Alexandria, VA

It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.

The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.

The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.

Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”

Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.

Important Stories

Top Stories

  1. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  2. BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
  3. JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
  4. National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
  5. Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
  6. JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
  7. UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
  8. JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
  9. COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via T.C. Williams Football Boosters/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Earl Lloyd statue unveiled at Charles Houston Recreation Center — “At the unveiling of the first African American NBA player, and Native Alexandrian, Earl Lloyd!” [Twitter]

Episcopal Church of the Resurrection opens new facility — “Inspiring Grand Opening of Episcopal Church of the Resurrection’s beautiful new church this morning! Honored and humbled to partner with you to create 113 new affordable homes adjacent to your new space.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll tonight — “Register to participate in our Almost Annual Straw Poll! It’s Virtual this year, and the link will be sent shortly before the event.” [AlexDems]

Alexandria Police offer condolences for fallen Capitol Police officer — “The Alexandria Police Dept. offers our most sincere condolences to @CapitolPolice for the loss of one of their officers in an attack at the U.S. Capitol. We also send our prayers to the second officer injured. Your families are in our thoughts.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 52F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Dog walker/pet sitter — “DogOn Fitness is looking for confident, reliable, independent dog walkers to walk and exercise dogs in the Alexandria and Arlington area!” [Indeed]

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An analysis of the recent ALXnow poll on the Alexandria mayoral race shows hundreds of apparently fraudulent votes cast.

In response to allegations that one candidate seemed to benefit from rapid repeat voting, ALXnow conducted an IP address analysis of the votes.

Our analysis showed 167 votes cast from non-U.S. IP addresses, with all but five cast for Allison Silberberg.

Another 231 votes came from one particular IP address combination, with a rapidity that suggests repeat voting. While all three candidates received votes within this group, the vast majority were for Silberberg.

No other significant irregularities were observed.

Silberberg touted her apparent edge in the ALXnow poll in a social media post Sunday. There is no indication that she would have known about the apparently fraudulent votes.

Silberberg told us said that at no time does she condone cheating in voting or online polling.

When the 398 suspicious votes described above were removed from the more than 1,200 cast, the results of the poll are starkly different:

  • Justin Wilson: 53%
  • Allison Silberberg: 36%
  • Annetta Catchings: 11%

While not intended to be a scientific poll, ALXnow regrets that it was seemingly exploited in order to mislead Alexandria voters. A note will be appended to the original poll post, linking to this article.

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It was quite a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a man who allegedly crashed his car headfirst into the Verizon store near Potomac Yard. The suspect was later arrested in North Carolina.

The week was full of big news. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg announced her candidacy against Mayor Justin Wilson for the June 8 Democratic primary, and ALXnow has learned that the Del Ray Business Association is planning a debate.

One of our favorite stories this week was on Tobi, the Alexandria dog without front legs who needed a new $2,350 wheelchair. Within a day of posting the story, Tobi’s GoFundMe goal was reached. The fundraiser has since raised $3,590, and Tobi’s owner says the excess funds will be donated to help another disabled pet get a wheelchair.

As of noon Friday, our unscientific poll on mayoral candidates had 1,111 votes, but only 537 views. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg trailed by a large percentage for the first several hours, but she later received a surge of votes that led to her getting 589 votes, or 53%, to Wilson’s 432 votes, or 39%. Republican candidate Annetta Catchings, who also announced her mayoral candidacy this week, got 90 votes, or 8%.

Other important stories:

ALXnow’s top stories:

  1. BREAKING: Man rams car into Verizon Store near Potomac Yard
  2. Waterfront Commission tries to avert ‘Disneyland-like’ development in Old Town
  3. Flight attendant Annetta Catchings running for Alexandria mayor as a Republican
  4. Chadwicks going double-decker on outdoor dining at upcoming BAR meeting
  5. BREAKING: Former Mayor Silberberg rematch as she enters democratic primary for mayor
  6. City Councilman Seifeldein quits meeting after argument with mayor
  7. Three men tied up and robbed in West End
  8. GoFundMe launched to get wheelchair for Tobi, an Alexandria dog with no front legs
  9. Just Sold in Alexandria: March 23, 2021
  10. Republican J.D. Maddox announces run for 45th District seat
  11. Al’s Steak House to endure under new management

Have a safe weekend!

