Alexandria, VA

Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Del. Mark Levine has joined legislators in calling for the resignation of Republican State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) over her involvement with the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol.

“She should resign,” Levine told ALXnow. “She is saying things that aren’t true and she’s inciting violence. She’s basically attacking the foundations of our democracy, and it really disappoints me because we work together. We had a good personal relationship. I’m just very disappointed in what she’s done.”

Chase attended the rally that preceded the riot but did not participate in the attack on the Capitol building.

Chase, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, is accused of committing insurrection by the Senate Democratic Caucus and faces multiple calls for her resignation. Her Facebook account was briefly shut down after she said publicly in a video that the incident at the Capitol was the fault of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors, a claim that has since been disproven.

Levine, 54, announced his intent to run for Lieutenant Governor last month, and if he loses the democratic primary says that he will run for reelection for the 45th District seat that he has held since 2015. His only opponent for the 45th is Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who announced this week that she is running for the seat.

Levine said that Bennett-Parker did not call him about her entering the race for the 45th District.

“It’s not like the vice mayor called me and told me she was running. She didn’t,” Levine said. “I’m gonna run for lieutenant governor, because I think, frankly, what I’ve done for the 45th has been so positive that I think I can deliver for the entire state, the whole Commonwealth of Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. But should I not prevail in the governor’s race, I think I’ve got a very good record to run for reelection as delegate, and obviously I hope to prevail.”

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Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will not seek reelection and is running for the 45th District seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.

A political newcomer going into her election as vice mayor three years ago, Bennett-Parker said she is running to improve the environment and help area families struggling with the pandemic. A Democrat, she is the first person to announce a run for the seat.

“I am excited to announce my candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates today,” Bennett-Parker announced Tuesday morning. “I want to be a part of the solution by ensuring all Northern Virginians have access to good jobs with worker protections, helping small businesses thrive, making sure families have access to quality care and education for their children from early childhood onwards, and taking urgent action to protect our environment and build an infrastructure to respond to climate change.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said he was disappointed to lose Bennett-Parker. There are now two open seats for city council, as longtime Council member Del Pepper recently announced her retirement.

“I am disappointed to lose Elizabeth’s leadership on City Council, but I wish her well in her next pursuit,” Wilson told ALXnow. “Every three years, the voters of our City have the opportunity to shape the future of our community. I am confident that we will have an experienced and qualified crop of candidates offering themselves in service to our community.”

Bennett-Parker grew up in Alexandria and lives with her husband and grandmother in the city’s Rosemont neighborhood, is also the co-director of the nonprofit Together We Bake.

“As the caregiver for my grandmother during this pandemic, I also know firsthand the challenges so many around Northern Virginia have been facing when it comes to caring for our seniors,” she said. “Families, workers, educators, and students continue to struggle with the pandemic’s impact, and they deserve an advocate in Richmond.”

Bennett-Parker has not been an outspoken member of council, and is known for heavily researching topics before coming to decisions. A Fulbright Fellow, she has a Master’s degree in anthropology from the University of London and a history degree from Cornell University.

The primary for the race is on June 8, and election day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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It’s been a hell of a morning Del. Mark Levine.

News broke this morning that Levine, a Democrat from Alexandria, is now one of 12 candidates who have thrown their name into the Lieutenant Governor race and one of eight Democrats. Since then, Levine says the morning has been one of non-stop phone calls.

“I’m excited,” Levine said. “It’s a firehose and I’m starting to drink the water.”

Levine said part of his goal is to transform the role into a full-time position rather than the part-time, back-up position it currently occupies.

Levine touted his history of working for Barney Frank, the fight to put his brother-in-law behind bars after his sister’s murder, and his history of pushing for LGBT rights. If elected, Levine would be the first openly gay statewide elected official. It’s a series of accomplishments that were at the forefront of Levine’s campaign for the House of Delegates in 2015, but this year some of the attention is shifting towards work done over the last year now that the Democrats control the legislature.

“I’ve introduced 47 bills; 23 became law: some in my name and some in colleagues’ names,” Levine said. “A number of my bills were incorporated into other bills.”

Levine’s website has a 20-page summary of progress made on bills during the 2020 legislative sessions and a few areas where Levine hit stumbling blocks. Of those, Levine said one of the ones he’s most proud of is the “most comprehensive LGBT rights bill in Virginia” that Levine said added sexual orientation and gender to non-discrimination statutes. Another required voter-verified paper ballots.

One of the bills that failed was one that would allow localities to fund law libraries — a longtime priority for Alexandria — and one that would make it easier for non-clergy to perform marriage ceremonies.

