Inside an 800-square-foot shop, D.C.-based social entrepreneur Ahmad Ashkar is using his Mom's falafel recipe to raise money for refugees.
Maryland voters green light a casino at National Harbor, but developers face legal roadblocks. The District unveils a list of school closings, but some parents want to put on the brakes. And D.C.’s former Council chair cruises through sentencing on bank fraud charges. It’s our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Walter Tejada Vice-Chair, Arlington County Board (D)
- Jon Peterson Senior Vice President, the Peterson Companies
Politics Hour Video
Arlington County board member Walter Tejada discussed immigration reform, the Latino community’s enthusiasm gap during the 2012 elections and how the Republican Party can garner support from minorities.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist with The Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, where should we start today? Should we start with the fact that there's going to be an apparent closing down of Hostess and the Twinkies that so many Americans have come to identify with?
MR. TOM SHERWOODWell, you know, Twinkies has gotten such a cultural iconic attention from those who like to eat them apparently and those who'd love to hate them because of their lack, you know, their calories and their lack of any substance. But, you know, we -- you kind of laugh about, oh, Twinkies, Hostess. You're not going to have them. Then you realize they're talking about 18,500 jobs.
SHERWOODSo it's Irving, Texas-based corporation and basically told its union not to strike. They did, and then they say they're going to go through liquidation.
NNAMDIIt's not merely about whether Twinkies are healthy or not. It's about whether or not people are going to have jobs, and that is often forgotten in the humorous exchanges that people are having about this.
SHERWOODIf we had an hour-and-a-half show, I could read the ingredients of a Twinkie, but I'd encourage people maybe to Google and see what's in a Twinkie.
NNAMDIWe don't have an hour-and-a-half show, but we'll maybe at another day do that. Right now, we have to talk about what's going on in the District of Columbia. Once again, a round of school closings has got everybody agitated on both sides of the issue. You and I have gone around this block several times before, and it seems that there is a dispute over whether or not these schools should be closed according to Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander before we know the root of the problem, so to speak.
SHERWOODWell, I think people know -- I don't think it's that much dispute about what the root or the problem is. The city has enough school buildings for 140,000 students, and it has 70,000, 40-some thousand or 30-some thousand in charter schools a few years ago when Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson talked about this on this program this week with Marc Fisher.
NNAMDIGlad you listened.
SHERWOODI actually read the transcript. I didn't listen because I actually work during the day. But in any event, it's very -- she says she doesn't like calling it school closings. She wants to call it consolidation. But the fact is there are school buildings that will be closed to students, and that they will have 3,000 or so students will have to go to new buildings, new situations, new neighborhoods, new parent-teacher groups, new teachers, new principals.
SHERWOODAnd so it is a major disruption. But on the other hand, she says and I think fairly clearly, well, I can keep running these various small schools, but it will cost a lot more. So the city is -- the schools are improving. More people in -- are trying to keep their kids in the schools. Wilson High School and this neighborhood, of course, is overcapacity for -- the city needs another school to attract kids. So there's a lot she needs to do, but she says she can't do -- keep spreading the resources around school buildings she doesn't need.
NNAMDIShe does want, however, hold on to the buildings.
SHERWOODWell, that's what people are saying. You know, there's a virtual baby boom in some parts of the city, and we may need these school buildings. But parents and neighborhood people don't want to live next to a hulking building that's boarded up. She says she'll try to make use of them -- rent them out, use them for other resources. But people do not want to live around an abandoned school.
NNAMDIFormer D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown was sentenced this past Tuesday for bank fraud. He won't be spending any time in jail. He was sentenced to a day in custody of the marshals and whose custody he already was, so that by the end of that day it was over. He's also been sentenced to six months of home confinement for having lied on two applications for personal bank loans, and he got 480 hours of community service. Obviously, there were people who felt that he should have gotten jail time. There were others who felt that this was appropriate.
SHERWOODWell, people have to remember that he pled guilty to a felony that had nothing to do with his public duties as an elected official in the city. It was stupid bank fraud. He called it stupid, so I can say it now without qualifying it. It was stupid bank fraud in which he inflated his income by $50,000 or more so he could buy a stupid boat. I mean, and he used, I might add, the fax in -- capabilities in his own office to fax the illegal documents. So that was bad.
SHERWOODAnd he also was fined. There was a misdemeanor charge for him using cash in his 2008 campaign. But I want to -- for those people who think he got off easy, they weren't in the courtroom on the day he accepted the sentence. And he teared up and choked up and said that he had done something stupid, and he was wrong. But worse, when he went over to the D.C. Superior Court --that was federal court -- he went to Superior Court.
SHERWOODAnd I could not go because I had to prepare another story. But Mark Seagraves, from WTOP, called me and said it was the worst thing he had seen. In comes Kwame Brown in his suit, but they had taken his tie. They had taken his belt. So they could not commit suicide, I guess, as they do with other prisoners or attack anyone else. And he was in shackles. His arms, hands and feet were shackled, and there was a chain connecting the two around his waist.
SHERWOODSo he was clearly if one day -- it reminds of what the U.S. attorney said on this program, sitting right here. He said anyone who spends one day in prison will know it's not a thing to do. Now, he didn't -- Kwame didn't go to prison, but he spent one day where he had to be shackled, and I suspect that probably had more of an impact on him than anything else as he shuffled into the courtroom.
NNAMDIThe indignity of it. You know, I began to reflect on the going-to-prison that people insisted on, and then I said, well, Martha Stewart went to prison, and it didn't seem to affect her career significantly. She seemed to bounce right back. I guess, the loss of dignity and in some case the loss of income can be more devastating than simply going to prison.
SHERWOODI can't remember the severity of the charges of an insider dealing...
NNAMDISpend a few months.
