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Democrat, Republican jointly urge Arlington to drop HOT lane suit

Virginia Democratic Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Colgan (Prince William) and Republican House Speaker Bill Howell (Stafford) have jointly signed a letter begging Arlington County to drop a lawsuit claiming that construction of high-occupancy lanes on Interstate 95/395 in the county would violate the civil rights of county residents.

Their letter says the lawsuit makes "outrageous claims of conspiracy and racism" in its argument that the decision to build the toll lanes was the result of public officials using tax dollars to further the interests of wealthy and white residents outside of Northern Virginia, to the detriment of minorities who live near the highway.

Arlington's novel attempt to use the Civil Rights Act to block the highway construction has drawn fire before. But today's bipartisan letter particularly calls out Arlington's decision to sue four public officials who were involved in the decision to approve the project. Arlington seeks monetary damages from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, former Virginia transportation secretary Pierce Homer and Federal Highway Planner Edward S. Sundra.

"It is disappointing that a County which has an important place in the history of civil rights -- one opposing Virginia's misguided policy of Massive Resistance -- would distort the intent of the Civil Rights Act and personally attack honorable public servants working in their official capacities on a project that has been subjected to local, regional and state scrutiny since 2005," they write.

Read the whole letter here.

By Rosalind Helderman  | September 14, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
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Sounds to me like just another pro-road volley from downstate legislators against Arlington & those "elitists" up there.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | September 14, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

My memory if fuzzy here, but wasn't Arlington County years ago promised that if it allowed I-66 to go thru the county, it would never be widened?

Posted by: bob16 | September 14, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

As an Arlington County resident (and voter) I do not want to see MORE ROADS AND BIGGER as the solution to our transportation problems.

Come on. Build more mass transit and make the existing better.

And yes, Arlington was promised to not have 66 widened when it was built.

Posted by: CrabHands | September 15, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I-66 is an east-west highway. That has nothing to do with the HOT lanes project on I-395, the north-south highway.

The Arlington County lawsuit is outrageous -- and as an Arlington resident, I am truly embarrassed by the actions of our County Board. The lawsuit makes ludicrous claims of racial discrimination; and it was filed against public officials in their individual capacities, including one mid-level federal civil servant, as well as senior Obama Administration appointees who had nothing to do with the project approval.

Arlington is taking a "scorched earth" approach - filing an endless series of frivolous and harrassing legal actions against anyone who stands in their way.

The County Board has spent more than $1 million of local taxpayer funds on this absurd lawsuit. The County's lawyers are out of control, and they deserve to be reprimanded for such outrageous conduct. Our County Board members should be held accountable as well -- starting with the defeat of Chris Zimmerman this fall.

Posted by: jrmil | September 15, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

As one who has lived in the county for most of the last 40 years, I applaud the County Board's principled resistance to Virginia's "Pave Over Arlington" campaign -- which seeks only to make automobile commuting easier for the far suburbs. We learned long ago that we can not pave our way out of congestion.

Posted by: JamesWebster | September 15, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

As an Arlington resident (14 years)and my spouse is a Federal employee I am outraged that the County Board has the audacity to sue a Federal official (as an individual) and Mr. Sundra may have to defend himself (out of his own pocket) against the County. As stated in the Arlington Gazette: Arlington Board needs to wake up because of the 30,000 plus Federal workers who either live or work in the County. Like jrmil said: over $1M of the County's tax dollars (my money) spent.

Posted by: kel4567 | September 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering when they are going to put in place sound barriers along 395. The sound tests done for the HOT Lane expansion found the sound to be significantly higher than what is required for sound barriers.

How the heck did they not get put into place when 395 was initially built?

It's insane!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 15, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

We local people call the Route-1 & Route 17 intersection Howell's Intersection. Built in the 1940's and not improved since then, it now carries more than 65,000 vehicles a day. In fact, his law office is within spitting distance of it.

Howell doesn't care about NOVA and its traffic problems. When I first move to Stafford I complained to him about the traffic, assuming he didn't realize how bad it was or he would work to improve that ride. He wrote an irritating little note back to me saying he does know all about the traffic -- apparently don't care.

My money is with Arlington. If they win then those dreaded users fees called gasoline taxes will have to be raised!

Posted by: lpberkoff | September 16, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

A dollar a mile to go from Springfield to Fredericksburg? Who's going to pay that? Everybody's going to be in everybody else's backyard and local street trying to commute to work. What are these people smoking? Good for Arlington - the only jurisdiction with guts to stand up for the little guy (and gal).

Posted by: AdventurerVA | September 16, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Why Is Arlington County Recruiting a Litigation Legal Assistant Who Gets Paid $30 an hour when it is Closing Libraries?

Because when it comes to baseless lawsuits, the more spent the merrier.
When it comes to reading, Chris Zimmerman doesn't want you to.
Because you might pick up The Washington Post, of all things, and read things like this.
Arlington County, Virginia, is recruiting paralegals at $18 to $30 an hour to help bring expensive lawsuits condemned by leaders from both the Democrats and the Republicans in the State Capitol.

DC's #1 Source for Jobs > Jobs > Search
Date Posted:
Career Level:
Experienced (Non-Manager)
Job Function:
Legal Assistant
Job Status:
Job Code:
Contact Information:
Employer Site
Arlington County (Virginia) Government
Arlington, VA

Closing Date/Time: Thu. 09/30/10 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Salary: $18.06 - $29.85 Hourly
$1,444.80 - $2,388.00 Biweekly
$3,130.40 - $5,174.00 Monthly
$37,564.80 - $62,088.00 Annually
Job Type: Full-Time
Location: 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington *METRO-accessible*, Virginia

This employee provides legal administrative support to the County Attorney’s Office staff. The County Attorney's Office provides legal advice to, and representation of the County Board, all County executive agencies and departments, and the Arlington County School Board.
Duties of this employee include:
Providing legal secretarial support in connection with attorneys performing in-house general counsel duties with pending litigation including formatting, inputting, editing, retrieving, copying, and transmitting text, data and graphics; indexing documentary evidence, filing and mailing court documents;
Formatting and coordinating the preparation of legal memoranda, motions, pleadings, notices, interrogatories and other documents to assist and support attorneys in conducting litigation in courts of record and before administrative bodies;
Preparing pretrial notebooks containing exhibits, lists of witnesses, abstracts of deposition transcripts, summaries of facts and memoranda of legal points and authorities, with supporting indices, and citations;
Serving as liaison to other County Departments as well as the general public;
Preparing budget documentation and reports, handling the preparation and payment of payroll and other vouchers, and tracking external consultant payments;
Scheduling, coordinating, and tracking the work of County Attorney’s Office using electronic databases; and
Developing and implementing work procedures within established standards/guidelin

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded | September 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

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