Levine has been an outspoken Democrat, particularly on gun control issues — though Levine said he prefers to call it gun violence prevention. Earlier this year, an armed protester stood outside Levine’s house to protest Levine’s position.

“The people who disagree with me are passionate, but they aren’t the majority of Virginia,” Levine said. “I’m not trying to ban guns. [Gun owners should] have background checks and should be trained. So I think some of my stances have been overstated, frankly, but I think reasonable people will support me, including reasonable gun owners, because I think reasonable gun owners don’t mind background checks.  The people who believe every child should have a bazooka, no, they’re not going to support my campaign.”

Levine said if he does not win the Lt. Governor race primary this summer, he intents to run for reelection as a Delegate later that year.

File photo

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Hundreds of boaters supporting President Trump sailed up the Potomac River on Sunday (September 6), as they took to the waves as part of the “Trumptilla” boating parades around the country.

The event saw both protestors and supporters along the waterfront as the boats sailed under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and up to the Memorial Bridge.

“For me at the end of the day it’s about freedom versus socialism,” said Matthew Truong, a former Republican Congressional candidate for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, who organized a small rally for the boaters at Jones Point Park. “What I see right now, it’s eerily similar to what happened in Vietnam before the fall of Saigon when the communists took over. All the violence, chaos, protests, a lot of crazy things — what that does is effect the minds of people.”

Virginia Delegate Mark Levine (D-45) was among the protestors who chanted, “Trump lies! People die!”

“Folks who think that Joe Biden is a socialist need to stop watching Fox News,” Levine said. “We need to take our country back. We have a president in the thrall of a Russian dictator, and doing everything he can to serve himself, and 200,000 unnecessarily dead Americans from coronavirus is not a price I’m willing to pay for anything. Every other country on the planet has handled this better than we have.”

A Nice view of the Boat Rally for Trump and Asian Pacific Americans rally support Trump on Sunday 6th September at Jones Point Park Alexrandria Virginia.

Posted by Phillips Nguyen on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Photos via courtesy Eli Wilson Photography

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Morning Notes

Levine Says Murder Suspect Should Have Stayed Behind Bars — “Simply put, I think the judge made a tragically wrong decision here.” [Blue Virginia]

Lynching Victim Honored in Old Town — “121 years to the day after a mob lynched young Benjamin Thomas, the successor of the Mayor who made a half-hearted plea for due process and the successor of the “City Sergeant” (@AlexVASheriff) who failed to project Benjamin, stood at the corner and laid wreaths in his memory.” [Twitter]

Eviction Proceedings Halted Until Next Month — “On August 7, Governor Ralph S. Northam (D-VA) announced that starting Monday, August 10, a statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will go into effect. The moratorium, which passed by a 4-to-3 vote, runs through September 7.”  [Zebra]

School Board Approves Virtual Learning This Fall — “Students, unlike during the spring semester, will be graded on finished work. They will also receive simultaneous lessons in subjects, as if they were in the classroom.” [Zebra]

ACPS Kicks Off ‘Kindergarten Prep’ — “ACPS is adjusting the format of the traditional Kindergarten Prep summer session in response to the current pandemic.”
[Facebook]

Del Ray Company Donates Soap to Casa Chirilagua — “We are so grateful to Truly-Life Eco Gifts for donating 200 bars of handmade soap to Casa Chirilagua — even during these challenging times, our small businesses are so generous!” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Mostly clear. High, 92F, Low 73F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Automotive Finance Manager — “BMW of Alexandria has an opportunity for a motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic Finance Manager to join our team.” [Indeed]

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It was another busy week in Alexandria.

Our readers overwhelmingly responded to Sunday’s protest at the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and the story has more than 380 comments. This week also saw its first homicide, which occurred in the West End, in addition to a number of crime events in the Braddock area.

Not included in our weekly list is late-breaking news on Friday that Alexandria City Public Schools want a virtual-only school year starting in September. Residents have been waiting throughout the summer for the school system to make up its mind, and ACPS has conducted numerous virtual chats with students, parents and staff over the last several weeks.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
  2. BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
  3. Former APD Officer Peter Laboy Gets His Driver’s License Seven Years After Being Shot in the Head
  4. Just Listed in Alexandria
  5. Students and Residents Putting Daily Cover Over T.C. Williams High School Name
  6. BREAKING: Flooding Reported in Parts of City, AFD Responding to Multiple Emergency Calls
  7. Shots Fired Tuesday Night in Braddock Neighborhood
  8. Alexandria Delegate Wants City to Fire Officials or Police Who Espouse QAnon Theories
  9. Save the Tree Petition at T.C. Williams High School Garners Nearly 1,000 Signatures
  10. Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
  11. COVID-19 Update: Deaths at 57, Case Count at 2,735 in Alexandria

Have a safe and fun weekend!

