Newsletter

The power went out on the busiest day of the year in Del Ray on Saturday (October 2).

An estimated 50,000 people descended on Mount Vernon Avenue for the 26th annual Art On The Avenue festival that day, but many restaurants and other businesses were forced to shut down due to the outage.

Homegrown Restaurant Group’s Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant, The Sushi Bar, and Holy Cow Del Ray lost a combined $30,000 in sales, co-owner Bill Blackburn told ALXnow.

“It was disappointing,” Blackburn said. “It was a lot of work for nothing.”

Dominion Energy reported that the outage was due to underground switch and cable equipment failure, and eventually restored power at around 10:30 p.m. — after the event was over.

Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is now considering a “variety” of options to improve service.

“We are exploring a variety of options to improve the reliability of Alexandria’s electricity service,” Wilson said. “We continue to believe that Dominion can and should do more to build a more reliable and resilient infrastructure to serve the City.”

Wilson did not get specific on the options, and said that the City will release more information this week. During the outage, he tweeted out a strongly worded post, and said it was unacceptable that a central business district was plunged in darkness.

Blackburn said business was strong the following day, on Sunday, with support mainly coming from local customers.

“Once again, we are lucky to do business in such a great community,” he said.

The Dairy Godmother, on Facebook, said that it lost “400 kolaches and 1,500 donuts… due to the power outage.”

“We are so sorry we were closed,” the shop wrote. “We have the greatest staff in the greatest neighborhood with the worst power company (except for Texas), we will open at 9AM with Just Fine Donuts, today we have Pumpkin Cake donuts, plus all of our usual flavors of yeast and cake donuts. With luck by 10 we will have Sausage Cheese Kalaches. Custard by Noon with Pumpkin as the Flavor of the Day, Apple Crisp is the Treat of the day.”

Alexandria also sent a letter to Dominion asking them to step up their game earlier this year. There were 16 large-scale outages in 2020 affecting thousands of residents.

The following businesses lost power, according to Visit Del Ray:

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A power outage in Del Ray has shut down a number of businesses, although the annual Art on the Avenue festival today (October 2) is still happening. The event is one of the biggest events in the city and draws tens of thousands of people.

“We have a right to expect more from @DominionEnergy,” tweeted Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “Plunging a central business district into darkness for the better part of their biggest day of the year, with no inclement weather, is UNACCEPTABLE.”

The Alexandria Health Department has shut down a number of businesses due to the outage, although most of the art vendors don’t need power to operate along Mount Vernon Avenue. The Del Ray Business Association’s set-up team was out at 5 a.m. working in the dark.

“For some of those businesses this is literally the busiest day of the year,” said Del Ray Business Association Board member Gayle Reuter. “Restaurant staff are just waiting there with all the food they bought, and it’s very frustrating. But the festival is unbelievable. It’s one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen. It’s just really sad for local businesses without power. They’re the ones who have been hurting.”

The festival ends at 6 p.m.

Via Dominion Energy

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After the previously announced delay for the Potomac Yard Metro station, Mayor Justin Wilson said at a meeting last night that the cause of the September 2022 date is still vague and the city is hoping the project can be completed sooner.

At the City Council meeting, Wilson said the delay to September could, in part, be the result of internal issues at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

“The most concerning part of the conversation is at this point there’s a belief that perhaps the station could be ready as soon as June, but some concerns whether Metro will be ready to have the station open,” said Wilson. “This could have nothing to do with the Metro station, but with other projects Metro is working on. We’ll continue that dialogue to make sure we get the station open as soon as possible. If that means delaying other Metro projects, so be it, but that’s where I stand on that.

The station was originally scheduled to open in April, but WMATA said in a statement that some of the original designs did not meet current safety requirements.

“Metro engineers determined that the original design of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems, which was based upon specifications written by WMATA, did not meet all of the important safety requirements to ensure the safe operation of trains,” WMATA said. “The ATC system prevents trains from getting too close to one another and ensures trains always maintain a safe distance. The need to redesign the ATC system is the result of project management decisions for which WMATA is accountable.”

But Wilson said in a meeting of the Potomac Yard Metro Implementation Group last month that the timeline is flexible, and September was chosen as the latest the project will be completed rather than an estimated window for completion.

“The purpose of the work that our staff is doing with WMATA is to try to ensure that it goes no later than September but ideally comes in sooner,” Wilson said. “That date was an estimate based on what we knew the minute we found out that information. There’s work going on right now to define that. We’re exploring every alternative to reduce that timeline.”

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Facing no electoral opposition in her November reelection, Alexandria School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says the next three years will be full of challenges. For one thing, the incoming nine-member board will have six new faces who will be challenged to lead a school system beset by controversy.

