Ar­ling­ton again on HOT seat

State bud­get amend­ments de­liver re­buke about law­suit

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

RICH­MOND | Ar­ling­ton County stands to lose $100,000 in road-main­te­nance funds as re­im­burse­ment — or, some would ar­gue, pun­ish­ment — for a con­tentious en­vi­ron­men­tal law­suit county of­fi­cials filed against the state and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

House Speaker Wil­liam J. How­ell, Stafford Re­pub­li­can, and state Charles J. Col­gan, Prince Wil­liam Demo­crat, in­tro­duced bud­get amend­ments that would with­hold the fund­ing and would mark the sec­ond time in as many Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sions that law­mak­ers in Rich­mond have tar­geted the county in re­sponse to the law­suit.

The dis­pute be­gan when Ar­ling­ton sued in fed­eral court in Au­gust 2009 to block pro­posed High- Oc­cu­pancy Toll ( HOT) lanes along In­ter­state 395, ar­gu­ing that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the state did not meet re­quire­ments for an ex­emp­tion that al­lowed the project to go for­ward with­out a full public-health anal­y­sis and public re­view. The law­suit also ar­gued that the project would worsen air qual­ity in the con­struc­tion area and dis­parately im­pact low-in­come and mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

Many leg­is­la­tors in Rich­mond de­cried the le­gal ac­tion as friv­o­lous, but per­haps its most con­tro­ver­sial as­pect was that it per­son­ally named sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing then-state Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Pierce Homer, who re­mained a de­fen­dant even af­ter he left of­fice in early 2010.

“It is the be­lief of the com­mon­wealth that it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for Ar­ling­ton County to sue the for­mer sec­re­tary in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity, and that this er­ror was com­pounded when it failed to dis­miss him from the suit when he left of­fice,” the House bud­get amend­ment reads.

shroud straw donors to var­i­ous cam­paigns — may be their fo­cus.

Coun­cil Chair­man Kwame R. Brown, a Demo­crat, and coun­cil mem­bers Michael A. Brown, at-large in­de­pen­dent; Jack Evans, Ward 2 Demo­crat; Phil Men­del­son, at-large Demo­crat; and Yvette M. Alexan­der, Ward 7 Demo­crat, are the other of­fi­cials whose cam­paigns have con­firmed re­ceipt of a sub­poena.

Other elected of­fi­cials say their

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Virginia House Speaker Wil­liam J. How­ell is seek­ing to make Ar­ling­ton pay for its ef­forts that helped kill pro­posed HOT lanes on In­ter­state 395.

BAR­BARA L. SAL­IS­BURY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber Mary M. Cheh plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion that would cap con­tri­bu­tions in the form of a money or­der at $25.

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