Letters to the Editor: December 10 – 16, 2009

Says New Brand Sounds ‘Child-Like’


I hope there are a lot of concerned readers. Before I even read the article in the December 3 News-Press, I felt an immediate reaction to the headline about City branding and the illustrated logo.

Has Falls Church City suddenly landed in the children’s section of the library along with “The Littles Give a Party,” “Stuart Little,” and “The Little Engine That Could?”

Really? I respect the time and effort given by many to the betterment of the City over the decades I’ve lived here. I respect the same spent on this latest branding project, but I cannot respect its results. “The Little City.” Really? That’s the best our money could buy? Honest? SmithGifford’s Amanda Hurt says, “…we are not trivial.” Then why start our impression on others with “Little?” Are we saying, “Come join the Little City Police Force”? Are we believable with “The Little City has lots of customers for your business”? Is it reasonable to make it necessary for those “selling” the city to overcome a first impression of immaturity? And the logo: it looks like a circus poster, or a Happy Birthday sign for a child’s party. Now we have cartoon-like immaturity.

We are a hard-working, educated, sophisticated population with a great appreciation for cultural activities, and we are less than 10 miles from the nation’s capital. We are child-friendly, per our support of our school system, our Community Center, and our library (and its children’s section). But we are not child-like. This brand is not the right one. Surely we can do better. If not , it’s better just to skip the whole thing for awhile. We’re the City of Falls Church. There will be people willing to try again.

Jane Singleton

Falls Church


May Election Date Ensures Accountability


The City’s Charter provides for a May election date to maximize public officials’ accountability for all-important school and city budget decisions made in April and deliberated during the door-to-door campaigning season that is a critical part of Falls Church elections. Changing that now, in the midst of a major budget crisis, has raised significant citizen concerns. Further, there is the legitimate concern that political parties will control the choice of candidates and issues, thereby dramatically changing the current independent and City issues-based elections.

Regardless of the merits, the rush to judgment without further community discussion and citizen vote, now being pursued by the Council’s “leadership” and majority, has also drawn strong objections from many citizens and the non-partisan and respected League of Women Voters.

Because the Charter is the citizens’ and not that of any individual Council Members’, we should heed the input of our citizens and deliberate more and allow them the ultimate say through a referendum. If the Council majority imposes its will in the face of the expressed concerns of so many citizens, and takes away from them an important Charter issue, the result is to disenfranchise our citizens, not the reverse.

Dave Snyder, Member

Falls Church City Council


Opposed to Moving Date of Election


I want to express my strong objection to current City Council attempts to change the date of local elections from May to November. Given all the severe problems the city faces, it is short-sighted — in fact, astigmatic and damned near cross-eyed — for the Council to be focusing its energies on this issue at the moment. I am agnostic about whether it is a good idea at all; but I have no doubt that this is the wrong time to be worrying about it!

At best, if a majority of the Council is so seized with the idea of broadening voter turn-out as quickly as possible, the very least it must do is submit the question to a referendum of city voters. I was deeply amused by the irony of Mayor Gardner adducing her Facebook “friends'” agreement with her position as a clinching argument. Chances are that they are her “friends” because they share her views and/or support her politically; that’s usually the way human beings (not just social networking sites) work. But if the Mayor means to appeal to a broader circle of opinion — vox populi — to refute those who disagree with her, let’s go the whole route: hold a referendum.

Jeff Murray

Falls Church


Against Any Moves Now on Election Date


I was chairing a Planning Commission meeting so I didn’t get a chance to talk during public statements at the Council meeting Monday.

I intended to speak out very simply against making any move now. I was glad to hear that 2010 is off the table, but I still fail to see why the Council needs to act now. I think that this deserves study and, frankly, I don’t know whether I want to change from May to November or not. I can think of good arguments in both directions. The question Dan Maller raised about what state or federal cycle we tie any date change to is very significant. It deserves an answer.

I now hear that there’s talk of making the change in 2012 and letting Council members appoint “interim” members to fill out the terms of those up that year. Huh? For six months what would be the most responsible move? Find three new people? What if they’re running for Council? Give them an “incumbent” advantage against people who were actually elected? This makes even less sense than letting people vote themselves an extension in office. And don’t get me started about the idea of reappointing those in office at that time. Disingenuous at best.