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Edited 1 p.m. — Alexandria Del. Mark Levine (D) said the City of Alexandria can and should fire any police officers or officials that subscribe to QAnon theories — a fringe movement rooted in theories about pedophilia rings and the Deep State.

In a back and forth exchange on Facebook, Levine said anyone who has information about anyone in law enforcement espousing beliefs related to QAnon — mainly centered around unsubstantiated claims about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pedophilia, and satanism worshipped at the highest echelons of power — should report it to their department head.

In a series of texts, Levine later elaborated on this position.

It’s quite simple. Libel is not protected speech. If your personal belief is that Hillary Clinton tortured children in the nonexistent basement of a DC pizza parlor and you share that belief publicly, you can and should be found civily liable and have to pay damages.

QAnon is designed to maliciously spread libel and slander. Not only is it legal to take down their bullshit, it is illegal not to!

…Now if QAnon taught something else, that there was a flying invisible spaghetti monster that ate unicorns and washed away your sins every time you eat two meatballs, that would be protected speech. Because it does not slander any real people.

Spreading libel is also civilly liable. Which is why you should never spread someone else’s poston Facebook unless you’ve independently checked to see if it’s true.

Now, I concede it’s not often prosecuted, but it is both illegal and morally wrong and that is why I always chastise anyone who sends me objectively false information.

Levine recognized that New York Times v. Sullivan which requires “plaintiff show that the defendant knew that a statement was false or was reckless in deciding to publish the information without investigating whether it was accurate,” but Levine argued that it is his sincere belief that QAnon is not accidentally lying about the conspiracy theories.

Other comments on the post were concerned that Levine’s proposal would violate the First Amendment and was akin to McCarthyism — a period in the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy led a campaign of investigations against alleged communists.

Levine had another run-in earlier this year with right-wing groups when he called the police on an armed protestor outside his home.

Craig Fifer, spokesperson for the City of Alexandria, said officials have a right to their beliefs provided it does not interfere with their work.

“Employees have the right to subscribe to the beliefs of their choosing, provided they do not act on their beliefs in such a way as to impede the performance of their duties or the City’s ability to serve the public effectively,” Fifer said. “Police Department policy prohibits employees from engaging in conduct that represents neglect of duty or is likely to bring discredit on the department. Any complaint alleging misconduct by an employee will be investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if warranted.”

File photo of Del. Mark Levine, Facebook image via Justin Wilson/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Hunger Free Alexandria Has Urgent Need for Volunteers Today — “Urgent need for Thursday, April 23, 4:30-7:00 p.m. Hunger Free Alexandria is working with World Central Kitchen to feed our neighbors in need. Bring your mask and help with bagging pre-packaged food and distributing meals. Location is on Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria.” [Facebook]

State Legislators Reconvene in Richmond — “My “desk” at one of the most unusual legislative sessions in Virginia history. We begin at noon. You can watch us on the livestream. Virginia Transparency even during COVID-19!” [Mark Levine/Twitter]

Virginia Minimum Wage Increase Delayed to May 2021 — “Democrats had used the majorities they gained in last fall’s elections to push through an increase to the state’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, scheduling it to rise in stages until it reaches $12 by 2023. The initial increase was to take place in January but now will be delayed until May 1, 2021; the later increases will not be affected.” [Washington Post]

IDA Hosting Stanford Virtual Career Fair Today — “The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) is a not-for-profit organization that operates three federally-funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) supporting federal decision making: two serving the Department of Defense and one serving the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.” [Indeed]

Washington Post Features Warwick Village — “Comprising 600 red-brick townhouses, the neighborhood offers families and first-time home buyers the convenience of living close to the amenities of Alexandria and the District in a friendly setting. Different paint colors, landscaping and indoor renovations make each house unique.” [Washington Post]

Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Launches New Website — ” With a clean format and simple navigation, our new website is replacing both of our old ones to make accessing information easier for our community. It also showcases our new brand: Alexandria- the Business of Bold.” [Facebook]

St. Stephens & St. Agnes Alum Now A Nurse in New Orleans — “Dr. Elizabeth Bellino ’94 works in the ER in New Orleans and her husband is an Anesthesiologist. She shared: “In these times, it amazes me how many friends from SSSAS have reached out to support us, whether it is a text, an email, or an offer to send masks. Feeling the support of community and family allows us to keep working during these times. Keep up the good work of keeping us all engaged and feeling like a community once again!” [Facebook]

