Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Maryland Goes for NOVA's Discretionary Income

There's an interesting article in today's Washington Post about Congresswoman Donna Edwards lone stance against the effort to bring casino gambling to National Harbor (Question 7).  I've always been impressed by her independence.  It got me thinking. 

I had to suffer through about 20 gambling industry sponsored ads for an against this while trying to watch Hurricane Sandy news tonight.  The money being spent is incredible - and it's because the stakes are high.

The problem is that the ads are completely disingenuous.  I don't think this fight is about keeping $500 million of Maryland's money in Maryland.  I think it's more about attracting Northern Virginia's discretionary spending into Maryland which is why they are going to park the casino a 10-minute car ride from my front door and just about everyone else with an Alexandria post office address just in time for the completion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Emergency Information

Update 10/31/12 - 11:00 P.M.
Dominion Power's Outage Map appears to show that nearly all outages in the 44th District have been resolved.  They just hit the one down the street from my house about an hour ago. 
Go check out Great Falls tomorrow if you want to see some serious water power!

Update 10/30/12 - 7:00 A.M.

Fairfax County is warning of possible flooding in Belleview and New Alexandria today and this evening.  Keep your fingers crossed that doesn't happen.

Update 10/30/12 - 6:30 A.M.

While it appears that the Mt. Vernon-Lee Area was spared from the kinds of extremely damaging winds we saw during the Derecho, there are approximately 5,000 homes without power in the Mt. Vernon-Lee area and about 2,500 in the 44th District.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I-495 Express Lanes Set to Open

Last week, I attended a briefing given by Transurban - the company constructing the I-495 Express Lanes that will run between the Mixing Bowl and the Dulles Toll Road on I-495.  You can see the briefing we were given at the end of this post. 

These lanes are sometimes called High Occupancy Toll Lanes.  The basic concept is that users will be pay tolls via transponders that vary depending upon traffic on the lanes.  The more traffic, the more the tolls.

If you have three people in the car, you ride free.  However, you have to purchase a new transponder with a switch so the system can differentiate your car from others. 

The project is funded partially with public funds, but mainly with private money pursuant to an agreement with the Commonwealth guaranteeing a specified rate of return to the investor group. 

Whether you use the lanes or not, you should educate yourself about not only how the lanes work, but also where the exits are located - there are not exits at every Beltway exit and there are some exits off the HOT lanes that do not exist on the Beltway.

If you would like more information, you can review the I-495 Express Lanes website here:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Voting Law Changes Have Consequences

Here is an email I received from a constituent regarding her experience trying to vote four months ago in Riverside Precinct.
Allow me to relate to you my recent experience while trying to vote at the [Riverside] precinct located in the Riverside Elementary School, Old Mt. Vernon Road, Alexandria. This happened during primary elections this past June.

I have voted at the [Riverside] precinct during every election since moving to the Mt. Vernon area in August l975. My husband and I are now retired. When we came to the registration desk, I discovered that I had left my driver’s license in my other purse.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekly Column: Should Virginia Put Its Port on the Auction Block?

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of October 1, 2012. 

Should Virginia Put Its Port on the Auction Block? 
Largely out of sight in the Northern Virginia media, there has been a controversy raging in the Hampton Roads area about the privitization of Virginia's Port.

Governor McDonnell is very passionate about privatizing government functions. Everyone is familiar with his effort to privatize the state liquor stores. He has also announced multiple efforts to privatize Virginia's roads by selling tolling rights to foreign investors for I-95, US 460 and a new tunnel between Portsmouth and Norfolk.
In May, APM terminals offered Virginia $540 million to run the Virginia Port for 48-years. Governor McDonnell is now soliciting proposals from other private entities. After a flood of criticism about the timing of the proposal, the lack of information provided to elected officials, and the short timeframe for accepting proposals, the Governor slowed the process down a bit.