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Stories for August 2013

Stories for August 2013

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Saturday, August 31

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T.C. Williams Football Blasts Oakton in Season Opener

Five different Titans reach end zone in victory.

TC gets first win against Oakton since 2009.

Friday, August 30

Column: From Weak to Week

Eight days and seven nights. Not exactly the vacation I was planning. Nevertheless, admitted to the hospital on Friday, August 2nd. Discharged on Friday, August 9th: that was my hospital “staycation.” Though I definitely improved as the post-surgical week went on, the process itself – specifically, nearly four days in S.I.C.U. (Surgical Intensive Care) with round-the-clock monitoring, nursing and doctoring – was hardly restful. In fact, if you read the following prose, you’ll presumably develop an understanding of the cons.

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An Insider's Guide to the Arts in Northern Virginia

A selection of upcoming arts productions, happening right where you live.

There are more artists of every stripe making art in Northern Virginia than you may realize. Populating the bedroom communities, small towns, growing cities and metropolitan areas of Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria are your pick of dance, theatre, choral, symphonic, visual and performance, music and fill-in-the-blank groups. Look beyond Wolf Trap and Jammin' Java to the Torpedo Art Factory, the Workhouse Arts Center, and smaller, quality groups like ArtSpace Herndon and McLean Project for the Arts to cast their creative spell (that's only to name a few). Delve in and, we dare you, let your stereotypes of an artless string of suburbs dissolve. In place you'll get something much better than stereotypes: some culture.

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Alexandria School Superintendent Unexpectedly Resigns

Taxpayers to fork over almost $300,000 to buy out embattled superintendent.

With days left to go before the first day of school, leaders in Alexandria are searching for a new superintendent.

Thursday, August 29

Chambers

Find a comprehensive online listing of county business resources at http://www.fairfaxcountyeda.org/business-resources.

Alexandria Home Sales: July, 2013

In July 2013, 228 Alexandria homes sold between $4,600,000-$99,000.

Alexandria Home Sales: July, 2013

A Year in Fairfax County

A sampling of some of the cherished, annual events of the county.

Upcoming events in the county.

Editorial: About the Connection

As your local, weekly newspaper, the Great Falls Connection’s mission is to bring the local news you need, to gather information about the best things in and near your community, to advocate for community good, to provide a forum for dialogue on local concerns, and to celebrate and record milestones and events in the community and people’s lives.

Classified Advertising August 8, 2013

Read the latest ads here!

Issues Facing Alexandria Residents

A look at some of the major items on the agenda for the near future.

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Fiscal Year Follies: Latest Budget Blunder Involves Increased Utility Tax

'Mistake' comes on the heels of 'communication issue.'

Shortly after City Council members approved the budget for fiscal year 2014, they had to reconsider two dedicated sources of revenue that had been spiked despite a lack of consensus among elected officials. Now City Manager Rashad Young has acknowledged a new blunder in revenue collections, a failure to follow all the necessary steps to increase utility taxes.

Sunday, August 25

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Bishop Ireton Football Looking To Bounce Back

Cardinals will play first four games at home.

Cardinals finished 1-9 in 2012.

Friday, August 23

Fall Classes Begin at School of the Arts

Fall Classes Begin at School of the Arts

Tango Comes to Lorton Workhouse

QuinTango to perform Saturday.

Tango Comes to Lorton Workhouse

Back to School: Back to Lunch

Healthy lunchbox and after school snack ideas.

Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas

Thursday, August 22

'Service Above Self'

Peter Knetemann is 86th Rotary Club president.

“Rotary … seems to attract a neat kind of person. Our members are looking beyond themselves and that's what sets us apart.”

Excerpts From King’s ‘I Have a Dream’

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to the March on Washington 50 years ago next week, Aug. 28, 1963.

Excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech: “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

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The Mane Attraction

Firefighters to hold Cuts for Kids Days.

Students from throughout the region will be treated to free back-to-school haircuts thanks to Alexandria and Fairfax County firefighters who are sponsoring the third Cuts for Kids Days Aug. 26-28 at area recreation centers.

Obituary: Rebecca Fones

Rebecca Lee Knight Fones, 74, of Covington, died on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013.

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School Board Chairwoman Confronts Governor During Alexandria Education Summit

City leaders hope to change school takeover rather than filing lawsuit.

Sitting face to face with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell at T.C. Williams, Alexandria School Board Chairwoman Karen Graf challenged the sweeping education reform that threatens to remove Jefferson-Houston School from the city's public school system.

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Tougher Tests Cause Alexandria Scores to Plunge

School officials say more rigorous standards are to blame.

