(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The longest federal government shutdown in the county’s history has, at least for now, come to a close. Tysons’ state and federal representatives — who are all Democrats — are expressing relief at the shutdown’s closure but with harsh condemnation of President Trump.
Tysons, Vienna and Merrifield are represented by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th District). Connolly was one of the first local representatives to comment on the news and called the decision long overdue.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) January 25, 2019
With the shutdown ending, for now, Connolly announced today that he has introduced — with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019, “which would bring the 2019 pay increase for civilian federal employees in line with the raise given to members of the military.”
Pimmit Hills and parts of McLean are represented by Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), who criticized Trump for waiting so long to back the deal proposed in December.
“I’m grateful that the shutdown will end soon, but I do not understand why it happened at all,” Beyer wrote in a statement. “Why did President Trump inflict this shutdown on the country?… It inflicted extreme pain on the people I represent, and there was no reason for it. As the president approaches the new deadline he just agreed to for the expiration of government funding, he must think of people besides himself. This must never happen again.”
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District) expressed concerns over the long term impacts of the shutdown.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans will never recover from Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s petty power play,” Wexton wrote in a statement. “They should apologize for all suffering they inflicted on federal workers, contractors, and everyone who was impacted by their senseless shutdown. This debacle accomplished nothing other than to lower our nation’s standing in the world and attack our already overburdened federal workforce.”
Even with the shutdown ended, Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, warned that there could still be lingering economic effects of the delays in fee and payment collections by Fairfax County.
Photo via @whitehouse
One month into the government shutdown, Fairfax County is starting to feel the squeeze.
Accordingly, state and local governments have started enacting measures to try to give relief to furloughed workers. On Jan. 14, Virginia’s Department of Social Services announced that SNAP (food stamp) recipients will receive the February food benefits in January.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is also hosting its third hiring event tonight (Wednesday) to give furloughed workers a chance to work as substitute teachers. The event is set to run from 5-7:30 p.m. at the FCPS administration building in Merrifield (8115 Gatehouse Road).
“We always have a need for substitute teachers,” said John Torre, public information officer for FCPS. “On average, we hire 900 to 1,100 subs every day. For furloughed workers, we are expediting the hiring process and many of those who attended the first two events have already been placed in schools as substitute teachers.”
At yesterday’s (Tuesday) meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors even considered delaying the Feb. 15 deadline for car tax payments.
But Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, warned that delays in payment collection could have a ripple effect on county services. According to Shafroth:
“There will be significant and hard issues in a county affected by thousands of residents abruptly working without pay — issues such as the county’s needs to try and fill in the gaps in emergency services (inability to pay utility bills, purchase enough food, get a child to the doctor, etc.). I know the county has already considering steps to delay some car tax payments — sort of a double whammy, because it would reduce revenues to the county, even as it is providing desperately needed services over and beyond its adopted budget. The impact will be disproportionate in Fairfax county, because that is the home to nearly 20% of all federal workers in our region.”
Shafroth said there are roughly 5,000 families that rent in Fairfax, and there are concerns inside the county government that those families could be evicted if they’re unable to pay rent or unable to access work, pharmacies or groceries if they’re not able to continue making car payments. In providing relief for these vital services, Shafroth says the county government will have to do triage on the services at risk for families of federal employees and work with providers to continue those services.
“That is, without any uncertainty how long the President’s shut down will last, the county is under pressure to put health and safety of its citizens first,” said Shafroth. “That will impose hard choices on the county’s leaders: in effect, the White House is shifting a fiscal burden to the county: will that mean the county will have to consider higher fees and taxes? What will it cost to help an estimated 5,000 families at risk of losing rental assistance?”
Among the services at risk, Shafroth said free and reduced-price meals at public schools could eventually be on the chopping block and other necessities for low-income residents.
