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Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Don Beyer to Headline July 9 Forum on Reclaiming the...

Fairfax, VA (June 15, 2015) ----- A July 9 policy forum featuring two members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will focus on economic and social policies that affect everyday working Americans.

"Rebooting Our Policy Agenda to Reclaim the American Dream" will feature remarks by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

WHO:  Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)
WHAT: Forum on economic and social policy, "Rebooting Our Policy Agenda to Reclaim the American Dream"
WHEN:  Thursday, July 9, 2015, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
WHERE: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203.  Metro: Orange & Silver Lines, Ballston Station.  Parking: Free parking in building after 5:00 pm.  Enter from Taylor Street Map:

Host committee: Alexandria, Manassas and Manassas Park Democratic Committees; Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia; Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia; George Mason University College Democrats, AFL-CIO Virginia, SEIU Virginia 512, Progressive Democrats of America-Virginia; People Demanding Action-Virginia; NOVA Move-to-Amend; New Virginia Majority, The Brigades.

This event is a free of charge. This will be a policy discussion by leading progressive voices, not an endorsement of any candidate for public office.  The Congressional Progressive Caucus is dedicated to promoting a fair, progressive policy agenda for all Americans. The caucus has 71 members and is the largest membership organization in the US Congress Democratic Caucus.

Due to limited space attendees must RSVP.

Why I Support Melissa Bondi by Chris Zimmerman

Below is the text of a letter sent today by County Board Member Chris Zimmerman in support of Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board.  I share his thoughts and sentiments and urge you to take a look for yourself.


Dear Friends:

I came to run for office in Arlington as a neighborhood and community activist.  I still believe that is the best preparation for a County Board Member.  We want people making the decisions to know what it is like to be on the other side of the table.  We want someone who knows what it is to come home from your job in the evening and then go to meetings for which you are not paid to work with your neighbors to get the attention of County Officials over a problem.  To sometimes face-off against the high paid lawyers who represent development interests and craft solutions that will be taken seriously, and will be a better deal for the community.

It is not an easy thing to do.  The fact that Arlington has been able to call forth dedicated and talented citizens who are willing to contribute their time and talents this way is why this community is the great place to live that we enjoy.  That's the kind of person we need on the County Board.  Melissa Bondi is that kind of person.

Melissa Bondi is a candidate who at once exemplifies the fine Arlington tradition of extensive civic service to the community, and at the same time represents a new generation of leadership. She would be the first person elected to the County Board born after 1970, and will bring a fresh and new perspective to County government.  She has been a leader on the neighborhood level, and on County-wide matters.  She has been an effective spokesperson for her civic association and a trusted advisor to policymakers.  She has in-depth understanding of the institutions and processes that are the focus of local government in Arlington, from the site plan process that is such a substantial component of the Board's work, to fiscal matters, to service delivery.  She has invested time and energy working across all the issues that are central to the work of the County Board, including land use planning and development, affordable housing, services for the elderly, and environmental protection.  And, she has already proven her ability to get things done, both here in Arlington and beyond.

My Choice: Melissa Bondi

I am a steadfast and enthusiastic supporter of Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board. More than anyone else in the race, she is the one who takes the time to listen to the community and really understand the issues -- not just at a surface level but in every painstaking nuance.  

Of all the candidates, she has spent the most time in the trenches on county issues from affordable housing to smart growth and development to neighborhood preservation. She chaired the Housing Commission at a critical time for affordable housing. She's serves on the Economic Development Commission and has been a Civic Association President. She has a long record of community service.

These aren't just titles. Ask the people who have served with her. Every process that she has participated in has benefited from her clear-headed, inclusive, deliberative leadership. Outcomes are simply better when Melissa is involved, because she makes sure that the process is the best that it can be, and creates an environment in which people feel valued and willing to put ideas on the table.  

She is a thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and smart person who loves Arlington deeply. She is fresh voice from a new generation who is prepared to move Arlington forward. All Arlingtonians will benefit from her leadership on the County Board.  

There's a lot more I could say, but I'm going to post separately a letter Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman sent today. It says everything I might, and more, about why we need Melissa Bondi on the Arlington County Board. Please read it.

