Week in Alexandria

Week in Alexandria

October Surprise

Virginia election officials are asking the attorney general's office to investigate the son of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) discussing a plan to cast fraudulent ballots and the person who made the recording of the incident.

“I don’t condone the actions of the right wing organization in question,” said Moran in a written statement issued last week. “But I recognize that this incident is teaching Patrick a tough lesson early in life.”

Moran’s son resigned as field director of his father's campaign last week after a group known as Project Veritas, an organization led by activist James O'Keefe, released an undercover video in which he reacted to a plan to cast fraudulent ballots. The plan called for casting ballots in the name of 100 voters who were registered but rarely voted.

“I know that my son's intention was to deflect the line of questioning by this trained political operative bent on goading him into a specific response,” said Moran. “But the fact remains that the conversation drifted into discussions that reflected a serious error in judgment that Patrick wishes he could take back.”

Moran’s Republican opponent, Patrick Murray, was quick to try to use the situation to his advantage.

“The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem,” said Murray in a written statement. “So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we've come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.”

Independent candidate Jason Howell said the scandal provided mounting evidence that voters should get rid of the longtime congressman.

“I was saddened watching video of the apparent sting operation on Patrick,” said Howell in a written statement. “The Moran campaign may now have many distracting, legal and ethical questions to answer.”

Supreme Battle

The Alexandria waterfront plan is headed to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Last week, the commonwealth’s high court agreed to hear a case brought by Old Town residents April Burke, Beth Gibney and Marie Kux. The trio has become known as the “Iron Ladies,” a moniker devised by Old Town resident Mark Mueller that was inspired by the original Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

During the January public hearing, attorney Roy Shannon represented an effort by the Iron Ladies to submit a protest petition requiring a supermajority vote of the City Council to pass the controversial waterfront plan. City leaders said the Alexandria government was not open for business during the public hearing, and declined to accept the petition.

The Iron Ladies argue that they couldn’t have submitted a protest petition before the public hearing, but were unable to submit one during the hearing. That left them unable to file a document until the next Monday — too late to file anything that would have required a supermajority vote. Circuit Court Judge Jim Clark disagreed, and the Iron Ladies took the case to Richmond. Now that the justices have agreed to hear the case, opponents of the waterfront plan say they are eager to have their day in court.

“We believe that if the Supreme Court reverses Judge Clark, the effect of it would be to invalidate the council’s adoption of the waterfront plan,” said Bert Ely, a member of the waterfront work group who is supporting the lawsuit. “That means they would have to start all over again.”

City Attorney James Banks said Judge Clark’s ruling was correct, and he believes the city will have a strong case to make in Richmond that the justices should uphold the decision.

“The city’s position is that the petition was improperly filed and improperly proffered,” said Banks. “They needed to file it in normal business hours, just like any other court. The Circuit Court is not open 24 hours a day to accept filings, nor is any other court in the commonwealth or the nation.”

No Left Turns

Drivers on Washington Street have noticed a few more signs this week, as new restrictions to into place restricting the use of left-hand turns at most of the intersections during rush hours. The change was the result of a 2011 safety study that found an elevated accident rate for vehicles making left turns during HOV hours.