Letters to the Editor: April 1 – 7, 2010

F.C.’s Library Also Faces Serious Cuts


This responds to your full-page story last week, “Fairfax County Libraries Could See $3.4 Million Budget Cut Come April.”

Although your story was in regard to the public library system of Fairfax County, and not the City of Falls Church, your raise an excellent opportunity for me to address, just briefly, our own budget scenarios for the Mary Riley Styles Public Library.

As you reported, Fairfax libraries have taken a recent hammering, absorbing a 15% budget reduction for the current fiscal year and, quite possibly, an 18% reduction for the fiscal year which starts July 1. In Falls Church we, too, are looking at library budget cuts, but not nearly so Draconian.

Mary Riley Styles staff began planning a year ago for a variety of budget contingencies in preparation for what we thought, correctly, would be a fallow time ahead. They’ve done brilliant work examining the library’s usage, programs, and mission.

Like all City agencies, it is clear we will need to make budget cuts. Exact budget situations at the City and state levels are not yet determined, and both impact us.  The Commonwealth provides vital funding as part of a yearly aid package, and this is being reduced considerably–exactly how much, we don’t yet know.

In preparation for these scenarios we have suggested to City Council several possible cuts in hours and services. The exact nature and extent of these will become clear next month, after Council adopts the City’s upcoming budget, and the Commonwealth determines the status of its yearly library aid monies.

Meanwhile, over the next several months we will be reaching out, seeking to engage Falls Church residents in conversation regarding how we may work together to ensure the library remains a vital cultural, educational, and patron-driven institution during what may be a prolonged period of need. You will hear from us again soon.

Bradley E. Gernand

Chair, Library Board of Trustees


New Lawsuit By Cuccinelli Only Wastes $


I was disappointed to learn last week that the Virginia Attorney General, Kenneth Cuccinelli, filed a lawsuit in the federal district court seeking to strike down the newly enacted federal health care legislation as unconstitutional.

Setting aside whether or not the federal health care law will be beneficial, which is a matter of spirited debate, our elected representatives have acted. I’ve read the Attorney General’s complaint. As a taxpayer who happens to be a lawyer with many years of experience litigating in the federal courts, it strikes me that the lawsuit will waste government resources and is unlikely to succeed (if striking down this historic law can be called success).

In addition, the allegedly unconstitutional provision (the requirement to procure health insurance) does not go into effect until 2014. So why file a costly lawsuit now? The answer seem obvious – this lawsuit caters to the Attorney General’s ultra-conservative base. The complaint’s rhetorical flourishes make political rather than legal points, such as the complaint’s gratuitous reference to the “failed” health care proposal of an earlier administration and speculative assertions about Congress’s “political will.” The complaint reads like Republican Party talking points for the coming congressional campaign rather than a court document.

Finally, the Attorney General claimed that the only cost to the Commonwealth of filing the complaint was the $350 filing fee. This cannot be accurate. The names of five state-employed lawyers appear on the complaint. The time those lawyers work on the case is a real cost to the Virginia government. Those costs are certain to grow as the lawsuit proceeds. All Virginians should urge the Attorney General to withdraw this ill-considered and wasteful lawsuit as soon as possible.

I offer one suggestion for an alternative use of the Commonwealth’s resources. Pursue a complete investigation of the recent vandalism at the home of Congressman Perriello’s brother.

Bob Maher

Falls Church

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