March 13 – 19, 2008
Chavern Says Referendum Is ‘Political Theatre’
If you haven’t seen the language of the proposed development referendum, you should take a very close look. Whatever the intentions behind this effort, the referendum itself is confusing and badly structured, to the point of being pointless. What is a “pending project” (as opposed to a “project”)? How did 60% become a magic number? What if zoning or uses change? Are all commercial and retail uses preferable to residential – or is the mix important?
The City Center South project has been approved, and we have already changed the Comp Plan to prohibit residential on the North Side of City Center. This referendum now seems intended to just try and stop the FCHC’s proposed affordable housing project on the South Side (not a very worthy goal) – and maybe Akridge’s somewhat interesting proposal for North Washington Street. (Remember that Akridge was the City’s former Master Developer.) I can’t imagine why either of those objectives is meaningful enough to muck-up our charter with this piece of political theater.
Don’t listen to the hype – read the document
Referendum is Key Citizen Tool in Constitution
How disappointing it was to see the City Council, city staff and a local politico tie up court time trying to remove from the ballot the recently certified referendum brought forth by over 600 citizens of our city. It is one thing for the politico, a citizen of our city to bring a case forward. But for the City Council to ask the City Attorney to weigh in, this seems wholly undemocratic.
When a group of citizens bring forth a ballot measure, no matter how silly it might seem to the city leaders, they should have the right to have their voice heard through a public vote, not suppressed in the courts. The sitting city leaders should rightly fear a backlash of voter discord come May.
Michael F. Thomas
(Editor replies — The F.C. City Attorney’s explanation is reported elsewhere this edition.)
F.C. Should Look Closer When Cutting Budget
We got our 2008 real estate assessment statement today complete with a five-color logo on the letterhead.
If the City is trying to cut back on expenses why would a department make the statements look better by adding all this color? Compare the expense of an all black-and-white logo versus a five-color logo to go out to city residents while looking at really trying to do administrative cutbacks. It works both ways.
Citizens bundled their twigs, recycle in $1 sticker bags each Monday and bundle cardboard. I would hope City Hall will put some effort into cutting its expenses and not just let City residents take on the burden.
Housen Declares Candidacy City Council
It’s time for a change. This has been the common theme of this election season.
Responding to my Letter to the Editor questioning the apparent lack of fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the City Manager, several City residents called and inquired as to whether I was interested in running for a seat on the City Council.
At that time I was not planning to run, but then I heard that the incumbent Mayor and Vice Mayor were pursuing re-election for their third four-year term.
These incumbents have had eight years on the City Council and have served as rubber stamps for Dan McKeever and Wyatt Shields. How many City residents can truthfully say they are better off today than they were eight years ago? On their watch City residents now pay some of the highest taxes in the area.
During these eight years there has been a plethora of building—residential and commercial—and even though the real estate bubble has burst the City leaders encourage more developers to continue building. The most costly of these will be the City Center. There will be a referendum on the ballot in May concerning this project and even though the Council knew this they voted unanimously to approve the City Center plans.
The elected governing body of the City of Falls Church essentially thumbed its nose at a good percentage of City residents.
There’s also the budget. The City is essentially broke. From where is all this money coming—is there another $100,000,000.00 water account we don’t know about?
The City Manager and the City Council, led by Mayor Gardner and Vice Mayor Hockenberry, have failed to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to the residents of the City of Falls Church.
I am asking you to give me the most precious freedom you own—your vote. This right to vote in free elections is what keeps our country the greatest democracy on this earth.
My name is Margaret Housen and I am an Independent candidate running for a seat on the City Council. I have been a resident of the City since July 2006, as well as being a former employee of the City. I was also an employee of the City for 27 months and this knowledge and experience gives me a unique perspective of the challenges it faces.