Letters to the Editor: April 9 – 15, 2009

3 F.C. Council Members Reply to Snyder Views


In his recent remarks published on the Falls Church Times blog, our friend and colleague David Snyder fired a broadside at Mayor Gardner, Vice Mayor Lippman and the City Manager as being “ingrown and isolated” and “diverging more and more from the needs and values of our community.”

While we have encouraged vigorous debate and have our differences with other members and the City staff, we nevertheless feel these comments are completely unwarranted and add nothing to our public discourse. Our colleagues Robin Gardner and Hal Lippman have been nothing but dedicated and effective public servants, and it is an honor to serve with all on the Council and to work together to implement our shared vision for the future of this City under the capable leadership of Wyatt Shields.

As Mayor and member of a working majority of the Council in the 1990s, Mr. Snyder was unable to achieve anything in his pursuit of his vision of 100% commercial development. Mr. Snyder has been a persistent critic of the “mixed use” policy which has brought hundreds of millions of new development to the City since 2000, and which has reduced the current tax burden by approximately 10¢.

Under Mr. Shields’ and Mr. Tuohy’s leadership, the City has restrained expenditures and taxation, won awards for financial reporting, maintained and strengthened the City’s excellent bond rating, and improved the process. Obviously we face challenges, but it is Mr. Snyder who has sought to further his personal agenda by twisting the data provided by staff in an effort to show that his ideological approach, unburdened by the data produced by his own record, would somehow deliver us from the doom and gloom scenarios that he himself has encouraged.

We firmly believe that if we continue to apply a pragmatic and disciplined approach to budgeting and to pursue sensible development, that your government will continue to deliver the value for the tax dollar that you expect: excellent schools, an excellent and welcoming place to live, and an open government in which all citizens can participate to the extent of their time and energy.

Dan Maller, Dan Sze, Lawrence Webb

Falls Church City Council

Says Citizen‘Chip In’ Idea is ‘Laughable’


I am writing in regard to Matt Smith’s letter proposing that City residents all chip in to give City workers raises. Mr. Smith has been working with the City on its rebranding efforts, and apparently had an epiphany while attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting: “True communities look out for each other,” he said, and so if we all chipped in to give City workers raises, it would send a message that the community is behind all its people.

I would find this proposal touching if it weren’t so laughable. The City has a total of 41 affordable dwelling units (purchase or rental).

In the nine years I’ve lived in Falls Church, I’ve seen at least three affordable housing initiatives blocked by community factions for reasons of narrow self-interest. I have never heard the “community” say, gee, maybe this affordable housing project might not be so good for me, but for the greater good of the community, we need more affordable housing for those not so privileged as to have expensive homes or high-paying jobs. In fact, one community blog goes so far as to suggest that those who need affordable housing are just lazy and want to leech off “hard-working” taxpayers.

There seems to be almost a caste system in the City: the upper caste of home owners, and then all us “untouchables” who rent and I guess who are just too stupid to find jobs that pay enough to buy $500,000 homes.

So, Mr. Smith, it doesn’t seem the “community” has ALL of our backs. I work for the state, and I’m not getting a raise. I am certainly not going to chip in for someone else’s raise either, in the name of a “community” that doesn’t truly exist.

Chris Raymond

Falls Church

Can’t Call GEORGE Bus ‘Mass Transit’


Tracking the News-Press’ timely coverage of current public deliberations on the City’s next budget and advocates’ urging to save GEORGE, I cannot allow fellow-citizens to be bamboozled by some advocates’ willful or unwitting gross mischaracterizations of GEORGE as “mass transportation.”

Here, there are no mass-aggregating concentrations of high-density residential, employment and commercial addresses. There is no mass of population that daily leaves, enters or circulates within the City. There’s no mass, either, of residents critically dependent on public transit for their livelihoods; nor, also as in urban metropoles, appreciably large bodies of daily school attendance and at-home householders similarly dependent. If there’s any sort of true urban “mass” here, it’s well hidden.

In reality, all relevant factors considered, GEORGE is but a particular suburban enclave’s discretionary, parochially-directed jitney. The only thing “mass” in the GEORGE mosaic is perhaps the unredeeming size of its budgetary price tag.

Be aware, too, deficits-mitigating “tinkering,” e.g. shortened operating hours and fare hikes, only temporarily ease the pain, are not long-term cures for GEORGE’s birth defects and progressively worse deficits. Words carved in stone say public transit services everywhere are never financially self-sustaining. So, the only thing GEORGE has in common with true mass transit is it’ll never pay for itself. How deep should go the hole GEORGE keeps us in?

A final food-for-thought: Since (a) the three Metrobus routes long in service here (thanks to other taxes we pay) are susceptible to incremental, ridership-attracting improvements done – deficits-free – through budgetarily absorbable line items, and (b) fulfillment of the City’s commitment to carbon footprint reduction has explicit, non-deficit funding schematics underway, why should we agree to funding deficits for GEORGE both as redundant, marginal public transportation and as largely speculative side-benefit of the City’s pro-environmentalism?

I am lifelong dependent on public transit for daily survival, and staunchly advocate for humans versus automobiles. I’m for beady-eyed budgeting, and as a seasoned member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation, I resist perpetuation of at first-well-meaning policy initiatives later proved mistaken.

Bite the bullet now, stop the losses on GEORGE. If others agree, make yourselves heard!

Charles Langalis

Falls Church