Letters to the Editor: July 2 – 8, 2009

Physical State, Not Residents, is ‘Unwelcoming’


Thank you for your article regarding the City of Falls Church branding project. We appreciate your ongoing support on this important endeavor.

As the person who conducted the research for the City branding project, I want to clarify that the study did not say nearby neighbors felt the City residents were unwelcoming. While you did not specifically say that in your article, I don’t want residents to take away this conclusion. What nearby neighbors did indicate was that the current physical state of the business district (i.e., the aged look of the buildings, traffic, general types of businesses, etc., on Broad Street and Lee Highway) was not compelling, and therefore, not welcoming.

It’s important to keep in mind that nearby neighbors do not experience the City’s beautiful homes and amenities, but rather the main Broad Street thoroughfare. What nearby neighbors see is lots of traffic, no places to park, no places to sit, and shopping that does not help them with their everyday needs. With the exception of a few places, they currently do not have a reason to stop in the City which translates into the feeling that the city does not want them to stop, and is unwelcoming.

So, I just want to stress to all residents that this was not personal. “Unwelcoming,” was about the lack of amenities for nearby neighbors in the City, which is the main factor they consider when evaluating their experiences with any city.

Barbara Paris

SmithGifford Communications


Are Strings Attached to Stimulus $?


While I like the idea of our city getting stimulus money, (especially in light of our donor status at the state, and probably the federal level too), the cynic in me wonders about the strings attached or the unforeseen complications.

I am reminded of the time that there was great celebration that Falls Church got a “free” bus system from the feds, GEORGE. Free, that is for several years. Now it is a white elephant that drains/wastes our taxpayer money every year. Just this last week, I observed several times during the evening rush hour empty GEORGE buses driving around our city. The editor is ebullient about the possibility of a new grant, but will the new rules keep us from turning up our thermostats in the winter, or down in the summer? Will there be restrictions on driving? And how about that cozy fire in the fireplace in the winter while watching a Redskins game? Will that become illegal? There are rarely free goodies from governments without strings attached. I read the article and editorial twice and did not see any of the quid-pro-quo discussed.

Call me a cynic, but I surely hope that in taking the cash, we have not given up freedom.

Dave Phelps

Fall Church


Obama’s Been in Office Only 5 Months


Ed Hillegass wrote a pretty funny letter (FCNP June 25). It excoriates Mr. Obama, after being president for five months, for not fixing all the ills it took George W. Bush eight years to create. Who does he think started the “bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving”? And created created conditions leading to “the biggest deficit in the history of the country”? He then advocates “hard work and sometimes sacrifice” as the solution to “these tough times”. From 2001 to 2009, did he suggest that remedy to Mr. Bush? I didn’t think so.

Gabe Goldberg

Falls Church


Lawrence Says He’s Switched to Democrats


Should I switch parties?  This is something I’ve been mulling over for many months – ever since I started working on and contributing to the Obama campaign last August.  I decided NOT to support any of the Republican candidates before I decided to support Obama.  I was what used to be called a liberal Republican – fiscally conservative and socially liberal.  At last count I believe there were 3 liberal Republicans left in the country and two of those were in captivity under an unsuccessful breeding program at either the National Zoo or Greenbrier.

The Obama campaign got me thinking (never a good idea, just ask my wife) and I’ve voted for Republicans very little in the past decade.  Is this a “Falls Church Effect” where otherwise sensible people turn in their old cars for Volvos that can only make left turns and only wear shades of blue?  (Full disclosure:  I got a Volvo in 2007 after having had a Camry for nearly 16 years.  With extensive after-market work, it can turn both directions and even back up.)  I voted for Bush II in his first term (man, I wish I had a do-over), John Warner (no regrets at all), and that seems to be about it.  Other than that, I’ve voted for Kerry, Webb, Moran, and campaigned for Obama (and by association Mark Warner for whom I voted).

I’ll miss being a Republican, but according to people who are “real” Republicans, I really never was one, despite having been offered a Senior Advisor position in the State Department by the Bush Administration (no way could I take it).  So what am I now?  Likely closer to a New Democrat than a Blue Dog, but basically, I’ll stay like I was:  someone who thinks through issues and candidates and makes a decision based on my judgment not a party’s.  The Dems I worked with on the campaign always made me feel just like one of them, but for Obama’s next run I will miss being able to wear my “Republicans for Obama” button.

John D. Lawrence

Chair, F.C. Planning Commission


Pleased With ‘Joys of Baking Vegan Muffins’


I was thrilled to read Dean Edwards’ article about the joys of vegan baking “Compassionate Muffinsin the June 18 News-Press. It’s true that baking without dairy or eggs doesn’t mean skimping on flavor. Rather, it simply means choosing the cruelty-free versions of our favorite desserts. And the proof is in the (vegan) pudding: in addition to the success of the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale campaign, Washingtonians are flocking to the all-vegan, award-winning Sticky Fingers Bakery in D.C.!

Erica Meier

Compassion Over Killing