Poll: Pick the Names for Reston Town Center’s Peregrine Falcons

A joint effort between Reston Now and Boston Properties wants readers’ help naming the two falcons, who call Reston Town Center home.

Last week, Reston Now asked readers for their name suggestions for the two peregrine falcons that call Reston Town Center home.

The pair are both around 7 years old and are expecting four chicks. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania.

About 60 people commented with name ideas below the profile last week and on Reston Now’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

From today (April 22) to the end of the week, readers can vote for the two names from this list of readers’ suggestions.

The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.

Photo courtesy Boston Properties

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into Easter weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. BREAKING: Police Find Weapons, Drug Stash in Reston Brothers’ Home
  2. Office Redevelopment Proposed on Old Reston Avenue Properties
  3. Pupatella Pizzeria is Coming to Reston Next Year
  4. Help Name Reston Town Center’s Peregrine Falcons
  5. Town of Herndon ‘Crescent’ Eyes Remaking by 2035

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip. Don’t forget to pitch name suggestions for Reston Town Center’s family of falcons.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via Fairfax County Government/handout

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Del. Ken Plum: A Crowded Field

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

If a sign of a healthy democracy is a lot of people running for elective office, we have become a true democracy in Virginia. This year is a busy year for elections because a lot of terms for elective offices are up this year. In Fairfax County, for example, all the seats on the County Board of Supervisors are up for election as is the chairman of the Board who is elected county-wide. The June 11 Democratic Party primary election has four contenders vying for the supervisor’s seat that is being vacated with the retirement of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. I am not sure whether the Republicans intend to nominate a candidate to make for a race on November 5. For chairman of the Board there is a Democratic primary to pick the nominee who the Republicans will presumably challenge in the November election.

School Board members for Fairfax County also are up for election. A member is chosen for each magisterial district plus three at-large members. School board elections are non-partisan, but candidates seek endorsement of one of the major parties. Currently there is a scramble in Hunter Mill district to replace retiring member Pat Hynes. A broad and diverse field of candidates is seeking party endorsements.

Constitutional offices which in Fairfax County are the Commonwealth Attorney and the sheriff are also on the ballot this November. The incumbent Commonwealth Attorney must withstand a primary challenge in the Democratic Party before getting to the fall election. The sheriff is likely to move smoothly through the November election.

Adding to the number of candidates for whom you are likely to see ads, receive brochures or answer those pesky robo-calls are the candidates for the House of Delegates and the Senate, all of whom are up for election this year. While it is too early to know for sure who all the challengers will be as it is possible for political parties to name candidates up until early June, we already know the field is crowded. There is an unprecedented number of challenges in primaries and a larger than usual number of retirements of incumbents. On the State Senate side there are eleven Democratic and five Republican primaries that include challenges to four incumbent Democrats and three Republican incumbents.

On the House of Delegates side of the General Assembly there are 13 Democratic primaries involving five incumbents and seven Republican primaries with two incumbents being challenged. These numbers do not include districts in which conventions may be held to select candidates.

All this activity is good news for democracy but might seem overwhelming to voters. At this point in time races are not all set with candidates. After the June 11 primaries, the line-ups will be clearer. Party activists will be busy informing voters who their candidates are. In the meantime, please forgive me if any of my numbers are off as this story continues to emerge. The good news is there will be many choices that have the potential to lead to better government. Don’t be alarmed by this crowded field!

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Herndon HS Theater Director Charged With Unlawful Filming
  2. BREAKING: Police Find Weapons, Drug Stash in Reston Brothers’ Home
  3. Reston Man Killed in Pedestrian Crash in Fairfax
  4. Ben and Jerry’s Giving Out Free Cones in Reston Town Center Tuesday
  5. Have You Seen These Eight Public Art Pieces Around Reston?

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip. Don’t forget to pitch name suggestions for Reston Town Center’s family of falcons.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via FCPD

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Del. Ken Plum: Cleaning Up the Code

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

While I would never recommend reading the Code of Virginia for pleasure, as it is filled with legalese intended for trained lawyers and judges to debate its intended meaning, it can be a useful document to understand the history of an era.

