Civic Association Newsletter

October/November 1994 - Volume 18, No. 3

President's Message--Economic Development Requires Tough Business Talk

The Economic Development of Arlington County is extremely important to all of us because the attraction of good businesses to our County not only offers jobs, but tax-dollars and relief from the burden of other forms of taxation. Good business neighbors can help create the architectural and socially enjoyable community everyone wants to live in and help provide for all the many services our County offers. Its critical then to keep what businesses we already have here and position ourselves to attract new, quality business neighbors. As a civic association, we understand this and for some time now we have observed the situation grow more worrisome.

Arlington County's approach to this subject has been led by the creation of the Economic Development Commission and "Partnerships" representing many communities within the County. Arlington's location and proximity to the District has always been a great advantage but now businesses are finding greener pastures. The Navy is leaving with 11,000 jobs, American Management Systems has announced its leaving, along with another larger computer firm. The Gannett Organization has announced its interest in leaving and USLICO, the largest insurance company in our County was recently acquired by an out of state firm--no one knows their future plan but it is possible some "redundancies" will occur. Most recently, the Commission has developed a new Economic Development Plan to address the problem and has called for citizen comment and discussion. So I will offer mine as follows:

The Arlington Economic Future Committee's new plan has some good ideas and intentions--it attempts to identify certain sectors of the economy which may contribute to our growth in the future. The plan emphasizes the recreation of Arlington's image and calls for a new (and somewhat costly) marketing and public relations campaign to woo new businesses here to Arlington. Yet nowhere does it recognize the failures in our present economic development program and the reason that Fairfax County, Montgomery County, and counties from all over the U.S. (and the world) are beating us over the head and luring businesses to their locales.

  1. One of the most disturbing signs is the County response to the loss of some of these enterprises. The further loss of businesses has happened all too quietly and without strong protest. I get the same impression when hearing about other departures. Had a special task force been sent to prevent the business from moving? Has any one created an economic impact study to measure the loss of jobs, tax revenue and other business losses as a result of individual companies leaving and/or their collective effect?
  2. Identifying some business sectors showing signs of growth in our area is helpful but I believe it fails short of identifying businesses by name and assigning people the task of contacting and winning commitments from them. The new plan also barely scratched the surface of some categories which should be attacked with gusto, such as the international organizations and specialized legal services (Telecommunications, Software Patents and Intellectual Property Protection are just a few). At a recent public meeting, when I asked if a task force was being considered to aggressively pursue executives in target businesses, I was given the quintessential bureaucratic response, "Well, we're creating a database." Well, I say creating a database is fine, but in this fast moving world you can be sure that three of your competitors are already talking to the executives in question before you can access your APPLE.
  3. Competition is fierce, and is dramatically escalating. Worldwide, there is a drive to attract business with cheap labor, tremendous tax incentives and lower costs. The Economic Development Plan was quite right in mentioning some of Arlington's esoteric, historic and other intangible advantages, but hardened business leaders, pressured to show results to owners and stockholders require hard incentives. We better understand what drives their decision making and what incentives make the difference. There is also a "Virginia Gentleman's Sense of Good Manners" to not upset our neighboring counties and rather positively promote the region. Well that's fine also but business people I talk to, tell me that neighboring counties don't waste much time to demonstrate their advantages over our County in presentations.
  4. The Partnership arrangement is not enough. Each of them draw upon the County budget each year and while they may be helpful in the context of drumming up local business support in each neighborhood, they are no match for a County strong effort and commitment to attract national and international businesses in our area. You require high powered thinking and broadmindedness to think like these multinational organizations, not parochial approaches.
  5. The Commission needs a revamping. I have observed this group in person for the better part of a year now. Its meetings are unfocused, un-energetic and largely unattended, yet do the best to stifle outside participation and thwart new volunteers (including yours truly) unless they deem them County-friendly. The County Board seems unwilling to rock the boat for now but as Publilius Syrus is credited with saying, "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." Well the sea is beginning to blow, with lost jobs, a growing population, a County deficit, higher taxes, and intensifying competition. Hang on to your hat!

Proposed North Quincy Street Concept Plan Update

On October 1, 1994, the County Board approved the request to advertise for three alternatives, as a foundation for the future redevelopment of the North Quincy Street land use study area, and the North Quincy Street Concept Plan to be heard December 10, 1994. This proposal will be considered by the Planning Commission on November 21, 1994. The Executive Committee has invited County staff to provide a presentation on the proposal at our October 26 general membership meeting, beginning at 8:15 p.m, at the George Mason University Law School Campus, Room 319 C.

