News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, July 15, 2019

Decade-Old Blog Joke Comes Weirdly True as RA Fined For Child Labor Law Violations

Way back in ought-nine, when the Reston Association was planning on moving to is then-new headquarters, an intrepid investigative journalist (who are we kidding, it was us) discovered what was a SHOCKING detail in the floorplans: a "kids area," where we jokingly (or "jokingly") imagined that an army of child laborers would be put to work filing away all the paperwork that necessitated the costly move from RA's old headquarters in the first place.

As with other wacky memes that somehow came true in horrific this-entire-universe-is-a-twisted-simulation fashion, a decade later we discover the RA is being fined for child labor law violations, according to our BFFs at Reston Now. Wait, what?

The state fined Reston Association $12,000 for violating child labor laws late last year.

The state’s Department of Labor and Industry issued fines in October 2018 after an investigation found “numerous violations” regarding minors employed as aquatics attendants or lifeguards, according to an August 2018 inspection report obtained by Reston Now.

Kudos to our Reston Now BFFs for moving beyond wacky polls to do this weird, decidedly non "web log" thing called "journalism," or at least "listening to people who email them with axes to grind but with valid documentation to back up their gripes." We'll have to check that out some day!

But we digress. You would think that would explain why the RA has had so much trouble with its swimming pools this year. You would think.

A source familiar with the state’s labor law investigation and on-boarding of lifeguards, however, said that part of the reason for delays in opening the pools was because lifeguards did not have required safety certifications to begin working — an issue that was spotted by administrative staff “far too late” once pools were already scheduled to open. Certifications were expired or still in the process of being received, the source said.
From leaky lake houses to weighing in on development to, um, child labor fines, "far too late" is starting to sound like an appropriate replacement slogan for "Live, Work, Play," the end.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

[Insert Your Own Baked Beans Joke Here, Reston]

Reston: Enjoy flooding and petrochemical mishaps within steps of your front door, without all the tedious music, food, or culture of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the end.

Monday, July 8, 2019

500-Year Flood Strikes Reston For Second Time This Decade

This Twitter video of flooded cars in the county Reston North park and ride lot along Sunset Hills Drive looks eerily similar to flooding in September 2011, which after the fact was officially categorized as a 500-year rainfall event. Well, here we are again, 492 years ahead of schedule.


And if you managed to wade to the Metro:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hats Off: Small Change Consignment Goes Dark at Lake Anne After 37 Years

One of Lake Anne's longest running businesses, Small Change Consignment, is closing its doors on Saturday after 37 years. Owner Susann Gerstein, who started the shop in 1981 after moving to Reston from New York City, told Reston Now that the rent for the Lake Anne space rose precipitously in the last year -- something that has hastened the end of other Lake Anne businesses over the years.

Small Change Consignment joins the Lakeside Pharmacy and Cafe Jasmine as Lake Anne landmarks which will be long remembered for their constant presence in a rapidly changing Reston over the decades. As Gerstein says:

When we opened small change on November 21st 1981, my friends and I hoped to create a warm, welcoming space on beautiful Lake Anne Plaza, to recycle clothes, shoes, baby gear, maternity wardrobes, toys and children's books. We were young mothers ourselves and we hoped to build a sense of community and help families reduce the clutter of child-rearing, make some money back, and spend less on what kids need and outgrow.

Kathy retired in 1989, Margaret in 2002, and now I'm not just a mother of three but a grandmother of five, and I'm so grateful that our little shop has endured and prospered, providing quality name brand items to hundreds, probably thousands, of second and third generation small change shoppers and consignors.

Small Change closes its doors at 9pm Saturday.

Hats off.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Flashback: Sex Sells (Stucco Shacks)

"Hubba hubba!" was probably what the kids, or at least their gross uncles, would have said back then.

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to 1975, a freer, more liberated time when the fancypants advertising Mauve Men (and clearly they were men) whose job it was to sell planned community townhomes nowhere near towns knew how to move some stucco and plywood units, baby!

Of course the rest of the ad talked about all the resort-like amenities Reston had to offer, including pools (LOL), golf (double LOL), and all the things "vacations are made of," all for the low starting price of $25,750. Surprisingly, they didn't mention Reston's Sexy Past, but they did include this bit of unintended humor:

It's almost as if amenities have intrinsic value that contribute to quality of life in a built environment that, in turn, makes said built environment better to live in, and therefore capable of commanding higher prices in the marketplace, as evidenced by the premise guiding the primary focus of this advertising. Almost!