Because court decisions at the state and federal level can change the application of a law, the words that are in the Code may have been superseded by such a decision or by later enactments of law.

If all that is not enough to confuse us non-lawyers, there are the “notwithstanding” clauses that effectively say that whatever else the law may provide the effective meaning follows the clause.

Laws can be read to help understand the community mores and values of the past. This session saw a meaningful number of bills passed that reflect a cleaning-up of the Code to reflect changing community values.

Some of these include repealing remnants of Jim Crow laws of racial oppression of the past. Thanks to Del. Marcia Price and State Sen. Lionell Spruill, the provisions in Code that exempted Virginia’s minimum wage requirements for newsboys, shoe-shine boys, babysitters who work 10 hours or more per week, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and cashiers in theaters, all of which were occupations that were most likely held by African Americans, were repealed. The old law made it legal to discriminate through wages. A new law will require employers to provide pay stubs as a way to assist low-wage workers to manage their money and be treated fairly.

Up until action of the General Assembly this session, if you owed court fines and fees in Virginia, your driver’s license could be suspended unless you established a payment plan. As the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy that advocated strongly for a change in the law explained it, one in six Virginia drivers (approximately 900,000 people) has had his or her license suspended because of owing court fines and fees. Almost any poor person who has interacted with the criminal justice system owes some court fines and fees.

Essentially, by taking away someone’s license and therefore likely preventing the person from finding or keeping a job, the state denies the person opportunity to escape from poverty (and ever pay back those fines and fees). This policy was a “debtors’ prison” approach. There is no evidence that suspending people’s licenses increases the rate of payback for fines and fees. The issue disproportionately affected low-income workers, and its repeal this year was past due.

Virginia has historically had one of the highest rates of rental evictions in the country. Laws that disproportionally favored landlords over tenants caused this situation that was disruptive to families. A series of revisions to create a better balance in the law and that provides more options for tenants should make the laws operate more fairly.

Virginia has also had a very bad record in the management of its foster care program. Children were shifted from family to family with limited stability in their lives. Major changes in the laws related to foster children should greatly improve the situation.

It is critically important that we clean up the Code from time to time.

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Matchbox Planning to Move In Near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station
  2. Here Are Restaurants With Live Music Around Herndon
  3. Police Investigating Man’s Death Near Downtown Herndon
  4. Famous Toastery to Bring Brunch to RTC West This Month
  5. Lake Anne Hair Design Being Sold Following Death of Owner

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via Facebook

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Del. Ken Plum: Back in Richmond

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The House of Delegates and the State Senate were in session yesterday (April 3) for the annual reconvened session as required by the constitution. Often referred to as the veto session, part of its business is to consider bills vetoed or with amendments proposed by the governor.

During the regular odd-numbered short session that adjourned on Feb. 24 after 46 days, there were 3,128 bills and resolutions considered. Setting aside resolutions that do not have the force of law of bills, there were 883 bills that passed the legislature all of which must have the signature of the governor in order to become law. The governor’s veto can be overturned by a vote of two-thirds of the members of both houses.

The governor in Virginia has the unique ability among executive officials to propose amendments to bills that previously passed but then must be approved by the General Assembly in the reconvened session with the amendments proposed. This ability for the governor to make corrections or to change the provisions of a bill gives the governor important legislative powers and enhances the importance of the reconvened session that typically lasts for a single day but can go up to three days.

Among the bills on the docket for this reconvened session is a bill that had passed both houses of the legislature but died at the last moment of the regular session. The dispute was over legal language to prohibit the use of cell phones that are not hands-free. The bill will be back before the legislature thanks to an amendment by the governor, and it is likely to finally pass.

I expect to support the governor in his vetoes of bills. One bill that he vetoed would limit his authority to involve Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program among Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that mandates emission reduction in the power sector. Virginia’s involvement in this program is among the most important steps the state can take in reducing greenhouse gases and tackling climate change.