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Update on March 30 at 10:45 a.m.ALXnow has conducted an analysis on this poll, and found that a number of fraudulent votes were cast. 

A seemingly safe reelection bid for incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson took a sudden sharp turn this week as two new candidates entered the race, including former Mayor Allison Silberberg coming back for a rematch.

Council member Mo Seifeldein had initially announced a campaign against Wilson, but dropped out of the race.

The announcement conjured memories of the tense 2018 race between the two candidates that saw three years of vicious City Council arguments between Wilson and Silberberg boil over into campaigns divided as much by opposing personalities as differing policies.

In 2015, then Vice Mayor Silberberg ran against incumbent Mayor Bill Euille. Silberberg’s coalition of voters included many who were frustrated by new density and development approved under Euille — particularly along the Waterfront. Silberberg also benefitted from former Mayor Kerry Donley joining the race, splitting the more pro-density, institutional support for Euille.

Silberberg not only won the Democratic primary, but easily fended off a write-in campaign from Euille in the general election. The next three years, however, were filled with votes where Silberberg was often the lone voice against new development or legislative changes. In 2018, then Vice Mayor Justin Wilson ousted Silberberg.

But in the years since, many of those same concerns about density and development have resurfaced — from heated feelings over new bike lanes to large new development in Old Town.

While Silberberg and Wilson square off in the Democratic primary, scheduled for June 8, whoever wins could still face newcomer Annetta Catchings as a Republican candidate for mayor in the fall.

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What an eventful week in Alexandria.

Thursday, March 11, marked the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic in Alexandria. As the vaccine rollout slowly improves, the most recent news is the allowance of restaurant workers to get the vaccine. Just over 38,000 doses have been administered in the city, and of that 14,661 residents have been fully vaccinated. The city also wants 80% of residents vaccinated by July 31.

Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne also announced that he will not seek reelection this fall, bringing an end to his 43-year law enforcement career. Lawhorne’s protege Sean Casey is now running for the seat in the June 8 Democratic primary.

Criticism against the proposed renovation of the Taylor Run Stream continued this week, and even City Councilwoman Amy Jackson has decided to join residents in opposition.

More than 220 people participated in our poll this week on school resource officers. More than half of respondents said that ACPS should hire more SROs, 30% said the program should be eliminated and 11% believe SROs should only work part time.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories:

Our top stories this week:

  1. Inova to Launch New Vaccine Clinic Inside Revamped Victory Center
  2. Battle Royale: Princess Street Development Duel Returns to City This Month
  3. Just In: Captain Sean Casey is Running for Alexandria Sheriff
  4. Alexandria Police Arrest Seven People and Seize Drugs, Guns and Cash
  5. Development Questions Remain for New Braddock West Project Headed to City Council
  6. City Could Help Turn Hotels Emptied by Coronavirus Into Affordable Housing
  7. Just Listed in Alexandria
  8. Do You Like the Suggested Names for T.C. Williams and Matthew Maury?
  9. A Year Late, Contractor Eyes Spring Completion for King Street Metro Access Improvement Project
  10. Superintendent Proposes New Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary
  11. Councilwoman Amy Jackson Argues With School Board Over MacArthur Elementary Construction Schedule

Have a safe weekend!

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A mounting effort to decrease the role of school resource officers (SRO) in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is gaining traction as some on the City Council have joined community activists in questioning the role of security officers in the schools.

The discussion comes as schools nationwide are considering alternatives to school resource officers or eliminating the position entirely. Alexandria’s SROs made the headlines in 2018 when one accidentally shot his gun inside George Washington Middle School.

City Councilman Canek Aguirre suggested that the position be changed from a full-time job at the school for a few of the most busy times, like arrival and dismissal, but aren’t positioned throughout the day in the school

The issue was raised at a public hearing on the budget earlier this week by representatives from Arlandria-based Tenants and Workers United. Youth organizers at the event said SROs are an intrusive presence that make some students feel unsafe.