As reported in the Newsletter last month, Arlington officials have been forging ahead with plans to build a new four-lane street through the middle of Ballston in the face of persistent objections from county residents, and our Civic Association. The proposed project would be a four-lane road intersecting simultaneously at N. Henderson Road, N. Glebe Rd. and Fifth Street. County Manager Anton S. Gardner recommended approval of this proposed project at the February 1991 County Board meeting. Citizens spoke in opposition because they believed it would promote over development and turn the area into a commuter traffic corridor. On December 12, 1992, the County Board approved the final design of the North Quincy Street Extension Project and reviewed the Draft North Quincy Street Use Study.

Draft Quincy Street Land Use Study.

This study was prepared by the Master Planning Team, Planning Division, Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. The purpose of this study is to provide an analysis of existing conditions, a concept plan for future development and propose future land use designations. The study area is bounded by Wilson Boulevard to the north, North Pollard Street to the east, 5th Street North and North Glebe Road to the south, and North Randolph Street to the west. Fifth Place North and 5th Road North run east/west through the site. The block currently contains a mixture of service commercial uses as well as some residential uses.

Land Use Alternatives.

Development in the study area should continue to follow the sector plan, Mid-Course Review recommendations and Concept Plan by providing a transition between the medium density commercial uses on the west block to the medium density residential development to the east and the lower density residential uses in the Ashton Heights neighborhood. Height should also be tapered down towards the residential neighborhood as prescribed in the sector plan. The source of the following information on alternatives 1 - 3 is Agenda Item 4. A.B.C. from the Arlington County Board meeting of August 29, 1994. It should be noted that the applicant's name on this agenda item is titled "On the County Board's Own Motion."

Alternative 1: For the block bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Randolph Street, 5th Street North and North Quincy Street extended: From "General Commercial" (Shopper goods and other major mixed commercial uses, including offices. Generally a maximum of seven stories.) to "Medium" Office-Apartment-Hotel (2.5 F.A.R. 180 units/acre Hotel).

Alternative 2: For the block bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Randolph Street, 5th Street North and North Quincy Street extended: From "General Commercial" (Shopper goods and other major mixed commercial uses, including offices. Generally a maximum of seven stories.) to 1/2 striped "Medium" Office-Apartment-Hotel (2.5 F.A.R. Office; up to 115 units/acre Apartments; up to 180 units/acre Hotel) and 1/2 striped "Low" Office-Apartment-Hotel (1.5 F.A.R. Office; up to 72 units/acre Apartments; up to 110 units/acre Hotel).

Alternative 3: For the block bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Randolph Street, 5th Street North and North Pollard Street: From "General Commercial" (Shopper goods and other major mixed commercial uses, including offices. Generally a maximum of seven stories.) and "Medium" Residential (37-72 units per acre) to 1/2 striped "Medium" Office-Apartment-Hotel (2.5 F.A.R. Office; up to 115 units/acre Apartments; up to 180 units/acre Hotel) and 1/2 striped "Medium" Residential (37-72 units per acre).

The Executive Committee recommends a Land Use Plan vote at our October membership meeting. The Executive Committee has reviewed the proposed alternatives and favors a more equitable distribution of the density on both the east and west side of the extension. Such an approach suggests that the current General Land Use Plan designations in that area should be left unchanged. The reason that the Proposed Plan is a bad one is that it concentrates the highest development density on the west side of the North Quincy Street Extension. That means that the bulk of the development that would occur due to the new road would be on the west side of N. Quincy Street, between N. Quincy Street and N. Randolph Street. Essentially, this means that the staff Proposed Land Use Plan would place all the burdens of the development and traffic on our BVSCA neighborhoods while protecting Ashton Heights where the new road extension is located.

HITT Bungalow To House "New Directions" Program For Disruptive Students Update

As reported in last month's Newsletter, our Executive Committee meeting of September 7, 1994 included a presentation by Kathy Grove, Director of Special Projects, Arlington County Schools and Suzanne Jimenze, on the "New Directions" program and the School's Facilities Planning Division's plans to apply for a use permit to house this program in the Hitt bungalow located at 930 N. Pollard Street. Based on recent information from the Arlington Public Schools titled "New Directions--Preliminary Program Description," dated October 1994, the New Directions program offers an alternative high school program for students who present significant disruption in their current placement. The program will provide academic instruction, a supervised work experience, and a counseling program. The goals of the program are: 1) to provide an appropriate education for students who demonstrate need for alternative education; 2) to provide an opportunity for success for these non-traditional students; and (3) to allow high school administrators to function as academic leaders rather than spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with discipline issues.