Governor Ralph Northam has also vetoed a bill that I had opposed during the regular session that would force law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions of federal immigration law that are part of the current immigration hysteria. He also vetoed a bill that would have limited the ability of local governments in making decisions about their local employment and pay consideration.

Included among the bills that passed are bills that passed in identical form but were only introduced in one house. Some advocates and legislators believe that there is more certainty that a bill will finally pass if it moves through the legislature on two separate tracks. The governor signs both identical bills to keep from choosing among competing bill sponsors. No one that I know has taken the time to count these bills, but I believe that more than half fall into this category. I question that approach — it seems like unnecessary duplication in an already complex system.

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Del. Ken Plum: Budget Equity

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Increases in budget revenues as a result of federal tax changes and the ability to tax sales on goods purchased on the internet put Virginia in a unique position to increase its budgeted funds mid-year of a biennial budget while at the same time providing many taxpayers with refunds.

As the fall elections approach, the actions on the state budget will receive many different “spins.” Certainly, taxpayers like getting money refunded. At the same time they recognize when programs to meet needs are underfunded, they may over a period of time become even more underfunded. It is more than mathematics and accounting to approve a budget when revenues have increased — it is also very much an expression of values on the part of decision makers.

An example of values affecting budgetary decisions came during the Great Recession of 2008. State revenues dipped at the greatest rate in modern times just as many businesses faltered and failed. A great bail-out went to businesses from the federal government as did major funding to state government. The feds did not match the private losses, but they did provide relief for some greater cuts for programs like education.

Only now has the Virginia economy recovered such that the funding of education today is exceeding that of pre-2008 levels.

Beyond simply funding programs and services with more money next year than last year are the equity issues involved in distributing money across programs. My trip to Prince Edward County as I described in my column last week reminded me just how inequitable funding can be. There was no pretense of equity among black and white schools. The whites went to a brick school that was modern for its time; the black children went to school in a tar-paper shanty. With many federal court decisions we have gotten beyond the inequities of segregated services and programs, but inequities still exist.

The budget presented to the General Assembly by Gov. Ralph Northam represented the greatest attempt at resolving equity issues that I have seen. Funding for schools was increased but with those who had the greatest needs receiving the most money. Programs for students with special needs were enhanced as was funding for historically black institutions of higher education. The governor found himself with a major problem pushing his agenda as he got himself in political hot water for his behavior many years ago. Whatever way that situation is resolved, it need not take attention from the basic problem of increasing equity among school divisions, mental health programs and criminal justice programs.

There is ample evidence gleaned from numerous studies that document inequities that exist in the state’s budget. These facts will be manipulated among candidates this election season to gain the advantage, but candidates need to acknowledge that inequities exist and must be dealt with fairly. I understand that most regions feel that they do not get a fair shake. There are metrics that can be used to find the inequities; once resolved the state will be stronger because of it.

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Jinya Puts Reston Town Center Spot Back on Website
  2. Fairfax Police Discover Guns Used in Robberies, 450 THC Vape Pens in Herndon Man’s House
  3. Reston P&Z Committee to Take Up High-Rise Condominium Proposal Along New Dominion Parkway
  4. Public Art Reston Picks Artist to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass
  5. Here’s the Progress on the VY at Reston Heights Retailers

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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Poll: Which Reston Village Center is Your Favorite?

Now that spring has finally arrived, warmer weather will invite locals outside to mill around Reston’s many shopping areas.

While Reston has an abundance of stores at Plaza America, Reston Town Center and the Spectrum, one of Reston’s unique design elements lies in its mix of residential and retail at its five village centers.

The first one — the Lake Anne Village Center — looks almost the same today as it did in 1976.

Many of the other village centers, though, are undergoing transformations, including South Lakes and Tall Oaks.

The Hunters Woods Village Center, which saw most of its original buildings demolished and replaced with more modern retail in the 1990s, is on a 2017 list of potential spots for new residential development put together by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Meanwhile, North Point Village Center has seen retailers and businesses leave and open. Most recently, a Thai restaurant opened at the village center.

