Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Survey of Lee Heights

Did a quick walk of Vermont, Vacation, and Zackary Taylor park.  For the most part, it's superficial damage: lots of branches down.
  • The Community Bulletin Board at the west end of Zackary Taylor Park got blown apart.  Looks like maybe the wind got into the doors, and just rattled them till they ripped off.
  • Someone decided now would be a good time to leave a TV set on the curb.  Rather bad idea.  Storm debris jammed all around it.  
  • Most of the leaves that neighbors raked to the curb the day before the storm have now washed down into the storm drains *sigh*
  • Tree down at Vermont and Vacation.  Looks like it just took down that house's power lines. Other houses in the area still have power.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Report from N Arlington @arlingtonva

Wind is howling.  Trees are swaying.  Lights are flickering but still on.  Reports of outages all around us.

Hey @arlingtonva, you could do us two real big favors

* As the power goes out, please stop telling us to visit your website.  Put the info in the emails.  Put the info in tweets.

* Where are the shelters?  Where are the pet friendly shelters?

We had the same problem with Derecho.  Doesnt seem like we learned lessons.

Thanks.  See you on the flip side.

Arlington Public Schools Closed Tuesday

UPDATE AS OF 10/29 - Noon: All APS Schools and Offices will remain closed on Tuesday,October 30. All activities in schools and on school grounds are also cancelled for Tuesday. Employees deemed essential through the APS Facilities & Operations Department should report to work.
Las Escuelas Públicas de Arlington y las oficinas permanecerán cerradas el martes, 30 de octubre. Todas las actividades tambien estan canceladas. Solamente el personal que se considera escencial a través del Departamento de Operaciones debe presentarse al trabajo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fed Offices Closed on Monday

Non-emergency employees (including employees on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:
  • required to telework,
  • on official travel outside of the Washington, DC, area,
  • on leave without pay, or
  • on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.
Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the day of the announcement or who are required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agencies' policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.
Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites unless otherwise directed by their agencies.


Trash / Recycling Suspended Monday and Tuesday

From Arlington DES Facebook (please put these announcements on the official Arlco website, not just FB).  Note the line about not putting leaves on the curb.

All Monday and Tuesday trash, recycling, brush and leaf collection suspended due to inclement weather. Please do not put your trash or recycling on the curb. Bagged leaves should be brought back from the curb to avoid leaves blowing into the street and storm drains.

- Monday/Tuesday customers pickup rescheduled for Wednesday.
- Wednesday/Thursday customers pickup rescheduled for Thursday.
- Friday customers pickup normal.

All collection will be completed by COB Saturday. Please stay tuned for brush collection information after the storm.

Arlington County Has Declared a State of Emergency

In other news, the sillies have already begun
  • In response to the call to clear gutters and drains, many N Arlington residents could be seen raking their leaves onto the curb, uphill from the drains.  Um.... where do you think those leaves are going to go??? #fail
  • Already heard:  "If you lose power, check our website."  Um.... If I have lost power, HOW would I check your website????
  • Although many other states have announced the opening of pet-friendly emergency shelters, no word on any such shelters in our area.
If citizens dont have power, they will hopefully have access to battery powered radios and cells phones with low bandwidth capabilities (email and text message).  That's what emergency management should use to communicate during an emergency.  The statement "if you lose power, check our website" is uttered by an imbecile who apparently thinks everyone is walking around with an iphone. #fail

We just drove out I-66 and observed convoys of PIKE utility trucks coming from North Carolina, pre deploying for the storm.

County Manager Declares State of Emergency, Residents Urged to Prepare

  • Local Emergency Declaration began at noon
  • Residents urged to plan for widespread power outages
  • County opens Emergency Winter Shelter
ARLINGTON, VA – County Manager Barbara Donnellan today signed a Declaration of Local Emergency for Arlington County in response to Hurricane Sandy. The County is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to manage storm response. The hurricane is projected to impact the Arlington area with heavy rain and damaging winds from late Sunday night through Tuesday night.
This storm is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches in our area, which could cause localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams. The County expects significant tree damage, and residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result.  

