Falls Church City News Briefs

Flaw in F.C. Voting Machines Detected

Former Falls Church City Treasurer H. Robert Morrison reported to the News-Press Tuesday that when he went to vote absentee for the Nov. 4 presidential election this week, he discovered what he called “a serious flaw” that apparently exists on all the City’s voting machines, and presumably on many produced by the same manufacturer around the state and nation.

After making his selections, when the machine displayed a “summary” screen prior showing all his choices prior to the actual vote casting, Morrison said the name of his presidential choice was cut off the screen, showing only three or four letters of the first name. Falls Church City Voter Registrar Debbie Taylor confirmed this situation, which exists on all of the City’s voting machines, to the News-Press yesterday. She said that when the State Board of Elections was notified, they said that nothing can be done about it, that voters can go back on the machine to confirm their votes on earlier pages. The machines, called E-Slate, are manufactured by Hart Interactive, and are used by two other jurisdictions besides Falls Church in Virginia, Charlottesville and Alexandria. “This could be a monumental problem on election day,” Morrison noted. “At best, as voter after voter questions this, it will slow down the voting to a crawl in an election where a record turnout is expected.”

F.C. Hilton Garden Inn Wins Site Plan OK

By a unanimous vote Monday, the Falls Church Planning Commission approved the site plan for the Hilton Garden Inn project of Bob Young’s Jefferson One Group at 706 W. Broad Street. The vote subsumed two waivers and a minor revision of the parking requirements, and went a long way toward clearing the way for construction of the 110-room, 65-foot-high hotel on 1.1 acres. Remaining obstacles are two lawsuits filed to challenge the procedures of the City of Falls Church in granting the zoning and special exception requests of the developer.

Episcopal Trial Ends, Judge’s Ruling Pending

The final phase of the year-long legal battle over control of the property and financial assets of the historic Falls Church, downtown in the City of Falls Church, ended Monday, pending a ruling from Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows that may come late next month. Lawyers for the “Continuing Episcopalian” congregants, who were expelled from the property in December 2006 when a majority of members voted to defect from the national Episcopal Church, told their clients they felt they’d made a strong case, but are readying an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court if Judge Bellows doesn’t agree. Their argument pointed to an 18th century deed indicating the property is owned by the Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, and therefore it should remain in Episcopal Church hands. That would trump, they contended, an 1867 Virginia law that Bellows had earlier found to be constitutional, which ruled that church property is owned by the congregation that holds membership on it. The case also involved contention over a church endowment, which has had as its trustees those church members who remain with the mainstream Episcopal denomination.

Smith, Haley Win F.C. Cable Access Election

In a rare contested election, incumbent Charles “Chip” Haley and newcomer Matt Smith were elected to the board of directors of the Falls Church Cable Access Corporation at its annual meeting Monday. A third candidate, another newcomer, Brian Williams, failed to win election. The access corporation is in charge of management, operations and programming regarding the Falls Church cable television channel, which is channel 12 on Cox cable, channel 2 on RCN, and channel 33 on Verizon. Smith, chair of the City’s Business in Education Alliance, and Williams are local small business owners and City residents who said they ran to “revitalize” the operations of the station.

Moran 100% in Human Rights Campaign Scorecard

The Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest organization advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, issued its annual Congressional Scorecard yesterday, and among those in the Virginia Congressional delegation, Falls Church/Arlington Rep. Jim Moran was one of only two to score a perfect 100 percent in support of a cache of votes considered key by the HRC, the other being Rep. Bobby Scott from Tidewater. Sen. Jim Webb scored 85 percent, retiring Sen. John Warner scored 50 percent, and retiring Rep. Tom Davis 25 percent. Six Virginia Republican congressmen – Reps. Thelma Drake, Randy Forbee, Virgil Goode, Bob Goodlatte, Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf – all scored 0 percent. Among the presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama scored 94 percent, his running mate Sen. Joe Biden 95 percent, and Sen. John McCain scored 0 percent.