But we digress. Zipping back to ought-minus-100-plus-75, Don Draper Deep Russet Brown even managed to "close" the ad copy by making a Modest Proposal: "Take the money you were going to spend on your vacation and use it for a down payment on a house in Reston."

Still not convinced? Take a look at that top image again, and then read further:


Here's the full ad, in all its glory:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Faith in Democracy Restored, Sort Of: $255 Per Vote, Fancy Signs, Not Enough To Buy Election

Walter Alcorn decisively won the shockingly expensive primary for the Democratic nomination for the Hunter Mill seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, garnering nearly 50 percent of the vote (which sounds great, until you realize he got just 5,385 votes in an election that represented an existential debate about the character of local representation in a fast-growing community and then sadness ensues). Laurie Dodd came in a close(ish) second with 2,847 votes, followed by Shyamali Roy Hauth with 1,746 votes. Comstock employee and banner enthusiast Maggie Parker got 1,010 votes, which, given the nearly $260,000 she spent on this election, works out to more than $255 per person who actually voted for her. Primary losers aren't allowed to run in the general election, so this all but assures that Alcorn will be elected to succeed Cathy Hudgins in November.

Between the massive amounts of money all of the candidates spent -- which, with the turnout only roughly half of previous low-turnout Democratic primaries in Hunter Mill, actually works out to more like $50 per person who showed up to vote in what wound up being the highest turnout in the county, and the hilarious First Amendment violations in one of the growing number of private "public" spaces in our community, it's hard to see this as a huge victory for the democratic process, but we'll take it.

Friday, June 7, 2019

How Much Is A Seat On The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Worth? Apparently At Least $420,000, Or $25 Per Vote

Totally normal thing to see atop a county-owned garage in a totally normal local election with totally normal local candidates.

Ahead of Tuesday's primary, the five candidates running for the Democratic nomination for the Hunter Mill seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have raised at least an eye-popping $421,702, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Banner-happy Comstock employee Maggie Parker is responsible for the lion's share -- nearly $260,000, more than $100,000 of which came directly from Comstock or Comstock-related individuals or organizations, not all of whom have, shall we say, left-learning affiliations.

That's a lot of money for... not a lot of voters, at least historically. Looking at county voting records, Hunter Mill district turnout in the 2017 and 2018 Democratic primaries hovered around 15 percent (last year, only a small number of district voters were in the boundaries of the 10th Congressional district, but the percentage of voters was still right around that level). The Hunter Mill board seat wasn't up for grabs either time, so let's be generous and assume all the fancy banners, mailers, and filthy "web logging" about this primary bumps up turnout a little and 20 percent of the eligible voters in Hunter Mill actually Pokemon Go to the polls on Tuesday. If our slide rule calculations hold up, that means for each of the 16,950 expected voters, the candidates will spend at least $25 per vote -- and $15 of that will be from Parker's campaign alone.

It's almost as if a giant developer someone has a financial stake in the outcome of the election! Almost. Actually, we'll give Parker and Comstock credit for falling squarely in the DGAF camp, taking naked advantage of the grey area involving privately owned and operated "public spaces" and providing only the curtest of responses to voter questionnaires. No one can claim to be surprised about what they're voting for, that's for sure, but we're still shocked at the cynically brazen tactics.

Meanwhile today, Fairfax County Chair Sharon Bulova all but threatened legal action against Comstock to allow other candidates to campaign on Reston Station property, saying the company's actions are "clearly wrong and cannot be tolerated."

Unfortunately, since it's the close of business on the Friday before the election, Comstock can claim it didn't receive the letter until the 11th hour and promise, through their director of marketing, that they'll work hard to make sure that First Amendment activities are protected in "the future," once they have their candidate on the board and it doesn't really matter any more.

Filthy neighborhood "web site" Nextdoor took space away from its constant stream of urgent alerts about kids ringing doorbells and distressed furniture sales to post an informal poll, although it only had 70 respondents late Friday afternoon, so take the results with a grain of salt:

Like we've said before, we've always taken comments about the current supervisor being a puppet for developers with an equally large grain of salt. After Tuesday, we may no longer be able to say the same.