Test scores are down across Alexandria. But school officials say that doesn't necessarily mean students are doing worse. It means that the tests have gotten harder.

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Shedding Sunshine on the Secret World of Regulation in Virginia

Advisory panel rejects effort to open records of the State Corporation Commission.

Ever wonder what happens during deliberations that regulate payday lending? How about the effort to oversee your health insurance?

Tuesday, August 20

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Resurrecting The Post for a New Era

The Post has two upcoming gigs in Vienna and Alexandria.

Don’t let the minor chords fool you: The Post is made up of happy people. The band, originally started by guitarist Kate Jarosik and singer/pianist Chelsea Bryan during their time at the University of Virginia, took a brief hiatus after graduation but has started up again with some new musicians in Northern Virginia. Fresh off a successful stint through a Battle of the Bands at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, The Post is getting ready for a show there next Wednesday, Aug. 28 and another at St. Elmo’s in Alexandria Sept. 20.

Monday, August 19

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Even Small Amounts of Precipitation Dump Raw Sewage into Potomac River

City government signs offer misleading information about outfalls.

Don't believe the signs city officials have posted at the four outfall spots that dump raw sewage into the Potomac River. The truth is much worse.

Thursday, August 15

Seeking ‘Presents 4 Pets

Campaign to aid four local animal charities.

Residents of the region have the opportunity to help non-profit animal rescue organizations, thanks to the Presents 4 Pets Campaign.

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Should Jefferson-Houston Become a Charter School?

Alexandria's failing school is in crossfire of political debate.

Politicians love to talk about failing schools. As an abstract concept, they are an easy target. But when an actual school is identified as a failing school, the reality become a bit more complicated.

Wednesday, August 14

SSSAS Graduate Sargent to Pitch for Penn

Alexis Sargent surpassed the 1,000 career strikeout mark in high school.

Talented TC Williams Looking to Snap Playoff Drought

Titans return nine starters on defense, led by two UNC commits.

T.C. Williams opens the season at Oakton on Aug. 30.

Classified Advertising August 14. 2013

Read the lastest ad here!

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Outdoor Elegance Meets Cutting Edge Technology

A design/build team explores fine architecture in weather-resistant materials.

If anything in the summer of 2013 points to still evolving homeowner expectations, it may be the frequency with which locals are integrating screen porches, patios, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens into original landscaping schemes that artfully marry the house to its setting.

Geocaching Diversifies

Urbanites embracing new game.

Geocaching usually has been portrayed as someone with hiking boots and a walking staff gazing afar from a hilltop in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not so anymore. Substantial numbers of those joining the sport are placing and hunting for caches in urban settings, and that includes Northern Virginia.

Thursday, August 8

Opinion: Issues That Matter

Mental health services discussion gives insight into real differences between candidates.

It came as somewhat of a relief to have the candidates for governor in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D), discuss an actual issue that matters to many Virginia families this week at a forum on mental health issues.

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Will the Next Attorney General Defend Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage?

Republican says he will defend amendment; Democrat is not so sure.

Virginia's next attorney general will have to stand in a courtroom and make a decision about whether or not the commonwealth's constitutional ban on marriage should be defended. Republican candidate Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26) has been clear about his support for the amendment and his intention to provide a vigorous defense of marriage. Democratic candidate Sen. Mark Herring (D-33), on the other hand, has yet to take a position on whether or not he will defend the amendment.

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City Attorney Gave Green Light to Hensley Before All Documents Were Reviewed

Federal grant from 1970s provided barrier to private development of public land.

Recently unearthed documents from city and state archives show Joseph Hensley Park is protected by the Land and Water Conservation Act, which financed development of the city-owned property in the late 1970s.

Wednesday, August 7

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Wickedly Witty

Additional shows added for LTA’s ‘Avenue Q.’

They sing, they dance and — OMG — they even have sex. They’re the potty-mouthed puppets (and their human counterparts) of “Avenue Q,” the Tony Award-winning musical now playing at The Little Theatre of Alexandria.

Bulletin Board

The Fountains at Washington House’s Medicare-certified skilled nursing center, known as The Springs, has earned the highest five-star quality rating and four-star overall rating from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, according to Connie Haworth, executive director of the Alexandria retirement community. The Fountains at Washington House, 5100 Fillmore Avenue, is one of 32 communities operated by Watermark Retirement Communities. For more information, visit www.watermarkcommunities.com or call 703-845-5000.