I strongly urge you to vote Melissa Bondi on Thursday or Saturday.  

Melissa Bondi’s Address to ACDC


County Board candidate Melissa Bondi tonight addressed the December meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) at what had been billed by ACDC as a county board candidate kick-off.  Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson introduced Bondi, who outlined her vision for the office and sought the support of Arlington Democrats.  

Bondi's remarks in full are below:


Elected Officials Endorse Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board


Numerous elected officials have endorsed Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board.  County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman on Monday joined fellow County Board member Walter Tejada, Delegate-Elect Alfonso Lopez, Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson, and School Board Member James Lander in endorsing Melissa Bondi to succeed State Senator-Elect Barbara Favola on the Arlington County Board.  

The following are statements from each official on why they are supporting Melissa:

Chris Zimmerman, Chairman, Arlington County Board

Melissa Bondi has been an effective, tireless advocate for neighborhoods and organizations, while building an in-depth understanding of the complex issues and processes that are central to the work of the County Board, including land use planning and development, affordable housing, budget and capital, services for the elderly, and environmental protection.

She exemplifies Arlington's enduring tradition of extensive civic service, while representing a new generation of leadership, and she would be the first person elected to the County Board born after 1970, bringing a fresh, new perspective to County government.

Also, Melissa has a proven ability to bring her own, innovative ideas to help resolve local problems that affect people's lives: notably the key role she played in the 2005 development of Arlington's historic affordable housing ordinance and statute, and in the landmark efforts to preserve the Buckingham community.

Perhaps most importantly, those who have worked with Melissa are impressed not simply by how much she knows, but by how well she works with people of all kinds and all opinions.  She is able to establish constructive relationships among people who may disagree very strongly with one another, and treats everyone with respect and integrity.  Melissa Bondi is the kind of person I want to represent me on the County Board.

Walter Tejada, County Board Member

Melissa Bondi is one of the smartest, most effective community leaders I know.  I've long admired her commitment to inclusion.  She works hard to ensure that every Arlingtonian has a voice in matters that affect our community.  She has the experience and the knowledge, gained from working on community processes all across Arlington, to make a real difference in elected office.  I enthusiastically endorse Melissa Bondi for the Arlington County Board.

Alfonso Lopez, Delegate-Elect (49th District)

It's been my pleasure to work with Melissa for over ten years on issues of importance to Arlington. Through her extensive professional and volunteer service across the Commonwealth on both policy and budget issues she has demonstrated a nuanced understanding of how our state government works, and its relationship to local decision-making.  This experience will make her a uniquely effective member of the Arlington County Board, and a skilled partner to our Richmond delegation on day one.

Coupled with Melissa's expert knowledge of local policy and neighborhoods, including along Columbia Pike, in Nauck, and in Pentagon City, is her proven dedication to Arlington values.  She is already widely respected across the region for her expertise on critical issues, including affordable housing, social services, transit, and sustainability.  Simply put - there is no better choice for the Arlington County Board than Melissa Bondi.  She has my full support!

James Lander, Arlington School Board Member

I'm voting for Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board! Melissa has served in various leadership positions on committees throughout Arlington. Her dedication to our community, commitment to service, and knowledge of the issues is exactly the type of experience needed to continue to move Arlington forward.

In my capacity as an elected school board member, I often work in collaboration with my colleagues on the County Board, and understand the importance of having a candidate for the County Board who values the importance of this partnership. Melissa has earned the respect of many civic leaders throughout the county through her selfless efforts to positively impact our community.

Fellow Arlingtonians, Melissa Bondi is the only candidate I support in this race. She has earned my endorsement and more importantly my vote for Arlington's County Board.

Paul Ferguson, Clerk of the Court and Former Member of the Arlington County Board

Melissa Bondi is the best possible candidate for the Arlington County Board. When I served on the County Board, Melissa was someone I looked to for advice on planning, transportation, housing, budget and environmental issues.

She has served Arlington on numerous advisory commissions. She is a known civic leader and supporter of neighborhoods. She is well known in the Washington Metropolitan Region for her advocacy and knowledge of Smart Growth policies. She takes the time to be well informed on all issues. She has the ability to listen effectively, collaborate, and craft compromises on difficult issues.