SHERWOOD...that she had. I don't know if that was a felony. But the key thing to remember is that Kwame Brown was convicted -- or he pled guilty to a felony. It's not a minor thing. It's a -- he could have gotten a significant time in prison, but he didn't. He wasn't Harry Thomas stealing $400,000 in city money that was supposed to go to children. So it was a pretty horrendous situation that Kwame Brown found himself in. And his attorney, Fred Cooke, says, you know, he believes that his, you know, political career is over, but there are others have come back. We'll see what happens.
NNAMDILet's move to Virginia so that we can bring our guests into the conversation. HOT lanes opening on the Beltway in Virginia tomorrow -- high occupancy toll lanes. They'll test the idea of a privately operated toll road in Virginia. What do you think, Tom Sherwood?
SHERWOODWell, if I never drive (unintelligible)...
SHERWOODYou know, Adam Tuss, our excellent transportation reporter that we stole from WTOP, you know, has been doing stories about that. He's doing another one today because there's a lot of feeling about people who come in from Maryland into Virginia exactly how they're going to handle that, who's going to use it. They're hoping to phase it, open it up tomorrow I think at midnight -- 2 .am. or so tomorrow morning.
SHERWOODAnd then we'll have this kind of soft week because of Thanksgiving next week to see how it works out. But people are saying that's the future of roads in Virginia that you'll pay to drive them.
NNAMDIWell, joining us in studio, someone who will have an opinion on this. Walter Tejada is in studio with us. He was recently reelected as chair of the Arlington County Board. Walter Tejada, congratulations. Thank you so much for joining us.
MR. WALTER TEJADAThank you. I want to tell you the congratulations as I'm -- I've been named vice chairman, and I think that on Jan. 1st perhaps there's a couple of other colleagues agree with me maybe there will be -- talking about that. But thanks, Kojo. It's good to be here.
NNAMDIWell, I think on Jan. 1st you will be chair. He's currently vice chair of...
SHERWOODYou're interfering with the elective process...
NNAMDIIt's what we do.
SHERWOOD...people of the Republic of Arlington.
NNAMDIIt's the purpose for the existence of "The Politics Hour" here so we can interfere in the politics of the region. What do you think about the HOT lanes, Walter?
TEJADAWell, you know, I just experienced a little bit of it. I drove to visit our friends in Loudoun County for the kickoff of the Street Smart campaign on Wednesday and got to pay $4.50 to get into the Greenway over there.
TEJADAAnd then that's one way. And then, of course, it cost me nine bucks altogether, plus the toll in the Dulles toll way to get back here. So I understand, you know, the cost. And frankly, part of what I thought about is whether -- what some people may not be able to afford. Sometimes, if you're able to afford it, I guess, that would be good. So, you know...
SHERWOODDid it save you time by going that way as opposed to the roads you would have taken had you not paid the tolls?
TEJADANot really. I would say that, you know, it's -- I mean, that's a direct route that I had to choose from, and I could have taken Route 7. Probably, it would have been a traffic light here and there. But in the end, you know, depending on how much of a rush you're in and what -- how much time you give yourself, so, you know, that is a project that's been in the making for a long time.
SHERWOODHow fast did you go?
TEJADAOf course, around the limit.
SHERWOODAround the limit?
TEJADAAround the limit.
SHERWOODOh. I know what that means.
TEJADAWell, we try to...
SHERWOODThat's a good one. Around...
TEJADALet me put it...
SHERWOODOfficer, I was going around the limit.
TEJADALet me put it this way, with the flow of traffic. How is that?
SHERWOODWith the flow of traffic, OK.
NNAMDISince we're talking about developments in Virginia, let's stay there for a while. There's a whole lot happening along Columbia Pike. You have expressed some misgivings about gentrification along Columbia Pike. Can you talk a little bit about the plans for development and in particular the streetcar there and how your concerns have been resolved?
TEJADASure. As you know, Arlington have -- we kind of had been reinventing ourselves for a few decades now. Since we have Metro that went underground instead alongside I-66 as it were originally proposed. In fact, at the time, actually, Columbia Pike was thought about an area that Metro will go. It didn't. And so it's been one of our major roads that crosses the entire county.
TEJADAAnd for several years now, we've had a plan undergoing as part of the Columbia Pike revitalization plans, and just in July of this year we approved what we call the Columbia Pike neighborhoods, land use and housing plan in which we made a significant plan to create a kind of a main street or converting what it is now to a main street, a new modern main street. It entails so many neighborhoods around it.
TEJADAAnd part of it -- the misgivings you mentioned, for me, it was or remains on the issue of affordable housing. But part of what I was looking for as we went through the process is -- there were a couple of things I definitely wanted to make happen -- make sure it happened. One was protecting not a percentage but all of the affordable housing that we have in that area. That we accomplished. I also...
SHERWOODHow much affordable...
TEJADASix thousand, two hundred units that we have remaining in that area. As you know, we've lost a lot throughout -- last year because we're victims of our own success, you know, in that regard. We're a good place to come to live in, and so that puts a lot of pressure on. So that was one major accomplishment. We also opened the door to a possible source of revenue to protect low-income tenants and small business retention out of any bonus density that maybe had as a result of -- if development occurs there.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Our guest is Walter Tejada, vice chairman of the Arlington County Board. Do you think development along Columbia Pike including a streetcar would be positive for the area? It's an expensive project, and some worry about how the county will pay for it.
TEJADAThere is a lot of confusion about that, and, you know, we just had a session last night at the Central Library which was televised and open to the public on how to construct it or what -- who should do it. Should we be there or the county? Should an entity come in and design it? And there are many models to do that. Our plan to fund our part is from federal reimbursement.
TEJADAWe have -- we are going to be applying now after having the approval -- recently, we had another vote of four that we've taken since 2006. This last one was four-zero-one in support of moving forward with the streetcar. We're going to apply for the New START program that the federal government will be reimbursing us for those costs. In addition, we get refunds also from the state, about 35 percent.
