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Arlington County Civic Federation

You are viewing the archived Civic Federation site. For current information, visit www.civfed.org.

More February, 2001 Newsletter

These articles were added after the February newsletter was sent:

  • Announcement on Community Residences Open House - February 21st
  • Sheriff's Department Employee Named CivFed Civic Hero at February Meeting
  • Resolution on Regional Taxing Authority passed at February General Meeting
  • Response Received to School Board Member Mary Hynes' letter

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First -- Here's the announcement I didn't have room to put in (and it arrived too late, too), but wanted everyone to see it...


Community Residences, Inc. staff and Board of Directors will host an Open House, Program and Reception at its headquarters on Wednesday, February 21, 2001, 7-9 p.m. 3508 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA.

Members of the Arlington County Board, Community Services Board, Neighborhood Associations, Civic and Citizens Associations, elected officials, churches, consumer family members, supporters, donors, advocates and friends are invited to attend.

"Our program for this event is to recognize and thank the Arlington County community for their ongoing and tremendous support, exchange ideas about opportunities for growth and meeting the increasing and critical needs of our consumers with disabilities, educate those who may not be familiar with our history in Arlington and the extent of our services and programs, and increase overall community awareness about the good work this organization does and will continue to do. We've just celebrated our 25th silvery anniversary, and we are excited about serving the Arlington community for the next 25 years and marking our golden anniversary together." said Denise Marshall, Director of Public Affairs.

Community Residences, Inc. is a leading, non-profit provider of programs and services for over 1,500 individuals with mental illness, mental retardation and physical disabilities throughout Maryland and Virginia. For more information about this event or Community Residences, please contact Denise Marshall, 703-841-7768, ext. 247.

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Civic Hero for February

At our February Meeting, Ms. Melissa Rea was named by the Civic Federation as an "Arlington Civic Hero" I've included the write up -- which really says it all about what a wonderful work Melissa does with inmates.

Body of the Citation:

In Recognition of an Arlington Civic Hero
- - Ms. Melissa Rea - -

The Arlington County Civic Federation takes pleasure in extending greetings and sincerest ap-preciation to Ms. Melissa Rea, a contract employee of the Arlington County Sheriff's Department. Furthermore, the Civic Federation is pleased to declare Ms. Rea an Arlington County Civic Fed-eration "Civic Hero" in recognition of her many contributions to our community.

Ms. Rea, over the past three years, you have worked among the 500 or more inmates residing in the Arlington County Jail Facility as the Education Coordinator. In that capacity, you have been responsible for improving the basic literacy skills of the Jail's residents and supporting the award of General Equivalency Diplomas to many of the inmate population. Through your efforts, 21 in-mates in 1999 graduated from the GED program and 42 inmates received their GED certificates in the year 2000. To do so has required that you conduct placement tests, develop work books, manage a computerized learning system and teach inside the security facility to inmate classes numbering up to 25 at a time. As a result, the Arlington County inmate GED achievement suc-cess rate is the highest in Virginia and among the highest in the nation. These successes con-firm the testimony of your co-workers and supervisors who have said that you are a person uniquely gifted with the ability of seeing the potential for learning among the inmates that others may overlook.

Ms. Rea, through your hard work and unselfish dedication you have uplifted the intellectual ca-pacity of these inmates, equipping them with the basic literacy skills and educational qualifica-tions to become rehabilitated and contributing members of our County. Your service to our com-munity is deeply appreciated and worthy of this recognition as an Arlington County Civic Federa-tion "Civic Hero."

On behalf of a grateful Civic Federation,

Jim Pebley, President - - - February 6, 2001

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The following is the resolution that was passed 32 to 3 at the February 6th Meeting.

ACCF Resolution on proposed Northern Virginia Regional Taxing Authority

Arlington County Civic Federation

Resolution of the Arlington County Civic Federation Regarding The Proposed Northern Virginia Regional Taxing Authority February 6, 2001

Whereas, on February 5, 2001, the Virginia State Senate passed SB #1368, which provides for a one-cent increase (from 4.5 cents per dollar to 5.5 cents) in the sales and use taxes to be levied in nine Northern Virginia counties and cities, including Arlington County, beginning on January 1, 2003;

Whereas, SB #1368 provides that such tax increases would be contingent upon voter approval of a joint referendum to be held on November 6, 2002;

Whereas, such referendum would be decided by the voters within the proposed taxing district jointly, meaning that Arlington taxpayers would become liable for the increased taxes even if the referendum were overwhelmingly rejected by Arlington voters;

Whereas, the estimated $220 million dollars generated by such tax increases would be allocated equally for transportation and education-related purposes;

