Category: Health

PRESS Release: Sidewalk Ordinance Repealed

September 21, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 3, I’m concerned that my opponent, County Board Chair Libby Garvey has lost touch with the voters.

On Tuesday, September 15 Garvey conducted a public hearing on extending an emergency ordinance to permanently ban congregating on some heavily trafficked stretches of county streets. The idea was to curtail COVID spread. Though the County Manager, indicated that the measure had not been enforced, it was already unpopular. Several commissioners, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, and the president of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association all testified against it.

Nick Freshman, owner of Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon, testified that the mere existence of the ban had discouraged people from patronizing his bar and that permanent adoption would jeopardize his business, as patrons would go elsewhere. Others argued that enforcing a sidewalk ban would lead to selective enforcement, a key aspect of racial injustice, which the County has committed to end.In the end County Board caved to the opposition, All board members except Garvey voted to repeal the sidewalk ordinance. Garvey justified her continued support for the measure by saying that it had encouraged compliance even though the County itself reported that compliance had been “spotty at best.

I don’t think Garvey understands that reopening restaurants and bars with limited seating available inside causes queues to form outside. The only remedy is to open the surrounding streets to pedestrian traffic, as some Clarendon residents have recommended, but the County has thus far refused to do.

If elected, I will recommend sensible solutions to COVID related logistical problems. I will also

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

PRESS RELEASE: One Party Rule, a Prescription for Abuse

August 14, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for County Board on November 3, I’m concerned about the stranglehold the Democratic Party has on county government. Yet many voters plan to vote a straight Democratic ticket in November to maintain the status quo. They are clearly unaware that whenever one party exercises total control of the government, abuses inevitably result.

A clear example of abuse was the July 31 decision by County Board to fine people who congregate on the street in groups of four or more. Initially pleased that the County was finally exercising its own independent emergency power to curtail the COVID crisis, I was quickly disabused by Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, who criticized the move in his ARLnow blog as ill advised.

Slatt argues that the ordinance, which was adopted without input from the public or advisory groups, will lead to selective enforcement, because it penalizes pedestrians on the one hand but encourages out door seating at restaurants nearby.

ARLnow columnist Mark Kelly also weighed in, urging County Board to rewrite the ordinance to indicate whether family members and protesters are included in the ban on congregating in the streets.

Another example of abuse was a recent decision by the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) to oppose a referendum amending the state’s constitution in order to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission for the first time in the state of Virginia. Not only does the amendment enjoy widespread public support, it was adopted by the both houses of the state legislature in two successive years, 2019 and 2020.

Yet the state and local Democratic parties say they oppose the amendment because it doesn’t go far enough. This argument is misleading, because without an independent redistricting commission another partisan gerrymander is inevitable following the 2020 census–this time a Democratic gerrymander, which is evidently what they want.

If you oppose one party control of Arlington County Board, look no further than the Independent candidate in this year’s race. If elected, I will also:

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

PRESS RELEASE: Arlington Won’t Invoke Authority Under Local Emergency Statute to Contain COVID-19

April 13, 2020

I’m Audrey Clement, and I’m running for Arlington County Board in the November 3, 2020 election. I’m concerned that the County is not doing all that it can do to stop the spread of COVID-19.

True. Arlington County has announced measures to expand COVID-19 testing, provide food assistance for those in need, and help small businesses. This is all good.

However, at an April 10 virtual town hall my opponent, Libby Garvey, insisted that Arlington has limited authority to act, saying “[W]e don’t always have the authority to do what we see very clearly that we need to do and in an as effective way that we can. [53:22]”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Title 44 of Virginia Code provides localities with the express authority to “control, restrict, allocate or regulate the use, sale, production and distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, services and resource systems” during a local emergency.

In responding to my claim that Title 44 should have been invoked to shut down bars and restaurants before Governor Northam’s Executive Order closed them on March 24, Garvey told the Sun Gazette:
“Should Fairfax and Alexandria and Falls Church have continued to have their bars and restaurants open, it would only have encouraged our residents to go there, and the problem of viral spread would still exist.”

This is bunk. If Arlington had closed its bars timely, it would have sent a signal to all other localities in Northern Virginia that they could and should do the same.

No N95 Face Masks for Personal Use

The need for standard N95 face masks for personal use is another area where the County lacks leadership. At the April 10 town hall, County Board member Christian Dorsey intoned CDC guidance that do it yourself coverings are adequate. He even cited Libby Garvey’s video on how to make your own. While do it yourself face masks might be reassuring, the notion that they are adequate for protection against COVID-19 is doubtful.

A fact sheet put out by CDC itself demonstrates that N95 masks provide far better protection than even standard surgical masks. If that’s the case, then the County should be skeptical of CDC’s insistence that the public doesn’t need them.

If I am elected before the crisis abates, I will:

  • demand that CDC cease and desist from underplaying the pandemic;
  • demand that President Trump exercise his authority under the Defense Production Act to requisition N95 masks and ration them for personal use; and
  • cite Title 44 of Virginia Code as the relevant authority.

I will also:

  • Seek tax relief for County residents.
  • Say NO to a recently authorized County Board pay grab.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience andindependence to promote these reforms

PRESS RELEASE: Arlington County Failed to Exercise Its Authority to Stop Spread of COVID-19

April 5, 2020

I’m Audrey Clement, and I’m running for Arlington County Board in the November 3, 2020 election. I’m concerned that in following Governor Northam’s half measures in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Arlington County officials are now behind the curve.

On March 16 both Maryland and DC closed down all eating and drinking establishments except for take out. Governor Northam kept these establishments open in Virginia for another full week. Anxious that this delay would promote the spread of the virus in their densely packed neighborhoods, Arlington County officials implored restaurants and bars to stop serving customers, arguing that they themselves didn’t have the authority to shut the establishments down.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Title 44 of Virginia Code provides localities with the express authority to “control, restrict, allocate or regulate the use, sale, production and distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, services and resource systems” during a local emergency.

Arlington invoked the so-called Dillon Rule to abdicate its Title 44 responsibility to shut down eating establishments. While the Dillon Rule proscribes localities from taking actions not expressly delegated by the state General Assembly, the Dillon Rule does NOT prevent them from exercising rights they already have.

While Arlington County government routinely hides behind the Dillon Rule to evade its responsibilities, failure to close bars and restaurants timely was particularly egregious, since it promoted the spread of a deadly disease along the R-B and Route 1 corridors.

You can be sure that if elected, I will oppose blanket invocation of the Dillon Rule to avoid taking actions that will benefit county residents.

I will also:

  • Seek tax relief for County residents.
  • Say NO to a recently authorized County Board pay grab.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

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