TEJADASo our pot combined with Fairfax County -- remember, we're splitting it with Fairfax County because it's starts in -- (unintelligible) the proposal, goes through Columbia Pike, eventually down through Pentagon City into Crystal City and eventually through Potomac Yard and possibly hooking up with the city of Alexandria, which really we're setting the base for the next wave of public transportation, perhaps as it was being thought at the Metro some time ago.
SHERWOODAnd this -- for people who don't know, you'd start on that in Fairfax County and build inward, not in Arlington and build outward.
TEJADACorrect. It starts at the skyline area...
TEJADA...which is just next to -- adjacent to Arlington. We come down into Columbia Pike. And then from the west end in Arlington of the Columbia Pike, building all though the east and past the -- where the Navy Annex is, where Sheraton Hotel is, passed the Pentagon in Pentagon City and eventually hook up with Crystal City area and Potomac Yards.
SHERWOODIs there enough space for the construction of the street car? You take lanes from Columbia Pike to do it, but as a -- for the construction gear and equipment and the lane closures to get it done in time, how long would this be done? If all goes well, when will it be done?
TEJADASure. The answer is yes, and we took years to examine it. And that's one reason why we still haven't broken ground because we want to make sure the designs, the width of the street, the sidewalks that eventually will be there, they would have to comply with all kind of American Disabilities Act. And then we'll have complete streets. But the answer is yes. The street car is -- would be plan to run on the right lane on both sides of Columbia Pike without taking up a sole lane of its own. And cars and buses will still be able to travel on the same track.
TEJADABicycles. You know, obviously, there will be indentations onto the road with the metal of the rail of the train will go, the street car, so you have to be cautious. But we've also designed an alternative bike route for bicycles around the Columbia Pike area. Some will be on the pike, but others are adjacent. We take bicycling very seriously, and I'm happy to talk more about that if you like. But in general, there will not be a dedicated lane only for the street car. It will be shared with buses and with automobile.
NNAMDIWell, I'd like to talk more about politics specifically rather than about transportation. But if you have called, stay on the line. We will get to your call. The number is 800-433-8850. Virginia, in many race, reflects trends. We're seeing across the country as we know from the last census, Virginia says panic population doubled over the past decade. Can you talk a little bit about how we saw that play out in this last election here in Virginia?
TEJADAIt would be my pleasure.
TEJADAI'll tell you. Many of us have been making a life mission to encourage people to become U.S. citizens, to go through the process and then eventually register to vote after they become citizens and then get out to vote. Well, I think the fruits of our efforts have paid off in this past election. We have around the country that there's, you know, what we have now is a new order in the nation. We have a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, cross-class coalition that propel many Democrats, certainly the president, to victory. And in large part, we have over 90 percent of African-Americans.
TEJADAIn some cases, over 75 percent of the Latino vote went for President Obama and about 72 percent of the Asian-Americans and other folks. So we talk -- we got in forces with the gay community, women, different other coalitions. So we have -- the Latino community feels at the moment that we did our part, that the philosophy expressed by President Obama and the philosophy the platform expressed by the Democrats was more in line what the Latino community supported, and you see by those overwhelming numbers.
TEJADAAnd Virginia, you know, we -- we've had -- not long ago, 2000, it was about 4 percent of the population. Today is double, 8 -- over 8 percent. We have more and more people that are registering to vote, and that's one of the smallest population around the country. We look at Nevada, Colorado, Florida and states that were in play, and they made a difference significantly. In Nevada, it was close to 80 percent.
TEJADAOver 80 percent, actually in some of the polling results we have of Latino decisions, NAACP, I know, have done some polling about this. So we're looking at a very serious voting bloc that the Latino community is not coming, is not awakened in some point in the future. It's here, and is awaken and is deciding who's going to be the leaders of our country.
SHERWOODWithin the state of Virginia itself, yourself included, how many Hispanic-Latino office holders are there, and when do you see somebody running for Congress or statewide office in Virginia?
TEJADAVery few. Very few and...
SHERWOODVery few or a few or very few?
TEJADAVery few, very few. Sure.
SHERWOODVery few. It's what I thought you said.
TEJADAIn Arlington, we have three. We have -- currently, the school board chair of Arlington is Emma Violand-Sanchez, who happens to be of Bolivian roots, and she's wonderful. Dr. Violand-Sanchez, actually I should say, she has Ph.D. We have delegates -- State Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who was also elected recently, and myself, who was the first Latino elected in Arlington. And so, you know, we have a long way to go.
TEJADAI think that -- but many of us also believe that what we need to do is work with the family. Work with -- bring in people along, creating leadership and we have a lot of young people, a network that we built for many years of work that many people are now in position to begin thinking about running.
NNAMDIYeah, but you've talked about an enthusiasm gap, you called it, in the Latino community in the lead up to this election. Can you talk a little bit about that?
TEJADAAbsolutely. There is no question that many of us who would describe ourselves as progressives could find some things that we're in particular thrill with the Obama administration over the first four years. And myself, one of the great gauges is the lack of progress on immigration reform. And I think in June, though, this year, things changed because while the president did try with bipartisan efforts to enact the DREAM Act in 2010 and failed because simply the Republicans didn't come to the table to help -- make that happen.
TEJADAAnd we had encouraged the administration to -- through organizations like the National Council of La Raza, NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials -- that the president did have the executive discretion to make a decision. Well, he wanted to do bipartisan. He did act in June to allow what's called defer action, so that our young people who came to this country of no fault of their own can have an aspiration to come out of the shadows by getting a work permit and then aspiring to pay in-state tuition and continue their education.
TEJADAThis is the people that we refer to as the dreamers. That was a significant impact to many of us who had some skepticism about it. But clearly, when we come down to it, when you compare it to the other side and set self-deportation, OK, that's...
SHERWOODYou had no choice, really.