To stay informed, continue to monitor Arlington Alert, the County website (www.arlingtonva.us), local news and weather stations, and all other news channels.

What Residents Can Do to Prepare

  • Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. (And consider plugging in your old-fashioned land-line phone.)
  • Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day. Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
  • Don't forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
  • With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
  • Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. (keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches) so rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris and prevent clogged storm drains.
  • Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
  • If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
More details on the County website , including who to call after the storm, clean-up tips, handling home damage, and more. We will continue to update this page throughout the storm response; check back for updates or sign up for an RSS feed.

Emergency Winter Shelter Opening

The Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) at Courthouse will open today, Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3pm and will stay open as long as needed (it normally opens Nov. 1). A-SPAN is conducting outreach to let the homeless population know this resource is available.

Key Phone Numbers

Write these down or print them out so you have then handy in case you lose power.
  • Power Outages: Dominion Virginia Power, 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
  • Natural Gas Emergencies: Washington Gas 703-750-1400 or 800-752-7520. If you smell gas, leave and call 9-1-1. Washington Gas Safety Page
  • Trees Down: 703-228-6525
  • Street Flooding, Water, Sewer and Storm-sewer: 703-228-6555 (emergency hotline)
    (Note: During high rains, call volume is often greater than normal. Operators will respond to your call as soon as they can.)
  • Traffic Signal Outages: 703-228-6511

Dominion Power Update

Dominion is currently expecting significant impact from the effects of Hurricane Sandy for much of their service territory. Their Northwest Regional Storm Center is regularly providing updates to government Emergency Operation Center (EOCs) in the region. Other news from Dominion:
  • Dominion will open its Northwest Regional Storm Center at 6AM Monday October 29.
  • 8,800 medical condition customers have been contacted via automated calling feature, in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, with the following message: This is an important message from Dominion. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, customers with medical needs should make preparations for extended outages. Participation in the medical needs program does not mean that you will be the first to have power restored. Please make an emergency plan for backup power or arrangements to relocate until power can be restored to your home. Thank you.
  • They are working to secure additional resources to complement line, patrol and support teams.
  • Additional tree crews are on hand to assist with restoration efforts.

Arl Public Schools Closed Monday APS

Arlington Public Schools has announced that it will be closed Monday in light of Hurricane Sandy

Friday, October 26, 2012

No Bus for You! Even During a Nor'easter APS Says

The APS busing fiasco continues.  In this chapter, we visit APS busing during a hurricane + a nor'easter.  So, during a potential storm of the century (you know, the once in a 100 year storm we now get every year thank you very much climate change), will your student who walks to school be allowed to hop on a bus?  Nope.  Your student will be held at school until the storm clears..... which, um, since its a hurricane could be several days.

From the department of We-will-not-admit defeat:
Forecasters are predicting a Nor'easter for the Washington region on Mon, Oct. 29 and Tues, Oct. 30. In the event of severe weather during dismissal times, students who walk and bike will be asked to wait at school until the weather clears at which time they may proceed or arrangements are made for them to be picked up at school.
School officials will be monitoring the weather and will make decisions according to the APS inclement weather procedures. Inclement weather decisions will be communicated via email through APS School Talk, posted on the APS homepage and AETV, recorded on the hotline in English and in Spanish and called into local radio and TV stations.

For more information on APS inclement weather procedures, visit www.apsva.us/emergency.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How do we engage the full range of community voices to inform our decision making? Or The Arlington Way in an Information Era

Arlco asks: How do we engage the full range of community voices to inform our decision making?

Wow is this a big discussion.  I was just told by an Arlington County Contractor that if I did not attend an Arlington advisory committee meeting, I could not criticize the Arlington government.  Really? Really!  Hum, let me check my copy of the First Amendment....

