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Votes

Earmarks for Alexandria

The word “earmark” has become an explosive term or art in Washington, where the spending line items are often contained only in reports issued by congressional committees. Because the line-item spending proposals rarely appear in the actual language of appropriations bills, many people criticize the earmarking process as one that lacks transparency. Not U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8). During a rare appearance at a City Council meeting, the former mayor said that earmarks have gotten a bad rap.

“Every dollar that is spent by the federal government is earmarked for something,” Moran said. “It’s just a matter of who is earmarking it.”

The congressman appeared before City Council members Tuesday night to find out what kind of programs are in need of federal money. Moran headed back to Washington with a wish list filled with Alexandria projects: $3.6 million public-safety radios, $3 million to improve riverfront access on the Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, $1.5 million for a master plan at Four Mile Run, $1 million for a Bus Rapid Transit program through Potomac Yard, $80,000 for crime-fighting technology and $200,000 for the Seaport Foundation.

“Some people view these kinds of projects as unnecessary pork,” Moran said after a dialogue with City Council members. “But in my experience these are projects with significant regional and national significance.”

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Going Bald for Charity

What’s a little hair worth? To the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, quite a lot. That’s why Councilman Rob Krupicka and Del. David Englin (D-45) will be shaving their heads at A Likely Story Children’s Bookstore on March 17. The head-shaving event is part of an effort to raise money to fight childhood cancer, with Alexandria resident Jill Cetina offering to donate $10,000 when she found out Krupicka and Englin would be shorn clean for charity.

“You heard it right,” Krupicka wrote in an announcement on St. Baldrick’s Web site. “I’m shaving my head in solidarity with children who have cancer and typically lose their hair during treatment while raising money to support childhood cancer research so that all children diagnosed with cancer will have a better chance for a cure.”

According to St. Baldrick’s Web site, Krupicka has achieved 38 percent of his fundraising goal of $1,000 and Englin has achieved 5 percent of his fundraising goal of $5,000. Those wishing to sponsor the elected leaders can do so online or by calling 888-899-BALD.

“When Jill Cetina asked me to shave my head to raise money for childhood cancer, how could I say no?” wrote Englin on the St. Baldrick’s Web site. “Her 3-year-old daughter, Camille, has kidney cancer and the kind of research my bald head will support has saved her life.”

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Heavily Medicated Viewers

How many people watch the city’s elected leaders on Alexandria’s government channel? A recent Comcast survey found that 60 percent of subscribers have watched a meeting of the City Council on channel 70. But one council member seems to doubt Comcast’s findings. During a discussion of instituting time limits for council discussions, Councilman Tim Lovain told his colleagues that he questioned how many people were at home watching the elected leaders at work.

“When we have these five and six hour meetings, especially on a Tuesday night, we clear out the room except for the long-suffering staff,” said Lovain toward the end of the meeting. “And I think the TV audience is down to about 12 people, most of whom think they are watching the ‘Price is Right’ because they are so heavily medicated.”

Councilman Ludwig Gaines disagreed.

“You are asking politicians with a televised audience to be brief?” Gaines asked, motioning toward the cameras. “Good luck.”

“There’s nobody there,” Lovain responded.