TEJADAWell, you know, that sounds really nice. But exactly what does that mean? You make life so miserable and uncomfortable for someone. So you embrace a laws like the Arizona law, like Alabama, like Prince William in this area to make people leave. That's simply wrong, and it doesn't rub it as well.
SHERWOODYou didn't have really a choice given the positions of the Romney campaign. What do you make of the Republican governors, I think, meeting in Las Vegas and others who are now saying, post-election, that the party made a mistake by not reaching out to Latino -- Hispanic community with a more humane policy towards immigration?
SHERWOODRemember Newt Gingrich, so many people think, is a right-wing conservative lunatic sometimes. But he said in his effort to be president, we can't deport grandmothers. We're not going to do that. We have to have a humane policy. Do you believe that the Republican Party is just going through post-election withdrawal agony, or do you think they will actually move on that issue?
NNAMDIAnd what do you think they should be doing?
TEJADAWell, I think it's time to say welcome to the table. I think that we need to focus on constructive ways to, once and for all, resolving issues, those of us who have the privilege to get elected, in our case, to local offices to solve specific local problems and not to hunt them down the road or we kick the can down the road. This has been an issue that the Republican Party has alienated in large part, not only the Latino community, but a multitude of other people, some who are born and raised in this country.
TEJADAAnd I think that part of what is at play here is that we need to really focus on what's happening here. The Democrats want immigration reform. The Republicans need immigration reform. Otherwise, if the Republicans continue to embrace those harsh, primitive policies, then they will continue to lose generations of Latino voters. And frankly, I think it's time for a new start. Once we -- the election has taken place, we all need to embrace the democracy.
TEJADAYou know, I had to swallow hard in 2000 and in 2004, and I was invited to a number of radio stations to speak 'cause I had been actively promoting the (word?) and so on. And I say, you know what, we have to respect the process. The opposition won. Let's work together to make things happen. So I think it's time for us to really put whatever talking points or extremist view both on the left and on the right aside and really think, look, we have 11 million people. We have to find out who are among those are able to qualify for an earned legalization and that we can focus on immigration reforms.
NNAMDIOur guest is Walter Tejada. He is vice chairman of the Arlington County Board. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. If you've got questions or comments, what do you think the Republicans need to do in order to do better in areas with growing Latino populations? You can call us at 800-433-8850.
NNAMDITalking about areas with growing Latino populations, Prince William County is now a majority-minority county and polled 56 percent for President Obama in the latest election. But Prince William was also the center of a lot of the immigration debate because it allows police to check citizenship status of those that they arrest. Do you think voters sent a message in Prince William County, and if so, what was it?
TEJADAWell, again, this is another example of an evolving coalition of multiracial and multiethnic and cross-class coalition. And when you look at -- the information I have is pretty close to the numbers you have, Kojo. I have 57 percent, actually, going for Obama, 41 for Romney. And it tells you that there's a growing number of people who have moved to the county who are educated, who are progressive, who are diverse and that they -- many of them were first-time voters.
TEJADAAnd what's going to happen is there's a whole bunch of other people in Prince William County who, very soon, will be able to vote, and they are going to vote regularly. And I think the writing is on the wall for those who may be aspiring for elected office, whether it's locally there or statewide, that there is a clear message.
TEJADAIf you engage in punitive approaches and divisive tactics, it will backfire because it doesn't resonate well with many of us who either know someone who has struggled to an immigrant issue at the moment or we ourselves are immigrants or have mixed families that we know of whether someone maybe an immigrant and still not a U.S. citizen and someone is U.S. citizen and a young person involved.
TEJADASo, you know, I think there's a clear -- and that's just not in Prince William County. We also have the same thing in Loudoun County happening. So in Virginia -- but we also, a lot of times, don't mention Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, Richmond.
SHERWOODThat's 'cause that's not within our...
TEJADAWell, you know, in terms of the...
SHERWOODYeah. But they can listen online.
SHERWOODBut let me ask you because you mentioned Prince William and the Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. It doesn't sound like he's been chasing by anything that happened on the elections. He was quoted by the TOP as saying the racial issue in the immigration issue is easily overstated here. There's no reason to change course. He said, "What's right is right. I believe that if you are here illegally, you should be deported. It's pretty simple."
TEJADAWell, Mr. Corey Stewart could be suffering from a little amnesia on some of the statements he's made in the past and some of the initiatives he led himself in his own county, which were not necessarily embraced by his colleague, but he caused a lot of divisiveness and so on. You know, it's not overstated. I think it's a...
SHERWOODWill this be an issue then -- he says he may, you know, might run for lieutenant governor. Would this be an issue in the -- next year in Virginia...
TEJADAWell, some of us...
TEJADASome of us don't have short memories. We will make sure to remind folks of statements and positions and actions all of us took in the past. And so we can't just sweep it under the rug and all of a sudden think that it will be -- just sort of like Romney when, in the primary, he was very punitive and very divisive toward Latino issues. And in the general election, he tried to be a little more centrist and so on.
SHERWOODHe more recently said the president won 'cause he gave gifts.
NNAMDIOne of them being to the DREAM...
SHERWOODYes, to the DREAM...
TEJADAI have to say, some people just don't get it. You know, he made that 47 percent comment, and now, he's basically repeating it. Well, he thinks we're victims, and somehow we think we're sort of, you know, this is terrible. And I think leaders in the Republican Party need to really reflect, look at themselves in the mirror...
SHERWOODWell, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, very clearly said, I wish he would stop talking.
TEJADAI happen to agree with those comments that he's made, and I think that it just so happens -- he happens to be of Indian-American decent. So, you know, you've been -- who's looking at it. So -- but, you know, let's also make another point that is important. The white vote will continue to be a large vote for the generations to come. It is important, I think, that we all work collectively for the issues of this country. We have a new coalition around the nation, and it's time to then embrace the values of this country and move forward.
