Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Supreme Court LGBT Decision — “This is such a big step forward. Employers shouldn’t be able to fire people because of who they are or who they love. After a long and difficult struggle by activists and civil rights organization, an historic decision and a great moment for the country.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Silberberg Marched in D.C. on Saturday — “All around me, there were poignant reminders of all that had transpired in this location in recent days and weeks — handmade signs attached to the remaining fence and bouquets of flowers. And then that evening, there was breaking news about another tragedy, this time in Atlanta. Heartbreaking.” [Facebook]

Twig Junior Auxiliary Donates $100K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “The Twig Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital presented a check for $100,000 to Dr. Rina Bansal for the Inova COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Fund during a May 22 ceremony held outside the hospital’s entrance.” [Gazette]

Feed The Fight ALX Gives Out 5K Meals to Health Care Workers — “Thank you for your continued support, and please continue to follow us in the coming months on Instagram @FeedtheFightALX. We are so grateful to all of our hospital teams and restaurant partners.” [Facebook]

City Recycles 700 Tons of Glass in First Year of Recycling Program — “The City just hit the 1-year mark for the glass recycling program. In that time, 700 tons of glass (1,410,560 lbs) has been recycled through the purple can glass drop-off program. You crushed it Alexandria!” [Facebook]

‘Mind The Mat’ Owner Gets Creative During Pandemic — “I was trying to be this super-serious fitness instructor on camera, and it was not working.” [Washington Post]

Recreation Centers Opening With Modified Schedule June 20 — “These changes are in place to follow the second phase of reopening. Senior-only hours will be introduced to help protect vulnerable persons on the community while providing an opportunity for exercise.” [Zebra]

Scholarship Fund Honoring Awardees With Individualized Social Media Posts — “We’ll be profiling a student each day this week…as they share their joy and gratitude with the Alexandria Community!” [Facebook]

Center for Alexandria’s Children Receives Face Mask Donation — “We received another donation of 100 adult masks and 100 children’s masks for our Learn & PlayGroup families! We are so grateful to Brooksie & Cas and Jenna Adams for investing so much time and energy into making so many great masks.” [Facebook]

Deal: Rent a Pedego Electric Bike, Get Second Rental Half Off — “Pedego Electric Bikes has the perfect solution for cabin fever. Rent one bike and get the second rental 50% off. Enjoy the outdoors, flowers and sunshine with the safest bikes and equipment from Pedego. This offer will be available until further notice.” [Visit Alexandria]

New Job: HR/Office Manager — “Small but busy security company in need of an experienced HR professional who can really multitask. Candidate should be comfortable screening, interviewing and on-boarding applicants.” [Indeed]

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The city will likely add gender and transgender identities to protected statuses in Alexandria.

The new ordinance is scheduled for an introduction and first reading at the City Council’s meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and for public hearing and enactment on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Introduced by Councilman Mohammed “Mo” Seifeldein, the new ordinance would amend the Human Rights chapter of the city code to add gender identity and transgender status to the list of population groups protected from housing, employment, public accommodations, health and social services, education, credit or city contract discrimination.

The protections make it unlawful to, for example, refuse to hire or to fire someone for their gender identity or transgender status.

While Alexandria placed highly in a Human Rights Campaign ranking of municipalities by inclusivity, gender identity protections were specifically pointed to as an area where the city should do more to improve. Mayor Justin Wilson said at the time that there was some ambiguity about what the city was allowed, and not allowed, to change in the city code regarding protections of gender identity.

Gender identity is defined in the text as “the actual or perceived gender-related identity, expression, appearance, or mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

The new ordinance also prohibits discrimination due to sexual orientation from city contract employment, which had been left out of a previous addition of sexual orientation to protected statuses.

Photo via Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

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Alexandria has ranked highly on the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index of cities, with a 90/100 score, but it also highlighted where there’s room to improve.

Alexandria’s lowest category is in non-discrimination laws, where HRC gave Alexandria 15 of 30 possible points. Of localities in Virginia, Alexandria ranked third behind Richmond and Arlington. Where Alexandria loses is in its protections for gender identity, where there are no protections in employment, housing, or public accommodations from discrimination.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that much of this goes back to the Dillon Rule, which means that localities like Alexandria can only exercise powers expressly granted by the state. But Wilson, and others in city leadership, have said they’re hopeful that the new Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature will mean loosening some of those local restrictions.

“The remaining points that we’re missing have to do with areas where some of the state law limits us,” Wilson said. “There’s some ambiguity for what we can do and can’t do. I suspect we’re also about to see some state laws change in that regard [concerning] laws on gender identity and gender equality.”

Wilson said the biggest current issue is that, depending on how it’s interpreted, state law forbids localities from including protections against discrimination for gender identity and expression the way localities can for other protected classes. Wilson says this extends to city government, where some benefits have been extended for transgender employees.

There is still more work to be done for offering protections, Wilson said.

While Richmond and Arlington face the same Dillon Rule restrictions, where Arlington rates higher is in services it provides to support LGBTQ youth, homeless, and the elderly, none of which HRC said was available in Alexandria.

Photo via Human Rights Campaign

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Morning Notes

Patch Editor Dies After Cancer Fight — “William ‘Skip’ Wood, of Alexandria, Virginia, died on Sunday, Oct. 6, after a battle with cancer. He was 57. A longtime journalist and Virginia resident, he covered parts of Northern Virginia for Patch over three years, and was well-known nationally for his reporting at USA Today.” [Patch]

Alexandria Man Charged With Classified Leaks — “A counterterrorism analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency has been charged with leaking top-secret details about foreign countries’ weapons systems to two journalists, including a reporter with whom he apparently was romantically involved, federal authorities said Wednesday. Henry K. Frese, 30, of Alexandria, Va., ‘was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information.'” [Washington Post, Wall Street Journal]

NOVA Names New Prez — “Northern Virginia Community College has named its new president. Anne Kress, one of three finalists in a national search, has been selected to lead Virginia’s largest college as its sixth president, Virginia’s Community Colleges announced Wednesday. Her appointment takes effect at the beginning of next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fall Family Fest This Weekend — “Celebrate the change of seasons at the City of Alexandria’s annual Family Fall Festival on October 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Armistead L. Boothe Park (520 Cameron Station Blvd.). The festival is free, with activities that include scarecrow building, inflatables, pumpkin painting and entertainment. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.” [City of Alexandria]

Del Ray Farmers Market Cookbook — “To mark the recent 25th anniversary of the Del Ray Farmers’ Market, founded by Pat Miller, Charles Buki, Karen Johnson, Dennis Areeder, and Gayle Reuter, the vendors and volunteers have assembled a commemorative cookbook.” [Zebra]

Bullying Allegations at Alexandria-Based NSF — “A union representing employees at the National Science Foundation demanded Monday that the agency take action to hold managers accountable for acts of bullying, sexual harassment and retaliation against LGBT employees.” [Government Executive]

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