The Executive Committee pointed out that the site of the new facility is directly across from Pollard Gardens, a residential community populated by many new immigrant families with young children who frequently stroll and sit in this vicinity. The Executive Committee made suggestions in a letter dated September 15, 1994 to the Director of Special Projects, Arlington County Schools concerning the administration of the program and the facility. We requested that:

  1. The guidelines for the program, along with a student profile, include a formal assurance that only half of the enrolled students would be in the facility during any one day, and that this be made a part of the use permit. We ask that the security measures you plan to have in place be given in writing and made a part of the use permit provisions.
  2. The program's upper enrollment limit at this facility be 20 students, not 30. This would mean that, at most, there would be 10 students for the 3 teachers/administrators at any one time. This ratio would assure the neighborhood that students would be supervised at all times.
  3. A Neighborhood Liaison Committee be formed that would have a third of its members from the Ballston/Virginia Square Civic Association. This committee should be able to have access to information about the program and its students that may impact the neighborhood and to convey any problems and/or concerns directly to the Superintendent of schools, the School Board, and our neighborhood.
  4. The use permit should have a one-year provision.
As of the time of this writing, October 15, 1994, we have not received a formal response to our letter. Present plans call for this program to seek a use permit in November and to begin operation in December. At our October 26, 1994 general membership meeting, we have invited Kathy Grove, Director of Special Projects, Arlington County Schools to present the proposed New Directives program at 7:30 p.m. and answer any of our members' questions.

Attend A Forum And Share Your Ideas On Housing, Homeless, Development Needs, And Strategies

In the September/October 1994 Newsletter, the Executive Committee briefly described the upcoming Arlington County Housing Division's "Interactive Forum on Housing Community Development." The interactive forum is scheduled for Saturday morning, November 5, 1994, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 Second Street South (at the corner of Glebe Road and S. Second Street, Old Glebe Road entrance), Arlington, Virginia. Registration for the forum is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and the forum is scheduled for 3 hours and a half from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

We have invited Ms. Kathleen Wallace of the Arlington County Housing Division to provide a brief presentation and answer any of our members' questions on the interactive forum at the October 26 general membership meeting, beginning at 9:15 p.m.

The information on the interactive forum that follows was provided by the Arlington County Housing Division to encourage public participation in developing the County's programs for affordable housing. This forum, jointly sponsored by the Arlington Community Development Citizens Advisory Commission (CDCAC) and the Housing Commission is being held to gain input on what the citizens of Arlington County feel are the problems and solutions to homelessness, affordable housing, and community development issues.

The goal of the forum will be to identify needs, choose priorities and generate strategies to address those needs. You are invited to participate in one of the following focus groups. If you are interested in attending, please let the Executive Committee know at the upcoming general membership meeting, or contact the member information line telephone number (703) 528-1887.

FOCUS GROUP #1 -- Affordable Housing Needs

What do you feel are the most pressing housing needs? Rental homeownership? Families, elderly, persons with disabilities, singles? Immigrants? Homeless, homeless prevention? Can the County address these needs more cost effectively, increasing the number of families who can be assisted? How can Arlington increase its production and preservation of affordable housing?

FOCUS GROUP #2 -- Transitional Housing and Support Services

What services would help people to avoid becoming homeless? If people become homeless, what services can help them find and keep housing? What are the special needs of homeless children? What services do persons with alcohol, drug abuse, or mental health problems need? How can these services be provided in a cost-effective manner?

FOCUS GROUP #3 -- Role of the Private Sector

How can the private sector (e.g. businesses, nonprofits, lenders, developers, landlords) be encouraged to help address Arlington's homeless, housing and community development needs? What practices inhibit public-private partnerships? What incentives should be developed? How important is affordable housing to revitalizing the County's economy?

FOCUS GROUP #4 -- Fair Housing

How can the County enhance its efforts to address discrimination in rental housing and mortgage lending? The protected categories are: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, family status, and disability.

FOCUS GROUP #5 -- Economic Development/Job Training

What is the County's role in job training and creating job opportunities? How can the County assist low and moderate income persons who want to form small businesses? What types of job training programs would help prepare low skilled workers for better jobs? What barriers are faced by small entrepreneurs?

FOCUS GROUP #6 -- Non-Housing Community Development

What areas should be target neighborhoods for housing and neighborhood improvements and services? What services and programs would make low and moderate income neighborhoods better places to live? Aside from housing, what programs would help low income persons, including children and teens, (elderly day care, transportation to stores, drug abuse prevention, recreation programs, tutoring, etc.)? What might help low income families get more involved in the community?

County Signs Memorandum With GMU

On August 29, 1994, George Mason University (GMU) and Arlington County agreed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the conditions under which the County will provide $3 million in bond revenues to support the construction of the first phase for an expanded GMU campus in Arlington. The agreement also describes the outlines of a process by which the County agrees to assist with funding for the second and third phases for the expanded campus.

The final version of the MOU includes a provision for a Joint GMU/Arlington County Advisory Board with broad County-wide representation, including representation from the immediate neighborhoods surrounding the campus constituting one third of the total membership. Neighborhood representation was recommended by BVSCA as an amendment to GMU's proposal for the Advisory Board. Among the issues for consideration by the Advisory Board is the potential for on-street parking problems generated by GMU students, faculty, and staff.