NNAMDIPut on your headphones, gentlemen, because here comes Lisa in Manassas, Va. Lisa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LISAGood afternoon. I've lived in Prince William County for 10 years, and I've seen that unless the minorities and we get out and vote, it's not going to make a difference, I mean, in all elections. Prince William County is ruled by an iron fist of Corey Stewart, Nohe. It's full of white men, and that's where the power lies in this county all the way down to the school board where it looked more diverse.
LISAWe have, you know -- but Republicans, it's not going to change until people get out and vote. And we've spent a lot of time paying attention to the national election, but when it comes to the local ideas and the local election for our supervisor or the school board, no one comes out. And until people get out and vote and run for office, you know, Democratic committee actually plants the seed in people and get them out maybe more so than a month or two before the election...
NNAMDIWalter Tejada, Lisa suggest that what happened in this general election isn't necessarily permanent change. It has to do with people coming out during a presidential election and not during off-year elections.
TEJADAWell, and the thing -- that's why some of us have been building at the grassroots' leadership so that we are cultivating folks and exposing them to the political process with participating in campaigns, knowing the local issues, volunteer in a commission or an advisory capacity, you can get to know what the issues are locally and then have an opportunity then to be able to run down the line.
TEJADAWhat we need in Prince William County, forgive the example, we need another Walter Tejada who are in Prince William County that can get involved and then be part of -- make themselves part of the process, accept that there are problems and then say, OK, I'm going to be part of the solution of the problem, and then get involved. We're working on that. And I think the point that Lisa has made is very important.
TEJADAI think part of what we need to continue is to say to all the minority, look, we need to envision a progressive vision. There is -- there are diverse community in Prince William County, we know that. The comment whether Prince William is ran by -- with an iron fist, you know, for someone who lives in the county to make that kind of statement is probably shared by thousands of other in Prince William County. I think we need to continue to work to, at the grassroots level, to create new leadership.
SHERWOODWell, clearly she didn't say like a fan of Mr. Corey Stewart, but I guess he would say, I've been elected. It's not so much an iron fist. It's -- I've been elected.
TEJADAWell, you know, where Lisa and I would agree, the more people need to vote so that they can see if that can continue and, you know, and see what -- but I think that the point also Lisa made that all politics are local, that is correct. And then so we need to encourage more participation.
NNAMDIHere's Reynaldo in Arlington, Va. Reynaldo, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
REYNALDOYeah. Hello. I would like to talk to, I mean, about the -- well, you guys were talking about the Columbia Pike corridor a few minutes ago...
REYNALDO...and the affordable housing plan that the county has. I've been living in South Arlington for the past 2 1/2 years. I just bought a home back there. And I've seen these developments around the area. And I also have been -- during the last two years, I've seen an increase in parking on the street, cars from the street parking at night.
REYNALDOAnd I was wondering if this federal housing development includes parking spaces for those developments. It looks to me that they are both related, meaning, you know, more housing (word?), less parking spaces, and it's becoming a problem. And sometimes we cannot even park in our own area where my house is.
NNAMDIMore housing, less parking, Walter Tejada.
TEJADAReynaldo, thank you very much for your comment and welcome to Arlington. You're -- been in the county for 2 1/2 years. You know, in Arlington, once you've been in the county for five years, you're a long-time resident. So...
TEJADA...you're almost half-- you're halfway there. Parking and traffic issues are part of our life in Arlington County. And for every project that we take on, there is a parking plan. There's a parking formula that we try to make sure, and there's also some transit components that we encourage. In Arlington, not only do we have the Washington area Metro buses, but also have our own Arlington buses that run -- the green buses -- and by the way, they run on natural clean air. And so clean gas. And so, you know, we encourage use of that.
TEJADAWe also have a major plan for encouraging people to use bicycles in the warmer months. And sometimes, actually people dedicated and ride bicycles also in the winter as long as it's not snow in the ground or freezing and all of that. So, Reynaldo, yes, there is -- we also -- we always have a parking plan. I encourage you to contact us at 703-228-3100 and let us know if there are any specific ones that we ought to look at. I'm always happy to try to resolve those issues. I really like to dive into those local issues, to solve these kind of problems that are of concern to the residents in the neighborhood.
SHERWOODDo new developments and redevelopments require parking? 'Cause there's been something of a change in the District where the city -- right here in Tenleytown, there's a development project, and there's an agreement not to have any parking except for one space for handicap parking for a new residential building being built in Wisconsin.
SHERWOODThere's a move in the city, at least, to not provide parking because if you don't provide parking, then you essentially force people to use public transportation. Is there any hint to that happening in Arlington, or you're just stuck with a car?
TEJADANo, we're going to stick to our values of smart growth and sustainable development. It has many components...
SHERWOODWhat does that mean?
TEJADACorrect, it means that only -- a building need to be energy efficient, but we also need to provide the parking options for folks who are going to be living in those areas and as well as connecting them and incentivizing for it to use transit. So yes, the answer is yes. There is -- any project that we build in Arlington has a parking formula.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid we're almost out of time. I left the most important question for last, Walter Tejada, is D.C. United going to defeat the Houston Dynamo on Sunday?
TEJADAI will do my best to cheer them on as much as I can. I encourage everybody to come.
NNAMDIThey got to win by at least three goals to advance. If they get two goals over Houston, they still have...
SHERWOODAnd no place for a stadium in Arlington?
TEJADAWe're in a hole right now.
SHERWOODThere's going to be a new soccer team out of Loudon County.
TEJADAWe put the issue of a stadium to rest in 2003 when the Nationals were thinking of a stadium in Arlington, and we voted 4-0-1 -- 4-1-0 actually to reject that. But it could've been in Arlington, but I'm glad that it is in (word?).
SHERWOODAnd I don't think you'll see a soccer stadium in the not too distant future in the District.
TEJADAYeah, our hope that D.C. (unintelligible) will get a stadium somewhere, and (unintelligible) franchise we have to protect.
NNAMDIThey got a stadium.
