The news here has been a bit discouraging, and that’s without considering the human tragedy and disaster of several different international situations.
The unsettling narrative rolling out from the Richmond trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen would hopefully result in action on campaign finance reform in Virginia.
Up until the news about “gifts” to family members of Gov. Bob McDonnell, almost all elected officials would defend Virginia’s notoriously unregulated system of allowing candidates and elected officials to take unlimited amounts of money and unlimited gifts from anyone or any company at all. Because Virginia has such strict disclosure requirements, elected officials seem to think that it’s OK to be awash in all that money. Voters can look up who is giving money and draw their own conclusions. How could it hurt if the details are all out in the open?
It isn’t just disclosure of gifts to family members that needs reform here.
Discovering that the system is entirely self-regulated with no independent auditor, no ethics commission and no penalties for failing to report gifts or contributions should give voters some pause. Consider that only four states, including Virginia, have no limits on contributions. Most states have limits; for example, in Maryland, individuals can give $4,000 to any one candidate and $10,000 total in a four-year election cycle. We’ve already had one session of the General Assembly without a meaningful reform effort.
The current stubborn road block to extending health coverage to at least 200,000 very poor Virginians, including another unsettling narrative about Democrats losing control of the Virginia Senate because of the resignation of one senator who was apparently offered a great job and a judgeship for his daughter, is dispiriting.
The failure in Fairfax County of a proposal to allow the building of affordable studio apartments to house working poor people is discouraging on several fronts. The proposal was many years in the making. Why did this proposal come forward without support from members of the Board of Supervisors? Even if it was approved, it appeared to lack commercial viability. Back to the drawing board? (There is some good news pending about more federal money for affordable housing in the county.)
So here are a few end-of-summer activities that can serve as antidote.
- In Arlington, go to the Marine Corps Sunset Parade and Concert, last chance this summer, Tuesday Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m. in August. Iwo Jima Memorial. Visit www.barracks.marines.mil.
- Or catch the Arlington County Fair, through Aug. 10 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 Second St. South. Shop for arts and crafts, watch pigs race and enjoy rides and entertainment. Visit arlingtoncountyfair.us.
- Go on a Sunset Kayak Tour in Great Falls, Friday, Aug. 8, 5-7 p.m. Riverbend Park, 8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls. Experience the end of the day with a tour of the upper Potomac. Ages 14+. $59-$74. Register at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/riverbend-park/kayaktours.htm.
- Try out Tai Chi for free. Beginners’ Practice. 8-9 a.m. McLean Central Park basketball court, 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd, McLean. Open to all, including first-timers, every Saturday morning. 703-759-9141 or www.freetaichi.org/practice.shtml.
- Dance on Aug. 16, 8-11:30 p.m. Colvin Run Dance Hall, 10201 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls. 8-9pm Mambo lesson; 9-11:30 p.m. $15. 703-759-2685.
- Go to the farmers markets and enjoy the local bounty.
- The Crystal City FRESHFARM Market is open April-November on Tuesdays, 3-7 p.m. with a selection of foods and goods from local producers, in front of 251 S. 18th St, Arlington. Visit www.crystalcity.org for more.
- Oak Marr Farmers Market. 8 a.m. - noon, Wednesdays. Oak Marr Park & RECenter, 3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/viennamkt.htm.
- McCutcheon/Mount Vernon Farmers Market. Wednesdays, 8 a.m. - noon. Sherwood Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/mtvernonmkt.htm.
- Wakefield Farmers Market. 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, May 7-Oct. 29. 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale. 703-321-7081. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/wakefieldmkt.htm.
- Frying Pan Farm Stand. Wednesdays. 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon. http://fryingpanpark.org/2014/05/15/farm-stand/
- Fair Lakes Farmers Market. Wednesdays. 3:30-7 p.m. 4501 Market Commons Drive, Fairfax.www.greentowns.com/initiative/farmers-market/fair-lakes-farmers-market-fairfax-va.
