Newsletter

Raina the cat is almost like a rooster.

Every morning, the 13-month-old female dilute calico cat greets the world with a high-pitched meow.

“Raina is the ultimate office buddy,” AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter told ALXnow. “She knows exactly when you need to be distracted from the computer (for your eyesight, of course!), when you need cuddling and when you just need to play with a wand toy.”

Hardter also says that Raina is one of the softest cats that you will ever pet.

Learn more about meeting Raina at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment.

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(Updated at noon) A juvenile was arrested for assault and battery and trespassing at Alexandria City High School on Friday, September 10, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

“At ACHS this school year, there has been one incident where a juvenile was arrested for assault and battery and trespassing on September 10, 2021,” Alexandria Police said. “Due to the strict confidentiality of juvenile criminal justice records, we cannot provide further information to explain those charges or where the juvenile suspect or victim resides.”

Fighting in and around Virginia’s largest high school has been in the news lately.

A juvenile was shot after school outside of a McDonald’s at the Bradlee Shopping Center near ACHS on Tuesday, September 21. No arrests from that incident are reported.

A juvenile was also arrested after a fight at the McDonald’s at around 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22.

Some say the violence is due to the defunding of school resource officers by City Council. Consequently, there will be a demonstration regarding SROs outside City Hall on September 28 (Thursday) at 5 p.m.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces $7.1 million in funding for first-time homebuyers — “The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the availability of Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) funds to provide eligible first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for their home purchase. SPARC is a special allocation to local governments to reduce first trust mortgage interest rates.” [City of Alexandria]

Six ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in Alexandria — “Port City Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen brew is a Bavarian-style wheat hale pouring hazy golden with fluffy white foam, tinged with aromas of clove and spice with a softer note of ripe banana. Pick up a four-pack via curbside pickup or Port City On Demand, or sip at an outdoor table at the West End headquarters.” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Showers likely along with a possible rumble of thunder in the morning, then partly cloudy late. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 53F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Play expert — “Play Experts provide engaging and educational services to children in their homes. A step above a typical caregiver, our Play Experts are trained in child development as well as positive-behavior systems. They understand the importance of developmentally appropriate and engaging play, as well as consistent structure and boundaries.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria School Board on Thursday (September 23) will vote Thursday on a number of policy and regulatory revisions on the treatment of transgender students.

Among the changes are proposals to not segregate extracurricular activities by gender and allowing students to dress according to their gender identity or gender expression. Student athletes would still, sometimes, be segregated.

“Dress expectations should allow students to dress in a manner consistent with their gender identity or gender expression, including attire required for school-related programs, activities and events,” ACPS notes in a staff memo. “An organization may only impose membership qualifications based on sex where based on competitive athletic skill or where the activity involved is a contact sport. However, membership shall not be denied solely on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

The Board is making the changes to adhere to Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE’s) Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools, since the General Assembly now requires that all public schools in Virginia have inclusive policies regarding transgender students by the fall of 2021.

“Teachers, administrators, and other personnel employed on a full-time basis who support and interact with students are required to complete a mental health awareness training or similar program,” notes an ACPS memo. “In order to promote a positive school climate where all students feel safe and supported, regular education about transgender students will be included in such training.”

The regulatory revisions highlight eight issues, according to ACPS:

  1. Compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws;
  2. Maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students;
  3. Prevention of and response to bullying and harassment;
  4. Maintenance of student records;
  5. Identification of students;
  6. Protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information;
  7. Enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and
  8. Student participation in sex-specific school activities and events and use of school facilities. (“Activities and events” do not include athletics.)
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If you’re looking to stay busy for a good cause, there are dozens of available volunteer opportunities in Alexandria.