Melissa has the skills and experience to be a great leader on the Arlington County Board and in the Washington Metropolitan Region. I endorse her candidacy with great enthusiasm.


Civic Leaders Hail Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board


From time to time in this space, I'll be posting updates related to the Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board campaign.  Melissa is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for the Arlington County Board seat to be vacated by State Senator-Elect Barbara Favola.  I've worked with Melissa on numerous county and party issues over the years and, in my opinion, there is no one better prepared to lead Arlington in the years ahead.  

Bondi, 40, has served in numerous leadership roles in Arlington, including as chair of Arlington's Citizens Advisory Commission on Housing, President of the Lyon Park Citizens Association, and as a member of the board of directors of the Arlington New Directions Coalition and the Virginia Housing Coalition. She serves on Arlington's Economic Development Commission, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Community Action Committee, and is Parliamentarian of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She is member of the Committee of 100, the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance and Virginia Partisans LGBT Caucus, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, among many other groups.

"For the past decade I've worked extensively on the core issues facing our county. I am prepared to lead important community conversations about what will make Arlington a stronger, more competitive and desirable place to live in the next 30 years," Bondi said. "I want to make sure we are truly engaging our neighbors, meeting public expectations, and making decisions that reflect our shared values. I will bring a knowledgeable, fresh approach that builds on our strengths and prepares our community to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

Arlington residents and community leaders who have worked closely with Bondi hailed her candidacy:

"I've always admired Melissa, from her command and knowledge of issues affecting people all across Arlington to her attention to detail in getting things right," said Charley Conrad, past president of Virginia Partisans and past chair of LGBT caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia. "We first worked together on Sally Baird's historic campaign for School Board. She's been a great friend and personal mentor and is extremely supportive of my work across the Commonwealth to promote equality."

"Melissa's breadth of knowledge, fresh perspective, and responsiveness to community concerns is exactly what we need on the County Board," said Kristine Wood, a long-time school and community activist. "From neighborhood conservation, to affordable housing, to issues around school crowding, Melissa understands how county government can play a positive role to improve our community."

"Melissa and I have worked together through the Arlington New Directions Coalition, including my passions of affirmative action and other human rights issues facing our community and our schools," said Maurico Alarcon, an Arlington educator and social justice activist. "She understands the importance of standing up for everyone's ability to be an equal participant in Arlington."

"Melissa combines a strong neighborhood perspective with a broad understanding of public policy," said Inta Malis, a community planning activist. "This is just the right approach for solving the complex land use and housing issues that face Columbia Pike and all of Arlington today."

Bondi campaign's website, lists more than 150 active Arlingtonians who are supporting her campaign.

Virginia Uranium and the Englins

I would like to refocus the debate here over Del. David Englin's decision to accept an all-expense-paid trip to France for himself and his spouse courtesy of Virginia Uranium onto the broader question of corporate lobbying and appearances of impropriety.

David Englin is an effective and generally progressive legislator with whom I usually agree (except recently on redistricting).  As an advisory board member of the VA League of Conservation Voters (disclaimer: the remarks here are solely my own), I've been pleased to see him receive just accolades for his work on the environment. And it goes without saying that legislators should make every effort to be informed on important issues like the potential impacts of uranium mining on public health and our environment. Allegations of corruption or influence peddling are baseless.

Nonetheless, Del. Englin and the other legislators who accepted this trip from VA Uranium made a mistake. Further, the Englin family's vigorous defense of it is unfortunate and their attacks on activists ("whacktivists"??) who question its propriety are particularly over the top.  

I point to the excerpted provisions of Virginia law below and ask simply whether a reasonable person considering the spirit, if not the letter, of these provisions, would have taken this trip.

§ 30-103. Prohibited conduct.