- Rosslyn Farmers Market and Concert. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m, through Sept. 25, across the street from Cupid's Garden Sculpture, 1401 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Visit www.rosslynva.org/do/rosslyn-farmers-market1.
- Herndon Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursdays, May 1-Nov. 13. Twelve Vendors sell a variety of products including kettle corn and fresh made Italian pasta. Old Town Herndon, 700 Block of Lynn St, Herndon. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/herndonmkt.htm
- Fairfax’s Government Center Farmers Market. 3-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 1-Oct. 30. Ten vendors including a Middle Eastern delicacy bakery and custom organic ice cream shop.Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/governmentcntr-mrkt.htm.
- Lorton Farmers Market. 3-7 p.m. Thursdays. New Hope Church, 8905 Ox Road, Lorton. www.smartmarkets.org.
- McLean Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Fridays, May 2-Nov. 21. 1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/mcleanmkt.htm
- Kingstowne Farmers Market. 4-7 p.m. Fridays, May 2-Oct. 31. Giant Parking Lot, 5955 Kingstowne Towne Center, Alexandria. Vendors products include fresh organic honey and hand held pies and rolls. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/kingstownemkt.htm
- Arlington Farmers Market at Courthouse. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon. Adjacent to the Arlington County Courthouse Parking Lot, at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road and N. 14th Street. Visit www.arlingtonfarmersmarket.com for a list of vendors.
- Old Town Farmers Market. 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays, year round. Sells meat, dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables. Local farmers and artists have been selling products here since 1753. Market Square, 301 King St., Alexandria. Call 703-746-3200
- Del Ray Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, year round. Located at the corner of East Oxford and Mount Vernon avenues, Alexandria. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
- Burke Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-noon. Saturdays, May 3-Nov. 22. 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/burkemkt.htm
- Reston Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-noon. Saturdays, May 3-Nov. 9. Named the best farmers market in Northern Virginia by Virginia Living Magazine. Lake Anne Village Center, 11401 North Shore Drive, Reston. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/restonmkt.htm
- Oakton Farmers Market. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturdays. Year round. Unity of Fairfax Church, 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton. www.smartmarkets.org/
- Springfield Farmers Market. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturdays. Springfield Mall, 6417 Loisdale Road, Springfield. www.smartmarkets.org.
- Great Falls Farmers Market. 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays. Year round. Great Falls Village Centre, 778 Walker Road, Great Falls. www.celebrategreatfalls.org/FarmersMarket.html.
- Vienna Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-12 p.m., Saturdays. Faith Baptist Church Parking Lot, 301 Center Street South, Vienna. www.viennafarmersmarket.com.
- Fairfax Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May 10-Nov. 1. 10500 Page Avenue, Fairfax. www.fairfaxsaturdaymarket.com.
- Four Mile Run Farmers & Artisans Market. 9 a.m.-1 p.m Sundays from April 27-November. Four Mile Run Park at 4109 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Visit www.4mrmarket.org/ for more.
- West End Farmers Market. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays from May-November. Ben Brenman Park, 4800 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria. Visit www.westendfarmersmarket.org/#FarmersMarket for more.
- Lorton Farmers Market. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays, May 4-Nov. 2. VRE Parking Lot, 8990 Lorton Station Boulevard, Lorton. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/lortonmkt.htm
- Tysons-McLean Farmers Market. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sundays. Parking lot of the National Automobile Dealers Association 8400 Westpark Drive, McLean. www.smartmarkets.org/
- Fairfax Farmers Market. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays, May 11-Oct. 26. 10500 Page Avenue, Fairfax. www.fairfaxsaturdaymarket.com/
- Fair Lakes Farmers Market. Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 4501 Market Commons Drive, Fairfax. www.greentowns.com/initiative/farmers-market/fair-lakes-farmers-market-fairfax-va.