Letters to the Editor: November 5 – 11, 2009

Says Moving F.C. Election to Dodge Problems


The stated purpose of possibly moving the municipal elections from May to November is to increase voter participation.

It’s reasonable to conclude, however, that that is not the real reason.

If it were, any proposal to move the date would not be done on the cusp of the holidays and just before the 2010 Council election in May. Council Members truly concerned about enhancing the democratic process would either put the issue on the ballot for change or take legislative action to moving municipal elections into a future November election schedule.

The reason for the current effort is purely political. It’s an attempt to dodge a very real problem.

In that regard, many of us may not be aware of the serious state of our fiscal situation because the Council has resolutely refused to share with us what it may require in tax revenues and tax rate hikes in the near future to maintain the current level of support for city services and the schools.

But the previews are already being played out: The Capital budget requirements have been frozen-and many key items may be eliminated; policies governing our fiscal reserves have been breached; over a millions dollars in misdirected revenues from the state had to be returned. Who is watching the store? The Council has approved multiple housing and other projects which if implemented would create huge fiscal burdens in the years ahead.

During my eight years on the Council, Councilman Dave Snyder and I worked hard to broaden our tax base by adding commercial development to our tax base mix. We were blocked at every turn. The CBC Council instead worked to convert existing commercially zoned property for condominium construction, upending the rationale of the zoning process, thus narrowing the tax base even further.

The majority Council members would have you believe that we are much like every other city in Virginia suffering as a result of the near economic meltdown. But that is not the case. While Arlington and Fairfax Counties can literally widen their physical girth to recover revenue growth as the credit crisis eases, we cannot increase the physical size of our 2.2 square mile city.

The rush to change the election cycle as is now proposed is nothing more than an attempt at a seductive political serenade to avoid a voter backlash in the May 2010 Council election.

Council Members Dan Sze and Lawrence Webb are responsible for putting this political red herring on the table and now that we have had a whiff of it, we hope they will remove it.

Sam Mabry

Mabry was a two term Council Member and served as Vice Mayor

Hails CBC, Urges Seeking Its Nomination


Like many people who live in Falls Church, when I moved here in 2001, I watched City politics from afar. It seemed then that most decisions were made in a smoky room and the leaders were shocked by citizen objections, because everything had been discussed and decided. Since the majority of the leaders were endorsed by the CBC, it seemed that the elected officials were simply responding to the edicts of the CBC.

As a member of the CBC Executive Committee since 2006 however, I have found this to be false. According to its bylaws, the CBC has two functions: 1) Select able and qualified candidates for office and 2) keep members and the public informed of issues facing the City government. This is the real CBC – it takes no position on City issues.

CBC endorsed leaders are given no instruction from any back room – they are free to pursue any platform they choose. While often the CBC candidates run as a “slate” and support each other, this is not a requirement.

At the CBC convention, a candidate simply needs to bring enough supporters to win a majority vote following the rules of the convention. There is nothing to prevent two diametrically opposed candidates from being endorsed at the CBC convention.

Since joining the Executive Committee, I have worked hard to forward the idea that the organization could bring together diverse opinions “all under one tent.” Unfortunately, there has been and remains a small group of City residents who would have you believe CBC endorsed candidates are really puppets of the organization. These folks, having historic disagreements with previous CBC leaders, now feel it necessary to form their own group. As I understand it, this group is actively recruiting candidates to run against the CBC under the guise of giving voters a choice.

People who are considering a run for office this spring ought to consider seeking the CBC nomination. Now in its 50th year, the CBC is the proven way to service in Falls Church City boasting a cadre of members and experienced election staff.

Gordon Theisz,

Falls Church

Witness Says Predatory Towing Hurts Business


The Falls Church City Council faces a loss of sales tax revenue if something isn’t done to halt the predatory towing practices that are forcing residents to shop elsewhere.

Witnessing a woman getting her car towed from the Broaddale Village Shopping Center while she was in the Hair Cuttery has convinced me I can’t afford to shop there any more.

Yes, I actually witnessed the woman return to the Hair Cuttery to say that her car was towed. When she went looking for her car, someone told her about the towing so she called the towing company, and they did indeed have her car. They claim she had left the property, which she denied. I saw her leave the Hair Cuttery only minutes earlier, so I know she was a legitimate customer there.

I used to be a customer of Hair Cuttery, ECA Nails, Starbucks and the Pancake House. No more.

I can get those services up at Lee and Harrison in Arlington. The parking there is just as bad as Broaddale but at least I won’t get towed and have to spend $100 to get my car back with who knows what damages.

Same goes for the Farmers Market.

And local officials wonder why Falls Church has such an unwelcoming reputation. Try looking at your towing laws.

Carol Burnett

Via the Internet

True Cost of Health Care Reform Masked


“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” wrote Sir Walter Scott in his 1808 poem, “Marmion.” I doubt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has read “Marmion.” But he now has a pretty good idea of what Sir Walter Scott meant.

Democrats have been tying themselves into knots in their efforts to conceal from the public the true cost of Obamacare.

Though the swine flu is widespread in 46 states many Americans are still waiting to get their vaccines. The Obama’s Administration blames the shortage on manufacturing delays at the firms making these products. But production issues only explain part of the shortfalls. Also to blame are a series of policy decisions that reflect the shortages of vaccines actually shipped.

The first fateful policy decision was to forego vaccine additives – called adjuvants – that activate the immune system and make shots more potent. Adjuvants allow a smaller supply of vaccine stock to be stretched across more doses. The adjuvants are included in the H1N1 vaccine worldwide, but not in the U.S.

Why do adjuvants matter? An adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine being used in Europe contains 3.75 micrograms of vaccine stock. The same vaccine in the U.S., without the adjuvant, requires 15 micrograms of vaccine for equal potency. If the Obama Administration would have used adjuvants we could have had four times the number of shots with the same raw material.

The second policy decision was to stick for too long with a proven, but slow process, for making flu shots that uses chicken eggs to grow the raw vaccine material. Shots can be made much faster using mammalian cells to grow vaccine, and this process is already being used in Europe.

How can we improve our regulatory process to prevent such shortages in future epidemics? First, the FDA needs to create a review pathway for adjuvants that can become components of multiple vaccines. We have been slow to integrate vaccine additives, bowing to imprudent activism and litigation. The European strategy of having adjuvants pre-approved, as part of mock up pandemic vaccines, was smart and we should adopt it. Secondly, the FDA requires vaccines to sit for weeks after they come off the manufacturing line to make sure they haven’t grown bacterial impurities. This is why most of the swine flu vaccine supply is released in waves and won’t be ready until early this winter. There are other ways for America to invest in more modern facilities for manufacturing flu vaccine particularly cell-based facilities.

To finalize, the Obama Administration needs to stop passing all the blame for current vaccine shortage onto its manufacturers because that is unfair. What this administration needs to do is to work together for the common cause of its people.

Ed Hillegass

Falls Church