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Active Shooter Training — Be prepared for the unthinkable by learning the “Run, Hide, Fight” model of an active shooter emergency. Lt. John M. Weinstein of Northern Virginia Community College will provide basic instruction on how to protect yourself and your loved ones if you are ever in this situation. Tuesday, September 28, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m at the Northern VA Community College – Alexandria Campus. Click HERE to sign-up.
  • Alzheimer’s Association – Walk to End Alzheimer’s at National Harbor and the National Mall — Volunteers are needed on the day of the events to help with set up, sign placement, information services, promise flower distribution, cheerleaders, and route monitors. To learn more and register, click HERE for the September 25 Walk at National Harbor and click HERE for October 9 Walk on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
  • Crossing guards needed help children get to school and home safely — ACPS need your help getting our kids to and from school safely. Volunteers will control traffic at already designated crosswalks to allow families to cross streets safely to and from school. Times would be 7:15 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. at various schools across the city. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Deliver Meals to ACPS School Children — Senior Services of Alexandria is looking for volunteers to support school lunch delivery to families who have children learning virtually this fall. Volunteers are needed to pick up and deliver meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Car and valid driver’s license required. Click HERE to express interest.
  • Event support needed for Living Legends of Alexandria reception honoring volunteers — Living Legends of Alexandria is seeking volunteers for the event. Tasks may include assisting with live screening set up, crowd control, parking lot assistance for anyone needing help, and much more. The event is at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30. Click HERE to sign up.
  • Help with a 5K race — Run! Geek! Run! is a 5K race held each year with the proceeds going to the Child and Family Network Centers. Ironisitic is looking for volunteers to help our runners, assist with the water station, support the finish line, register individuals, cheer our runners along on the route, and clean-up after the race on Saturday, September 26. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Help Beautify a Church – Meade Memorial Church is looking for someone to help maintain church grounds by cutting grass, trimming bushes and hedges, and pulling weeds. Hours are flexible and supplies are provided. Click Here to sign up.
  • Kids games and card making for first responders – Join us at Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library on Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to noon to make cards for first responders, police officers, and firefighters. We will also be playing a few games to learn about fire and earthquake safety! Click HERE to sign up.
  • Teach a Child How to Read – Wright to Read volunteers work one-on-one, either virtually or in-person at a public space, with a student to improve their literacy skills for an hour a week. Wright to Read has been serving Alexandria’s children for over 40 years by providing one-on-one literacy tutoring and mentoring to Alexandria City Public Schools students. An online information session takes place on Thursday, September 30th at 6:30 p.m. Click here to sign up.
  • Until Help Arrives – This virtual class will teach you how to recognize violent activities, respond safely, provide immediate rescue tactics to the injured, and report them to 9-1-1 efficiently. These are transferable skills are applicable to countless situations involving traumatic injury (e.g. car accident, household injury, or an active shooter). The next class will be held on Monday, November 1. Click here to sign up.
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Morning Notes

Alexandria seeks input on phase II revision of noise ordinance — “On May 15, the Alexandria City Council adopted phase I technical revisions of the City’s noise ordinance. The City is now seeking public input on a phase II revision that would address policy issues associated with land use, noise levels and changes with noise sources. The objective is to finalize this revision for Council consideration by the end of 2021.” [City of Alexandria]

Alexandria author writes book on 19th century Scottish migrant — “First-time author Ellen Hamilton has spent years working on the story of William Gregory, who settled here in Alexandria in 1807. Now, her first book, ‘A Scottish Migration to Alexandria’, is going into print.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Health Department to offer free flu shots — “In an effort to ensure that the community has access to the influenza vaccine, the Alexandria Health Department is hosting a free clinic on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Hammond Middle School from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Rain showers in the morning with scattered thunderstorms arriving in the afternoon. High 79F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Potential for heavy rainfall. Low 68F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary bilingual COVID-19 vaccine promoter — “. The Vaccine Promotor(a)/CVN will engage with residents of underserved communities to provide education about COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination. The Promotor(a) will work with Neighborhood Health’s COVID-19 Outreach team to plan an overall outreach strategy and provide support to other vaccine-related activities.” [Indeed]

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For five years Port City Publius has let fly. The anonymous blogger won’t shy from criticizing the superintendent, or blasting “NIMBY” residents who favor changing the leadership of City Council.

Who is this writer? Is Port City Publius more than one person?

Port City Publius wouldn’t answer those specific questions, but the writer opined on a number of Alexandria-centric topics in a recent interview.

ALXnow: You are very funny in your posts. Who are your favorite writers?

Port City Publius: Charlie Pierce is a good example of someone whose writing and worldview has influenced my approach; I definitely have an affinity for the ink-stained wretch set. Caitlin Flanagan writes the way I want to write, though the majority of her takes suck pretty bad. Alexandra Petri, without question. Tressie McMillan Cottom. James Baldwin. Ursula Le Guin. bell hooks. Mel Brooks. Tolkien, except for the Silmarillion which is terrible and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. C. Wright Mills and Arlie Russell Hochschild. All the writers in the Jezebel and Deadspin diaspora remain indispensable. Elizabeth Bruenig often makes me challenge and reassess my priors. I’ve read Jamelle Bouie and Matt Yglesias going back to when they were both at Slate. I think Jason Isbell has a lot of smart things to say.