“I am definitely concerned about the turnover of the board,” Alderton told ALXnow. “One of the greatest challenges in today’s public schools in general is what I call the revolving door. We really reached a critical juncture in which we can’t even expect and plan to our support personnel — teachers, principals, leadership, superintendents… To not stick around for at least five years is devastating to our potential for progress.”

While many have criticized the school system’s reopening to full-time instruction as taking too long, Alderton gives ACPS high marks — an eight out of 10. She credits ACPS staffers who provided students with laptops, free meals and virtual instruction with keeping things afloat.

“I found it to be very humbling,” she said. “And overall I think they (staff) really did a good job to ensure that everybody had access to meals. We continued to focus on supporting the whole child, regardless of the physical environment.”

Alderton, the second Black woman to lead as Board Chair since Shirley Tyler 40 years ago, was elected to represent District C in 2018. Her fellow District C members Ramee Gentry and Heather Thornton did not file to run for reelection, and candidates Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi and Christopher Harris are shoo-ins for the two open slots in the district.

She was named Board chair in an internal election in January, and is a former special education teacher at elementary and middle schools in the city. She is also a licensed Realtor, her husband is a track coach at Alexandria City High School and, like Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., her children attend private school.

Alderton said she sends her kids to private school for faith-based reasons.

“I didn’t come into the role to serve myself for the benefit of my own children,” she said. “I came into this role to use my skills and expertise in love for education as a benefit to all kids…. It’s a very private thing, it’s a faith based thing, and hopefully people can can see my heart and my dedication towards the work, because I know what needs to be done.”

Alderton’s term was also punctuated by the renaming of T.C. Williams High School and recent elimination of the School Resource Officer program by City Council. She says that there is a lot of work to do to rebuild the relationship between the Board and Council.

“I definitely have a good relationship with the mayor,” she said. “I expect that that will continue. I have found him to be supportive of the School Board, of the school division. In regard to what needs to happen in the future with Council, I think we’re going to have to do some really intentional work to rebuild the relationship.”

Alderton says that ACPS and the police department need to get creative in preserving its memorandum of understanding with the police department.

“I think it’s important for our students to have access to our police officers, not just when they’re out in the community,” Alderton told ALXnow. “I do want our police department to stay in touch with our schools. It is an important connection, and I’m sure we can come up with some good ideas.”

Alderton says that her defining characteristic is remaining calm under pressure.

“There’s so much going on around and swirling around, and there has been so much going on and swirling around during the pandemic,” she said. “Overall, I’m just a very calm person. I don’t find value in overreacting, and I have learned a lot about how to manage crisis. When everyone around you is in crisis, as a leader it is essential for you to be rational and to be what everyone else just can’t be in that moment, for a very justifiable reason. If you are going to lead, people need to be able to get some of that calmness and steadiness from you as a leader.”

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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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With the groundbreaking of the first of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus buildings, Alexandria took a step into a new future on Tuesday.

Governor Ralph Northam joined top brass from Virginia Tech, Boeing, master architect JBG Smith and hundreds of visitors at the groundbreaking for a state-of-the-art 300,000 square-foot building. He said that, when completed, the academic buildings will be places “where academia, government and industry connect working to solve problems through technology.”

Virginia Tech plans on opening the first of three academic buildings in 2024, and the school anticipates teaching computer science research and development programs to 750 master’s degree students when the project is completed in ten years.

Mayor Justin Wilson thanked City Manager Mark Jinks and his staff, as well as the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, which was integral in bringing Amazon’s HQ2 project to the region.

We are so excited that so much of the plans that we have shaped for really a quarter of a century are coming to fruition on this site,” Wilson said. “But, ultimately, it’s not about the buildings. The buildings will be amazing, and we’re really excited about that. It’s the people that will be in the buildings and the people who will leave those buildings, and we are so excited to see the embodiment of this vision come to reality in the buildings here in the city of Alexandria.”

Tara Laughlin is studying for her Master’s degree in computer science at the Innovation Campus, and is one of seven Boeing graduate scholars. Boeing also gave the campus a $50 million gift.

I want to make a difference in the field that I work in, but I honestly just didn’t know where to start,” Laughlin said. “The Innovation Campus answered everything that I’d wanted.”

Matt Kelly, the CEO of JBG Smith, the master developer of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, said that the future looks bright for Potomac Yard.

“When we began courting Amazon alongside the Commonwealth to make Northern Virginia home to HQ2, one of the main points of attraction that they had to the D.C. region was our strong base of tech talent,” he said. “Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus brings that right next door, and delivers on a future of diversifying our economy and broadening that talent base for many decades to come.”

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Alexandria Police are reporting double-digit increases in burglary and drunk driving arrests so far this year.

In an update to the Health and Safety Coordinating Committee, police reported a 35% increase in driving while intoxicated arrests (136 incidents) — as of August 2021.

