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(Updated 5:45 p.m.) At an upcoming meeting, the City Council is scheduled to consider a grant application asking for $50 million for waterfront flood mitigation projects.

Last year, city staff put forward a variety of potential projects to add more flood resiliency to the waterfront, which has seen increasingly frequent flooding in recent years, but with cost estimates ranging from $170 to $215 million, some city leaders faced some sticker shock and have asked to scale down the projects.

That $50 million is the maximum amount that can be awarded through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program.

The city’s flooding prevention projects have, in the past, gotten some boosts from state and national resources.

In addition to the national funding, the docket item for the application notes at a later date the Council will consider funding the local share of any related waterfront flood projects.

The application is scheduled for review at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

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An Alexandria resident, who is a Pentagon Force Protection Agency police officer, was arrested for allegedly selling cocaine in Arlington County on Friday, October 28.

The 33-year-old officer was off duty and was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession to distribute a controlled substance while armed. He was arrested in the afternoon in the 1300 block of S. Scott Street “

The suspect was arrested “after detectives observed him purchase narcotics for distribution, according to Arlington County police. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

“Organized Crime Section detectives initiated a narcotics investigation after receiving information regarding a suspect possibly distributing cocaine in Arlington County,” ACPD said in a release. “A search warrant was subsequently executed at the suspect’s residence in Alexandria which resulted in the recovery of additional quantiles of narcotics and firearms.”

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Supreme Court (file photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade today (Friday) in a landmark decision that will effectively ban abortion in more than a dozen states.

While Virginia is not a state with any “trigger laws” that go into effect as a result of the decision, Alexandria has seen its share of back and forth over abortion. In March, the City Council withdrew a proclamation recognizing abortion providers, a decision some on the City Council said they later regretted. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has also expressed support for banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Alexandria’s Commission for Women recently called on Mayor Justin Wilson and the City Council to affirm support for abortion access.

Wilson said he was dismayed by the decision and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to providing access to abortion services.

“A dismaying decision by an activist court seeking to undo a century of progress,” Wilson said. “We will do everything we can locally to ensure that we protect access to abortion services in Alexandria.”

Wilson noted that promoting access to abortion has been an annual part of the city’s legislative package and has worked on the issue with state and federal representatives. Responses also came in from some of those representatives expressing frustration with the decision.

Annetta Catchings, acting chair of the Alexandria GOP, shared support for the decision.

https://twitter.com/annetta_of/status/1540344811986771969

Others around Alexandria’s Twittersphere expressed general dismay.

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(Updated 4:50 p.m.) Under President Donald Trump, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch says that America resembled repressive regimes she’d seen overseas.

On Monday (May 9), Yovanovitch spoke about her memoir “Lessons From The Edge” at Pat Miller Square in the heart of Del Ray. The book documents her 33-year Foreign Service career that culminated with her being fired by Trump as the ambassador to Ukraine and her congressional testimony during his first impeachment.

“When I came back to the United States, I experienced… the smear campaign that was launched against me and other things,” Yovanovich said, “that felt like I was seeing some of the same things in the United States that I’d seen overseas, that we had a president who was using his office for personal gain, and the presidency is the highest office in the land.”

Yovanovitch worked for five presidents throughout her career, and began her ambassadorship of Ukraine under President Barack Obama in 2016. She served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, and retired from the State Department in 2020. She is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a non-resident fellow at Georgetown University.

“Fast forward to the insurrection on January 6, and it was really very sobering that one of the things that I realized was we do have strong institutions, but they need us as much as we need them,” Yovanovich said. “We need people who are not just smart and competent, but people who are ethical, who work with integrity, and who will do the work of the people in the United States. And again, do it with integrity. When asked to do something that is wrong, they will say no, not because they are just loyal to the president of the the United States, they’ll say no because they are critical thinkers.”

Despite her disbelief over Trump’s election, for two years under the Trump administration she was largely left alone, she wrote. That was until 2019, when she said she became the target of a smear campaign by the administration to get her fired. She wrote that oligarchs and corrupt government officials will use disinformation to destroy competitors so effectively that the lies become more believable than the truth, and that the same tactics were being employed against her from Washington, D.C.

“I was being hung out to dry,” Yovanovitch wrote. “I had served five previous administrations, both Republican and Democrat. I had never seen anything like this.”

Five months after being removed from her post, Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee during Trump’s first impeachment. As she testified, then-President Trump tweeted about her disparagingly, and Yovanovitch said it was “very intimidating.”

In her book, Yavonovich describes herself as an introvert, a behind-the-scenes operator who, before 2019, “never would have believed that anyone other than my family would find my story of interest,” she wrote. “But the reaction to my testimony changed that, and so I started writing, thinking that perhaps others might have something to gain from the story of my Foreign Service journey.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said that Alexandria is lucky to have public servants like Yovanovitch as a resident.