Bulletin Board

Monday-Thursday/Aug. 5-8 Registration Open. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for its 2013 Youth Academy, a four-day program in August for ages 11 to 17. Participants will learn about the Sheriff’s Office by meeting deputies, observing tactical and K-9 demonstrations, touring the Detention Center and Courthouse, and other related activities. The Youth Academy runs 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Office, 2003 Mill Road. Registration is free and lunch will be provided. In some cases, transportation may be available. Space is limited and registration is on a first come, first served basis. Call Deputy Valarie Wright at 703-746-5017 or visit www.alexandriava.gov/sheriff.

Oh, What a Night

National Night Out celebrates 30 years.

Thousands of residents turned out across the city Aug. 6 as Alexandria celebrated the 30th anniversary of National Night Out, a program designed to promote neighborhood spirit and law enforcement-community partnerships in the fight against crime.

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The Median Has No Message

Political signs banished from roadsides as campaign season heats up.

Some people call them flowers of democracy. Others call them weeds of political pollution. Whatever one thinks of the campaign signs and placards that appear along the roads of Fairfax County, expect to see a lot fewer of them. Last month, county officials launched a new program in which nonviolent inmates at the county jail hit the streets four days a week to remove illegal signs. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the message is no longer in the median. Anger and resentment has been rising over the issue of roadside political signs for years, and campaigns frequently go to war with each other to see which side can plant or steal or deface the largest number of placards. Unlike Prince William County, which had an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation that allows the local government to collect the signs and fine violators, Fairfax was caught in a bind. Part of the Virginia code made it illegal for the county to remove the signs in Fairfax County until after an election.

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Living Legends

Richard Merritt focuses on health issues.

Born in 1943 in Greenville in Texas, Richard E. Merritt grew up in the Bellaire section of Houston and attended Austin College in Sherman, also in Texas, where he earned a B.A. in psychology. He joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in India. He was assigned to community development as an extension officer helping to improve crop yields.

Letter to the Editor: Too Many Trees Destroyed

No more trees. When the Jefferson Houston School Project was first begun, there were a lot of people who wanted the trees to stay, all the trees. These were people that attended the school and residents of the community. Several months ago during a storm, a tree on West Street fell becoming entangled in the overhead electrical wires. This tree was determined to actually be rotting and hollow from the inside out. Upon inspection by city staff and the school developer, it was determined that most if not all of the trees along West Street were suffering the same problem. The tree that had fallen was replaced by a young tree. Since then as construction began all the trees including the small young tree were removed. We were told that they would be putting the electrical wires underground, therefore they needed to remove all of the trees.

Opinion: Issues That Matter

Mental health services discussion gives insight into real differences between candidates.

It came as somewhat of a relief to have the candidates for governor in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D), discuss an actual issue that matters to many Virginia families this week at a forum on mental health issues. While press coverage of Cuccinelli and McAuliffe might lead one to believe that they are two similar, ethically challenged candidates, in fact they differ dramatically in their views about key issues affecting Virginia.

Opinion: White House Bound

Commentary

While studying diesel engines at school in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1954, Thomas* received the highest class grade — which came with the promise of getting to serve in the White House. And though the Army’s promise never came to fruition, Thomas and his two best buddies (who happened to receive the next two highest grades) did get to accompany a group of scientists at the North Pole for experimental work.

Military Notes

Navy Seaman Recruit Christopher G. Glenn recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois.

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911 Call from Patterson Played in Court as Part of Preliminary Hearing

Off-duty Arlington sheriff's deputy says he shot knife-wielding young man.

Craig Patterson sat stonefaced in a green jumpsuit as his voice boomed from speakers in the courtroom.

Tuesday, August 6

New County Police Chief Named

Supervisors appoint Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr.

Effective Tuesday morning Aug. 6, a Centreville resident, Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., became Fairfax County’s new chief of police. He was appointed July 30 by the county Board of Supervisors.

Friday, August 2

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Ireton Graduate Khouri To Play Basketball at Catholic U

Khouri helped Bishop Ireton reach the WCAC semifinals for the first time in school history.

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Candidates Agree on Amendment for Voting Rights, Disagree on Executive Order

Restoration of civil rights on the agenda for next governor.

Should nonviolent felons have their right to vote automatically restored? What exactly is a nonviolent felony? What kind of process can be considered automatic?

Thursday, August 1

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Church Outfits 1,000 Children

11th annual Brother’s Keeper event reaches out to underserved students.

In an effort to give back to the community, the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church distributed new backpacks, school supplies and clothing to hundreds of Alexandria schoolchildren on Saturday, July 27. The church’s 11th annual Brother’s Keeper outreach project welcomed an estimated 500 underserved children and their families who registered in advance for the event. Items also will be delivered to some area schools and shelters for another 500 children.