Recently, BVSCA has written County Board Chairman Mary Margaret Whipple requesting that Arlington County move quickly with GMU to constitute the Joint Advisory Board, especially in view of the recent announcement of a major change in GMU's intended use of the expanded campus. Congress has appropriated funds through two separate Federal agencies for the installation of a new supercomputer in the GMU Phase II building. Such a function on the campus was not considered during the site plan review process conducted in the Spring of 1994.

Highlights Of The Candidates Night Debates

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association's Candidates Night meeting on Wednesday, September 28, 1994 was held in the second floor conference room of the Arlington Renaissance Hotel. It was moderated by President Sherretta and attended by approximately 40 BVSCA members and citizens. Instead of our original plans for three candidate sessions, we actually had four in order to accommodate the request made by the candidates for the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney race, Jim Trodden (D) and Clark Broderson (I) just prior to the beginning of the Candidates Night Debates that evening.

The BVSCA would like to express their appreciation to all the candidates who participated in the four sessions that evening. For the first session, we heard from the two candidates for the Arlington County Board--John Barr (R) and Mary Margaret Whipple (D), the Incumbent. For the second session, we heard from two of the four candidates for the 8th U.S. Congressional District of Virginia--Kyle McSlarrow (R) and Wade Edmonds (I). The two congressional candidates who did not attend the meeting, included: Jim Moran (D), the Incumbent; and William Jones (I), a twenty year associate of political economist, Lyndon LaRouche. For the third session, we heard from the five candidates for the Arlington County School Board: Dave Foster (I); (Mary Hynes (D); Charles Miller (I); Dorothy Anderson Patton (I); and Ric Roca (I). For the last session, we heard from the two candidates for the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney race, Jim Trodden (D), the Acting Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney and Clark Broderson (I).

Because the Candidates Night Debates were such a success this year and many of our 238 dues paid members were not able to attend, the Executive Committee has included the highlights of the introductory remarks by (1) the two candidates for the Arlington County Board-- Mary Margaret Whipple (D), the Incumbent and John Barr (R); and (2) the two congressional candidates from the Commonwealth of Virginia's 8th Congressional District, who attended the meeting. These candidates were BVSCA member, Kyle McSlarrow (R), and Ward Edmonds. Also, we have included their individual responses to one of the questions asked that evening for both of these races to provide our members additional insight into the candidates stand on important issues.

First Session--Arlington County Board Candidates Debates

John Barr, (R) Candidate for the Arlington County Board
According to Mr. Barr, one of the primary issues facing Arlington County is the issue of taxes. Mr. Barr stated, "that Mrs. Whipple has raised the real estate tax for each of the last three years. In fact, Arlington County has the highest real estate tax burden in relation to personal income of any county in the United States. [Also,] Mrs. Whipple imposed the meals tax on us without allowing you to vote on it. The citizens of Fairfax County were allowed to vote on the meals tax where it was overwhelmingly defeated."

Mr. Barr said it is time to put all of that aside. What we need to do is eliminate the personal property tax. Mr. Barr stated, "I don't think you should be writing a check to Arlington County every year, just for the privilege of having a car in the county. As a member of the Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, the personal property tax brings in less each year than what the County spends on just the Department of Human Services. It is about 11% to 12% of the county's budget."

Under Mr. Barr's plan, he stated it would be cut by 25% over each of the next four years. How to pay for it? Mr Barr held up the 1995 Arlington County Proposed Budget and stated that it consists of about 1,000 pages of programs on each page. Mr. Barr said that he has gone over the plan and has taken out excess bureaucratic overhead, going department by department. "We don't need to pay for collecting the personal property tax which would save several million dollars. Also, we don't need to pay for such capital improvement projects as tearing down the middle-age jail and building a public garage; and building a $45 million dollar Department of Human Services building, until it is at least proven that we really need to have it.

Mr. Barr expressed concern about crime. "Over the past 10 years, the percentage share of the County's Budget has decreased by 10 percent, while functions like the Department of Human Services and General Government spending has been exploding." He suggested that a police substation in South Arlington. Further, Mr. Barr expressed concern about businesses leaving Arlington County and stated that this is due in part to Arlington County's high taxes. Mr Barr stated that the County needs to reverse the trends in the budget so that priority is put on public safety and new ways to attract businesses for Arlington County.

Mary Margaret Whipple, (D) Candidate for the Arlington County Board
Mrs. Whipple said, "that for three decades she has served Arlington County, first in civic-life, then as a member and Chairman of the School Board, and as a member and Chairman of the County Board. She thinks that she has worked hard and well together with you in a partnership to make Arlington one of America's great communities."

