Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor for the week of January 15 – 21, 2009

Assails ‘Sacking’ Of Planners by F.C. City Council


By sacking Planning Commission members whose advice and recommendations it didn’t like and replacing them with hand-picked apparatchiks, the majority on the City Council, in true totalitarian fashion, has achieved its goal of absolute control over City entities with responsibilities for development in Falls Church.

Who will now dare to differ with the autocratic “my way or the highway” attitude of those Councilmembers on development issues? Can we expect independent analysis or dissent from the City Manager? Of course not. He owes his job to the City Council. From the planning or economic development staffs? No, because they owe their jobs to the City Manager. Will there ever be objective advice given by the City Attorney? No again, because his job too is beholden to the City Council. Now the Planning Commission, the only City entity that has ever had the courage to raise questions about projects being pushed by the developers and the majority on the Council, has been sacked and stacked. Unless and until they prove otherwise, the newly-appointed commissioners will be as suspect as any appointments made by the Governor of Illinois.

By complaining about alleged undecorous behavior by the Planning Commission, Councilmember Lippman has once again tried to hide Council impropriety in a fog of phony indignation. Proper decorum and professional behavior begin at home. Has Mr. Lippman apologized to Falls Church residents for saying there’s a “Bradley effect” in the City? Did he chide Councilmember Sze who, when voting against a proposition he deemed unfavorable to the City Center South Apartments Project, decided that a simple “nay” would not suffice and instead bellowed a boorish “Hell No!”? Did he criticize Mayor Gardner for her mean-spirited attack on Councilmember Snyder for his opposition to the pay raise for the City Manager? And speaking of the Mayor and civility in political discourse, what has Mr. Lippman done to stop the half-truths, insidious insinuations, vicious innuendos, character assassinations, outright lies, and other verbal vomit that regularly spew from the Mayor’s husband’s hateful blog?

Honest, impartial and open government in the City of Falls Church has hit a new low. Dissent is stifled and dissenters vilified. Kremlin despots would be proud.

Lou Mauro

Falls Church

Sze to Snyder: Pro-Active Beats Nothing


With due respect to my friend and multi-term colleague, Dave Snyder – it comes down to whether our City Council should exercise its public trust to proactively put structures in place to guard against economic instability and generate revenue for its citizens – or do nothing. It’s one thing to point to future economic uncertainties; it’s quite another to advocate a course of action that essentially accomplishes nothing of value. It is not enough to support affordable housing and then dwell on perceived repercussions. Let’s examine these effects, they aren’t all negative. If we desire to have quality teachers, police, the barkeep at a local eatery; then we need to find a way to house them in the city in an affordable fashion. This is what keeps products and services competitive for our citizens and adds security as a player in the regional economy. To have those less economically endowed continue to commute from two counties away, with the known effect on attentiveness, effectiveness and the environment (that’s one pound of carbon for every ten miles on the road, as you know) is not leadership benefitting our future.

Let’s talk about development. Following outspoken advocacy for the traditional way would put Falls Church City squarely in competition with Tysons Corner. How does that work, exactly? None of that made any economic sense to the development community over the last four terms, and it still doesn’t. The other outcome would have meant no development at all. Guess where the tax rate would have been at this point? Under the current development plan, our City stands to gain over $3.5 million in new revenue each and every year. And also, they are all green.

Fiscal responsibility means moving forward smartly. That requires diligence and calculated, reasoned risk. The greatest failure of leadership is usually a failure to imagine. Fortunately, the leadership on this Council can envision the future and act on it; instead of saying: it’s simply too hard. Sometimes, if you want change you can believe in, you just have to be the change agent. And Dave, please remember that you build great civilizations one compromise at a time.

Dan Sze

Falls Church City Council

Eden Center May Redevelop For ‘Silver Line’


It’s interesting that the owners of the Eden Center discussed their property the same week the Metro’s “Silver Line” rail to Dulles moved one step closer to becoming reality. Given that East Falls Church metro will be the eastern terminus of the new line and is just down Roosevelt Boulevard from the Seven Corners area, we will start to hear more talk about development.

If you look around the Seven Corners area today you see strip malls and stand alone buildings surrounded by surface parking. You also see single story storage facilities and repair shops. It’s only a matter of time before developers start looking at these properties and discussing how to transform the area in anticipation of the Silver Line opening in 2013.

Michael Braunger

Via the Internet

Take Weight of World of Children’s Backs


One of my children is a junior at George Mason. He and I read Peter Davis’s letter to the editor in the Dec. 25 issue, and David Chavern’s response in the Jan. 1 issue. My son agreed wholeheartedly with what Peter said and did not think Mr. Chavern understood his point but rather corrected his idealism.

Peter is not the first Mason grad or current student to resist what he sees as the excessive push to compete at GM. My perspective is that college will be soon enough for them to begin to assemble their skills and talents into a reasonable package to contribute to society and be happy.

Yes, the economy is tanking. Our kids didn’t do that. Yes, they will be dealing with it, soon. But perhaps their approach will not be ours. I hope not. Ours hasn’t worked so well so far. So, maybe we ought to listen to them. It seems that what Peter is saying can be summed up as “give students time and space to learn, become curious, and understand their place in our democracy instead of molding them into global competitors.” Sounds pretty smart. Will this really lead to the “comfortable mediocrity” that Chavern says is “not a luxury we can afford”? The framers of our constitution might take issue with that.

Let’s take the weight of the world off our children’s backs, shall we? (Their enormous backpacks are heavy enough.) We’ve already taken away much of their childhood with constant activities and precious little chance to flourish without our adult input; let’s give them back their high school years. Thank you Peter for your courage to speak out!

Rachel M. Clark

Falls Church

‘Relay for Life’ Kick Off Set In F.C. Jan. 25


We want to invite everyone in Falls Church to come to the Kick-off Event for the 2009 Relay For Life of Falls Church on Sunday January 25, from 2:30 to 4 p.m., at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.

During last year’s relay, hundreds of Falls Church residents turned out as 40 teams raised more than $80,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer. The Kickoff Event for the 2009 Relay will feature a video presentation of last year’s event and information tents for those not familiar with Relay For Life. The Kick-Off Event will start the ball rolling for this year’s relay, which will be held overnight on the track at George Mason High School on May 30-31. With your support, we’re hoping to make this year’s event even better!

We particularly want to encourage cancer survivors to come to the Kickoff Event and to get involved. Each year’s Relay For Life features a reception for survivors and a “Survivors’ Lap,” a moving testament to the progress that has been made in the fight against this disease. Based on the American Cancer Society’s estimates, we believe there are approximately 300 people in the City of Falls Church who have had cancer at some point in their life. We want all our survivors to be celebrated! The Falls Church community has shown how amazingly supportive and cohesive it can be through this remarkable event. Please join us!

If you cannot attend the January 25 event, more information about how to organize a team for the 2009 relay is available at www.fallschurchrelay.org.

Katie Clinton, Terri Rollo, Co-Chairs

2009 Relay For Life of Falls Church