The position was created in 1997 at George Washington Middle School with the opposite goal. According to the city:

All officers selected to the SRU attend a 40-hour School Resource Officer School. This training is provided by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services- Center for School Safety. The SROs also receive additional specialized training from the ACPS and other training sources on a wide range of subjects: dealing with kids who have emotional & educational issues, school policy, laws of search, seizure & arrest on school grounds, how to prevent and deal with an active school shooting incident and many other related topics.

The program has expanded over the years and today there is one SRO sergeant and five SROs.

3 Comments

What a busy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Old Town shop fibre space on March 3. It was Harris’ first official visit outside of the White House since she was inaugurated, and she spoke about the American Rescue Plan with shop owner Danielle Romanetti.

Alexandria City Public Schools reopened for hybrid instruction this week, the first time since all school facilities were shut down on March 13. The school system reportedly welcomed back 1,200 special needs students in kindergarten through fifth grade. ACPS will open on March 9 for special education students, and then fully reopen its doors to hybrid learning for students on March 16.

On the coronavirus front, the number  of deaths due to the virus has climbed to 123, and cases are at 10,404 since the first case was reported on March 11, 2020. Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is doing well keeping the numbers down, although with a vaccine waiting list exceeding 45,000 and 3,000 vaccine doses being given out weekly, distribution will continue to be slow.

More than 550 people responded to this week’s poll on the proposed new names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School. About 60% of respondents said they were happy with Alexandria High School, but not with Naomi Brooks Elementary School; 25% said they liked both names; 8% didn’t like either name; and 6% didn’t like the high school name and were happy with the elementary school name.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories:

Here are our most-read posts this week:

  1. Just In: Vice President Visits Old Town Shop Fibre Space
  2. Alexandria Wants Feedback on Building Spray Park in Del Ray
  3. El Chapo’s Wife to be Isolated in Alexandria Jail for One Month Per COVID-19 Distancing Rules
  4. Consultant Proposes Replacing Community Shelter with Mixed-Use Development
  5. Alexandria Advocacy Facebook Group Parodied in New Blog
  6. Superintendent Proposes New Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary
  7. Patrick Moran, Son of Former Congressman Jim Moran, is Running for City Council
  8. ACPS Reopens its Doors and Evaluating Grading System for Traumatized Students
  9. Man Arrested for High-Speed Vehicle Race on I-495
  10. Meronne Teklu Enters City Council Race
  11. Neighborhood Spotlight: Old Town is the New Town

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via Peter Velz/Twitter 

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City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed a budget this year that includes a real estate tax rate decrease of 2 cents.

The announcement came as welcome news to local property owners, from residents to business owners who faced a particularly difficult year as a result of COVID-19. The announcement was conjoined with a budget that belt tightening that trims down some of the city’s larger ambitions and won’t fill some currently vacant positions.

The budget also faced some detractors who argue that the city should take more steps to ease the burden on local residents and commercial property owners. In a recent Agenda Alexandria meeting, City Council candidate Bill Rossello said the narrative of a lightened burden on local residents doesn’t match the reality of an overall tax increase.

“I look at the budget the way it’s been presented and something that always seems to concern me is when we lead with a narrative around the tax rate,” Rossello said. “The tax rate is only one part of the equation for the actual taxes that people pay… While we’re looking at a proposed 2 cent tax rate decrease, when you do the math, for the average household it comes out to be almost a 6% tax increase in real dollars and that’s what really matters to residents: how much more or how much less am I going to pay?”

On the other side, some of the city’s transit and infrastructure ambitions are being scaled back as a result of the tax rate decrease. For instance, City Manager Mark Jinks said in the meeting that DASH will be forced to choose between density and coverage in a budget that will not allow it to keep all current lines operational and move forward with its planned higher-frequency service in areas of greater density.

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Alexandrians are starting to get suspicious that the repeated power outages aren’t just the fluke that Dominion officials claim.

Old Town was hit with another power outage last week that left over 2,000 customers in the city’s southeast corner in the dark for hours. It was the latest in a series of outages over the last year.

Dominion officials told the City Council that the incidents were unique and unrelated to broader structural problems, but officials disagreed and Mayor Justin Wilson wrote a letter to Dominion formally requesting greater investment in reliable infrastructure.

Photo via Dominion Energy/Facebook

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