Mrs. Whipple indicated that Arlington is a very special place to live. "Arlington is prosperous and enjoys the region's lowest tax burden. It has a triple A Bond rating, a distinction shared by only 13 counties around the nation. Arlington has good schools and has been cited by Money Magazine as the 14th safest community in the nation with populations over 100,000."

Mrs. Whipple stated that we need to work on a number of issues. According to Mrs. Whipple, "public Safety has been and continues to be an important concern to the community even though our serious crime rate is low and has been dropping." Mrs. Whipple indicated that many improvements have been made with public safety issues. "We have increased the number of police. We have added community based policing teams, including adding more than $2.5 million dollars this year in local funds to take over federal grants and establish the first community based policing teams." Mrs. Whipple stated, "that we have a state of the art, a $12 million communications system that works in high rises in the Metro system to give our police the best kind of tools that they need to do their work well. We have added bike patrols to help make Arlington a safer community."

Mrs. Whipple said, "we have a fine school system in Arlington County. We have the highest percentage of national merit scholarship semi-finalists in the Washington. D.C. region. We stress percentages not numbers. Schools with high numbers, get in the newspapers."

Mrs. Whipple said, "that we need to enhance our government services in Arlington County. We have a good civil service that is professionally managed, but [she thinks] they can be more customer oriented. We can look at ways to be more customer friendly. We can supply, perhaps, high tech solutions that help the citizens of Arlington by being able to access county forms from their home computer, adjusting hours to be more convenient to Arlington citizens, and always trying to be responsive to our citizens in Arlington. We can be more aggressive and competitive in the region by marketing Arlington."

Candidates Respond to Citizen's Question About the Cost Overruns of County Projects

After the introductory remarks, members of the civic association and other citizens asked several questions of the Arlington County Board candidates. For example, one citizen expressed concern about recent material cost overruns on county projects, such as the estimated $10 million lost at the Ballston Parking Garage, the $12 million cost overrun at the new county jail, and the $7 million lost on the Loop Bridge project. The citizen asked what the county planned to do to prevent similar cost overruns on the proposed new Department of Human Services consolidation project, estimated to cost $45 million and the new parking garage on Court House Road, estimated to cost $25 million.

Mrs. Whipple responded first to the question. Mrs. Whipple said, "she was very glad that this question was asked because it gave her the opportunity to set the record straight. The new Arlington County jail did not have a cost overrun and that the jail was never expected to be paid for by the bond issue alone." Mrs. Whipple added that I think the bond issue has been a source of confusion for some people. Ms. Whipple stated that she had heard from some people that the bond issue was only for $35 million and because the jail cost $48 million it must have been a cost overrun. Mrs. Whipple stated "the jail was never expected to be paid for entirely by debt. It was also expected to include funding by pay-as-you-go capital that is included in the county's annual budget, by payment from the city of Falls Church that shares in our jail, and by funding from the state."

Mrs Whipple said "the only addition that was made in the cost of the jail from the original plans to what was built is what [she] referred to earlier was the shelve space needs--that if you add the exterior but not finish the interior that was an additional cost to the Arlington County jail. That was a policy decision made by the Arlington County Board in a 3-2 vote. I was on the part of the 3 that voted for it. Ms. Whipple stated that I think it was a wise decision and the Arlington County jail population now bears that out as a wise decision."

Mrs. Whipple commented that "the Loop Road Bridge was a poor contractor. We sued the contractor and won. We are going to come out alright. There is still an appeals process to go. So far the county has won the case that we have made against the contractor. That doesn't happen sometime. The contractor did not live up to the requirements of the contract and do it well and properly. When that happens, the county takes action and takes them to court and we recover."

Mrs. Whipple stated that "the Ballston Garage is designed to cover it costs over the long term. The early years are different from the later years. Money has been pulled for some renovations, but essentially it is on target. It will eventually cover cost and I think one of the most important things to remember about the Ballston Garage is without it, we wouldn't have the Ballston Common Mall. The Mall brings tremendous revenue to Arlington County, but in order to get it was necessary to provide parking."

In marked contrast, John Barr responded "you are absolutely right there are a number of cost overruns on major county building projects. It makes me worry about the future building projects that you mentioned. First of all, let's take the new jail. The new jail has plainly had significant cost overruns. It was described in a 1990 Newsletter from Arlingtonians for a Better County (ABC), hardly a friend of mine, that it was a $43 million jail. Now it is a $48 million jail. Obviously, there have been cost overruns there and the opening of the jail was over 18 months late. There were problems with it from the very beginning."

Concerning the Loop Bridge, John Barr said "the original contract for the Loop Bridge was $800,000. The County in 1991 realized that the cost was $4.6 million for the Loop Bridge, including such things as the scaffolding to hold it up. In regards to the court ruling, the jury originally ruled against the county and then the judge reversed the jury's verdict. It is now on appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court to see which verdict will be the one that stands."