“The fragility of our democracy requires it that women and men are willing to stand up and defend it and defend it with courage,” Wilson said. “Oftentimes that integrity and that courage is buried somewhere deep in a bureaucracy that never sees the light of day. Nobody ever understands what actually happened. But sometimes that courage is required, not only to stand up to some of the most totalitarian regimes in the world, (but) sometimes even to the leader of the free world.”

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Work Studio (file photo)

As Covid transmission in Alexandria remains low and restrictions ease, many workers are returning to the office.

In March, talk of federal workers returning has been more prevalent. According to Axios, the Biden administration viewed the employees as a group who could lead by example with a return to in-person work.

But some employers have welcomed remote work, even closing physical offices. Others are remote still as a precaution after the ups and downs of new Covid variants jerked office plans on and off.

So tell us, are you still working from home or have you returned to work in person?

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Some voters in the 8th District will get an in-person visit from their Congressman in the coming days.

Congressman Don Beyer is door-knocking for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Beyer says he’s never met Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, but is wary that Virginia could reverse course on a number of issues.

“I’ll be doing lots of door-knocking in the coming weeks,” he said. “Youngkin, who I’ve never met, has promised to roll back things like universal background checks (to buy guns). I think we’re all terrified that Virginia could go the way of Texas and outlaw abortions six weeks after your last period. Virginia has come a long way and we do not want to move in the wrong direction.”

Youngkin has reportedly said that he supports banning abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, and that he would have voted against the Texas plan.

Over the past year, Beyer has also thrown his weight behind labor unions, voting in Congress in favor of granting them more bargaining rights. He also said that calls to defund the police are ‘One of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard,’ but did not comment on the recent City Council actions to defund and then reinstate the Alexandria City Public Schools’ school resource officer program.

With no plans to retire, the three-term Congressman says he’s more effective than ever, and that tensions in Washington have loosened considerably since Joe Biden was sworn in as president in January.

“I feel as effective as I have ever been,” Beyer said. “I don’t see anyone who could accomplish what I can accomplish right now. That won’t always be true.”

Beyer, 71, is running for reelection next year, and has a June 2022 primary opponent, Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh.

“I do my my very best to stay as strong and fit as young as possible,” Beyer said. “I have no trouble working 60-to-70 hours a week, and I want to continue to do that. Obviously there’s an end to everything. I just don’t think it’s time.”

Beyer is also introducing a bill to require proof of vaccination on trains and planes.

“Businesses and agencies are demanding universal vaccination, because it’s not just about your personal health or personal freedom,” he said. “It’s because if you are sick you can go on and get other people sick. Vaccine resistance is prolonging this pandemic.”

He continued, “My bill, which says if you’re going to travel on a train or a plane or work in a train station or airport, you need to either be vaccinated or show proof that you haven’t had the disease for the last 72 hours.”

While Congress will be challenged to pass the Biden administration’s infrastructure and social spending bill and the “Build Back Better” plan, Beyer says he’s hopeful.

“With Biden as president, things are much calmer,” he said. “There are virtually no outrageous things coming up. There are difficult decisions that are made — to leave Afghanistan, for example. And there are difficult challenges ahead.”

“I feel very hopeful,” Beyer continued. “While there are partisan divisions, and while I don’t understand a lot of the Republican objections, for example raising the debt ceiling, it’s (Congress) still a fairly friendly place.”

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Morning notes

Alexandria political cartoonist shifts to radio — “Following a 30-year political cartooning career, Steve Artley has transitioned his satirical prowess to another form: radio.” [Artley Cartoons]

National Industries for the Blind awarded $8.9 million contract — “National Industries for the Blind, Alexandria, Virginia, has been awarded a maximum $8,898,968 modification exercising the third one-year option period of a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods for moisture wicking t-shirts.” [Defense Daily]

Alexandria Times reviews local cappuccinos — “That’s why, for this edition of the Alexandria Times’ Port City Flavor section, I thought I would embark on a caffeine-infused adventure to compare cappuccinos at three of Alexandria’s most beloved coffee shops. I chose to stick to cappuccinos because I have a soft spot for them and honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a good cappuccino?” [Alexandria Times]

National Society of Professional Engineers looking for advocacy manager — “Initiate and lead NSPE Advocacy programs, overseeing all federal, state, and PAC activities and supervise Policy Associate with final approval from Senior Director.” [Roll Call]

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Police outside the McDonalds where a shooting occurred, staff photo by James Cullum

What a busy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a juvenile who was shot outside the McDonald’s at the Bradlee Shopping Center on Tuesday, Sept. 21. There have also been a number of concerning incidents at Alexandria City Public Schools, including a juvenile who was arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School.

