Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor for July 31 – August 6, 2008

Letters to the Editor for July 31 – August 6, 2008.

Need to Cut Liabilities, Not Increase Them


Across our great Nation, States and local government coffers are being slammed by a short fall in tax revenues. However our elitist developers and our sole owner of the Falls Church News Press tells us not to worry because “Pent up Demand” will bring condo buyers to our city door steps. Well I will say this “You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time but not all of the people, all of the time.”

Projects such as Pearson Square, Spectrum, etc… were modeled out by the EDA towards expected city revenue gains. Pearson Square, as we know, was allowed by our past city council to be converted to apartment rentals, not as condo sales as the revenue models projected. Our city lost $150K a year in allowing this conversion and the retail space below the Pearson Square project has only one entity in it today. How many projects did the EDA model and city staff show positive revenue projection but are falling well below expectations?

The housing slump, now well into its 2nd year, is the primary culprit. The decline in homes sales has cut into real estate transfer taxes, construction spending, and employment has declined. Rising costs and worries about the economy are spreading throughout the country. Of course, for many states and localities today’s budget woes stem at least partly from expanding their services during the good times and not planning enough for the inevitable downturn.

Even in our state Governor Kaine has ordered a spending and hiring freeze. This was due to Governor Kaine’s overly optimistic projections in revenue forecasts. At one time our state surplus (rainy day fund) had more than $1 billion. This fund has dwindled to $5 million today and heading towards zero. Our state has spent nearly a $1 billion surplus in the name of pet projects and wants to add tax increases to fix their overspending.

We continue to run the George while the cost to maintain this project is ever increasing. If the cost of running and maintaining the George (fuel, maintenance, personnel etc…) is close to $500,000 and the project continues to operate in the red, why doesn’t our newly seated city council shelve this project to save our taxpayer dollars? Why are we still holding hands with Atlantic Realty and the Falls Church Housing Corporation (FCHC)? If our city is to prosper it will not be through FCHC because the sales of the allotted units as described in the city center project are sold at a vastly reduced rate. At present our city population and density has grown immensely through high density developments and our commercial base has decreased which means a short fall in tax revenues.

Arlington & Fairfax County have relied upon our city dwellings and its population to buy or shop at Ballston, Clarendon, Tyson’s Corner, Seven Corners, etc… meaning that most of our income dollars were spent outside of our boundaries. Which way is our city heading; prosperity or decline? We need to cut our liabilities, not increase them. Even in the City Managers office a budget increase of over 20% will occur between now and 2010. Let’s hope that our city council can make the hard decisions and choose to

maintain our independence as the City of Falls Church.

Ed Hillegass

Falls Church

Doesn’t Like Idea of Kaine for Vice President


Tim Kaine for VP is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. And I don’t say that because of any ill feelings towards Governor Kaine. The fact is that the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Bill Bolling, is a Republican. If Kaine is named Obama’s running mate and Obama wins, then they’ve effectively handed Virginia’s gubernatorial power to a Republican at a time when the Democrats, at long last, are clearly on the upswing in the state. It makes no sense at all to choose Kaine for VP.

Carl M.

Via the Internet

Government Should Only Protect the Individual


“But taxpayers, through their government, at all levels in this land, have a fundamental responsibility to provide for the general welfare of the public, and that includes putting roofs over people’s heads when they can.” That was from your editorial last week.

This has got to be one of the most un-American statements I’ve ever heard. Our government should only exist to protect the rights of the individual. This is blatantly obvious when looking at any welfare system at any level of government. Welfare does not help people, but only makes them lazy and unwilling. Not to mention, tenants who accept government-subsidized housing never properly care and maintain the property. We need to get rid of the interventionist government and allow freedom and free-markets to work properly!

Jack Doubleton

Via the Internet

Foreign Policy Credentials No Longer Lacking


The movement from Biden to Kaine suggests that Terry McAuliffe, a brilliant political mind and spin doctor, is convinced that Obama has proven, with his trip abroad, that foreign policy is not a weakness for him and that domestic policy will decide this election.
Tim Kaine is an exceptional campaigner, advocate for children, and a former Catholic missionary in Latin America who speaks fluent Spanish. He is a southern Governor who remains very popular even though he has been unable to resolve the state’s biggest problem – its legislative stalemate over transportation funding.
While it would be unfortunate to see Tim leave before winning that fight, the GOP seems committed to unending traffic jams and unwilling to compromise to move forward. Thus, as it appears clear that the voters will have to help decide this in future elections, he might as well move on and do what he can to help our national ticket be successful.
Best of all, Tim’s experience governing will be invaluable to Barack once he must take over the monster that is our federal government.
One caveat, while Tim’s religious connection to the people of PA and OH will be helpful too, popular PA Gov. Ed Rendell would not only help in those states but, being Jewish, he would help in FL.
One more thing. Some people think that Obama should have an older, white guy to provide a comfort level for many older, white people. Unlike Rendell (or Biden for that matter), Kaine is a younger, white guy, with less experience.
Of course, on the plus side, he would be a fresh face with nothing in his history to criticize.

Paul Friedman

Via the Internet

Anti-Oil Dems to Blame for High Prices


Nicholas F. Benton’s column last week is an interesting take on market events of the moment. However, he seems to have lost sight of the fact that the real reason oil prices are so high in the first place is because of decades of democratic resistance and anti-oil industry policy. Our nation shamelessly asks the oil producers of the world to increase supply while America has been prevented from getting it’s own by democratic policy.

Gary Gramm

Via the Internet

Wants Specifics on How to Cut Energy Use


Tom Whipple wrote, “it now takes 90,000 BTUs a square foot to run the average building for a year, but this can be reduced to 40,000 or even 35,000 if the latest building technologies are applied.” Awesome. This appears like the biggest change for the good in the energy arena. But what exactly are these technologies, what duration of time is required for the savings to pay for the installation/operation of each of the technologies, and how available are the particular technologies? It would be great if the News-Press would report on this for a range of buildings (homes and businesses).

Jim Breiling

Via the Internet