The DWI arrests were expected, police said, “as COVID-19 restrictions have lightened and nightlife activities expanded their hours and operation this year.”

There has also been a a 63% increase in burglaries, with 135 reported arrests over the 83 at this point in 2020.

“While the rate has slowed from the pace through April, this increase is driven by an increase in Commercial Burglaries due to Asian restaurants being targeted early in the calendar year, a Fairfax County-based juvenile crew heavily targeting Northern Virginia in March through May, stealing currency from registers, and residential burglaries,” police reported.

The theft of vehicle parts also jumped 49%, and the theft of car parts valued at over $1,000 (mostly tires, catalytic converters and airbags) jumped 106%.

There have been 127 aggravated assaults so far this year, down from 136 at this point in 2020; eight rapes reported this year, down from 11 in 2020; and 65 robberies in 2021, up from 63 in 2020.

There have been no homicides so far this year, while there was one homicide by this point in 2020 (three total in 2020) and one homicide in 2019 (two overall for that year).

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Morning Notes

City leaders mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks — “A solemn gathering in Waterfront Park to remember those lost and commemorate the selfless service of so many during and after the attacks of September 11th. Honored to have @RepDonBeyer and the leaders of @AlexVASheriff @AlexandriaVAPD & @AlexandriaVAFD with us.” [Twitter]

Old Town’s ‘Art On The Avenue’ festival needs hundreds of volunteers — “As an entirely volunteer-run event, Art on the Avenue seeks over 200 volunteers to help with pre-event set up, business set up, monitoring the food court, handing out posters, and more before and throughout the day. Each volunteer may sign up for a specific position and shift time. The average shift is between 2 and 3 hours; there is no limit to how many hours one can volunteer.” [Zebra]

Acting principal named at Lyles-Crouch Elementary — “In a letter emailed this morning to families of Lyles-Crouch Elementary students, Principal Patricia Zissios, Ph.D informed the community that Assistant Principal Linda Ricks will assume the role of Acting Principal effective September 13, 2021 while she on a temporary leave of absence for much-needed shoulder surgery.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Sunny skies. Near record high temperatures. High 93F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies with a few passing clouds. Low 71F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Pet waste technician — “Enjoy the fun and independence as you help keep our customers yards poop free! Simply visit customers yards and scoop dog waste using the tools we provide. Need your own reliable transportation but we do assist with gas money. You will need access to internet on the daily. Looking for energetic people are are reliable and communicate well and enjoy working outside on their own.” [Indeed]

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What an interesting week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

World champion sprinter Noah Lyles brought home his bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. In a frank, TED Talk-like speech at Alexandria City High School, Lyles talked about the importance of mental health as he struggled to perform at the games.

“A lot of people will look at the Olympics this year like something was different with the athletes,” said Lyles. “Well, it was a lot of difference because we had so much weight that we had to hold onto — about two years. I was no different.”

On the COVID-19 front, while the transmission level remains high in Alexandria, this week the city tied with Arlington for the lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia. Large outdoor public events are still happening, too, and on Monday, a vast majority of local elected officials and candidates converged for the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s annual Labor Day Picnic, which included an appearance by gubernatorial candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Man arrested for spending spree after finding wallet in Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot
  2. COVID-19 Update: Alexandria ties with Arlington for lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia
  3. BREAKING: Pedestrian critically injured in Old Town car crash
  4. Mark Center development plans head to Planning Commission this week
  5. Alexandria Police union calls out years of executive mismanagement
  6. JUST IN: Suspects arrested after allegedly firing shots at Alexandria Police
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Mayor outlines upcoming plastic bag tax plans
  9. Village Brauhaus aims for rooftop expansion
  10. No injuries or arrests after shots fired in Old Town Sunday night
  11. Most expensive homes sold in Alexandria in August

Have a safe weekend!

Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.

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Ahead of a public meeting tonight (Wednesday), Mayor Justin Wilson outlined what’s being proposed and next steps.

“The plastic bag tax has long been floated,” Wilson said in a town hall last week, noting that a similar tax is already in place in D.C. “Senator [Adam] Ebbin, who represents the east end of Alexandria, proposed legislation that allows local governments to opt in for the plastic bag tax.”

According to the city, the tax could be used for:

  • Environmental Cleanup;
  • Providing education programs designed to reduce environmental waste;
  • Mitigating pollution and litter; or
  • Providing reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits

Wilson said the tax will only be applied to grocery stores and convenience stores, not restaurants or other businesses. The tax would also be five cents per bag, which Wilson said isn’t a lot in terms of having spending money for infrastructure projects, but the other goal is in discouraging the use of plastic bags and reducing littering.

An un-scientific poll of ALXnow readers found that 61% opposed the tax.

Following the public information session, a draft ordinance will be presented to City Council. If approved, the tax could go into effect as early as January 2022.

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