Whereas, while the education portion of these increased taxes would remain within the jurisdiction in which they were levied, the transportation portion would be controlled by an appointed 16 member regional panel, not directly accountable to the voters, which panel would also have the authority to issue bonds for transportation projects;

Whereas, such unelected panel may not reflect the transportation spending priorities of Arlington voters, possibly resulting in Arlington tax dollars being spent predominantly for projects in jurisdictions other than Arlington, or for projects within Arlington that may not reflect the wants and desires of the majority of Arlingtonians;

Whereas, recognizing these concerns, on January 27, 2001 the Arlington County Board unanimously passed a resolution urging the General Assembly not to pass such legislation this session, suggesting further study of this proposed special taxing authority and its ramifications;

Therefore, the Civic Federation resolves to:

Urge the General Assembly not to proceed with final enactment of SB #1368, or any similar legislation;

Urge Governor Gilmore to veto such legislation, if it is passed by the General Assembly;

And urge to Arlington County Board and the members of the Arlington delegation in the General Assembly to take such action as appropriate consistent with this resolution.

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Response to School Board Member Hynes

The following letter responds to School Board Member Mary Hynes letter (included in the February eNewsletter)

February 5, 2001

Ms. Mary Hynes
Arlington County Public School Board
1426 North Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22207

Dear Ms. Hynes:

This will reply to your January 23, 2001, letter to James Pebley, the President of the Arlington County Civic Federation. Your letter states a Civic Federation member (me) misquoted you at the January Civic Federation meeting when I asked a question to County Board member Barbara Favola regarding affordable housing.

With respect, Ms. Hynes, I did not misquote you. I point as evidence in my defense to the fact that your letter to Mr. Pebley never specifies what I quoted you as saying, what you believe you said instead, or how exactly I misquoted you.

The fact is that I was present at a recent Swanson Middle School PTA meeting that you attended. At that meeting you fielded questions on many topics, including the expected percentage increase in the School Board budget, which you anticipated might be almost double the expected percentage increase in the County Board budget. After spending some time justifying the School Board's large increase, you mentioned (seemingly as a make-weight argument) that you had heard about the County Board's plan to increase funding for affordable housing. You stated that you intended to speak to the County Board about that, and you hoped that the PTA members would too, because you did not think the County Board recognized that there were hidden costs for the School Board in their affordable housing programs. You stated that the programs tend to bring in more children to the school system who are transient, in need of second language programs, perhaps free lunch programs, and other services that represented an increase in costs for the school system. I even remember telling you and the other PTA members in reply about the County's MIPAP program that helps eligible families buy homes instead of continuing to pay rent, a program with which you seemed rather unfamiliar. I have checked with another parent who was present at the PTA meeting about what was said. That parent's recollection is consistent with what I have described above.

Frankly, I was amazed at the elitism and worse that your remarks seemed to imply. When a member of the local Republican party made remarks similar to yours, he was vigorously attacked by one of your fellow Democrats. Apparently, members of your own party are held to a lower standard.

Your letter to Mr. Pebley restates your position in more vague and politically correct terms. You say, "Clearly, changes in housing patterns have the potential to impact the school system's need for resources. . . . My official focus has been . . . ensuring that county planners are using the best data possible on the impacts that conversions and new construction may have on the school system's need for resources." This sounds suspiciously like a nicer way of saying what you said at the Swanson PTA meeting: that you believe that affordable housing programs can have hidden costs for the school system. Indeed, your letter states, "I believe our county housing policies should result in an increase in the number of new families who choose to remain in Arlington -- ultimately moving from rental housing to homeownership [sic]." So I obviously did not misquote you when I said that you were opposed to increases in the County's affordable housing programs -- at least with respect to rental assistance.

Ms. Hynes, I share your preference for housing programs that encourage home ownership rather than renting for our lower income residents. But that's not what you said at the Swanson PTA. I did not misquote you at the Civic Federation and, candidly, I resent your saying that I did. If you want to say I misunderstood you, rather than misquoted you, that is up to you, but I don't think I misunderstood you, either. And I think that someone who is responsible for our children's education ought to: 1) communicate her beliefs clearly enough that careful listeners like me and other PTA members don't misunderstand you; and 2) have a more tolerant and welcoming attitude toward some families who are still only able to rent in Arlington County. If you have research that shows that the children from families who receive rental or other housing assistance from the County are disproportionally represented in the ESOL/HILT, Special Ed, Free or Reduced Lunch or other programs, I wish you would share that with the community so that we can have an informed, public debate about housing programs and their effect(s) on the school system. If you don't have such data, I think it is wrong and very hurtful of you to leap to such conclusions.

Very truly yours,

Beth C. Wolffe

This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.
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