ALXnow: What inspired you to embark as Port City Publius?

Port City Publius: You know the famous scene from Network, the one where the sweaty guy is shouting about how angry he is? Well that was me five years ago. I finally sat through one too many public meetings where the only testimony was from retirees with incredibly intense outlier opinions about how many buildings built after 1800 should exist (none) how much noise and fun is ok (also none) and how many working-class people could be permitted to try and eke out a life in this city (spoiler: it’s none again). It remains fu**ing wild to me that nearly anyone who wants to run a business in this city has to first put up with some guy named Carl who last worked for OMB in 1987 say that he’d really rather they only be open from 1-3pm on alternate Tuesdays because the shadows cast by business patrons might damage the rare book collection he keeps near the front windows of his home.

I knew from conversations with different groups of friends and sewing circles and tennis partners and drinking buddies that most people around here felt pretty differently about things, but this perspective wasn’t being heard or included in public dialogues because we have, uh, lives and sh**. So I set out to put a voice to that. To establish a counter-narrative to the intensely tedious NIMBY bull**** that had infected the waterfront plan, among other things at that time.

ALXnow: When do you decide to publish? Do you only strike when needed?

Port City Publius: First I ask myself “do I have real work to do this week” at which point the answer is usually yes and nothing gets published. Beyond that, I’m typically looking for something to catalyze my internal barometer of “well that sh** can’t stand.”

ALXnow: What are you going to write about next? Is there a list of topics, or do you shoot from the hip?

Port City Publius: As Gloria Steinem famously said, without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming after all is a form of planning. I’m sorry what was the question again?

ALXnow: What is your political philosophy? Has it changed over the last few years? What prompted that change?

Port City Publius: I think we have an obligation to prevent the immiseration of each and every one of our fellow citizens, and that government intervention is a necessary and crucial part of that. I’d say I generally follow the teachings and live the values that right-wing Christians pretend to believe in: you know, loving your neighbor and taking care of the poor and seeing the worth and potential in every person and whatnot.

To the extent that you can map me onto the political spectrum, I’d fairly describe myself as progressive; but I also think the left/right dichotomy is often reductive, and both mainstream political parties can be pretty lame and show excessive deference to the status quo at the expense of pursuing transformative change.

ALXnow: You like saying ‘Yes’ to development and decry NIMBY’s. Can you spell out the future that you’d like to see realized for the city?

Port City Publius: Used in this context “development” is an essentially useless term that has been effectively weaponized by the modern inheritors of the Know-Nothings. I think we should say yes to a wide variety of things that move this city forward in a manner that benefits a broad constituency of residents and interests, even if the proposed thing looks and feels different and isn’t made of bricks and cobblestone. I would not broadly describe each of these things as “development.” If I built you a gorgeous brand-new public waterfront park, would you call that “development”? If I tear down an over-enrolled and under-maintained elementary school and replace it with a beautiful new building, is that “development”? I think it tremendously sucks that the grumps and busybodies in this city get to describe anything they benefit from as “investment” and anything they think inconveniences them as “development.”

The future I want is one in which we radically reduce the resident veto over the ability to do business here. This is not the goddamn United States Senate, old white men do not have a divine right to filibuster the necessary progress desired by the majority of the populace. I want a future where more people try out the words “sure, why not” rather than their reflexive “well, actually.”

There exists an intense bias toward the preservation of the status quo, even on the part of (especially on the part of) people who otherwise think of themselves as well-meaning. I am reminded of King’s disappointment in the white moderate, and his searing observation that “shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will” and really the point I’m trying to make here is that more of you need to read “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The future that I want for us is one in which we do things that make us feel uncomfortable because feeling a little uncomfortable is actually ok.

ALXnow: With the most recent primary election, is the city headed in the direction you want?

Port City Publius: I think the seven candidates on the Democratic slate generally seem like well-intentioned, thoughtful people. And I think we can roughly extrapolate that they would govern in a well-intentioned and thoughtful manner. I think it’s hilarious that a dude who worked for Jesse Helms is laboring under the deluded belief that someone who accommodated and enabled a notorious segregationist can get elected here.