Alexandria Bulletin

Presentation for Small Business Owners. 8 a.m. at the community room in Landmark Mall, 5801 Duke St., on the second floor near Macy’s. U.S. Rep. Jim Moran will host “Navigating the Affordable Care Act: Make Health Reform Work for Your Company.” A discussion will follow the presentation. In order to attend RSVP is needed. Visit www.moran.house.gov/event/affordable-care-act-forum.

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Local History Is in Her Heritage

Susan Hellman begins as new director of Carlyle House.

The Carlyle House on North Fairfax Street has a new director — Susan Hellman. She started on June 1 and settled in immediately. She may be new to this 260-year-old national landmark, but her knowledge of area history has allowed an easy transition.

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Launching Their Futures

Apprenticeship program builds career and life skills.

With bright blue skies and sparkling waters of the Potomac as a backdrop, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation celebrated the accomplishments of four apprentices on Friday, July 26.

Editorial: Protect Children, Animals in Hot Summer Weather

In light of recent incidents around the region, Fairfax County is reminding people of dangers involving children and hot cars. The combination of summer heat and humidity can mean life-threatening conditions for children left in vehicles or other unsuitable environments, even for short time periods. Here’s advice from the Kids and Cars organization:

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Obituary: Claude 'Buzzie' Harris

Rotarian, former Little League commissioner dies at 81.

It was 1957 when Claude “Buzzie” Harris first laid eyes on Nancy Cooper at a party at George Washington University.

Alexandria School Notes

Back-to-School Drive. Through Aug. 19. Donate new backpacks and school supplies to any of the donation boxes in the area, send gift cards to the FACE Center, T.C. Williams High School Room A123, 3330 King St. or volunteer to sort supplies on Tuesday, Aug. 20. Visit http://www.acps.k12.va.us/face-centers.

Editorial: Identity Tips

Review Credit Reports and Avoid Ripoffs

Fairfax County police offer the following tips regarding identity theft and fraud: * Review credit reports annually; Experian: Fraud/credit history, 888-397-3742; Trans Union: Fraud, 800-680-7289; Credit history, 800-888-4213; Equifax: Fraud, 800-525-6285; Credit report, 800-685-1111. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. * Opt out of receiving pre-approved, credit-card applications by calling 888-567-8688. * Monitor credit cards and bank accounts online for early fraud detection. * Don’t mail bills from home; use electronic banking, if possible. * Victims of identity theft should get a police report and secure a seven-year fraud alert or a credit freeze. * People 70 and older should contact the credit bureaus and obtain a credit freeze, even if they’re not currently identity-theft victims. * Never wire money to strangers online; these requests are scams.

Neighborhood

HAPPY DEMOCRATS Ginny Hines and Will Parry entertained a large number of fellow Democratic voters at a party. Brian Moran told us that there is good news and bad about the upcoming election. There will probably be an extremely low turnout, so we must all work hard to get the voters out. We must concentrate on discussing the economy and education. Our candidate, Terry McAuliffe, has always been a hard worker. He started his own business at the age of 14. Terry understands what the terrible traffic congestion does to all of us in this neighborhood and he has pledged to work on improving public transportation. The Republican candidate, on the other hand, has shown no support for transportation solutions and in fact voted against the Silver Line which will connect the Metro to Dulles.

Opinion: Calling for Stricter State Ethics Laws

In reaction to Gov. Robert McDonnell’s repayment of $120,000 in loans last week, Del. Rob Krupicka released a statement calling for stricter ethical oversight of elected officials and campaign regulations: “As elected officials we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to earn the trust of the people we are supposed to represent. The only way to achieve this is by making our system as transparent as possible, and to create more stringent reporting policies to ensure that transparency remains un-obscured. Virginians should not have to tolerate such shady practices from the highest office in the state. “The legislature needs to come together on this, because corruption real or perceived in the Governor’s Mansion or anywhere in our government is not an acceptable status quo. “I call on all my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to come together and work for stricter ethics laws and more transparency in government. The last few months have created significant concerns about the openness and transparency of our government. Ethics reform is a critical step towards rebuilding that trust.” To contact Krupicka’s office with any questions or comments call 571-357-4762 or email DelRKrupicka@house.virginia.gov

Commentary: Promoting Best Possible Beginning for Babies and Moms

If you could make a choice that would greatly improve the health of your family, would you do it? We did. Last year, Inova Alexandria Hospital charted a new course to improve the health of newborns and their mothers in our community family by encouraging more mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies. With its proven health benefits of preventing chronic illness in both mothers and babies, breastfeeding is the best possible beginning.

