Don’t Abandon Democratic Goals for Politics
I want to take this opportunity to express my thoughts regarding a suggestion by some of my City Council colleagues that we should push off the scheduled May 2010 City election until November 2010.
Each Council member has different life experiences and perceptions of what public service means in a democracy. Those experiences often times cause us to view the initiatives and the process of government in a more critical light.
I came to the US as a child, a Jewish immigrant from Iran – a country where any law or legal process can be twisted and perverted. I am therefore extremely sensitive to any action which can be viewed as disregarding the democratic process for political purposes. This is a criticism we are already hearing about the election date proposal, and consequently I think we must proceed with great caution.
While I don’t believe anyone would seriously disagree with the proposition of increasing voter turnout, achieving that goal should be free from the taint of anyone or any group attempting to achieve personal or political gain. Accordingly, that objective cannot be accomplished by rushing through an election date change during the last busy weeks of the year and during the holiday season. Our citizens deserve the opportunity to thoroughly understand and debate any change in their most basic right as citizens-the right to vote, as well as, in this case, when they wish to cast that vote.
Our citizens are likely to see a quick change in the election date as an attempt to deflect citizen reaction to decisions and actions by the Council that could have adverse political consequences. In fact, council members voting in favor of changing the election from May to November would be voting to extend their term by six months.
I fervently believe that it is the responsibility of elected office holders not to undermine voters’ wishes in the name of increasing the democratic franchise. Such action corrupts the democratic processes, leads to increased cynicism and diminishes the collective character of the community.
It is not the City election calendar that needs immediate repair; it is the City budget and fiscal practices. None of us welcome the serious and unique financial difficulties our small city faces. The 2010 budget decisions have been difficult and the 2011 budget will be even more daunting. But we must own up to the challenges and make the best decisions possible for our citizens and concentrate our time and resources on the budget rather than focusing on moving the election calendar around.
Nader Baroukh, Member
Falls Church City Council
Says Schools Not Primary Economic Driver
For some time now it would appear that the City Manager has been trying to get the City Council to see and understand the economic realities of Falls Church and by benchmarking our city to surrounding jurisdictions helps to put the dilemma into perspective. The one-on-one meetings finally appear to have gotten the Council to “see,” but I wonder if they “understand.” And, if they “understand,” will they make logical, as opposed to politically expedient, choices?
Any jurisdiction has economies of scale that affect the funding and level of services to that jurisdiction. This is public administration 101. Some time ago the Council began to rebalance the tax base between residential and commercial receipts. While the simple economics clearly say that the rebalancing is not yet complete, had it not begun, the red ink likely would be deeper in the budget and the Council deserves credit.
Empty GEORGE buses still ramble through our streets heavily subsidizing a handful of riders. The School Board gives the impression of a sense of entitlement to its budget and it should be no surprise that it is opposed to citizens fiscal advisory committee.
I don’t know what cuts the City Manager may have recommended to the Council, but he seems to be more cognizant of the adverse economic impact on the City and its residents if the primary way to close the widening budget gap is increasing taxes.
This will certainly draw emotional criticism, but I would suggest that the City’s 4 schools serving some 1,800 students is not at the top of the list of economic drivers for the City. Instead, I would suggest that the core economic drivers are balanced economic development, Falls Church’s geographic proximity inside the Beltway and being served by two Metro Stations (one of which will be the connector to Dulles), its proximity to the jobs centers of Arlington and Tysons, its property taxes to make housing somewhat more affordable in an expensive metropolitan area, and then the school system. Has anyone considered that the majority of condo purchases and new rentals are occupied primarily by single professionals or young couples without children?
A hefty increase in property taxes is not the solution. Federal taxes are being increased to the budget deficit. State taxes will almost certainly have to increase to finance the budget deficit so as to keep the AAA bond rating. An increase in Falls Church property taxes will decrease the affordability factor of housing here and impair home values, thereby affecting property tax receipts.
Here are some things for the City Council to consider: (1) terminate the GEORGE bus; (2) combine public security under a rationalized sheriff’s office just as many Virginia and Florida counties do; (3) identify school board budget savings; (4) combine school board purchases with Fairfax City’s school system or another neighboring jurisdiction to achieve economies of scale; (5) continue to rebalance the commercial and residential tax receipts, which would include considering changes to height restrictions in the metropolitan area.
Delay and pray coupled with tax increases is not the solution for Falls Church.
Blames Government ‘Drunken Spending’ for Crisis
It is very hard to know where to start in responding to our dear local paper’s editor’s most recent rant. Often liberals look down on those who disagree with them as ignorant and certainly, the arrogance in this editorial not surprisingly reflects that. There are a “few” nonsensical statement in the rant that are worthy of mention.
Who are the evil, super rich? Coming from the first college graduate in my family line, and a conservative, (and not super rich, unfortunately) I have a few unfortunate facts to suggest. First, the Hollywood liberal elite are super rich. Surely, most of them were not at these evil tea parties. They are the left wing of the left wing. Second, Wall Street overwhelmingly is left wing, look at who they support in elections — no surprise in Democratic NYC, the liberals. They are clearly the super rich. The liberal media, which voted almost 90% liberal and contribute to the liberal wing of the Democrat Party. So then, who is left? I suppose the evil 10% of the media and those brave Hollywood types who actually stand up often at the cost of their carers and are counted as conservatives. Oh, and those evil rich people who are, gasp, employers. When the government takes money away from the evil corporations and the rich, they have less left to hire workers.
Maybe, just maybe, if the government had not gone on a drunken spending spree and instead had provided incentives for the private sector to hire workers, maybe we would not have reached over 10% unemployment? Who in the reading area of this newspaper after all works for a poor person? Hmmm? And who in the reading area of this newspaper has a 401K dependent on the success of an evil corporation, and maybe too, a rich person. And what about those evil corporations and rich folks who advertise in the FCNP? Gasp.
Bikers & Runners Don’t Have Right of Way on Trail
I was very disturbed by an unfortunate happening that occurred on my way in to Falls Church on Monday morning. I was driving on Great Falls Street approaching the crossing at the bike path, when suddenly two runners ran across Great Falls right in front of me. I was able to stop without hitting them, but they proceeded to start yelling at me.
I pointed out that they had run through the stop sign without stopping, and they said that I should be more respectful of people, and slow down to let them pass. I again said that they had not stopped at the stop sign, and then the woman leaned in to my window and said “—- you.” She then stood in front of my car even when I asked her to move out of the way. I am sure that I was not speeding, as I have grandchildren in the area and I am always careful about the 25 mph speed limit in Falls Church.
It appears that often bikers and pedestrians in Falls Church think that they have the right of way on the bike path. It is clearly posted that they are supposed to stop, but they seem to think that the cars will automatically yield to them. Aren’t they also supposed to follow the laws? It is becoming quite dangerous at the bike path crossings. Drivers stop when they aren’t supposed to, and bikers and runners cross without stopping at the stop signs.
I am a concerned McLean resident, who is now wondering about the friendliness in Falls Church.