“Because there is a disproportionate number of families who either work directly or by contract for the federal government, the county is projecting the potential hole in housing assistance payments could total as much as $5 million a month — in this bitter weather, that is hardly an option,” said Shafroth. “Fairfax County will find itself not only overwhelmed by demands for public service — especially those involving lives at risk — but all coming even as revenues will be depleted from receiving less in sales and use taxes, and other revenues: the candle will be burned at both ends.”
- Hotline available for assistance: Individuals in need can contact Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services Planning staff at 703-222-0880 (TTY 711) for assistance in connecting to resources. This service is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The multilingual staff can assist callers in multiple foreign languages.
- Unemployment benefits: Federal government employees who have been separated from their job due to the shutdown and have questions about benefits should contact the Virginia Employment Commission. The phone number for the Customer Contact Center is 866-832-2263.
- Free lunch program: FCPS announced on Jan. 8 that meals for breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students regardless of their ability to pay, and unpaid balances will be allowed to build up without immediate repercussions for the duration of the shutdown.
- Northern Virginia Community College: NOVA’s Workforce and Economic Development Office is offering a free (non-credit) class to furloughed federal employees and contractors. Employees can choose from select Business & Management, IT & Computer Skills, and Professional Development classes. Some classes have prerequisites and proof of federal employment is required. Call 703-878-5770 or visit the web site for further information.
- George Mason University’s School of Business will hold career skills workshops — free to furloughed workers and government contractor employees affected by the shutdown — on Jan. 31 at its Arlington campus.
- Child Care Assistance and Referral Program: For families in the CCAR program with a 12-month eligibility, those without income can request that child care co-payments be lowered. CCAR staff are available discuss their ongoing child care needs. Call 703-449-8484 or email [email protected].gov.
- School Age Child Care: Families impacted by the federal government shutdown may continue to use services and apply for a reduced fee and/or develop a payment plan. Alternatively, families may request temporary inactive status, which allows families to maintain a child’s enrollment in SACC. Call 703-449-8989 or email [email protected]
- Free Connector Bus Rides: Fairfax Connector will provide free rides system-wide for federal government employees affected by the government shutdown who are still required to report for work. Eligible riders must present a federal photo ID to the bus operator. For schedules and route information, estimated arrival times, and more, sign up for email and/or text alerts through Fairfax Connector BusTracker.
- Reston Community Center is waiving summer camp fees for children of families affected by the shutdown.
- Pet Supplies: The county Animal Shelter has pet food and a limited amount of other supplies available for furloughed federal employees. The supplies are available during shelter business hours and no is appointment needed. For information, call 703-830-1100 or email [email protected]
Photo via FCPS
After two previous events to help furloughed federal employees find temporary work hit full capacity, Fairfax County Public Schools will be holding its third hiring event next week.
The event will be held next Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 5-7:30 p.m. at the FCPS Administration Center in Merrifield (8115 Gatehouse Road).
The daily pay rate for substitute teachers is $100, or $95 for substitute instructional assistants. Substitute teachers are responsible for classroom instruction, safety and management.
“Approximately 350 furloughed employees attended our first two hiring events, and we recognized the need to add a third event to show our support for our neighbors who — in many cases — are parents of FCPS students,” School Board chair Karen Corbett Sanders said in a press release. “We always have a need for substitute teachers; on average, we hire 900 to 1,100 subs every day. We will continue to work with applicants to expedite the hiring process and get them into the classroom as soon as possible.”
Those interested in attending the event should register online and fill out a teaching application and I-9 employment eligibility form. According to FCPS, the hiring event will involve an expedited process to get workers into classrooms as quickly as possible.
Photo via FCPS
Tysons Gymboree Expected to Close — “Children’s clothing retailer Gymboree Group Inc. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection this week, with plans to close all 900 of its stores, according to people familiar with the matter.” The company has a Gymboree location at the Tysons Corner Center mall. [Wall Street Journal]
Black Ice Warning This Morning — From Fairfax County Fire and Rescue: “Be careful walking out your front door as well. Please also walk with caution on sidewalks and parking lots.” [Twitter]
Cybersecurity CEO Gives Up Salary — Moe Jafari, the CEO of Tysons-based cybersecurity company and government contractor Human Touch, has given up his salary to save money during the government shutdown. [WUSA 9]
Tysons Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in the Tysons area.