SHERWOODYeah, the ownership has to step up.
TEJADAGo to -- now, they go to the stadium Saturday 4 p.m. -- Sunday...
NNAMDISunday, Sunday at 4 p.m.
SHERWOODIt's a blackout to...
TEJADASunday, 4 p.m.
NNAMDIWell, black out is what people are expected to wear.
SHERWOODI know that's what I'm saying. No, I don't mean it to broadcast. I mean, well, I'm up to speed at least.
SHERWOODIt is a blackout, correct. Walter Tejada, thank you so much for joining us.
TEJADAPleasure to be here. Thank you.
TEJADAWalter Tejada is vice chairman of the Arlington County Board. And staying with sports for one second, Tom Sherwood, Bryce Harper, National League rookie of the year. Big deal?
SHERWOODYes. And Davey Johnson, the manager of the National League, I think this was terrific, you know? It's a -- it was a fine thing. You know, I tweeted that those -- both of them were great awards, but the -- only if suggesting had they gone farther in the playoffs -- and a couple of people tweeted back, no, no, no, this was a terrific season, 98 wins. Bryce Harper stepped up. Davey Johnson's coming back in next year, that we should just be happy with what we had.
NNAMDIThere is a push to have the District of Columbia flag flown at official ceremonies, including military ceremonies. Mayor Gray and Eleanor Holmes Norton are leading the charge. Usually at ceremonies where all 50 state flags are exhibited, the D.C. flag is not there.
SHERWOODThis -- you know, I was -- I did this story on Monday, Veterans Day.
NNAMDII saw it.
SHERWOODIt's -- basically it's disgusting. I think, as an American, I can say this. This young man went from the District of Columbia Roosevelt High School, joins the Navy, loves the Navy, tells his mother that he wants to even maybe get into West -- not -- Naval Academy, excuse me, guys, not West Point. But -- and so he goes, and he goes to the Great Lakes, and he goes through all the training. And 300 or so sailors are being processed that day during ceremony.
SHERWOODAnd as each of the individual sailors -- seaman 1st class I think they call it -- is being introduced or his name or her name is called, they dipped the flag from where they're from, Texas, Virginia, wherever they're from. When we get to this young man's name, no D.C. flag.
SHERWOODAnd so Norton, particularly, is doing this -- the mayor is supporting her -- has asked the president, has asked Congress that in any situation where our military services or any federal agency is incorporating the 50 flags of the nation, that they include the District of Columbia flag and the territorial flags so that we can all be one country. I think it's a good idea.
NNAMDIIt's almost as good an idea as Tom Sherwood having a tattoo of the District of Columbia flag once...
SHERWOODWell, you know, somebody -- I may drop down the request at $2,500.
NNAMDI...once somebody donates that to WAMU 88.5, that he'll get that tattoo. It's time for you to start calling now, 800-433-8850. Are you happy about the prospect of a casino at National Harbor? 800-433-8850. Have you visited National Harbor? What do you like or dislike about it? The reason why we're asking you to call is because our next guest, Jon Peterson, is the senior vice president of the Peterson Companies, the developers responsible for National Harbor and, for that matter, for downtown Silver Spring. Jon Peterson, thank you so much for joining us.
MR. JON PETERSONYou're very welcome.
NNAMDIIt was a controversial ballot measure, but Maryland voters approved the measure to expand gambling in Prince George's County. And as the developers of National Harbor, you celebrated because you're hoping to build that casino. How is National Harbor doing now, and what would a casino mean for National Harbor?
PETERSONWell, National Harbor is getting better and better as the days goes on. We continue to add amenity after amenity to the existing attractions that we have there. Next spring you'll see a carousel will arrive on site, and pretty soon...
SHERWOODHow high? One of those giant carousels that go really high up?
PETERSONNo, no, no. This is a carousel...
SHERWOODOh, I'm thinking Ferris wheel. I'm sorry. Excuse me.
SHERWOODBig fan of Ferris wheel. I'm sorry.
PETERSONIt'll be right down on the waterfront there.
NNAMDISomething else to get you dizzy.
PETERSONYou know, we're kind of concentrating on some -- on bringing attractions that everyone will be -- will want to come to National Harbor for.
SHERWOODAntique carousel or a new one?
PETERSONThis is a new one that's being built out in Wichita, and...
SHERWOODYou're not taking the one off the National Mall.
PETERSONNo, we're not taking that off the National Mall.
SHERWOODOK. Thank you.
PETERSONAnd so that'll open. The Children's Museum is opening next week, the National Children's Museum. So that's a great bow in our -- that we have to attract people there to National Harbor. Tanger Outlet Center is going to start construction this fall. And so we're excited about those things that are coming here in the future years. Right now, there's over 8 million people that visit National Harbor on an annual basis, and we're a destination location. That's -- there's no drive-thru traffic. We're a destination location, and...
SHERWOODDo you lose any business by having a casino? Some groups may not want to come because there's a casino there? I know it's big enough. You have a casino, you wouldn't even have to see it if you don't want to see it. But would you lose some business if...
PETERSONThere's a misperception of where the casino would -- the resort would be located. It's actually on a piece of parcel about a mile away right on 95, so it isn't in downtown National Harbor. There's a significant separation. There will be a shuttle bus or some type of connection, but it will have nothing to do with really downtown National Harbor. We don't want to do anything that will denigrate what we've built there. We've spent a lot of time, effort and money and put quality into National Harbor, and we didn't -- don't want to do anything that's going to denigrate that.
SHERWOODI know you don't -- I know you're not going to talk and don't want to talk and shouldn't talk about the lawsuit effort to forestall this, but it's not a done deal that you, in fact, get it for National Harbor. You know, it could be at Rosecroft. When will that decision actually be made, and who makes that decision? Will that be the county or...
PETERSONWell, it's a state decision.
