From Matt de Ferranti <[email protected]>
Subject July Board Actions: Collective Bargaining, Langston Blvd, Wages, CIP, the Police Community Oversight Board, & More
Date August 16, 2021 10:14 PM
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Dear Friend,

I am delayed in writing to you about the July Board meetings because Brooke and I took a deferred honeymoon. I share this summary with you because our July meetings will have significant lasting implications for Arlington.

The Board took final action on collective bargaining, prevailing wage, and changing the name of Route 29 from Lee Highway to Langston Boulevard. We also heard from Serrano tenants as we work to hold AHC accountable, adopted a Community Oversight Board to oversee our Police Department, and took action on affordable housing.
In late June, I found time to play pickleball and had a lot of fun. There's athletic ability in there somewhere :)
You may remember that I wrote about collective bargaining last month. In July we took the second step to adopt our ordinance that will help make sure Arlington County negotiates with and values our employees through collective bargaining. The ordinance we passed came after a thorough and thoughtful process that NoVaLabor, AFSCME, and IAFF, among others, applauded. The ordinance brings together two of our values--Arlington County's commitment to customer service and our commitment to our employees. I believe it will help make sure we compensate our employees in a just and fair way over the coming years and I am very proud we are leading Virginia through this ordinance.

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Watch my 3 minute summary of Collective Bargaining and Prevailing Wage

The Board also passed our prevailing wage ordinance with an amendment to apply the ordinance for projects of $250K in value. What does prevailing wage mean? It is a wage that is a minimum fair wage for labor by trade. The Board decided that the lower $250K threshold was appropriate as opposed to staff's initial recommendation of $1.5 million, despite initial staff concerns regarding implementation. I am proud both of the ordinance and or our decision to apply prevailing wage requirements to more of our contracts. Fairness in wages is an Arlington value that I am pleased we were able to strengthen.
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A 3 minute summary of our action on Route 29, Lee Highway to Langston Boulevard
The Board also took final action to approve changing the name of Lee Highway in Arlington to Langston Boulevard. I've written on this before, so I will only say that the cost estimate of $300K or less has been validated. The video above and this summary of John M. Langston describe well this step forward for our community: [link removed]
Two events from the past month: Opening the Black Heritage Museum and Reopening of the Columbia Pike Library
On the Serrano, we held a follow up conversation as part of our continued work. The specific step we took was to listen to resident's concerns in greater detail as of July. The ongoing issues are clear from our meeting. Three families spoke to the Board at our July meeting and described unacceptable conditions that AHC must address. The County and I must also take responsibility, even as we work with alacrity to address this.

In June I reported progress, but not nearly enough done to improve conditions or to take responsibility. AHC has a new CEO and the County received a compliment from residents, but more needs to be done and done quickly. I am working with urgency. If you'd like to see the Board meeting relevant to this, go to 4 hours 14 minutes and 20 seconds to 5 hours and 23 minutes: [link removed]
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Watch Board Member Takis Karatonis and my discussion
The item on our July agenda that took the most time and energy was the Community Oversight Board. The Board approved an ordinance creating a Board with subpoena power and an independent auditor/monitor after a four hour discussion in an additional recessed Board meeting held on July 21st. Subpoena power was a critical question that the Board debated, and I supported making sure that the Oversight Board will have that authority. The Board supported that power, but debated an amendment that would have kept that authority with the County Board instead of the Oversight Board. Ultimately, I was pleased that the Oversight Board will have the subpoena power.

The Oversight Board we approved is not perfect, but I believe it is a worthwhile start for the progressive ideals we share. It includes an Independent Monitor who will provide an outside voice on investigations. It includes complaint and policy review by the Oversight Board. Also, the seven member board will reflect our community's diversity and individuals and communities of color. To be clear, there was discussion of ensuring three or two individuals of color on the Board. I supported ensuring at least two members of color, but the majority felt concern regarding putting such a requirement in the ordinance. I believe that we will appoint a Board that will meet or exceed three members of color.
Read the Summary of the Ordinance and the Ordinance itself ([link removed])
The Oversight Board needs two additional pieces of legislative authority from Richmond to live out its potential as an independent oversight body. The County Board agreed to support both legislative efforts: the Independent Auditor Monitor should report to the County Board and not the County Manager, and the Oversight Board needs the ability to meet in closed session to discuss complaints with respect to officers. I have already started talking to our Delegation about getting both done.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, I met with advocates to seek to resolve issues of concern. Multiple meetings with representatives of the NAACP, several with the Police Practices Group chair, as well as one meeting with police representative were all part of the work. The process was not perfect, but I think the work was worthwhile and made it a fair process. Both some of advocates' and the Board's views are reflected in the final product. There were areas where I wanted changes that I could not get done. Ultimately, the County Board voted 5 to 0 in favor, but the ordinance was not exactly as any of us would have written it on our own. Again, I humbly and respectfully submit it is a good start.
[link removed]
Watch this 3 minute segment on the progress we made on Renewable Energy in the Capital Improvement Plan.
On our shared commitment to fighting climate change the Board acted through the Capital Improvement Plan. I worked with colleagues to gain full Board agreement to direct the County Manager to purchase electric buses in 2024 and 2025 with a commitment that once our new bus facility is built, electric buses will be the default.

The Board also took several other important actions in July that would have garnered much more attention if it had not been such a busy month:
* We approved funding to preserve Park Shirlington, allocating up to $22.76 Million for a loan from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) to rebuild affordable apartments.
* The Board approved an agreement with Amazon in which the company will donate a $40M parcel of undeveloped land on the Crystal House Apartments site to the County for affordable housing. More than 550 units are slated for development through this donation.
+ [link removed]
* Chief Race and Equity Officer Samia Bird reported on racial equity work over the past few months, including significant progress in engaging with the community. [link removed]
* Arlington led on solar power through a private business (Rocklands, BBQ) that partnered with us on a solar project. [link removed]
* The Board approved an agreement with JBG Smith that will result in $3.5 million in funding for broadband to help serve low and moderate income Arlington residents:
+ [link removed]

President Biden came to Arlington and I was honored to join him and Governor McAuliffe for the event.
Last, and certainly not least, I am pleased that the County Manager has acted to help respond to the Delta variant, which has increased our case numbers to approximately 30 per day and our test positivity rate to approximately 3.7%. Requiring vaccines from County employees or negative test results if they are not vaccinated is sound policy to help fight this wave of the virus. I'm grateful that Arlington Public Schools joined in this effort. COVID rates present a challenge all over again after we thought in June we would get beyond it. I am and will be focused on COVID over the coming days, weeks, and months. To learn more about the vaccine requirement, go here: [link removed]

Thank you for reading and for your continued support as I work to serve you,




ps. If you want to reach me, please email [email protected] as I will fix my Matt for Arlington email over the coming two weeks.

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