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Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

Streetcar To Take Center Stage in Special Election

House of Delegates special election to focus renewed attention on streetcar issue.

When voters in the 48th House District head to the polls on Aug. 19 to select a candidate in a special election to replace longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-48), the Columbia Pike Streetcar proposal will once again be on the ballot.

Simon To Resign from School Board

Opening prompts special election for this fall.

Simon said he loved doing the work of the School Board and thanked those who supported his campaign in 2012. But he said that he must make his family a priority and resign the seat.

O’Leary Steps Down

Longtime treasurer resigns, prompting special election.

In a county known for people who come and go, County Treasurer Frank O'Leary has provided a sense of continuity to Arlington politics since 1983. But now, after more than 30 years in office, O'Leary is stepping down.

Brink Takes Administration Job

Longtime delegate to become deputy commissioner for aging services.

When asked about his new job as deputy commissioner for aging services in Virginia, longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-48) says he has a personal interest in the topic — one that's becoming more pressing every day.

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Blitzkrieg Special Election for Arlington House Seat

Democrats to choose House of Delegates candidate this weekend.

Democrats are preparing for a lightning-fast special election this weekend, a caucus that will choose the party's candidate for the House of Delegates seat vacated by longtime Del. Bob Brink (D-46).

Hearing from the People on Streetcars

Voters will have indirect say on streetcars, even without referendum.

Supporters of a plan to build a streetcar line along Columbia Pike are divided over the wisdom of whether or not voters should weigh in on the issue.

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Patchwork of Approaches to Affordable Housing in Northern Virginia

Jurisdictions use a variety of strategies to prevent homelessness.

Affordable housing means different things to different people at different times. For government officials, it's a phrase that means that a family spends no more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs, including rent or mortgage as well as taxes and utilities

How Will West Rosslyn Be Won?

Neighborhood finds itself at center of conflicting interests.

Neighbors want open space. A developer wants density. Arlington County wants a new fire station. School officials want a new facility. And nonprofit leaders want affordable housing. And all this will happen on about six acres of highly prized land hugging the western edge of Rosslyn, an increasingly urban part of the county that some have taken to calling "Manhattan on the Potomac."

A Capital Debate on Streetcars

Controversy over streetcar to dominate discussion of capital improvement plan.

Members of the Arlington County Board are preparing for weeks of heated debate about the streetcar proposal on Columbia Pike, a project that continues to increase in price and opposition. Although the project has enjoyed support from previous elected officials, the board's two newest members are raising new questions about where the money comes from and how it's spent.

Plug Pulled on Aquatics Center

Proposal put on hold for a year.

A proposal to build an aquatics center at Long Bridge Park has been put on hold after Arlington County officials determined that the cost of the project had spiraled out of control. “Last January, I said that we would conduct extensive due diligence to ensure that the project estimate was sound and within the available budget, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Donnellan. “I have concluded, in consultation with the County Board, that the gap between our construction budget and the lowest bid is simply too great to bridge at this point.”

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Empire Strikes Back: Establishment Beats Tea Party at Republican Convention

Party insider Ed Gillespie seizes nomination at convention in Roanoke.

When conservative preacher E.W. Jackson took the stage at the Roanoke Civic Center to introduce Tea Party favorite Shak Hill at the Republican convention last weekend, hundreds of conservatives from across Virginia took to their feet. They waved placards.

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Poverty in the Classroom: Low-Income Students Scattered Through Northern Virginia

Where are the region's highest poverty schools?

When Carla Castro-Claure was approaching the age when she would soon attend Kindergarten, her mother became increasingly concerned about Hybla Valley Elementary School.

Two Million Dollar Primary

Former lieutenant governor raises $1.1 million; his competitors combined raise $1.4 million.

Campaign finance documents released in the final days before the June 10 primary show the seven candidates in the primary to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) have raised almost $2.5 million. Former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer leads the pack with $1.1 million, three times as much as his closest competitor. "Don Beyer is clearly the favorite," said Geoff Skelley, analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "He may not win it with a particularly large plurality, but he's the favorite to win."

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Seven in the Eighth: Epic Democratic Primary Heads Toward Final Days

Hotly contested race to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8)

Ten names will be on the ballot June 10, although only seven candidates are still in the Democratic primary to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).

Concerned Parents Win, For Now

School Board members restore one-time funding for autism program.

When parents of special-education students learned about Superintendent Patrick Murphy's proposal to cut a program for autistic students, they jumped into action. They organized a press conference and began lobbying School Board members to save the program, which allows middle and high school students with autism to learn in regular education classrooms. They wrote emails and spoke out at public hearings.

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Apprehension Grows Along with Cost Estimate

200 percent spike in cost of streetcar creates a sense of uneasiness among businesses.