PETERSONKirby Fowler, I think, was recently appointed the chairman of a commission of seven members that's going to oversee the process going forward. So it's a state process. They will put out request for proposals hopefully in the near future, at which time those qualified people who think they have qualified sites will submit them. They will be evaluated based on all their attributes, and...
SHERWOODAre there more than two -- I mean, I realize you don't think Rosecroft is a valid one, but it can fit. Is there -- are there more then?
PETERSONOur expectations are that will -- they will, and so will we.
PETERSONAnd so the sooner that we can get through this process, the sooner we can get a casino built in Prince George's County and the sooner the people of Maryland will benefit from the additional dollars that are coming in.
NNAMDIIn case people are a little bit confused, you should know that state law prohibits more than one casino from operating in the county, so that what we're talking about here is the bid that's being made by National Harbor, but that's likely to be made from Rosecroft Raceway. And so when that decision is made, that's who will operate the casino. 800-433-8850. Are you happy about the prospect of a casino at National Harbor? What do you think the possibilities are or are not? 800-433-8850. Some Prince George's -- well, what will make your bid the more attractive bid?
PETERSONWell, I think that we are a lot more accessible. We are very visible on 95 and on the Beltway, which is Main Street for Washington, D.C. And so it's very visible coming from the state of Virginia. It's going to be like the gateway to Maryland. It's got great access from existing two interchanges that will serve this site. It does not disturb any of the surrounding community.
PETERSONIt's right next to a park, so there is little disruption. The access is great. It is shovel-ready. All the utilities and roads are already in place, so we are ready to go. We're excited about the opportunity and feel pretty confident that our site is the superior site.
SHERWOODI talked to Jonathan O'Connell -- actually, I didn't talk 'cause you don't talk anymore. You exchange messages. I exchanged messages with Jonathan O'Connell from The Washington Post, and he wanted to ask, do you anticipate that you'll ever have a Metro station there? Is that too far in the future? And he also said, how the -- will your business be affected, whether you have the casino or not? The D.C. Convention Hotel, 1,100-room hotel which will take some of the convention business, now is leaking out, as the city says, to the suburbs.
PETERSONWell, first of all, we have already dedicated a site, a Metro site directly adjacent to this, to where we're proposing to put this resort. And, in fact, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge has been designed and constructed to facilitate the addition of Metro in the future. So we think long term...
SHERWOODBut somebody would have to build it.
PETERSONThey would have to build it, but we have already designated an area for the future Metro station, and the bridge is already, again, designed and constructed to accommodate that in the future.
SHERWOODWhat about the competition with the city, with the District and its 1,100-room Marriott Hotel that's fast being completed on Mass. Avenue right there?
PETERSONWell, I think what we're going to -- we have to offer will be MGM, the best of the best in the world as far as building resort casinos. And that's a different -- I think it's a different clientele, conventioneer. It's a conventioneer looking for a certain facility. That's not what the MGM Hotel will be vying for.
SHERWOODIs yours going to be more like a theme park?
NNAMDIYou should know that Peterson -- what he's talking about is that Peterson has chosen MGM Resorts International as its casino operator.
SHERWOODSo is it going to be more like a theme park then?
PETERSONNo, it will be a resort, just like they've built in other places around the country and around the world. It will include entertainment venues, retail, restaurants, spa, and you never know what else that will come along with the nucleus of people that will come to this on a day-to-day basis.
NNAMDIA lot of people want to talk about this. Jonathan O'Connell, thank you for helping Tom out, just like you did when we had our basketball team. Here is...
SHERWOODYou know, he -- I don't want to talk about his basketball ability.
NNAMDIJonathan has a good jump shot.
SHERWOODI thought he was better in practice than he was when it counted. But go ahead.
NNAMDIHere is Jack in Falls Church, Va. Jack, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Jack, are you there? Jack seems to be on hold for a while. So I will put Jack on hold and go to Chris in Washington, D.C. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISWell, good afternoon, gentlemen. How are you, all?
NNAMDIWe are well.
PETERSONJust great. Thanks.
CHRISGood, good. Well, I've been looking forward to this for quite some time. I remember there were plans some time ago for the -- from the Anacostia all the way up past National Harbor. And I'm thinking, let's see it come to fruition and what better to have than a casino at National Harbor. I think it would be great.
NNAMDIWhy do you think it would be great, Chris?
CHRISIf, for no another reason, I think it would be an excellent tourist attraction, A. And, B, if just for the revenue that I'm sure the area would pull in simply by having a casino at that location. People already like to come there from the surrounding area. If you bring in a casino there and you have four- and five-star hotel accommodations, that makes the area a bit of a jewel, I would think.
NNAMDIWell, a lot of people, you should know, both Chris and Jon Peterson, in Prince George's County say they like everything that's going on at National Harbor. But because it's gated off, it feels kind of disconnected from nearby communities. What do you say to that?
PETERSONWell, we have a bus system right now that takes care of the needs of our employees and residents of National Harbor that goes to and from the Metro stations in the morning and evening rush hours. And during the day, there is a bus system that takes you to three locations downtown if you're staying in National Harbor.
PETERSONThere's a great Metrobus system -- it's NH1 -- that you can get on at the Metro station at the Paint Branch Metro station. And it's the most used -- 30,000 people use that per month, so that's a great amenity to have that public transportation. So people can get there. It's so well-located. It's the closest location to the greatest population in the Washington, D.C., area.
SHERWOODA couple people have said parking -- the cost to park in the various slots as you have there, you know, a lot of people are used to free parking around in Washington and shopping malls and different places. They don't pay to park or pay very little, one or $2, not 12 or 16 or 18.
PETERSONWell, you've never to come to National Harbor and pay $18 in any of our garage. It depends on the length of your stay. You can go to Gaylord, and you might spend that -- those dollars. But in our lot, it's on an hourly basis.
SHERWOODMaybe I stayed too long.