No legislator shall:

1. Solicit or accept money or other thing of value for services performed within the scope of his official duties, except the compensation, expenses or other remuneration paid to him by the General Assembly. This prohibition shall not apply to the acceptance of special benefits which may be authorized by law;

5. Accept any money, loan, gift, favor, service, or business or professional opportunity that reasonably tends to influence him in the performance of his official duties. This subdivision shall not apply to any political contribution actually used for political campaign or constituent service purposes and reported as required by Chapter 9.3 (§ 24.2-945 et seq.) of Title 24.2;

10. Accept a gift from a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance of the legislator's official duties under circumstances where the timing and nature of the gift would cause a reasonable person to question the legislator's impartiality in the matter affecting the donor. Violations of this subdivision shall not be subject to criminal law penalties; or

11. Accept gifts from sources on a basis so frequent as to raise an appearance of the use of his public office for private gain. Violations of this subdivision shall not be subject to criminal law penalties.

I have worked at the national level on exposing right-wing junkets for judges and other attempts by corporations and ideological groups to "indoctrinate" or otherwise influence elected officials and judges on behalf of what is generally an anti-regulatory agenda.  See, e.g.,  No participant ever claims these trips unduly influence them, and so they continue.  Still there is obviously a reason why companies do this sort of thing.  Over time, these kinds of gifts can have an affect in influencing ideas and ultimately behavior.

The provision of luxury accommodations in attractive locales for a legislator and his spouse(?) are nice perks unrelated to legitimate fact finding.  Why accept them?  When wealthy interests with business before government come offering legislators free trips and other goodies, the smart thing to do to decline.

That the trip may not violate the letter of the law is really no defense.  Appearances matter, too.  If nothing else, this trip remains an example of the undue influence and access that wealthy corporate interests have on legislation.  Most environmental groups cannot afford to treat legislators to similar trips to show a different perspective on issues like this.

Given the Washington Post coverage (see and and the reaction of other NoVa candidates and officials, it's clear reasonable people and not just "whacktivists" believe the trip raises the appearance of impropriety.  

That this point needs to be debated and defended is disappointing.    

Joplin, Climate, and the Denial of the GOP


This video is a fantastic visual companion to Bill McKibben's excellent op-ed in the Washington Post last week.

Juxtapose that with the reaction from the right wing on the Mitt Romney's comment that humans may indeed contribute to climate change.

"Bye-bye, nomination. Another one down. We're in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax, and we still have presidential candidates that want to buy into it," - Rush Limbaugh on Mitt Romney's views regarding man-made climate change.

I haven't seen the Democratic Party, or for that matter the environmental community, directly call out and target the GOP on its climate science denialism.  It's time.  

Environmentalists and the Dilemma of 2012

President Obama with beach tar from the Oil SpillAs the primary season approaches, my political conscience increasingly feels like a double-headed hydra, each with a mind of its own. A lifelong Democratic activist, I am compelled to support Barack Obama, especially given the grandstanding and utter lack of seriousness among GOP candidates on virtually every issue I care about. Moreover, Obama's list of accomplishments is impressive from health care reform to the phasing out of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

And yet, the environmentalist in me is so bitterly disappointed in this administration that I am sorely lacking the passion I felt in 2008.  From the lack of White House effort on climate change, to not opposing legislation exempting pesticides from discharge permits under the Clean Water Act, to the premature delisting of wolves in the northern Rockies, to this week's announcement that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill should not hinder new exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, this administration has consistently, repeatedly, callously thrown environmental issues under the bus.

This isn't just my view.  

Powershift Coverage #FAIL — Letter to the Washington Post Ombudsman

ATT: Andrew Alexander
Ombudsman, Washington Post
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Alexander:

I have to ask, if 10,000 Tea Partiers descended on the Washington Convention Center to be regaled by top administration officials and leading movement personalities, would the Washington Post have covered it?  Of course it would.

Yet, there has not been ONE SINGLE STORY about the PowerShift conference this weekend at which 10,000 mostly young people came to Washington to rally for climate action and hear speeches by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, former Vice President Al Gore, the controversial Van Jones (remember when the Post couldn't get enough of the fake controversy about him started by Glenn Beck?), and environmental leaders like Bill McKibben.

Thirty young activists even got a private meeting with President Obama on Friday. How many movement events can make that claim?

And today a few thousand young people rallied in Lafayette Square, at the Chamber of Commerce, and then blocked streets on route to the Capitol to lobby on climate change.  

Don't you think some of this deserves a mention?  

The New York Times finally covered it today.

Where is the Washington Post?



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