With the Ballston Garage, Mr. Barr stated, "again, not only have there been cost overruns but they have to make significant repairs to it now, just like what happened to do the middle aged jail that is only 18 years old--the one that they want to tear down. There is still a bond issue that we haven't finished paying on the middle aged jail. They do not want to tear it down because it is not fit to use anymore."

Mr. Barr said, "there has been problem after problem with major building projects and now they tell us their plans to spend $45 million on a new DHS building. They tell us they want to tear down the middle age jail and replace it with a parking garage. We are suppose to be in the middle of a fiscal crisis, which is why Mrs. Whipple keeps raising our taxes every year and they go ahead with these building projects."

Mr. Barr concluded by stating, "I think we ought to have someone held accountable. I think the County Manager is accountable for this. I would get rid of the County Manager because it is suppose to be the Board's job to oversee the County Manager. You see, if he is doing a good job and you have this series of failure after failure of major building projects. Again, it's your money that is paying for these things and somebody has got to be held responsible. Mr. Barr said, "I think the County Manager should go!"

Second Session--Congressional Candidates from the Commonwealth of Virginia's 8th Congressional District

The next candidates debate included the 8th District Congressional Candidates present, including Kyle McSlarrow (R) and Wade Edmonds (I).

Kyle McSlarrow, (R) Candidate for the 8th Congressional District of Virginia
Before beginning, McSlarrow stated "that this was not a campaign of a conflict of personalities between James Moran and I. This is a clash of visions about the role of government, our families, and individuals." Mr. McSlarrow stated "I think it is important to think about what is at stake, because if we ever had any doubts about the importance of every congressional district counts--those have been dispelled during the last year and a half. We have had critical votes passed by one, two, or a handful of votes in the last year and a half; and there is a stark contrast between James Moran and I. It is not a question of personalities, good people or bad people."

Mr. McSlarrow said that he "thinks Bill Clinton has been bad for this district, Virginia and for America. Precisely why he's been bad for this district, because of one bill--the Clinton Tax Hike. It hurt senior citizens and others. He raised taxes on senior citizens and raised taxes on those making more than $34,000 a year. He delayed cost of living increases for civilian and military retirees. The first Clinton budget cut federal pay increases that were promised as a matter of law. He slammed small business and every single Subchapter S sole proprietorship and partnership in America. My opponent, according to the Congressional Quarterly has backed Bill Clinton 90% of the time. He is number one in the Virginia congressional delegation backing Bill Clinton. Whether this is good or bad, those are the facts. I think we need to reign in federal spending. My opponent was rated by the National Taxpayers Union as the number one big spender of Virginia."

Mr. McSlarrow expressed several ideas about health care and its costs. Mr. McSlarrow said that he "thinks Virginia people who are outside of the best health care system in the world should be targeted with tax credits to help buy health insurance. I think we ought to reform litigation in this country, particularly medical malpractice to help reduce the costs of health care. I think we ought to bring out medical savings in IRA's so people can use those to purchase routine medical insurance and get an idea of the true costs of health care." Mr. McSlarrow stated that "my opponent co-sponsored the Cooper Plan, most notable for having been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as costing $70 billion more than the Clinton Plan. Those are real fundamental differences of domestic policy."

Under foreign policy, Mr. McSlarrow said that "he backed President Bush when it came to Desert Storm. Also, I thought he had an obligation to go before Congress and seek authorization to use force. My opponent also thought President Bush should seek authorization to use force from Congress, but he voted against Desert Storm. Along comes Haiti, suddenly the President doesn't need to go to Congress to seek authorization to use force but this time my opponent thinks that our national interests are at stake. I think he's wrong and while I think the President is a foreign policy czar, it is clear that members of Congress have a role to play when it comes to foreign policy. It matters a lot that it be sent to Congress."

Mr. McSlarrow described one of the local issues that has come up recently, the reduction of HOV restrictions on I-66. Mr. McSlarrow said that "Frank Wolf and I, and George Allen have been arguing that we ought to allow a one year test on I-66 to reduce HOV restrictions from 3-2. This matters because it will help us get traffic off our streets, because the folks from Fairfax County who can not get on I-66 are going through our neighborhood every morning and back out every afternoon. Now it may not be the best solution ultimately. That is why it is a test but we ought to try." Mr. McSlarrow stated "now what has happened with this issue. My opponent opposes it because he is from Alexandria and has no feel for the issue. Boy, was he surprised when he started hearing that people from Arlington wanted it. And he backed down eventually. His real emphasis on this issue was that he wanted to give the District of Columbia a veto. Mr. McSlarrow stated he did not understand why the District of Columbia should have a veto over this."