But I also think the notion of the city being headed in a particular direction lasts exactly as long as the interval of time between each council public hearing. The people on that dais are complicated, flawed, fallible people — just like each of us. The exercise here is not to bestow upon them some blank cheque mandate to go forth and rule over Pax Alexandria, may the sun never set on our empire. No, we should challenge them and hold them to account and measure their success by the fidelity to which they hew to the shared values they have publicly committed to. This is not baseball. You should not be a fan of one party or another–of one politician or another–and in doing so blindly overlook the ways in which they are failing to live up to the best version of themselves. They are public servants. They are an avatar of our collective will, and we should never lose sight of that.

That all being said: do I think we are headed in a better direction right now than if the candidates mostly running because they thought city council was like a Super HOA had won? Yes. Yes I do think we are headed in a better direction.

ALXnow: The Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group lost strength after the primary. None of their candidates made it on the ballot for November. What does that tell you?

Port City Publius: That they probably shouldn’t have kicked so many people out of the group.

No, listen. I sort of mean that. Their thin-skinned pettiness is absolutely the reason they didn’t win anyone around to their point of view. They kicked out so many people! And every one of those people told ten other people (who told ten other people, and so on) what a joke that group was. If you create an environment in which you kick out anyone who doesn’t gleefully parrot the propaganda you’re pushing, what kind of group will you be left with? Please don’t say the modern Republican party. Ok fine I see how I left myself open to that joke. Very good. You’re very clever, we get it.

My point is you can’t persuade anyone if you drive off everyone that doesn’t agree with you. And also that people will see right through your bullsh** when you define “integrity” as “willingness to do the highly specific and sort of weird sh** I want” and constantly flex that definition based on the proximate needs of acting out your irrational hatred of a certain local politician.

ALXnow: Are groups like BIBA merely a new-normal part of local conversations? Or is this a direct result of politics getting turned up 11 notches and Republicans trying to influence things?

Port City Publius: I think this is a great reminder that politics is hard and best not left to sloppy amateurs in an information bubble fixated on issues that most people genuinely don’t give a sh** about.

ALXnow: Aren’t you essentially the same kind of critical voice as BIBA — a resident(s) who has had it with what they perceive to be ridiculous elements in the community? Or is your voice representative of Democratic values and theirs is representative of… something else?

Port City Publius: I don’t see an equivalence. I deploy righteous indignation and world-weary exhaustion as a rhetorical technique in service of advocating for policies and actions that largely benefit people that aren’t me. They think someone paved a road wrong for Suspicious Reasons.

I think if I woke up one morning and decided to dedicate most of my free time to complaining on the internet about all of the ways that I was personally inconvenienced by things meant to improve the lives of people that have less than me, well, I think I’d have to do quite a bit of soul searching about that.

My sincere advice for people in this city–for anyone anywhere really–is to be more selfless. Stop looking for ways that the ordinary progress of the world is secretly a targeted attack on you, personally. Stop looking for reasons to be so upset about everything. Hurl your laptop into a river and live your life, which I need you to understand is really pretty great relative to any global or historic measure.  Facebook and numerous other parts of the modern media ecosystem are intentionally making you upset so they can sell you brain pills and reverse mortgages and whateverthefu** else. You don’t have to play their game. You really don’t.

ALXnow: Are you going to endorse any City Council or School Board candidates? If so, who?

Port City Publius: I think we should abolish the school board and return control of schools to the city. Does that count as an endorsement?

ALXnow: It doesn’t look like you’re anti-establishment. You are often highly critical of the City’s critics by backing Mayor Justin Wilson and city plans and departments. What elements of the current government are you critical of? How are the City manager’s office, police department and school system holding up, for instance?

Port City Publius: I think if we had actively and intentionally set out to have terrible schools leadership during this crisis it would have been utterly indistinguishable from our actual experience. We’ve gotten this far through a mixture of inertia, dumb luck, and the titanic efforts of parents and families and individual teachers and administrators; because it has been astonishingly clear that the superintendent is terrified to make any choice that could ultimately be deemed unsuccessful and have that failure accrue to him and his reputation. He’s the football coach that always punts on 4th and 1 because that’s what convention says and if you follow convention and fu** up, you don’t get blamed, the punter does. This dude is writing a book about educational leadership! A book! That is off the charts Andrew Cuomo energy! I hope the Raleigh Unified School District–or wherever the hell he finds the next rung of the ladder he thinks he’s climbing–hurries up and makes him an offer so our community can get someone with creativity and moral courage into this job. A book. Jesus.

