Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor

Wants Campaign in F.C. ‘Based on the Facts’

Editor,

In last week’s letter in the News-Press declaring her candidacy for City Council, Margaret Housen opens by stating, “it’s time for a change.”

Not being sure what this means, permit me to suggest that such change begin with her committing to a campaign based on facts and thoughtful statements instead of innuendo, misinformation, and wild assertions. Her letter is exhibit one in this regard.

Let’s start with the statement that the Mayor and Vice Mayor “have served as rubber stamps” for the current and preceding City Manager. The City Manager is accountable to and supervised directly by the Council. Given this relationship it is upsidedown thinking to conceive that the Mayor and Vice Mayor and/or the other Council members could be rubber stamps. 

Next is the statement “on their watch City residents now pay some of the highest taxes in the area.” Since Ms. Housen has lived here for such a short time she may be unaware that the tax rate was $1.13 during the Mayor and Vice Mayor’s early years on the Council. However, for 2006 and 2007 it has been $1.01 – a fact that puts Ms. Housen’s assertion in an entirely different light.

Next, the Council has indeed encouraged “developers to continue building,” despite the bursting of “the real estate bubble.” Quite simply, this is the sensible thing to do because, among other things, it will bring in the needed revenue to help sustain our City services and stellar public schools.

For example, the well known developer, Bob Young, has just broken ground on a new office building that will bring in about $150,000 in annual revenue when completed.

When the Council approved the City Center it by no means “thumbed its nose at a good percentage of City residents.” In fact those who signed the referendum petition amount to just seven percent of the City’s 11,000 residents. Also, the petition was finalized after the February 28 approval of the City Center, being certified by the Arlington Circuit Court March 5th and accepted by the State Board of Elections March 7.

Lastly, the statements “the City is essentially broke” and there is a “$100,000,000.00 water account we don’t know about” are absurd. If Ms. Housen had taken the time to attend the City Manager’s March 10 budget presentation she would have learned about the City’s sound financial condition. Likewise, neither I nor anyone else in the City Government with whom I have spoken about it have ever heard of a $100 million water account.    

Hal Lippman

Falls Church City Council

 

Wants to Know ‘Where’s the Beef’ in Election

Editor,

Elections! US vs. THEM! We are for (vague slogans #1 & #2)! We have to stick together against Them! This isn’t about who’s In and who’s Out: this is about being loyal to our friends. We have to help.

Let’s get to work. (.. sigh)

The substance is, as always: How to afford our great schools while keeping taxes down? Our collective answer, after years of thought and politicking, is new commercial development – to compete with Tysons (and now the Internet, too).

The professional design firm we hired advised us build a Great Place: the “how” was to bait our “commercial hook” with a juicy “residential worm.” So we did.

And what did we get? Four times? Much new residential – which inevitably brings more schoolchildren – but little new commercial: twice over a financial risk.

Where’s the beef? Well, I was there, and what happened is that our elected leaders (me included) waited passively for developers’ proposals.

We didn’t aggressively pursue what the citizens asked for, and the Design professionals said the key was – a Great Place. So four times we got a not-great-place with non-architecture.

So this time, this political volunteer is from Missouri: Show Me, candidates, what you are doing NOW to get what the citizens want and the professionals advise: a Great Place.

Enough sitting passively.Enough vague slogans. Enough incumbents’ biiig credibility gap.

Fellow political volunteers: be from Missouri. Say “Show Me”, and ask “Where’s the beef?” before leaping to help – even though they are our friends and neighbors. You know me from local politics: you know I’m such a political “sweetie” that I have to stay out of the rain (sugar melts). Go thou and do likewise – until candidates show us the beef.  

Ron Parson

Falls Church

 

Tax Hike is On Top of Higher Rate

Editor,

As we approach the May 6 city council elections, the Citizens for a Better Community and the candidates they have endorsed for city council would like you to believe a lie.

Both the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor are running for reelection on the proposition that they have executed strong fiscal oversight of the city budget, and as result; despite the down-turn in real estate values, only need to raise the property tax rate by three cents to $1.04 per $100 of assessed value. That is a three cent increase on what was already the highest tax rate of any Northern Virginia jurisdiction.

And, this “meager” three cent increase comes despite the fact that city revenues are getting a pop from the proffers developers have paid to turn Falls Church into the new Ballston replete with apartments and condos, and despite the fact that city revenues have increased from $39 million to over $70 million since 2002.

I guess spending every penny of an almost 80% increase in city revenues over five years and having to depend on short-sighted development and a tax increase to keep the city “fiscally solvent,” might be good government; but wouldn’t I be foolish to believe such a thing?

Fortunately, there are eight city council candidates this year.  

Aaron Taliaferro

Falls Church

 

Changed Mind On Support of Hillary Clinton

Editor,

I am really shocked at the way Hillary Clinton has attacked Obama, also Bill. I was for her but now have completely changed my mind. Who wants a back-biter and slander monger for president? Bad enough to have two in one family collecting lifetime benefits from our taxed-to-death citizens.

Why did Bill seal Hillary’s records when he was president, if she didn’t have something to hide? He knew she would run for president one day and sealed them. I and my family and friends believe that no one should run for president of our country unless they have served in the military to know from personal experience what our soldiers face every day.

Something is wrong with our morals. It’s time for the Clintons to get out of our faces.  

Jo Stevens

Falls Church