Wade Edmonds, (I) Candidate for 8th U.S. Congressional District of Virginia
Mr. Edmonds stated that "we should remanufacture America. We should change the tax laws so that it is more expensive to shift dollars overseas and less expensive to bring dollars back into America. I am not talking about high tech jobs. I'm talking about simple hard work so that kids that mess up in high school can still become part of the middle class and pay taxes and don't need welfare. In fact, this is a welfare program. It is to our welfare--our taxpayers welfare."

Mr. Edmonds stated that "Mr. McSlarrow and I agree on unfunded mandates. I think unfunded mandates are horrible, if you don't know it, it increases your taxes dramatically. Mr. Moran says that we have to worry about unfunded mandates--we can only take down a few of them." Mr. Edmonds stated he disagrees." Why is Congress telling states and local communities how to spend their money and how to take care of their people? We ought to eliminate all unfunded mandates. If Congress wants to tell us what to do, then they need to send the money."

Mr. Edmonds said "the whole point of my campaign is that the two [political] parties have not taken care of us. We voted for change in 1992. We got maybe some of it. If you look at the laws that have been passed, Congress passes a lot of feel good laws that don't do anything except making it possible for federal servants to write decent regulations and then they blame the bureaucrats. Right? Bureaucrats, civil servants who are trying to make this country work get blamed because Congress writes deliberately very vague, feel good laws. The Crime Bill, I don't have problems with the Crime Bill. All we did was shift $30 billion from one part of the government to another. It's harmless, it doesn't do any good, it's harmless. The health care bill was going to be a disaster. A feel good idea. It was not going to work. Fortunately, that's dead. These big omnibus bills like the Crime Bill should be eliminated. I want clear, simple laws. One sentence, one paragraph, that are published in the newspapers that we can all understand."

Mr. Edmonds stated that the problem with the parties is that they are tied to special interests. "They need huge amount of money and that's what I don't have. I don't need a lot of money, but shoe leather. Political action committees were suppose to be a good idea but they spend lots of money. If we make TV time free, we wouldn't need all that money."

Candidates Respond to Citizen's Question About the Proposed National Health Insurance Issue

After the introductory remarks, members of the civic association and other citizens asked several questions of the congressional candidates. For example, the following question was asked of both candidates. What was their position on the National Health Insurance Proposal (Mitchell/Gephardt Plan) that was recently defeated and what alternatives would you suggest?

Mr. McSlarrow responded first to the question. Mr. McSlarrow said "that when he ran in 1992, he was actually one of the few candidates on the Republican side that took the issue of health care reform seriously. I don't belong in the school that believes that no reform is needed. I believe that there are clearly some issues that need to be addressed. Just about all the bills, Democratic and Republican, that came before the Congress the last year and a half addressed the issue of affordability--whereby one could take their health insurance from job to job with pre-existing conditions. What they did not address the same was what do you do about the uninsured? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 to 37 million Americans are estimated to be currently uninsured. Many of them are young people that is probably not going to go away. I don't think we are going to solve that problem by having government take over 1/7 of the economy. I am totally opposed to employer mandates that are going to put people out of business. Also, I am opposed to individual mandates. I don't think the government should be telling me or you that you have to have health insurance and it's got to be this plan."

If we care at all about liberty in America, Mr. McSlarrow said that "we have got to hold on to those fundamental choices about our lives. I think there is a better way and that is--if people want health insurance and can't get it, give them a tax credit or a refundable tax credit if they don't make enough money. Beyond that, the true cost of health care is largely attributable to government actions and the administrative costs of Medic-care and Medic-aid. Also, there are huge costs inside medical care in this country that are attributable to medical malpractice insurance. In fact, no one basically gives medical care and is prepared to do it in a way that just meets their best professional judgement. Most of the time, they do what they think is necessary to pass the liability standards. They give you an extra test here, an extra procedure there. The cost of health care has been driven up through our own actions. Those are things I think we can do, but the bottom line is we have the best health care system in the world. It is probably not a surprise that we spend a lot of money on it. We are never going to have a health care system that is only 2% of GNP. It is a reflection of the fact that we are a dynamic and prosperous country.

Mr. Edmonds responded, that he "wished Mr. Moran was here tonight because when he gets going on health care he really sounds wonderful. He tells you how he's going to take care of everybody and it points out the problem with government getting it's self into the problems of our country. Nobody even knew how much of any of these health care plans were going to cost until they turned them over to the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the GAO made estimates. Listen to Mr. Moran, he thought the bill that he sponsored, the Cooper Plan, was going to cost less and on paper than it does. When GAO got done with the bill, it was $70 billion more."