Reston Now wants to know if there is a certain village center you frequently visit or really love going to.

Photo via Courtlyn McHale/Flickr

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Del. Ken Plum: Crossroads

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Virginia Forum, “an organization for scholars, teachers, writers, museum curators, historic site interpreters, activists, librarians and all those interested in Virginia history and culture to share their knowledge, research and experiences.”

I have attended the forum many of its 14 years because of my interest in Virginia history and because so many of the issues on which I work in the legislature can best be understood in their historical context. Furthermore, many of the experiences at the forum, including the papers that are presented, are fascinating and stimulating.

The forum meets at a different location each year with most meetings being held at a college or university and takes advantage of the uniqueness of the region where the meeting is held. While the meeting this year was held at Longwood University, the opening session was next door at the Robert Russell Moton Museum, the National Historic Landmark Robert Russell Moton High School, the site of a 1951 student strike led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns which became one of the cases decided in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education to end school segregation.

Just being at the site was meaningful, but having a session feature a panel of adults who were living in Prince Edward County during the five-year period (1959-1964) that Prince Edward County closed its public schools to resist desegregation was even more telling to understand the depths to which racism dominated the region. There were many other incidents of racial bigotry and hate throughout the Southside region and other parts of the state that linger in the background of dealing with the racism of today.

Recommended reading from the forum is “Israel on the Appomattox,” a 2005 book by Professor Marvin Patrick Ely of William and Mary that won the Bancroft Prize and was featured in the New York Times Book Review and Atlantic Monthly Editors’ Choice.

“Israel on the Appomattox” tells the story of liberated blacks and the community they formed, called Israel Hill, in Prince Edward County. There, ex-slaves established farms, navigated the Appomattox River and became entrepreneurs. Free blacks and whites did business with one another, sued each other, worked side by side for equal wages, joined forces to found a Baptist congregation, moved west together and occasionally settled down as husband and wife. Slavery cast its grim shadow, even over the lives of the free.

The book is a moving story of hardship and hope that defies what many expected of the Old South, yet the forces of racism and white supremacy overcame their efforts and continued to perpetuate the beliefs of the day that black people could not succeed on their own. These ideas continue to cast a shadow on racial issues today.

A realistic understanding of the challenges of today is best considered within some historical context — not the romantic visions of the Old South that have been perpetuated in Virginia and other places for too long. How we got to where we are can help us live together without the myths of race from the past.

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Top Stories This Week

Who else is enjoying the 75-degree weather right now?

Before we head off into the weekend with temperatures dipping back into the 50s, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Here’s Why You’re Seeing ‘Store Closed’ Signs at Reston Town Center’s Vapiano
  2. Victoria’s Secret Gone for Good at Reston Town Center
  3. Google Starts Renovation Work at Reston Station Office Building
  4. Herndon Tech Company Serco to Add 200 Jobs
  5. Wooboi Chicken’s Chef Talks Secret Menu, Spiciest Nashville Hot Chicken Waiver

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected]restonnow.com or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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Del. Ken Plum: Women’s History Month

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

March is Women’s History Month. Before women had the whole month, the U.S. recognized Women’s History Week; before that, a single International Women’s Day.

Dedicating the whole month of March in honor of women’s achievements was seen “as a way to revise a written and social American history that had largely ignored women’s contributions,” according to an article in Time magazine. The first Women’s Day took place on Feb. 28, 1909 to honor the one-year anniversary of the garment worker’s strikes in New York when thousands of women marched for economic rights and to honor an earlier 1857 march when garment workers rallied for equal rights and a 10-hour day, according to the article.

Recognizing the achievement of Virginia women goes beyond naming a month. A monument is under construction on Capitol Square, “Voices from the Garden,” which will be the first monument of its kind in the nation. Representative of the state’s regions, the monument recognizes the 400-year history and the diversity of achievement, ethnicity and thought that women have made to the Commonwealth.