West End Business Association Hosting Stress Management Webinar at 11 a.m. — “Mara Benner, President/Founder of Four Directions Wellness, LLC, will talk us through the stress we are all under and offer suggestions for reducing and managing that stress so that we can be productive in our lives, with our families and four our businesses.” [WEBA]

Hops N Shine Hosting Virtual Beer Tasting at 8:30 p.m. — “From Väsen Brewing Company we’ll be trying their May Rakau DIPA and The Everything Floats on Pineapple. From our friends at Vanish we’ll be tasting their Ghost Fleet and Wraith.” [Facebook]

Junction Bakery & Bistro is Now Delivering — “Neighbors! The new Junction Delivery van is gassed up & ready to rollllll … We bring it to you: groceries, breads & pastries, family meals, beer & wine — and yes, even our new craft cocktails! Cheaper than Uber Eats!” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria COVID-19 Count Now At 20 — “AHD is identifying and contacting individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed cases. The close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine and actively monitor for fever and respiratory symptoms. If they start experiencing symptoms, they will immediately undergo testing. As a result of the AHD’s case investigations and expanded testing through private providers, the number of positive cases is expected to continue to increase.” [City of Alexandria]

City’s COVID-19 Fund Reaches $470K — “Thanks to your generous support, ACT for Alexandria and the City of Alexandria have begun to provide grants to the nonprofit organizations on the front lines of this crisis. As of this week, we have made $245,010 in grants.” [Zebra]

Levine Hosting Health Director in Virtual Monthly Meetup — “We will be hosting Mark’s Monthly Meetup virtually this Sunday between 1 and 3 pm. Likely through either Zoom or Facebook Live. Perhaps both if we can figure it out. Details to come.” [Facebook]

Beyer Laments U.S. Leading World With COVID-19 Cases — “Very, very bad: the United States now leads the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases. PLEASE STAY HOME.” [Twitter]

Fire Department Advises Against Overloading Power Strips — “If you’re teleworking to help #stopthespread, you’re probably using multiple electronic devices to keep up with your workload. To prevent an electrical fire, don’t overload your power strips.” [Twitter]

Chat Today With Martha Washington in Mount Vernon Live Stream — “Join us for our first Casual Friday Livestream, where we’ll do something new & different each Friday at 12:00 pm ET! This week, join us for a chat with young Martha Washington in the year 1769. Ask her your questions now, and we’ll start with those tomorrow on Facebook & YouTube.” [Twitter]

fibre space Moves to Online Shopping Only — “We will not be scheduling any additional in store private shopping appointments. If you are currently scheduled, your appointment is still on. Please feel free to shop via phone, web or virtual shopping on Zoom.” [Facebook]

Carpenter’s Shelter Thanks Supporters — “One of our biggest concerns amidst all of this turmoil, has been making sure we are able to keep our residents fed. In our current temporary location we do not have a stove, so we are reliant more than ever on our wonderful volunteers and donors to provide prepared food for our clients. And thanks to them, this concern thus far has been unfounded.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Visit Alexandria Launches ‘ALX at Home’ — “Experience Alexandria’s restaurants, shops and attractions from the comfort of your own home… From unlimited ‘Ride it Out’ bike rentals to beer-to-go curbside pickup to FaceTime shopping, there are numerous ways to support the independent businesses that make Alexandria so special. Buy a gift card for a future date. Pick up a ready-to-go dinner to make at home. Tap into your creative spirit by taking a live stream writing workshop.” [Visit Alexandria]

Mark Levine Says It’s ‘Criminal’ to Congregate During Pandemic — “You must be unaware of the @GovernorVA‘s executive order. There are criminal penalties for going to a bar or restaurant tonight. If more than 10 people congregate, the restaurant can lose its license and folks can go to jail. ” the Delegate for Virginia’s 45th district wrote in an email.” [Twitter]

Former Police Chief Charles Samarra Passes Away — “Charlie was a beloved figure in the region’s public safety community. He will be missed by many, but his legacy of excellence and professionalism lives on.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Doctor Helps Homeless During Pandemic — “As far as street care, I don’t really feel comfortable having anyone else with me right now due to all the unknowns from coronavirus.” [WTOP]

Old Town Home and Garden Tour Canceled — The annual event was to be held on April 18, and has been canceled due to concerns about coronavirus. [Alexandria Living]

Driver Hospitalized After Car Flips on King Street — “Overnight, units from 206 and Arlington Station 109 worked to assist one patient from an overturned vehicle on King Street near Dawes Avenue. One patient was transported to an area hospital by Medic 206.” – [Twitter]

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