BALLSTON-VIRGINIA SQUARE

Civic Association Newsletter

October/November 1996 - Volume 20, No. 2



PUBLIC COMMENT INQUIRY OF BOARD CHAIRMAN HUNTER

At the County Board meeting of October 5, 1996, during Public Comment, Executive Committee member Dorothy Sticken followed up on a question previously asked at the Candidates Night Debates of the Arlington County Civic Federation held on September 3, 1996. The following is the complete text of Ms. Sticken's public comment and inquiry about Chairman James B. Hunter's business, including the Chairman's oral and written response.

Chairman Hunter: "Good morning Ms. Sticken."

Ms. Dorothy Sticken: "Good morning Chairman Hunter and the Board and also good morning Arlington. My name is Dorothy Sticken, and I am here today to express a concern.

First, I would like you to know that I'm an active member of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, and that I'm an Alternate Delegate from my Civic Association to the Arlington County Civic Federation. My concern is that Cable TV Arlington did not televise on Cable Channel 33 in September 1996, a video taping of the Civic Federation's Candidates Night Debates held on Tuesday, September 3rd at the Arlington Hospital. I understand that Cable TV Arlington did not air their video taping of this Candidates Night Meeting due to technical difficulties.

I am very disappointed that the video taping was not aired, because I was unable to attend the Federation's meeting that evening. I had looked forward to seeing the candidates and their responses to the delegates' questions, and had also relied on Cable TV Arlington to show the video taping of this Candidates Night Meeting at a subsequent date, as they normally do before each General Election. Chairman Hunter, I understand that although you are running unopposed for the County Board this year, that you were asked questions by the delegates at the Federation's Candidates Night Debates. One question that I would like you to respond to, which was also asked by one of the delegates, was a question relating to your insurance business, and whether you sold insurance to the County Schools, County Police, or the County Government?

I understand that you responded that you had three insurance contracts with the County including the County Schools, but you did not make any money from these contracts. Would you please comment on these contracts, or explain to me what your business contracts are with the County, and why this isn't a conflict of interest with your County Board duties? Thank you."

Chairman Hunter: "Ms. Sticken, I'll be glad to send you a letter and explain in as much detail as you would like to know how my business works. The short answer is I have no insurance contracts with any of those agencies, but I'll explain it all in a letter."

Ms. Sticken: "I would be very glad to read your letter here, and I hope you have a better explanation."

Chairman Hunter: "Glad to write to you Ms. Sticken." Ms. Sticken: "A letter doesn't always settle anything." Chairman Hunter: "If you would like to come in and meet with me I would be glad to explain my business operation."

Ms. Sticken: "And this statement you didn't make any business from it reminds me of a couple, who were getting married and the fellah was telling the girl all the things he had done that he thought were wrong so that they wouldn't have any problem when they married. And then he asked if she had anything to say and it sounded very much like "but I didn't make any money from it," because she responded: well, I had a baby one time but it was just a little baby."

Chairman Hunter: "I do operate a business in Arlington, Ms. Sticken, and it was a known fact when I was elected to the County Board. So I'll be writing to you and you are welcome to come and meet with me, and I'll give you more details as well. It's nice to have you here today."

Ms. Sticken: "My pleasure."

Board Member Ferguson: "Mr. Chairman, I know you want to move on from this, but I have observed first hand that you don't spend very much time at your business. You're here. I don't know how you do run a business."

Chairman Hunter: "I'm amazed myself, next speaker please."

Chairman Hunter's October 10 Letter: "At the October 5 County Board meeting, you asked about my insurance business. I am pleased to provide you with the following information.

I have not and do not sell insurance to the County Schools, County Police or the County Government. However, Prudential has a contract with the Arlington Public Schools that permits school employees to save money for their retirement. This is a group tax-sheltered annuity contract. The contract was written before I joined my company in 1973; and, of course, long before I was elected to the County Board. I have been selected as the broker to provide service to the participants in the contract, but I have not marketed this retirement plan at all since I was elected to the County Board in 1990. Therefore, this is only a tiny part of my business and is clearly not a conflict of interest.

In your remarks, you stated that you understood I had three insurance contracts with the County. I do not have any insurance contracts with the County, and only have the relationship with the County Schools referred to above.

I trust this information will put your concerns to rest. I do appreciate your interest in ensuring that Arlington's government remains the cleanest, most scandal-free government in the nation."

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY'S HOUSING FINANCE POWERS MAY BE EXPANDED

At its October 14 meeting, Arlington County's Industrial Development Authority (IDA) passed a resolution 6-1 urging the Arlington County Board to include in its 1997 legislative package a proposal that would expand IDA's housing finance powers. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Timothy Wise, who was appointed to the IDA by former County Board Member Ben Winslow.

The Industrial Development and Revenue Bond Act (Chapter 33 of the Virginia Code) currently authorizes IDA's to issue tax- exempt bonds for multi-family housing projects it the project is determined to be a facility used by a tax-exempt entity as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Act also allows the issuance of taxable bonds for multi- family housing projects owned and operated by commercial enterprises. However, the Act does not permit the issuance by the IDA of tax-exempt private activity bonds (PAB's) for projects using low income housing tax credit allocations.

Any Virginia political subdivision with a redevelopment and housing authority has the ability to issue tax-exempt PAB's for these types of projects. Since the voters of Arlington County have defeated two referenda to establish a housing authority, Arlington County has had a cooperation agreement with the City of Alexandria to refer projects to the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) since 1984. Recent projects referred to ARHA include the Buckingham Village Apartments, Patrick Henry Apartments, Courthouse Commons, and Lenox Club. According to the handout provided to IDA members on October 14, future projects are planned or are likely.

According to the handout which accompanied the draft language prepared by McGuire, Woods, Battle & Booth, the proposal will provide local jurisdictions that do not have a housing authority and projects sponsors with possible lower cost alternatives for financing multi-family housing developments.



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