Letters to the Editor: February 11 – 17, 2010

Maller Says: ‘My Planet Is Called Truth’


At the January 19 City Council work session, I commented that the stark decisions before our CIty required a better framework for balancing the interests of the stakeholders. Recent letters to the editor have reacted to the portion of my comments quoted in your story, but without the context which was my entire point.

In that work session and many times and in many other forums I have done my best to explain the unfortunate math of our present fiscal situation, and overwhelmingly those who have read or listened to me have expressed support for the notion that our only viable option is to make every effort to maintain our commitment to truly excellent public schools, notwithstanding the burden this will impose on taxpayers.

My point is to be honest and direct in quantifying the burden, and to look for ways to spread and to mitigate the consequences of the budget decisions that we will make.

I guess my response to the question of what planet I live on is: “A Little Planet called Truth.”

There are any number of economic arguments that support this analysis, and I am as interested in these details as anybody, but for me, the bottom line is not simply measured in dollars and cents, but in the expression of our shared values in and by the choices we make as a community.

I am proud to live in a place that does not shrink from these challenges, and I know that if we stick to OUR principles we will emerge an even stronger and more vibrant community.

Dan Maller

Member, Falls Church City Council


Why Are Parking Lots Clearer Than Sidewalks?


In this snow, I am walking down the middle of West Broad street glancing over my shoulder to make sure my dog, my lady, and I don’t get smushed by the next car. I can’t help noticing how clean the parking lots are while the sidewalks have enough snow give Bigfoot pause. Not mentioning any names but if my street was as clear as the parking lots of the bank that starts with ‘W’, the oil place and the Irish funeral home, I would not even know it snowed. Why is it I see all these monster pickup trucks with huge snow plows and snowblowers big enough to clear side streets but the sidewalks aren’t part of the contract?

Yes, the City’s business comes by car but this is one of those civic service things that needs to be talked about.

Jan Hertzcsh

Falls Church


Palestinian in U.S. Thanks N-P for Story


I am writing in response to your article last week on the conditions in Palestine. I applaud the fact that you explained how the Israeli settlers are encroaching on land that belongs to the Palestinian people. These settlements are in fact “illegal” according to UN resolutions 446, 452, 465 & 471. The right to return is a conflict that I know all too well. As a Palestinian American, I too would like to return to Palestine to see family I have not seen since I immigrated to the USA. Since I claimed refugee status coming here, the Israeli government has not allowed me to return. According to UN resolutions 194 & 242, I have the right to return, but I am still unable. These are just a few of the UN resolution that have been disregarded, others “strongly deplore and condemn” the actions of the Israeli government against Palestinian Arabs.

Marina El-Ghoul

Falls Church


Challenges to Filibuster Are a Good Idea


I am grateful to Nicholas Benton for his commentary last week calling the bluff on the GOP Senate filibuster threat.

The filibuster is both a vice and a virtue. Used sparingly, as a last resort and in a principled way, it can slow or kill proposed legislation or Presidential appointments thereby serving the public interest. It becomes a vice when used irresponsibly, as now when Republicans challenge virtually every bill and demand procedures that require unending delay. The filibuster threat was used more last year than in the total of 20 years between 1950 and 1970.

Democrats have three options in seeking reform. One is to change the rule that states it takes 60 votes to bring debate to a close. The Senate passed this so-called “cloture rule” in 1975. To revise cloture requires a super-majority of 67 Senators voting favorably, which is not likely now. A second option has been dubbed “the nuclear option,” so-called because it has been threatened but never used. To invoke this option a Senator would request a “point of order” stating the filibuster is unconstitutional. The member would demand that the Senate follow the explicit direction of the constitution, which states a simple majority is required to pass a law. A favorable vote on the nuclear option by a simple majority would, however, change the rules of the Senate, effectively eliminating the filibuster for any purpose in the future. So far the Senate has chosen not to go that route.

Mr. Benton in his editorial was reflecting on the third option, which can be used at any time without drastic long-term consequences. Under Rule 22, the filibuster threat can be used to trigger 60 votes-unless the Senate Majority Leader requires actual, traditional, continuous floor speeches in a real filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can call the bluff of the 41- person minority. To prevent a vote, Republicans would speak for as long as they chose, one speaker or many. When a Republican stopped speaking, a Democrat could call for the vote, needing only 50 voting affirmatively. Both sides would have to “camp out” at night on cots near the Senate chamber, so they could rush in to vote at a moments notice.

Robert L. McCan

Falls Church

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