Mr. Edmonds said that he "happened to have worked for the government and he knows how those estimates work. And they are always low balled with a lot of people trying to do the best they can, but it always comes out higher. Now, if you run a business, you run a school, you run a county, there are three things you have to know whenever you are going to fund a project. Who is going to get it? What is going to be in it? How much is it going to cost? And the American public doesn't know because Congress doesn't know."

Mr Edmonds described how the State of Oregon addressed the above questions. He said "Oregon made a great stab at this, a couple of years ago when they simply set out a Medical Bill of Rights. And that is what I think should be done is the number one step. We don't even know what an American should have if they are going to have some basic health insurance. Universal coverage, we don't know. Some of them are obvious, if you start with immunizations there is an initial cost and actually there are savings after three or four years. So sure we will include that. Broken bones, sure. Tonsillitis, maybe? You go down the list and you get to heart/lungs transplants and I wouldn't pay for it for me. So why would I expect you to pay for it? So you list all the stuff and then the American people can look at it, Congress can argue about it, and then we can have a national referendum on the two or three plans that percolate up to the surface. And now everybody in the country will agree what basic health insurance can be and what it costs. Then, we can start talking about who's going to pay for it. And that's my approach to government, logical, business approach with common sense."

Arlington Land-Use Deal Fails

Several members have called about the above story reported in the Washington Post on October 10, 1994 by Charles W. Hall. Mr. Hall reported that the proposed land-use deal in which the Arlington Hospital would purchase a site for the new DHS consolidated facility collapsed last week when hospital officials said the proposal was too costly. The article stated that the agreement, approved last October by the County Board, would have allowed Arlington Hospital to acquire a county-owned property next door in return for purchasing any of three possible sites [two in Ballston and one at Court House] for a new county human services building. Mr. Hall reported that the plan was sharply criticized by civic associations [including the BVSCA] and one County Board member, said Arlington was abdicating its responsibility to locate an unpopular facility by giving a private entity final power to choose the site. Critics also said it was unclear whether a new human services center was needed. County officials said the Department of Human Services probably will build a new center at the Edison Street site.

Mr. Hall reported the Arlington County Board's reaction to the land-use deal failing. "This was the dumbest thing I ever heard of," said board member Benjamin Winslow, an independent who voted against the plan. "They were trying to transfer the heat off the County Board to the hospital. I feel sorry for the hospital. They spent a lot of time and money on this thing." Board Chairman Mary Margaret Whipple (D) defended the original plan, saying it was unhinged by a rebounding commercial real estate market in Arlington. "The good news and the bad news is that our land values are holding up," Whipple said.

Loop Bridge Construction Supervisor Dismissed

Because of members' concerns expressed in last years's BVSCA survey about the cost of County projects, Secretary Ragland has attended recently three Arlington County Civil Service Commission public hearings concerning the dismissal of a Construction Management Supervisor (Grade 14) from the Public Works Department. The Construction Management Supervisor that was dismissed was responsible for the contract administration over the Loop Bridge and other major County construction projects. The dismissal was approved by County Manager Anton S. Gardner on July 7, 1994 for alleged discriminatory conduct, providing false or misleading information or causing false information to be provided, and ordering the destruction of County property. This dismissal will be discussed in greater detail following the completion of these Arlington County Civil Service public hearings.

Gasoline Spill Update

November 18, 1994 is the due date for a plan to be filed by the Exxon Corporation describing methods it proposes for dealing with a gasoline spill now contaminating the ground under the 3400 block of North Washington Boulevard. Despite some uncertainty about the source of the gasoline, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has ordered Exxon to develop a plan to deal with the problem.

The center of the controversy is a former service station at 3444 North Washington Boulevard, operated by Exxon from 1952 to 1986. Contamination of the soil and groundwater appears to indicate a plume of gasoline moving northeast from the vicinity of the former Exxon station, which has, since 1986, been the location for the sale of other branded and unbranded gasolines. Construction of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's William Seidman Center in 1989, with its associated sump pumps for keeping dry the two-story underground garage, has apparently reversed the flow of groundwater on the southeastern side of the former Exxon site. According to a report filed with the Department of Environmental Quality in August 1994 by an engineering consulting firm hired by Exxon to characterize the site, dissolved hydrocarbons have been detected in the groundwater drawn into the FDIC sumps. Whatever this source, the contaminants are below levels established by the Commonwealth of Virginia for discharges into freshwater streams. The consulting firm has recommended continued monitoring of the FDIC sumps to evaluate levels of dissolved hydrocarbons, although current levels do not appear to be a threat to surface water--in this case, Spout Run.

When the Exxon remediation plan is filed in November 1994, the Department of Environmental Quality expects to evaluate it and have a decision on its adequacy in about thirty days. Once the plan is in place, the time required to significantly reduce the levels of gasoline is still unknown, since effectiveness of any remediation technology depends on the unique characteristics of each site.

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