PETERSONYeah. You maybe -- you did stay too long. But it's -- but people got to remember that National Harbor is an urban location. Just because it's located out on the Beltway, it's really an urban location. It's a little city. We've built everything in National Harbor. We have a drug store. We have a market. We have a dry cleaner. So it really is almost a downtown.
SHERWOODHow many people do you have living there? I know you have you condos and -- you have apartments or condo? Do you have any...
PETERSONWe have condos.
SHERWOODYeah. How many?
PETERSONFour hundred -- about 440 of those. And we're about to start in the spring construction of about 300 rental units. So we're providing all the different residential opportunities there. We've sold townhouses right in there now. We've sold over 100 in the last 14 to 16 months, and most of those people are actually coming from Virginia to come live at National Harbor.
NNAMDISpeaking of coming from Virginia, we got an email from Diane in Annandale, who said, "I'm a Northern Virginia homeowner with a mortgage and a life partner with a weakness for gambling. The proximity of the National Harbor casino to Northern Virginia scares me. I feel that the decision to erect a casino directly across the river from Virginia should have been put up to a vote by all residents of the metro area. I'm bracing myself and hoping this won't lead to financial ruin for my family." What do you say to people who say, look, gambling is an addiction, you're encouraging it?
PETERSONWe're not encouraging it. We're just providing an opportunity for those who chose to gamble. And it's going to be a great facility. And I think it's impossible to think that it would be a metro-wide vote.
PETERSONIt's -- it was tough...
NNAMDIWell, that's not going to happen.
PETERSONIt was tough enough to get it done in Maryland. But it's a location that, you know, in Virginia, you have a choice to go to Charles Town right now. If you want to go to Maryland Live, you could go there now. So there is already existing opportunities. I understand this will make it more convenient for those who might have problems with a gambling addiction.
NNAMDIIn other words, Diane, if your life partner has not made that trip to West Virginia, the likelihood that he'll make it across the river, in the opinion of Jon Peterson, is slim. But, of course, you know, there are counseling services that are available just in case there's a problem.
SHERWOODCan -- let me -- yeah, and there will be counseling services to people. I'm less encouraged about going to casinos now because I missed the coins dropping out of the machines. I don't like the computerized ticket. But what will -- assuming you get the casino, MGM builds you a fine place, a destination place, Internet gambling is just in its infancies. It's barely even there. Is that a threat to what you're building there? How do you see Internet gambling taking away customers who might come there otherwise? Or is this going to be a side venture for most of your visitors?
PETERSONThere will be those who prefer if that ever comes to Internet. But again, MGM is building an experience. It's all about going and being entertained because you can come to National Harbor -- and again, this resort, it's just one of many things that you can come and enjoy at National Harbor. We have all the shopping and the restaurants, the convention center. We're building the Tanger Outlet center. So this just adds to our basket of the opportunities in that rail.
NNAMDII think Elizabeth in Silver Spring would like to talk about that basket of what you have at National Harbor. Elizabeth, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ELIZABETHYes. Good morning. I -- so quick -- I've never been to National Harbor. I am beneficiary, however, having moved to Silver Spring, Md., in 1982, anticipating the development of downtown Silver Spring. I actually lived by the tracks in D.C. And I love what you guys have done there.
PETERSONThank you. Thank you.
ELIZABETHJust -- and what you did there would sort of goes back to one of the earlier --people was you made it a destination, a unique destination, not only for the Washington area but, in fact, for the whole eastern part of the country by having the AFI and The Fillmore there. You can't do that any place else in the Washington area. On this -- I saw a piece on Fox News, the local channel, the other day about an ice show that you guys are currently creating with some people from China.
ELIZABETHAnd it looks fascinating. Do you guys have a website where I could get more information about that?
PETERSONYou can go on nationalharbor.com, but, actually, Gaylord Hotels is in charge of putting that venue together. And it's a fascinating facility that they're -- they put together. It's going to open up actually tomorrow -- or tonight is their grand opening. And it's open through probably the first week in January. And it's a city made out of ice.
PETERSONIt's absolutely spectacular, and it's great for the kids. And we -- last year, we even saw an elderly woman. I'll just say she was over 70. There was a big ice slide, and we -- she was going down the slide. So it's great family entertainment. And last year, they had over 220,000 people go through this Ice City. So it's a fascinating venue.
NNAMDIElizabeth, thank you very much for your call.
SHERWOODAnd it is like nine degrees in there, so you have to -- they have a little suit they put on.
PETERSONThey provide jackets and gloves and all of that for you.
NNAMDIJon Peterson, when are you hoping that this whole process will be completed?
PETERSONWell, again, I think the sooner, the better because the sooner that we can get this resort in play, the more money that's going to start coming into the state of Maryland. So we're hoping that the new gaming commission will jump on board and approve the license and then we will vie for that. And then after that process, MGM will get started on plans...
SHERWOODNational Harbor will be a success whether it has a casino or not?
PETERSONWithout a doubt, without a doubt.
NNAMDIJon Peterson is the senior vice president of The Peterson Companies, the developers responsible for National Harbor and downtown Silver Spring. Thank you so much for joining us.
PETERSONYou are very welcome.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Any special plans this weekend? You're underwater last week.
SHERWOODI think the Redskins are playing -- allegedly playing the Phillies. And I'm going to see if they show up to help their RG3.
NNAMDIAllegedly is a good word. Thank you for allegedly listening. I'm Kojo...
Most Recent Shows
Smokers won't be able to light up in Rockville's outdoor dining areas following the passage of an ordinance by the City Council.
Kojo invites Washingtonians to discuss last week's biggest demonstrations: The Turkish security force's violent crackdown on demonstrators in Sheridan Circle, the politically-charged light projections on Trump's D.C. hotel, one Georgetown professor's confrontation of a known white Nationalist at a local gym and more.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a sentencing directive for federal prosecutors mandating they "pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" for cases. How will the new federal sentencing directives and return of mandatory minimums impact our region?