Come discuss any issue on your mind.
It's OK to come late or leave early.
And if you miss September, there's always October or November.
Every month, I make sure to be available in this informal setting for any constituent who wishes to discuss a concern or just say hello.
Alexandria Renew Seeking Public Input on
Plan for Overhauling Sewage System
Potential sewage diversion tunnel routes on the River Renew plan.
Alexandria Renew, our sanitation facility, is seeking public input on RiverRenew, the city's initiative to overhaul its19th-century combined rainfall/sewage overflow system. A state law passed in 2017 required Alexandria to remediate all four of its combined sewer outfalls by July 1, 2025. You can learn more about the project here. Click here for details on possible comment topics.
The deadline for the initial phase of public input is October 25th.
In the early 19th Century, when Alexandria developed its initial combined sewer system, it was a state-of-the-art plan and meant that sewage would no longer flow freely in our streets. Some 900 cities up and down the East Coast installed the same system, including Richmond, Lynchburg, and Washington, DC.
When it doesn't rain, the sewage proceeds directly to Alexandria Renew. But when it rains, the combined pipes fill up quickly, and the overflow is released into local waterways via four different outfalls. The four outfalls discharged about 140 million gallons into local waterways every year from 2000-2016, consisting of about 90% water and 10% sewage. (See diagram below.)
How a combined sewer system works
Our sanitation and environmental standards have changed in the last 200 years, and we no longer want so much raw sewage to flow into the Potomac River. The plan will cost several hundred million dollars and is not perfect. Indeed, Washington spent billions of dollars on its plan and, even after it's complete, will still pollute more than Alexandria does now. But we have to do our part.
Luckily for us, only a tiny part of our city remains on the combined sewer system, just 540 acres (less than a square mile) in the heart of the oldest section of Old Town, Alexandria, the light green area of the map below. The rest of Alexandria uses modern separate sewer systems that appropriately send sewage to Alexandria Renew and stormwater to the river.
The light green area shows the 540 acres of Old Town Alexandria using combined sewers.
The 2017 law requires that:
- OUTFALL 001 reduce overﬂow events to 4-6 events per year (current average: 37 events per year)
- OUTFALL 002 reduce bacteria discharge by 80%
- OUTFALL 003 reduce bacteria discharge by 99%
- OUTFALL 004 reduce bacteria discharge by 99%
This is a massive undertaking and requires public input.
COMMUNITY INFO SESSIONS
Alexandria Renew is holding community informational sessions to help educate Alexandrians about the different proposals, the timelines for the proposals, and the likely impacts of the work. I encourage you to attend one of these events.
Whatever concerns you have about the project, now is a great time to make your voice heard.
- Are you concerned about traffic disruptions?
- Noise and vibrations from construction?
- Higher bills?
- Harm to local historical landmarks or artifacts found underground?
- Would you rather they do round-the-clock construction for a shorter period of time, or construction only during regular working hours for a longer period of time?
All of these things are being taken into consideration.
Perhaps you have other concerns.
NAME THE TUNNELS
Included in the proposed RiverRenew plan are two new tunnels for carrying wastewater to Alexandria Renew's treatment facilities. They want your help naming the tunnels. Click here to submit your ideas for tunnel names before the deadline, September 30th at 5:00 PM.
(For example, could we name a sewage tunnel after the current President?
Probably not, but that seems to me to be an obvious potential suggestion.)
Redistricting: Republicans Introduce a Plan to
Replace Unconstitutional Racial Gerrymandering
with GREATER Racial Gerrymandering
This week, House Republicans finally unveiled their redistricting plan, a plan that makes racially gerrymandering in many Virginia districts even worse.
As you recall, the federal courts held in June that the districts in the Virginia House of Delegates designed by Republicans in 2011 intentionally and unconstitutionally packed Virginia's African-Americans into a few districts so as to dilute their voting strength throughout the Commonwealth. The Fourth Circuit ordered the Virginia General Assembly to rectify the problem by October 30.
Throughout June, July, and August, Republicans steadfastly refused to obey the court order. They appealed the order, and asked the court to stay its implementation of it. They submitted no plan and refused to work with the Democrats or the Governor on the plan that Democrats submitted.
At a special session called by the Governor last month, the Republicans complained that they cannot accept any map that does not maintain a similar partisan make-up to their racially gerrymandered 2011 map. The problem for them is that fair districts without racially gerrymandering would more accurately reflect the wishes of Virginia voters. If that happened, they would no longer be able to retain their majority power in a state where, in 2017, voters preferred Democrats over Republicans by more than 21%. If the 2017 results had occurred in fairly drawn districts that accurately represent the wishes of Virginia voters, Democrats would today have a majority of at least 55 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Democrats proposed public hearings around the Commonwealth and tried to set a date to get the work done. Republicans refused and hastily adjourned on a party-line vote. After Republicans made clear that they would refuse to look at the Democratic plan or submit one of their own, the governor declared an impasse, and the court started the process of appointing a special master so the court could draw the lines itself.