Enjoy Tax Holiday, Donate School Supplies

Good Time to Help Those in Need

It is debatable whether recurring tax holidays for different seasonal needs are good policy. But since this weekend is Virginia’s tax holiday on school supplies and clothing, it makes sense to take advantage of the savings, and to spread the wealth around. The savings are more significant this year with the new sales tax increases in effect as of July 1.

Alexandria People Notes

Emily Haughton is one of 31 students welcomed by the Kennedy Center to participate in the 21st annual Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell.

Poem: Winds on High

Music through the breeze of coolness Hot summer days of high winds Old Glory dances Twisting and twirling Pausing through the breeze Tree pollen twirling like little snowflakes Of winter days afar For summer it is Refreshing coolness of summer breeze And shower of rain that is pure.

Letter to the Editor: Use Hensley For Robinson?

The St. James unsolicited proposal to build a sports and entertainment complex where Hensley Park exists today may have been unsolicited, but it was neither a new idea nor one lacking proponents at city hall. In 2005, Alexandrians for an All City Sports Facility approached the city with a similar request to build expansive sports facilities on Hensley Park. Kerry Donley, David Speck, and other community leaders, then and now, promoted this plan. Funding shortfalls stymied this idea, in the end.

Letter to the Editor: Much To Consider

It is important to note that the "Stand Your Ground" argument was not used in the Trayvon Martin case. It was decided on other grounds.

Letter to the Editor: Ensure Healthy City Parks

On Sunday I tended a small pocket park in the heart of Old Town and for the first time found a syringe among the cigarette butts. This park is poorly lit at night, the azaleas are diseased, and were it not for some attention, would be covered in weedy vines. This park has been a collective effort of the neighborhood florist, the city and myself, which after three years is finally a space that people kindly remark on and relax in.

Letter to the Editor: Passion and Caring For Officer Laboy

The words “passion and caring for the community” can best describe the effort put forth by Arlington resident Karen L. Bune. Ms. Bune has been in the forefront of a region- wide fund raising campaign to provide relief and support for Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy and his family. Earlier this year, Officer Laboy made a traffic stop after a report of a person acting suspiciously in the Old Town section of Alexandria. Before he could even get off his motorcycle, he was shot in the head by the suspect. Fortunately, due to the rapid response and quick assistance from Alexandria Fire/EMS units on the scene, Laboy survived. However, his life and that of his family will never be the same. He has had to undergo myriad and expensive medical procedures. In the aftermath of this terrible incident, many public safety agencies and the community in general have bonded together to provide support and financial assistance to Officer Laboy.

Letter to the Editor: Problem: Cars, Not Bicycles

Bicycles are not the problem. I was stunned when I observed the debate over bicycles in socially "progressive" Old Town Alexandria. Let me get to the point: cars and the failed — not best practices — city parking policies are the problem, not bicycles.

Letter to the Editor: Give Citizens Recall Power

The Alexandria Gazette Packet got to the heart of the matter when it pointed out that City Council’s decision to put aside its established priorities to consider a public-private partnership proposal shows that, city hall’s diversionary rhetoric to the contrary, this deal to give public land to a private for-profit entity is already a “done deal” not necessarily because the deal has already been cut, but because most of the current incumbents (other than Councillors Silberberg and Smedberg) are favorably disposed toward doing business this way. Did, for example, City Council recently discontinue earmarking funding for open space precisely because city hall wanted to signal that open space would no longer be a priority to pave the way to erase 15 acres of open space for the right price?

Letter to the Editor: Failure of ‘What Next Alexandria’

I originally welcomed the opportunity to participate in a series of meetings to improve public participation in city governance. The “What’s Next Alexandria” initiative was billed as a conversation on civic engagement, how Alexandrians can best participate in public decisions that shape the city and reach agreement on principles that will guide civic engagement

Editorial: Enjoy Tax Holiday, Donate School Supplies

Good timing to help those in need.

It is debatable whether recurring tax holidays for different seasonal needs are good policy. But since this weekend is Virginia’s tax holiday on school supplies and clothing, it makes sense to take advantage of the savings, and to spread the wealth around. The savings are more significant this year with the new sales tax increases in effect as of July 1.

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City Attorney Determines No Impediment to Hensley Lease, But Record Remains Unclear

State officials are still digging through archive to trace federal funds from 1970s.

The history of Hensley Park has become a battlefield in recent weeks, as city leaders clash with opponents of a proposal to hand over open space to a developer who wants to build a sports complex.