MARK'S MONTHLY MEETUP
Saturday, Dec. 10th at 12:30 pm
at Los Tios
Please join us for Mark's Monthly Meetup at 12:30 pm, Saturday, December 10th, at Los Tios Mexican Grill in Del Ray, located at 2615 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria.
Like all Mark's Monthly Meetups, there is no donation required. It's just a place to sit and talk and, for most of us, eat. I always want to know what's on the mind of my constituents and supporters.
For the FIRST TIME in Northern Virginia!
24/7 Services for NOVA
Survivors of Domestic Violence
and Sexual Assault
One in five women will suffer sexual assault or domestic violence in their lifetime, and some men will undergo this ordeal as well. When I ran for office, I made clear that services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence would be one of my highest priorities.
This year, I introduced a bill to help survivors, spoke out several times on the Floor on the topic, and obtained a successful budget amendment to help abused children. I also became one of only three legislators to attend the Richmond meetings of Virginia's Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence (founded and ably chaired by Arlington's own Senator Barbara Favola). In addition, I joined a local task force to focus on Northern Virginia survivors that included Senator Favola, Arlington County Board Member Katie Cristol, Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, and a number of local dedicated professionals serving the community
I am extremely proud to announce a first for Northern Virginia: we will soon have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners at Inova Hospital in Fairfax 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We obtained a grant from Virginia's Department of Criminal Justice Services to add 4 full-time and 2 part-time Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) at Inova Hospital. We will finally be able to provide round-the-clock staffing and services for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault in Northern Virginia.
Sexual assaults do not come in regular patterns. There may be none for 12 hours, or there may be 6 at once. Assaults can occur at any time on any day. Because Northern Virginia lacked 24/7 care, too many survivors seeking care after their assaults had to endure long waits or even be diverted to hospitals hours away. After the incredible stress and horror of an assault, survivors understandably want to clean up and go home. They don't want their agony prolonged. And inadequate staffing in Northern Virginia meant that the horror and stress of the ordeal might last all night and into the next day
No more! Our efforts should make sure that at least one Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is available 24/7 for anyone in need in Northern Virginia and, if necessary, sufficient backup on call for more. Now survivors will have immediate access to medical care, counseling, and comprehensive forensic services at a central NOVA location just off the Beltway. This will not only improve the integrity of the criminal justice process and help us prosecute offenders (and thereby lessen the likelihood of future offenses); it will also improve the health and safety of the victims, with as much peace of mind as possible after such a traumatic event.
I'd like to thank the Department for this grant, Mary Hale at Inova for her hard work in implementing this proposal, and all my fellow elected officials who supported this effort.
TRANSPARENCY ON THE FIRE CODE
Ensuring Public Fire Safety
Recently, the Alexandria Fire Chief Robet Dubé and other members of the Fire Department requested I seek to delay State approval of hundreds of changes being made to the Statewide Fire Prevention Code that were being put in final form just a few weeks before session without sufficient time for our firefighters' full review and input. I agreed with them that when a major overhaul of a decades-old law is occurring, it is essential to make sure such changes are drafted accurately and appropriately to ensure public safety is protected. I wrote a letter to Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore urging him to postpone the changes long enough to give our firefighters time to examine them carefully.
Secretary Haymore granted our request and agreed to allow one more year for review before the final changes will be submitted. This will make sure that our brave, hardworking firefighters will be able to keep doing what they do best: keeping our families safe.
ADVOCATING FOR CONDO RESIDENTS
River Towers Collapse
A few months ago, in a Belle View neighborhood I represent, a foundational column supporting a condominium suddenly collapsed, causing a large number of apartments to dramatically sink several inches. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt, but Fairfax County had to condemn many of the units, and dozens of residents were forced for their own safety out of their homes.
I met several times with the homeowners and the Board of River Towers to help get answers as to what happened, discuss insurance law and strategies to collect from insurance companies, and to contact those insurance companies, state and local officials, and local non-profits to coordinate responses and possible short-term housing solutions for residents while repairs are made.
Meeting at River Towers with Supervisor Dan Storck, River Towers residents, and non-profit housing groups.
There were no easy answers, but I know many of the constituents were pleased that I was at least able to sort out many of the issues and point them where they could best obtain some help. There's an article about some of my efforts in the left-hand column.
RALPH IN ALEXANDRIA
Come Meet Our Next Governor
Please join Congressman Don Beyer, several other members of the General Assembly and me in welcoming Dr. Ralph Northam, our current Lieutenant Governor and hopefully our next Governor, to Alexandria on Friday December 16th. We'll be at Chadwicks, 203 Strand Street in Old Town, from 6-8pm.
Governor Terry McAuliffe's vetoes have been the only thing keeping right-wing Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly from turning Virginia into North Carolina: reinstating Jim Crow voting laws, intervening in women's health decisions, rolling back LGBT rights, putting the safety of our immigrants at risk, and lowering wages for working families.
Every Republican running for Governor endorsed Donald Trump for President, and every one of them would bring Trump's disastrous policies to Virginia if elected. We must defeat them, and we must support Ralph Northam. Please RSVP and donate to Ralph at this link, and learn how we can fight for Virginia's future.
WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN UP TO?
TV and Newspapers
<-- Always check my news clips in the left-hand column above. It's probably the most interesting part of my newsletter!
One of the most important parts of my job is interviewing judicial candidates and helping to select new judges in the three jurisdictions I represent. Congratulations to our two new proposed Fairfax County Circuit Court judges, David Bernhard and David Oblon.
And Lots More...
Work Session Doubleheader!
The Alexandria City Council and the Arlington County Board
both held work sessions with their respective legislative
delegations in back-to-back sessions the same evening.
Scottish Christmas Walk with Rep. Don Beyer and Megan Beyer
Del Ray Christmas with Mayor Allison Silberberg
and Del Ray Business Association Board Member Gayle Reuter
And some of the folks I've met since the last newsletter:
-- House Democratic Caucus in Richmond
-- Arlington Career Center
-- Arlington Community Services Board
-- Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (Equality Awards)
-- Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (Strategy Session)
-- Children's National Health System
-- Virginia Cooperative Extension
Don't forget my Monthly Meet-Up at Los Tios in Del Ray
Next one THIS Saturday, December 10th at 12:30 pm
Thank you for reading this far!
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