The police seem fine.

ALXnow: You are not always praising local politicians, like former Mayor Silberberg. Are you connected to the @ALXBottle handle? It reads similarly to your style, as you both are highly critical of her.

Port City Publius: Surely you can accept that the sample size of local residents who think the former mayor was a dilettante who never bothered to learn or execute the core competencies of the role she was serving in is an N larger than 1.

Besides, my burner account is a Ron Swanson parody joint. I don’t have time to run another one.

ALXnow: How would you rate Justin Wilson’s performance as mayor?

Port City Publius: 85% Fresh.

ALXnow: Why keep your identity secret? Are you maintaining anonymity as an effort to protect your butler? What happens if you write under your real name? Could you lose your day job?

Port City Publius: I think if my identity came out, most people would think it was unbecoming of a former secretary of state and presidential candidate to write an ongoing series of essays about a city she’s never lived in. Plus I already got in enough trouble for the email server thing, I’m not just going to hand the New York Times another round of bullsh** for Peggy Noonan to freebase, you know what I mean?

ALXnow: When you write, “Port City Publius is committed to seeing Alexandria thrive for generations to come,” what does that mean? What kind of commitment are you talking about? Like, no matter what you won’t move away and will keep writing?

Port City Publius: It means that all of us need to be better about making choices that don’t directly or immediately benefit ourselves; but are instead done in the interest of improving the lives of people we will never know or never meet. We live in a society, man.

ALXnow: Alexandria City Public Schools have been criticized for their handling of the pandemic. While a broad question, how do you think the school system is doing and how would you characterize the effectiveness of their leadership at the upper-staff and elected levels?

Port City Publius: I think I answered this a few questions ago when I called the superintendent a mendacious hack.

ALXnow: What issues are you looking at in your crystal ball affecting the city? Increased taxes? Employee compensation? Affordable housing? Flooding? Development? These seem like perpetual problems that have plagued the city for generations.

Port City Publius: I haven’t seen anyone talking about renaming streets in Old Town so I think I’ll probably tackle that? In all seriousness – everything you list here is really important and are each deserving of substantive dialogue and consideration. And there has been a great deal of that already, on a wide range of forums. One of the reasons that I feel so very lucky to live in this city is to be around so many people who both care about making things better and apply their considerable skills and talents to that task. I’d embrace the chance to add clarity and purpose to the discussion of any of these issues, should my thoughts come together in a way worth sharing. As long as, you know, the Emmys aren’t on or something.

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One person was injured after shots were fired in the West End on Tuesday afternoon (September 21).

The incident occurred at around 1:15 p.m. in the 200 block of S. Reynolds Street.

Alexandria Police said that the person was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and that more information on the incident will be released to the public in the near future.

The incident occurred a mile-and-a-half from where shots were fired on Monday night.

Anyone with information on the incident can call the police non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

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For more than a month, Alexandria has experienced high COVID-19 transmission levels, but that isn’t stopping public events from happening.

Last week, the City Council unanimously voted to extend the state of emergency until January 31, 2022. Just days later, there was a large gathering for the unveiling of Friday night lights at Alexandria City High School, followed the next day by an art festival in Carlyle and Irish festival at Waterfront Park in Old Town. Residents are encouraged to wear face masks at the events, although it is not required.

Meanwhile, there has been another death. The death toll due to the virus now stands at 143. There are now 13,439 reported cases of the virus since the pandemic started in March 2020. There have also been 64 cases reported in Alexandria City Public Schools in September alone.

Alexandria’s seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests remains at 3.4%, which is the same level that it was this time last week.

VDH says that unvaccinated Virginians make up a majority of new cases. So far, 89,804 residents have been fully vaccinated and 106,465 residents have been partially vaccinated. Nearly 66% of residents over the age of 18 have been vaccinated, and so have nearly 79% of seniors.

The only localities in Virginia not seeing high transmission are Manassas Park and Fairfax City, which are both seeing moderate transmission.

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, get tested.

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No one was injured after shots were fired in the West End on Monday night (September 20).

Alexandria Police tweeted that they investigated a shots fired call for service in the 5400 block of Richenbacher Avenue at around 8 p.m.

No one was arrested and evidence was collected at the scene. The incident occurred in a residential area near the Willow Run Pool and the Winkler Botanical Preserve.

Anyone with information on the incident can call the police non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

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