Meanwhile, while the COVID-19 transmission rate remains high, public events are still happening in Alexandria.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School
  2. Police dispatched three times for fighting at Alexandria City Public Schools in less than a month
  3. Police: Six hospitalized after overdoses on Alexandria-Fairfax border
  4. Poll: What do you think of Metro’s proposed Blue Line crossing to National Harbor?
  5. BREAKING: Flooding reported in Alexandria
  6. Interview: Port City Publius opens up about Alexandria
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Juvenile arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School
  9. Multiple violent charges dropped against Fairfax County man held without bond for assaulting police during arrest
  10. Preserving Arlandria’s affordability against gentrification could cost upward of $100 million
  11. JUST IN: One person injured after shots fired in West End Tuesday afternoon

Have a safe weekend! 

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The U.S. Department of Labor has filed an administrative complaint against a janitorial government contractor operating in Alexandria for discriminating against Black and white job applicants in favor of Hispanic applicants.

The Department of Labor filed the complaint against New York-based ABM Janitorial Services on September 15, although the investigation into the contractor began in 2015. Three compliance reviews were made at ABM locations — one in Baltimore, Maryland, and two in Alexandria in the 100 block of Claremont Avenue.

In Alexandria, the government determined that the contractor has “engaged in racially discriminatory hiring practices, failed to preserve and maintain its personnel and employment records, failed to conduct adverse impact analyses, and failed to develop an auditing system,” according to court records.

The entry-level jobs pay $10 to $11 an hour, and the minimum qualifications are being 18 years of age and having a legal right to work in the U.S.

“Many hiring managers claimed to prefer applicants with cleaning experience, but many cleaners hired (in Alexandria) lacked cleaning experience,” the complaint alleges. “The hiring managers regularly hired inexperienced Hispanic applicants for job openings while rejecting experienced Black applicants for those openings.”

The contractor’s cleaning services for the U.S. Army from 2015 to 2018 amount to more than $174 million, and it also has a $68 million contract with the General Services Administration that runs until 2023, according to court records.

The investigation also found that white applicants were discriminated against in favor of Hispanic applicants at a Baltimore location.

Despite repeated requests from the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the government says that the company has not shown evidence that it changed its hiring practices. The complaint asks the court to cancel all of AMB Janitorial Service’s government contracts and prevent it from working with the government again until the noncompliance is remedied.

“We will work in conjunction with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to ensure that federal contractors administer their federal contracts without discriminating against applicants and employees,” said U.S. Labor Department Solicitor Seema Nanda in a statement. “We will continue to use all available resources to ensure every applicant can seek employment free of discrimination and bias, and when we find evidence of discrimination we will pursue these alleged violations in court.”

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What a week in Alexandria.

Public uproar over Sunday’s flooding spilled out throughout this week, which continued to be threatened by near-daily flash flood advisories from the National Weather Service.

Our top story was on Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, who criticized City Manager Mark Jinks on the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Mayor Justin Wilson says that multiple projects are underway and take time, and that the city is now looking into whether spot improvements and any other projects can be accelerated.

The group DrainALX has also gained popularity, as it continues to catalog stormwater issues and complaints. One Del Ray resident even told us that she’s turned to therapy after repeatedly spending thousands on a continually ruined basement.

Our weekly poll also found 55% of respondents (193 people) have experienced flood damage to their homes, 14% (74 people) have experienced other sorts of property damage and 31% (159 votes) have never had any property damaged by a storm in the city.

This weekend’s forecast is partly cloudy with a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon, followed by a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.

School issues

The week before school starts, the School Board unanimously approved Thursday night the requirement that ACPS staffers get the coronavirus vaccine.

“We do have authority to require testing and require vaccinations,” Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said at the board meeting. “However, there have been no cases where someone has contested that requirement. That has not occurred as of yet, and I’m sure it’s going to begin soon…”

In the meantime, Alexandria is also prepping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. As Alexandria looks to accelerate stormwater projects, Sheriff gives city manager a D-
  2. The Four Mile Run Bridge in Arlandria will not fully reopen until fall 2025
  3. Institute for Defense Analyses announces Potomac Yard move-in later this year
  4. Woman behind DrainALX campaign shares frustrations and hopes from locals after Sunday flood
  5. HUD Secretary Fudge visits Alexandria, says affordable housing is a Biden Administration priority
  6. New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
  7. Alexandria School Board to discuss mandatory vaccinations for staffers this week
  8. After rampant flooding over weekend, another Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Alexandria
  9. Poll: Have you gotten the infamous mite bite in Alexandria?
  10. Alexandria Fire Department struggling with staffing shortage and forced overtime
  11. Stuck in quandary, Del Ray flooding victim seeks therapy

Have a safe weekend!

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