Will the Columbia Pike streetcar be good for business? County leaders in Arlington seem to think so, even if the cost of the project has steadily increased since county leaders began planning to finance a streetcar line along the pike. Back in 2005, county leaders estimated it would cost $120 million. Now County Manager Barbara Donnellan estimates it will cost $358 million. That means the cost of the proposal has escalated 200 percent in the last decade.

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Kanninen Seizes Democratic Endorsement for School Board

18-vote margin of victory in second round of voting.

After two rounds of voting in the Democratic caucus, author Barbara Kanninen seized the Democratic endorsement with a slim 18-vote margin of victory against Nancy Van Doren. A third candidate, Greg Greeley, was knocked out in the first round of voting. That led to an instant runoff in which the second choice of voters were considered. Most of those went to Van Doren, which led to a razor-thin 18-vote margin of victory for Kanninen in the second round of voting.

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How Will School Board Candidates Handle Crush of New Students?

What will they do if elected to tackle spike in enrollment?

The three candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for School Board all say they are opposed to increasing class sizes, and all three say the School Board is probably going to have to consider boundary changes to handle the crush of new students. Beyond that, though, the candidates have a wide array of opinions about how the county schools should handle the enrollment spike.

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C-Section Boom in Northern Virginia

Region has some of the highest rates of cesarean-section deliveries for low-risk pregnancies.

Behind the closed doors at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church and the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, a quiet change has been taking shape over the last few decades.

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Despite Advances, Many Virginians Remain Uninsured

Affordable Care Act expands coverage, but more than 800,000 still have no health insurance.

What is the state of the uninsured in Virginia?

Should Voters Consider Streetcar?

Two candidates propose referendum, but path to ballot remains unclear.

Should voters consider the fate of the controversial $310 million streetcar on Columbia Pike? That's what two candidates are proposing, although the path from their idea to the ballot box remains unclear, and the idea has resistance among people who support the initiative. The debate comes at a time when County Manager Barbara Donnellan prepares to propose her capital improvement program for fiscal years 2015 to 2024, a 10-year spending plan that will include the first major round of funding for the Columbia Pike Streetcar.

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Animal Instinct: Democrats in Hotly Contested Primary Divided on Speciesism

Will Jim Moran's successor share his enthusiasm for animal rights?

Candidates in the Democratic primary for Congress have a wide range of views on animal rights, an issue that has become one of the defining legacies of retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).

Edmond Seizes GOP Nomination for Congress

Former Marine officer to take on winner of Democratic primary.

Even before longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) announced that he would be retiring earlier this year, former Marine officer Micah Edmond was planning to run for Congress — talking to party leaders and beginning to line up support. After Moran's unexpected decision, though, the race became more competitive.

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For Congressional Candidates, No Common Ground on Common Core

Democrats in Virginia's 8th Congressional District divided on national education standards.

Should American schools share national standards? That's a question that divides the 10 Democrats seeking to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8), who is retiring after 24 years in the House of Representatives. During a recent candidates forum, the Democrats were asked if they support the Common Core State Standards Initiative, two candidates said they disagreed and eight candidates said they agreed.

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Who is Trailing Don Beyer in Hotly Contested Democratic Primary?

Candidates elbow each other out of the way to secure second place.

Campaign finance documents show that former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer crushed the nine other candidates in the hotly contested Democratic primary.

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Alone on the Road: 7 out of 10 Northern Virginia Workers Use Single-Occupancy Vehicles

Study raises concerns about amount of time drivers spend commuting alone.

Despite the decades-long war against the single-occupancy vehicle, seven out of 10 workers in Northern Virginia drive to work alone every workday.

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Beyer Rakes in Campaign Cash in Democratic Primary

Fundraising numbers reveal former lieutenant governor has significant edge.

Campaign finance documents released this week show Don Beyer well ahead of his competitors in the race for cash, giving the former lieutenant governor a significant edge over the nine other Democrats in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).

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Tax Burden Targets Low-Income Workers in Northern Virginia

Average tax burden for low-income workers is highest in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.

Families that are struggling to make ends meet in Northern Virginia are the target of local governments in Northern Virginia, which has the highest tax burden in the region for low-income workers. Wealthy people face the highest tax burden in Prince George's County and Montgomery County. But here in Virginia, poor people face the biggest tax burden in Arlington, according to a new study by the Office of Revenue Analysis in the District of Columbia. Alexandria ranked second, and Fairfax County ranked third.

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Dedicated Debate Over Streetcars Along Columbia PIke

Streetcar critics not swayed by county study showing benefits of streetcars.

The ongoing saga of the Columbia Pike streetcar gained yet another study last month, but critics say the latest investigation failed to address their concerns.

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Northern Virginia's Growing Debt Burden

Local governments use debt as a tool to build for the future.

Back in the 1920s, Harry Byrd became governor of Virginia on what he called a "pay-as-you-go" platform.

