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Falls Church News Briefs

Police Lawsuit Against F.C. Dismissed

Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the lawsuit filed by four City police officers in 2005 alleging racial discrimination in the department was dismissed “with prejudice” in Federal District Court last week, clearing the City of the allegations. “The allegations were based on misunderstandings, not discrimination,” Shields said. “We take pride in providing a work place that brings out the best in all of us,” he said, adding that he has “fully supported the right of employees to bring forth grievances.” All four officers who were plaintiffs in the suit remain on the F.C. police force, and each received a $5,000 settlement to help conclude the case. The City was covered for the cost of the litigation and settlement by insurance provided by the Virginia Municipal League. Shields stressed the improvement in the morale of the police department since Lt. Harry Reitze took over as Chief of Police a year and a half ago. “Good communication is the key,” Shields said, citing the formation of a “Chief’s Advisory Committee” that includes rank and file members of the force. “This is a quiet but momentous moment,” remarked City Councilman Hal Lippman. “A potentially very explosive situation was defused.”

Meeting on Power Surges Set at City Hall

Power surge damage running into thousands of dollars in each of the scores of homes in the Greenway Downs and Virginia Village neighborhoods of the City of Falls Church will be the subject of a special meeting at City Hall on Thursday, June 5, at 8 p.m., City Manager Wyatt Shields announced Tuesday. Neighbors have already been organizing their own meetings (see photo, Page 16). Shields promised representatives of Dominion Power will be at the June 5 event. But a claims adjuster from Dominion Power has already indicated to some citizens that the company will not compensate for any damage, blaming what have been reported as more than one damaging surge on “acts of God.” The surges come in the wake of heavy rains, when trees lean into power lines, such as during the six inches of rain that fell on the weekend of May 10-11.

 

F.C. City Center Charette Tonight at Community Center 

The much-anticipated public charette on the architectural design of the recently-approved $317-million City Center South project will be held this Thursday, May 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Center. A presentation by Atlantic Realty’s architect will be followed by a panel of other architects before Planning Commission members who will direct breakout groups of citizens in discussions and responses.

 

Hockenberry Slated for Appointment to Planning Commission 

Falls Church City Council member Lindy Hockenberry, defeated by a 39-vote margin in a bid for re-election to a third term on the Council May 6, was slated to be appointed by the Council to a term beginning July 1 on the City’s Planning Commission Tuesday. But she asked to have her appointment delayed until some legal questions could be resolved. Council members indicated that they planned to appoint her as soon as those matters are cleared up.

 

Chavern Hailed at His Final F.C. Council Meeting 

Falls Church Councilmember David Chavern was hailed by his colleagues, and presented a plaque by Mayor Robin Gardner, after announcing that Tuesday’s would be his final Council meeting. The one-term lawmaker decided not to run for re-election this spring. “It’s been a sheer pleasure working with him,” Gardner said. “He’s provided clear thinking, and always cut to the chase.”

 

Mayor Urges Citizens to Return Census Forms 

Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner issued a special appeal to F.C. citizens to complete and return the census of all children through age 19 (even if away at college or the military) to City Hall, to complete them on line at www.fccps.org/census, or call (703) 248-5600. For every child counted, the City gets nearly $3,000 from the state.