We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield and McLean. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Valo Park Blood Drive
Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Dr)
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Inova Blood Donor Services will be hosting a blood drive at Valo Park. Another blood drive will be hosted at 7900 Westpark Drive in Mclean later this week. To make an appointment, schedule online or call 1-866-BLOODSAVES (1-866-256-6372).
Albert Lee at Jammin Java
Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave E)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Guitarist Albert Lee will be performing at Jammin Java. Lee, who has been performing with R&B, country, and rock and roll bands since 1959, is renowned for his speed. Doors open at 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $25.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Free Spaghetti Dinner for Furloughed Workers & Their Families
American Legion Dyer-Gunnell Post 180 (330 North Center Street)
Time: 5-8 p.m.
The Vienna American Legion Post is offering a free spaghetti dinner available to all furloughed government employees and their families.
Thursday, Jan. 17
Specialty Beer Release: Resilience
Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike)
Time: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
The Tysons Biergarten will host a party celebrating the launch of Resilience, a beer brewed by Sierra Nevada to support relief efforts for those affected by the California wildfires. All sales of the beer go to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund.
McLean Presbyterian Church (1020 Balls Hill Rd)
Time: 12-1 p.m.
McLean Presbyterian Church will have lunch for employees who are furloughed and not working at all, essential employees who are still on the job but not getting paid, and their families.
John Oates at Wolf Trap
Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd)
Time: 8-11 p.m.
‘Historic’ Tysons Apple Store May Move — “When Apple opened its first two retail spaces just hours apart at Tysons Corner Center and Glendale Galleria on May 19, 2001, nobody predicted the cultural impact and broad success Apple stores would have across the world. Now, that same success may cause Apple to leave the space that sparked a revolution in retail.” [9to5Mac]
New Tysons Chamber Chair Focusing on Growth — “‘When I look around Tysons, I can’t help but notice that we have one of the biggest darned fishing poles in the state of Virginia,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of opportunity out there. All you have to do is look out these windows and see the construction, traffic and development.'” [InsideNova]
County Grappling with Government Shutdown — “One couple that contacted [Rep. Jennifer] Wexton had to return Christmas presents. Since they work for the same federal agency and are now both furloughed, they are now worried that they will not be able to pay their mortgage or the cost of their son’s preschool.” [Fairfax Times]
Vienna Council Squabbles Over Proclamations — “The Vienna Town Council on Jan. 7 approved, if a tad irritably, approved a pair of proclamations regarding social issues beyond its usual scope of duties… Council member Carey Sienicki, while not disputing the Council’s good intentions in signing off on the proclamations, wondered if those actions weren’t a little far afield.” [InsideNova]
Hedge Fund Gunning for Gannett — Tysons-based newspaper giant Gannett is considering a takeover offer from “a hedge-fund-backed media group known for buying up struggling local papers and cutting costs.” [Wall Street Journal]
For Vienna residents impacted by the government shutdown, not only is free pet food available at a nearby pet store, but the town government is offering water bill payment extensions and limited part-time employment opportunities.
Payment deadlines for Town of Vienna water bills due at the end of the month will be extended for furloughed federal employees until after the federal government reopens. According to the press release:
“Any late fees will be waived. To apply for payment extension, furloughed Town of Vienna water customers must show proof of federal employment (via a badge or pay stub) at the finance counter at Town Hall from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.”
For those seeking part-time employment during the shutdown, in addition to Fairfax County Public Schools offering short-term substitute teacher positions, the town will be offering work in the parks and public works departments over the next four weeks.