I also hear there might be a resolution calling for a referendum. Wouldn’t that then force a referendum in 30-60 days? That wouldn’t help anything and would be a huge negative. Talk about low voter turnout.

I think the Council should do two things: 1) require a report that would study the issue and report back no later than May 1 on the question of May vs. November; and 2) pass a Sense of the Council resolution saying that after that report the Council should call for a referendum at such a time that it could be put on the November ballot.

Are better-informed voters good? Use this report to inform them on the issue. Is better turnout good? Use it to decide this issue in November. It may be an “advisory” referendum, but the Council should want advice, not run from it. And if a change is made, do it in 2014.

John D. Lawrence

Chair, Falls Church City Planning Commission


Some Don’t Think the Same As Others Do


As “The Little City” staggers under the weight of a fiscal budgetary deficit of $7.5 to 10 million, and FCNP editor Nicholas Benton bemoans the loss of public employee union jobs, it’s heartening in a backhanded way, to see the attention Wayne Besen pays to the Catholic Church, which he has indentified as the prime obstacle to American citizens, because the Church still takes many of its teachings seriously.

Let’s hope Besen realized the Archdiocese of Washington integrated its schools long before Washington, D.C. integrated its schools decades ago, and the absence of Catholic hospitals in Northern Virginia has enabled Delegate Scott’s Inova octopus to claim a monopoly over area hospital care, leaving us ethically and financially poorer as a result. Scott would no doubt point out that at least Inova performs as many abortions as the customers want, an ostensible “symbol of freedom,” but I am amazed an area with 2.5 million people and several counties does not have a single Catholic hospital between Richmond and Northeast D.C.

Besen is angry at Bishop Thomas Tobin in Rhode Island, because Tobin advised Congressman Patrick Kennedy to stop receiving Holy Communion, until he repents from his pro-abortion position. Besen then castigates the Church because the 2,000 year old institution won’t accept gay marriage. Perhaps Besen needs to realize one of his prime legislative supporters in Virginia, Delegate-elect Kaye Kory, notes on her campaign website that the Catholic Diocese where she resided in Woonsocket, RI, helped jump start the Delegate’s career at the Grey Panthers, so she could later join EMILY’s List, and start making war on unborn children.

I already miss Kory’s defeated primary opponent Rep. Bob Hull, whom many conservative legislators I know admired for his fairness and decency. If the same Diocese which criticizes the substance addicted Patrick Kennedy can launch the career of the area’s newest pro-abortion Delegate, does Besen think that Diocese is all bad?

Daniel Gray

Via the Internet


Nation Not Governed by the Declaration


Richard LaVelle argues that the Declaration of Independence’s invocation of “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” requires the rejection of gay marriage (News-Press Letter to the Editor, Dec. 3, 2009). However, the United States is not governed by the Declaration of Independence. It is governed by the Constitution, which makes no reference to God, but establishes authority in “we the people” and a system of written, secular laws. This omission of God is no oversight! Indeed, the first amendment enjoins the separation of Church and State. Writers of the Constitution may have been religious men, but that means nothing with respect to the laws that govern our country. That these men did not try to write their private faith into public law, though, is a testament to their wisdom.

It’s worth noting too that many colonies in the U.S. were founded by men and women, including Catholics, seeking to escape a state church. Many of these groups, particularly radical antinomian sects, might have some very different ideas about what “Nature’s God” required than Mr. LaVelle does. Flash forward to today. There are Christian groups who endorse gay marriage; there are atheists who do not believe in Nature’s God. To ban gay marriage on the basis of the interpretation of /some /religious groups is to establish one religion over another–and also to impose religion on our secular state. That’s forbidden by the Constitution. I don’t find it particularly in the American spirit either. (Of course, any religious group that wishes should have the right not to perform same-sex marriages.)

The rebellious, freedom-loving and increasingly secularizing forces that drove the creation of this country continue to this day. Those who fear the force of that history would do well not to invoke its authority.

Robert Matz

Falls Church

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