The Arlington Way must be reinvented and enter the information era.  40+ years ago the Internet was conceived of in Arlington, and administered out of a building in Rosslyn.  And yet it seems that the Arlington Way just cannot seem to find its way into the Information era.  We hold meetings.  Physical meetings.  And require people to be physically present at the meeting.  And then proceed to bore the absolute hell out of them.  And if you do not physically attend the meeting, you are told you cannot have input.

Okay okay.  Complete rubbish.  What we are getting is a civic association Arlington Way process that reflects the views of an absolute minority.

Physical meetings are for people who have the luxury of time.  And even those who have the luxury of time - dont have the luxury of time to attend all meetings that are of relevant interest.  Physical meetings are for people who dont have children who have homework.  They are for people who dont have jobs that preoccupy them.  They are for people who are not volunteer at a dog rescue league or tutoring children or at AFAC.  Physical meetings are attending my a non representative sample of our population - by a segment of the population that is not characteristic of our population.  The vast majority of our population dont have time to sit in a physical meeting while some meeting moderator fritters away time.

[One addendum:  If you do have a physical meeting advisory committee - dont make it a forum for rubber stamping a previously made Arlco decision.  Provide material prior to the meeting that can be reviewed by participants as they prepare.  Too often advisory committee meetings are presentations of material that participants have never seen before, such that the audience cannot prepare informed views].

You want to know how to engage the community??? Bring the discussion to the community.  Eliminate the barriers of time and space.  Bring the Arlington Way into the future.  The Arlington Way, the dialog of the citizens and the reaching of consensus by different groups, can be achieved.  But now blogs and forums and facebook and twitter are a part of the dialog.  Yorktown Civic Association has a facebook page.  Other civic associations have blogs, with active comment sections.  The Donaldson Run blog ran a series of posts last election on the candidates positions on bicycling and bike infrastructure, that was widely read.  ARLNOW, a social news site, has become THE source of news in Arlington - including a robust discussion of the days events.

Leveraging social media, the community can engage the decision making process when and where they have time.  Riding the bus to work.  At 10 pm after the kids have gone to sleep.  While sitting in the stands during a baseball game.  During lunch time. 

Tear down the walls of time and space. Bring decision making to the people through social media.  Declare that "You must be at a meeting to have input" has ended (and any government contractor or government employee that says you cant criticize the government unless you attend said meeting either is sent to remedial First Amendment class - or is offered the opportunity to find employment elsewhere).  Encourage civic associations to create online social presences.  Create a standard platform where civic associations can, if they want to, create their social online engagement. 

The county needs to fully engage in this manner.  In my experience, the county's online presence has grown over the years and is really quite excellent.  The county pushes out notices.  Arlington DES has responded to tweets, responding to an environmental hazard I reported.  Arlington's press releases help keep the public informed.

The county may wish to adopt an online comment system, that allows people to file comments in response to open considerations. 

Importantly, democracy is a dialog.  Restricting commentors to one post (which is the rule on this forum) is silly and annihilates discourse. 

In sum

  • Engagement must move beyond the constraints of time and place of a physical meeting.
  • Input and discourse must be permitted where ever and when ever.
  • Arlco should encourage the civic associations to move the Arlington Way online
  • Arlco should consider an open online comment system
We need to end the notion that "if you dont show up to a physical meeting, you cant have input."  That may have worked 100 years ago.  Today it is anachronistic. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

It is time to rethink our educational system

Our educational system was developed in the industrial era based on the assembly line.  We continue to educate children for yesterday's market with yesterday's tools.  It is time to rethink education.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today is the Last Day to Register to Vote

Just a reminder, today is the last day to register to vote. This is going to be an important election - and Virginia will be a swing state. Over the past few months the polls in Virginia show it uncertainly flipping in support of one candidate over the other. Your vote will count. Register to vote today