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Arlington Schools Scramble to Fund Enrollment in Challenging Budget Environment

$439.4 million budget represents a 3.1 percent increase over last year.

Arlington Superintendent Patrick Murphy's proposed budget for the coming school year would scale back a program aimed at helping students older than age 22, add trailers to deal with the crush of new students as well as add four new bus drivers and create a new coordinator for transporting special-equation students.

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Virginia Laws Help Local Governments Conceal 911 Calls from Public

Police agencies refuse to release audio from 911 calls, prompting questions about transparency.

When city officials in Alexandria released the audio of a 911 call in a high-profile murder case, many people interpreted the move as a step forward for transparency in a commonwealth known for opaque government.

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Money on the Shelves: Jurisdictions Take Variety of Approaches to Funding Libraries

Some have recovered from the recession, others are still struggling.

What is the future of the neighborhood library?

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Eleven Candidate In Epic Democratic Primary to Replace Moran

Successful candidate could emerge with 10,000 votes.

The Democratic primary is shaping up to be the most competitive election in recent memory, one with an unprecedented number of candidates.

Replacing Baird

Three candidates vie for Democratic nomination to School Board.

Two-term School Board member Sally Baird says she will not seek another term, opening up the seat to a new generation of leadership.

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Three Candidates Vie for Democratic Endorsement to Arlington School Board

Race to replace Sally Baird is on for Democrats.

Arlington County schools are at a crossroads. Enrollment is steadily rising, and parents have become upset about the amount of standardized testing that takes place in schools across the county.

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Up and Down Columbia Pike, Businesses are Divided by the Streetcar

Some believe it will bring more customers; others are worried about cost.

Up and down Columbia Pike, businesses have a variety of views about the streetcar that may be soon be trundling up and down one of Arlington's major thoroughfares.

Arlington School Board Member Sally Baird Prepares to Exit Public Stage

Elected official recalls the ups and downs of two terms on the board.

When Sally Baird was first elected to the Arlington School Board in 2006, the county's public school system was still shrinking and Baird was a first-time candidate.

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Nine Candidates Vying for Attention in 8th Congressional District Democratic Primary

Race to replace Jim Moran is expected to be competitive and expensive.

It's been three weeks since longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) announced that he would not be seeking a 13th term in Congress, opening up an epic primary fight that is now starting to take shape.

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Arlington Real-Estate Assessments Grow Six Percent

County leaders describe local economy as resilient and stable.

A decade ago, when the real-estate market was going gangbusters, the Arlington real-estate market regularly saw double-digit increases.

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Special Election Down the Pike for Arlington County Board

Democrat and independent to face off in April special election.

The special election to replace retiring County Board member Chris Zimmerman is the closest thing Arlington will probably have to a referendum on the streetcar.

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Jim Moran: The $15 Million Congressman

During his years in Congress, Moran raised and spent about $1 million each campaign cycle.

One of the first things that happened after U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) announced he would not be running for reelection this year was that he cancelled a fundraising event.

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Arlington Officials Release Previously Secret Construction Bids

County leaders change position on secrecy of bids; refuse to reveal expectations.

New documents released by Arlington County officials show the four bids for the new aquatics center at Long Bridge Park range from $81.9 million to $82.8 million.

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Virginia Supreme Court Opens Access to Audio Recordings of Oral Arguments

Policy change overturns blackout instituted in 2008.

Members of the Virginia Supreme Court have a New Year’s Resolution — become more transparent.

Capital Debate

Streetcar funding to take center stage during consideration of capital improvement plan.

For years, the debate over streetcars has been about planning and vision. Now members of the Arlington County Board are about to reach into the pockets of taxpayers, including the $300 million project in the capital improvement plan.

Aquatics Facility Underwater

County officials delay $80 million facility after construction bids bust the budget.

Construction bids came in "significantly higher" than estimates, so she would not be bringing the construction contract to the County Board in early 2014 as expected. Now county officials have launched an investigation to determine why the bids were so high and what the county's next steps should be.

Anticipation

Costly initiatives, a special election and steady rise in student enrollment.

In looking ahead for what Arlington will be facing in 2014, a number of issues have carried forward from last year.

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Streetcar Issue Dominates Political Landscape in Special Election for Arlington Board

Four candidates vying to replace Chris Zimmerman.

Where do they stand on the streetcar? Do they approve of the recent direction of the county government? What kind of accomplishments would they like to make?

New Approach to Mental Health

Reforms in wake of tragedy involving state senator's son.

Advocates for mental health services have been calling for improved services and increased funding for years, although the issue has been pushed aside year after year.

Democrats Shut Out of Power in Senate

Even if Democrats win in two special elections, control over committees is unlikely.

Don't expect Democrats to take control over state Senate committees anytime soon, even if the party manages to hold both of the seats where special elections are now underway.