Feeling the pressure -- with one month to go before the deadline -- the Republicans finally submitted their map on Tuesday, a map that in several districts made the racial gerrymandering worse. The map is being sent to committee next week and, if they pass it, the full legislature will likely vote on it in mid-October.
At the end of the entire process, I expect us to have accomplished absolutely nothing. Republicans won't compromise on our maps, and Democrats refuse to disobey the court order by making things even worse than they already are. I expect the October 30 deadline will pass, and the court itself will draw the new maps.
Ultimately elected officials must be taken completely out of the redistricting process. I believe we must amend the Virginia Constitution to require an independent, non-partisan commission to draw all our district maps for both state and federal elections. The partisan division of districts should reflect the overall partisan divisions of the Commonwealth.
Absentee Voting Starts Today
If you want to vote before Election Day or think you might not be able to get to the polls that day, Virginia has an absentee voting program. You may be eligible to vote Absentee By Mail or Absentee In Person if you have a qualifying reason.
For most of us, voting in person is actually much easier than voting by mail.
You can get it all done in a quick one-step process. And you can be sure your vote is counted.
Alexandria will offer in-person absentee voting at the Office of Voter Registration & Elections, 132 North Royal Street (Suite 100).
Arlington will offer in-person absentee voting at the Arlington Government Center, Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd. (Suite 320).
Fairfax will offer in-person absentee voting at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, 2511 Parkers Lane and the Franconia Governmental Center, 6121 Franconia Road.
Currently Accepting Applications
Every year, the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints 13 and 14 year-olds from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly. These young people assist the members of the House of Delegates, the House Clerk's staff, and other legislative staff in the daily duties required for the successful operation of the House of Delegates during the session. Click here to learn more.
The page workday is weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pages reside in the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond, under the supervision of chaperones. Pages are responsible for arranging with their schools and teachers the preferred method of taking tests and exams. After work each day, Pages have a mandatory study hall under teacher supervision, with help to individual students as needed.
The submission deadline (for the individual applicant/aspiring Page due to the Speaker’s Office) for consideration during the 2019 Session is October 22, 2018.
Important note on applications: a letter of endorsement by the applicant's Delegate is required for their application to be considered for the House of Delegates page program. I will happily write endorsement letters for al youth from the 45th District who qualify and are interested in taking part in this wonderful program. Please send endorsement requests to DelMLevine@house.virginia.gov
In the Community...
With Delegate Charniele Herring, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Senator George Barker
at the Alexandria Democratic Committee's Labor Day Picnic.
With two of the first people that come to mind when you think of organized labor in Alexandria:
Ginny Diamond, President of NOVA Labor, and Russ Davis.
Hundreds turned out for the annual NOVA Labor Labor Day Picnic.
Speaking with Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff at the
Arlington County Democratic Committee's Labor Day Chili Cookoff.
Supporting Abigail Spanberger for Congress (VA-7) with host and constituent Jane Marcus.
With Democratic Alexandria City Council Candidate Amy Jackson, Florence King, and Mike Doyle
at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Reception.
Packed house when I spoke to the North Old Town Independent Citizens Association
(NOTICE) meeting about our current redistricting process.
Also heard interesting detailed information on proposed development in North Old Town (where I live).
Upcoming Events Where You'll See Me
Please Join Me!
& Sunday, September 23, 9:30 am-5:00 pm
Fairfax County Democratic Committee
Rainbow Pride Reception
American Horticultural Society Gala
7931 E Boulevard Dr, Alexandria
Fundraiser for Amy Jackson for City Council
Home of Greg Parks and David Lord
1005 Russell Road, Alexandria
Fundraiser for Congressman Don Beyer
Home of Lee Guerry and Witney Schneidman
3214 Old Dominion Blvd., Alexandria
Brennan Center: Election Security
NYU Washington DC's Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L St. NW, Washington
Visit Alexandria's Annual Meeting
Holiday Inn in Old Town
625 First St., Alexandria
10:30 am-12:30 pm
Department of Criminal Justice Service
Advisory Committee Meeting
on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Patrick Henry Building, West Reading Room
1111 E Broad St., Richmond
Virginia US Senate Debate
Capital One Headquarters
1680 Capital One Drive, McLean
"Chokehold: Policing Black Men"
25th Annual Kennedy-King Dinner
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District