted many millions of park bond dollars approved by voters for park land acquisition to remodeling a failed Artisphere, and now proposes to spend over $300 million on a doomed trolley.”

The Arlington Green Party has run candidates for the Arlington County Board for the past 8 years. This year it has endorsed, independent county board member John Vihstadt for election in the November election.

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