Even more significant in recognizing women in Virginia is the fact that there is historic representation of women in the Virginia House of Delegates, including the election of 11 new women members in 2017, all of whom ousted male incumbents. The House Democratic Caucus is almost 45 percent women, including 11 women of color. The House Republican Caucus is less than 10 percent women. Caucus Chair Charniele Herring is the first woman to chair a caucus in the House of Delegates throughout its 400-year history. Leader Eileen Filler-Corn is the first woman to be elected leader of a caucus in the General Assembly.

Recently I served on a panel, “Can Women Save Democracy? We’re counting on it!” at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University along with Herring, iller-Corn and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. There was a clear consensus in the room that women will play a pivotal role in getting our country back on the right track. Witness this year’s state and local elections when there are record-breaking numbers of women lining up to run in primaries and the general elections.

Not only are women running and winning races, but they are determining the outcome of elections with their tireless work in making calls, knocking on doors, and working on behalf of the candidates they support. Organizations like Indivisibles, with Herndon-Reston Indivisibles being a model organization, and Moms Demand Action among others are making their influence felt on policy issues like ending the epidemic of gun violence.

The big disappointment in celebrating women in history is the refusal of the Virginia House of Delegates to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Ratification failed on a tied vote on a procedural matter that makes it even more frustrating that the amendment was not allowed to be debated on the floor of the House of Delegates. There is more women’s history to be written in Virginia, and I suspect the next step will be the election of even more women this fall and ratification of the ERA next year!

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Poll: Which Reston Town Center, RTC West Newcomers Are You Most Excited For?
  2. BREAKING: County Board Approves Hudgins’ Ask to ‘Indefinitely Defer’ PRC Proposal
  3. Board of Supervisors Makes Changes to Accelerate Wegmans Development
  4. Reston Association President Nabs Leadership Fairfax Role
  5. After Cancer Diagnosis, K9 Leon Retires From Herndon Police

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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Del. Ken Plum: Lessons From a Racist Past

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The Virginia General Assembly was adjourning for the year as the film “Green Book” was receiving “Best Picture” recognition at the 91st Oscars. While the story line of the movie may have been fictional, the Green Book was reality in the Jim Crow South.

Segregated facilities of hotels, restaurants, public bathrooms and transportation in Virginia and throughout the South necessitated Black travelers having a guide like the Green Book, a small book with a green cover, to let them know where they could stop to use the bathroom, eat a meal or spend the night. It was not unlike a AAA travel guide except that its listings were just for Black travelers. The movie — without exaggeration — lets recent generations know just how segregated the South was.

As part of the Black History Month celebration in the House of Delegates, a different delegate speaks each day about a famous Black person, an interesting Black person from the past who may not have made the history books or the experience of growing up Black.

One day this session. Del. Jeion Ward of Hampton spoke of her experiences growing up Black in segregated Virginia and her family’s use of the Green Book in their vacation travels. There were special challenges to be met when public bathrooms or restaurants were further than needed.

Other symbols of the challenges of growing up Black in a racist society like Virginia and the South were shockingly brought to our attention this legislative session. The cruel part that blackface played in white entertainment may have been unknown to many younger persons or forgotten by others but must be acknowledged and dealt with in repentance by those who took part including the governor and the attorney general.

To include white robes and hoods in entertainment is to overlook that these are symbols of hate, violence, cross burning, lynchings and white supremacy. Public officials must disavow these symbols unequivocally and provide leadership in healing the communities that have been wounded by signs of white supremacy.

Outside the capitol near the governor’s mansion is the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial. It features the walk out of Prince Edward schools led by 16-year old Barbara Johns, a factor in the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that led to the desegregation of public schools. Public schools were not simply segregated, but they were totally unequal.

This legislative session we were reminded by the work of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis of the differences that continue to exist among white and minority facilities, programs and services. The approved budget made some improvements in reducing the inequities among facilities and services that have disadvantaged Black people. There is a new awareness of the work that needs to be done to overcome our racist past.

Del. Jay Jones of Norfolk spoke out forcefully on the floor of the House of Delegates reminding us of our history and the need to take action in the future. The speech of this young Black delegate is worth a listen for it is a powerful statement of the need to overcome our racist past.

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