According to the press release:
“Using funds available due to job attrition, the Town is offering part-time employment in areas where the Town currently has gaps. Tasks include assisting at the community center front desk, parks maintenance work, and filing and scanning. Furloughed employees living in the Town of Vienna will receive hiring preference. Federal employees interested in these part-time opportunities may apply online at viennava.gov/employment or in person at Town Hall or call Human Resources at 703-255- 6362.”
If you’re a government employee with a pet at home, you don’t need to worry about affording food for your animal.
Kriser’s Natural Pet, a pet store chain featuring natural food, treats and supplies, is offering free food to furloughed government employees.
“As part of this community, we just couldn’t sit idly by and watch our friends suffer and stretch to make ends meet,” the store said in a press release. “If you have a pet and have been affected by the shutdown, come in. Show us your government employee ID and we’ll give you a comparable bag of food that your pet is eating for free.”
The store has a location in Vienna at 144 Maple Ave W. and in Tysons at 7505 Leesburg Pike inside the Whole Foods shopping center. There are also two locations in Arlington, one at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center (2501 N. Harrison Street) and another in the Courthouse-Clarendon area (2509 N. Franklin Road).
Kriser’s has a variety of food types available for cats and dogs. While you’re there, if you’re looking for something to keep the pet busy over a snowed-in weekend, the stores also have a variety of toys and treats for cats and dogs.
Image via Kriser’s Natural Pet
Resources for Furloughed Feds — “Thousands of federal workers, contractors, vendors and service providers in our county are being impacted by the partial federal shutdown… Whether it is food, financial assistance or other needs, we can provide you with the resources to get you and your family through this difficult time.” [Fairfax County]
AT&T Offering Flexible Payment Options — “AT&T says it is offering flexible payment options to Mid-Atlantic customers affected by the government shutdown. ‘Just because the government shut down, doesn’t mean that your phone, TV, and internet should stop working too,’ the company said in an email.” [FairfaxNews]
Local Summer Camp Guide — “It’s winter, it’s cold, and the kids still have many months left in the school year. But as many parents know, this is the time of year when many families look ahead to summer months and how the kids will spend it.” [VivaTysons]
Big Names Among Potential Galleria Tenants — “Tysons Galleria… is in advanced talks with Tiffany & Co., Apple Inc. and gourmet grocer Balducci’s, in addition to high-end movie theater chain iPic, to open in portions of the space, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.” [Washington Business Journal]
Possible Money Motivation in McLean Double Murder — “The newly unsealed search warrant reveals why Megan Hargan might have carried out the crime: Megan’s mother discovered someone had attempted to wire ‘large amounts’ of money from her bank account on the day before her slaying. Pamela Hargan notified her bank the transfer was fraudulent. On the day of the killings, a second transfer was initiated to send money to a title company that was handling the purchase of a home by Megan in West Virginia.” [Washington Post]
Huge Tysons Development Still Looking for Office Anchor — “The developer behind Scotts Run had courted Amazon and Apple in hopes of landing an anchor for its planned 8M SF Tysons development, but neither of those panned out. Cityline Partners now continues to search for a tenant to kick off construction on the project’s office component. Cityline is one of several developers with major Tysons office projects waiting in the wings, hoping to sign pre-leases before breaking ground.” [Bisnow]
FCPS Offering Sub Gigs for Furloughed Feds — “Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school district in Virginia, is offering substitute teaching positions to federal employees furloughed during the government shutdown. The hiring event will take place Friday, Jan. 11, from 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at the FCPS Administration Center, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church.” [Patch]
Senators Press Administration on Tax Refunds — “Virginia Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) have sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking how Virginia taxpayers will be affected by the government shutdown, which has left the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) short-staffed and potentially unprepared for the beginning of the 2019 tax-filing season.” [Fairfax Times]
McLean Foundation Sets Grant Deadline — “The McLean Community Foundation has set a deadline of Feb. 1 for non-profit organizations seeking to apply for its next round of grant funding. The foundation recently awarded nearly $67,000 in grants, including funding to McLean Little League and the Old Firehouse Teen Center, among others.” [InsideNova]