Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

Don’t Ignore the School Board Election

Editor’s note: Former school board member Helen Morris and I co-authored this column which appeared in the October 7, 2021 edition of the Alexandria Times. As early voting for the Virginia general election gets underway, there’s an important but often overlooked nonpartisan contest near the bottom of the ballot—Alexandria School Board. Even if you don’t have school-age children, your vote matters: School boards oversee the spending of YOUR tax dollars, […]

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A New Pool for All of Alexandria: Do it Right and Get it Done

Alexandria School Board Chair Meagan Alderton was spot on when she said recently that our city’s inadequate aquatics facilities are a clear example of racial disparities in our community. She is correct that we need to teach elementary students how to swim, especially our Black and Brown children who are less likely to receive swim lessons outside of school. By doing this, we will be imparting essential life skills and […]

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Candidate Responses to Campaign Questions

Two city council candidates responded to my invitation to answer important questions about the future of our city that I posed in my previous post. Here are their responses in the order in which they were received. I will post any other responses received before the June 8 Democratic primary. William E. “Bill” Campbell As federal moratoriums/forbearances on rent evictions and mortgage/loan foreclosures begin to lift, families here in Alexandria […]

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Asking the Right Questions

Alexandria is fortunate to have so many candidates who are seeking public office in this election cycle. Healthy competition usually leads to an informed and fulsome exploration of different views that helps voters make the best choices. Except for this year. It’s unfortunate that so much of the current campaigns for Alexandria’s mayoral and city council races has focused on the wrong issues, and that too much of the debate […]

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An Open Letter to the School Board

Dear Chair Anderson, Vice-Chair Nolan and Members of the School Board: Your decision this Thursday about whether to maintain one connected T.C. Williams High School or to build a second comprehensive high school is about as clear-cut as it gets: Choose the option for adding capacity that is quickest, least expensive and most equitable. Most equitable: To avoid repeating the sins of the past is the most important reason why […]

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Let’s All Do Better

Over the past few months, I’ve watched with sadness as our community has descended into the tribalism that’s now commonplace in our national politics. Both sides have vilified and demonized their opponents, vowing to fight to the end and promising retribution at the ballot box for city council members who vote against them. And all because of a half-mile stretch of pavement. In case you’ve been spared the sparring, the […]

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School-Based Meals: Safe From New Trump Rule

The most recent Trump administration policy change designed to sow fear and confusion among immigrants—the potential denial of a green card if an individual has taken advantage of need-based public benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicaid or housing vouchers—is doubly pernicious. First, it will have a chilling effect on families seeking the food and health care assistance to which they are entitled, and second, it […]

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Paralysis of Indecision

In Bird by Bird, one of my favorite books about the art of writing, the celebrated author Anne Lamott tells the relatable story of her 10-year-old brother sitting at the kitchen table, tearfully agonizing over how to begin a major report on birds that had been assigned three months earlier and was due the next day. Lamott’s father puts his arm around her brother and says, “Bird by bird, buddy. […]

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Vote for Women!

One of my favorite historical photographs is a picture of my husband David’s grandmother (who was named Laura but called Mimi by her family) holding his mother–then an infant–also named Laura. It was taken in the fall of 1922 at an outdoor event, likely in the suburbs of Chicago, and if you look closely in the background, you can see a flag-draped booth with a banner that reads “Vote for […]

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Alexandria Symphony Orchestra: 75 Years and Counting

The following article appeared in the August 2, 2018 edition of The Alexandria Gazette: The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1943, in the depths of World War II. The occasion of its 75th anniversary gives the ASO and its new Music Director, Jim Ross, an opportunity to look back at what our city was like when the orchestra was formed. The Alexandria Gazette was a daily paper in those […]

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