Letters to the Editor: April 22 – 28, 2010

Collaboration is a Better Way in Tough Times


True leadership comes from those who look to come together and work toward common solutions. It comes from setting aside our differences and focusing on the common good. It comes from taking responsibility and making tough choices, even if they may be unpopular at the current moment.

Unfortunately, Michael Gardner, in last week’s Little City Weed column, is seeking to define the Falls Church’s May 4 elections not as an opportunity to collaborate, but as an “us versus them” event, ignoring the pressing need to work together and embracing politics of division.

I share the belief that nothing is more important to the future of Falls Church than our schools. And I agree with Gardner that Hal Lippman has long been a champion for our public schools. But we must not forget that Ron Peppe, as Chair of the School Board, has led Herculean efforts to protect our schools and ensure that budget reductions are not felt in the classrooms and that he is a former president of the GMHS PTSA. John Lawrence was vice chair of the Day Care Task Force and a member of the PTA. And Barry Buschow has dedicated his life to community improvement and opportunities for young people. If these are not indications of a commitment to our schools and our children, I simply don’t know what is.

I must also take issue with Gardner’s statement regarding my fellow School Board candidates. Both Rosaura Aguerrebere and Susan Kearney are experienced members of the School Board, have run contested campaigns in the past, and are the very definition of “committed parents” Gardner seeks. And Greg Rasnake is exactly what Gardner is demanding, a dedicated parent running because of his concern for his kids currently attending FCCPS. And I have two kiddos that will be entering the schools in the coming years.

I will give credit where credit is due. Gardner is right that parents need to come out and vote on May 4. And with eight candidates seeking four Council seats, I hope all City residents see the need to cast their ballots.

With the future of Falls Church at stake, we each bear a responsibility to cast a ballot and help determine the future of our city.

Patrick R. Riccards

Falls Church


Which CBC Candidates Are Against Schools?


I sit in shock as I read Michael Gardner’s Little Weed column of last week assailing the CBC convention for “trying desperately to find alternative candidates who would be willing to drastically change the economic policies of the city which are largely responsible for funding schools.” Really? Did anyone at the convention witness an anti-schools agenda from the audience or candidates? Gardner also states that the CBC candidates “openly oppose the policies which actually create strong schools.” Really? Which ones? Peppe, current chair of the school board? Buschow, long time city resident who favors development of our commercial corridors? Lawrence, who has a child in the school system? Lippman, who was once on the school board?

Mr. Gardner appears to be displeased over the results of the convention. Based on his recent writings, his mission seems to be: 1. Elect Lindy Hockenberry and 2. Defeat Dave Snyder. That is fine for him, but it’s not fair to go around creating false toxic clouds around candidates nominated by the CBC convention. This is intriguing since Gardner sits on the CBC executive committee and voted in favor of the convention rules.

Gordon Theisz

Falls Church


Tax Increases Justifiably of Major Concern


Last week’s News-Press editorial, “Lower Taxes at Your Peril”, was a disturbing, albeit revealing, editorial reflective of the remarkable divide that exists between liberal thinking and the expectations of a “responsible citizen”.

Over half of my earned income goes to paying taxes (federal, state, local, property, etc.). I find the issue of “how high are my taxes” extremely relevant to the debate and to suggest that it should not be of paramount concern when examining the “need” is naïve.

Budget cuts need not be “terrible” but can be legitimate cost saving measures–instruments of a disciplined and realistic government that recognizes it does not exist to solve every problem or meet every need. In fact, by its very involvement in problem solving, government often becomes the crutch of expectation that we lean on in place of self-reliance. The suggestion that taxation is the only answer worth consideration is dangerous and decidedly ineffective.

In the course of a few paragraphs, you spiral from the legitimate need to fund after school activities to the threat of gang activity in our back yards. All the while, dismissing outright the very notion that parents with the means to pay might actually be willing to do so-and even pay a little extra should their fellow citizen need a hand.

Consumption is not inherently evil. It fuels our economy, creates jobs and delivers billions in tax revenue to our government. Your editorial suggests a disdain for this driving economic reality. Furthermore, you call into question the quality of your fellow citizens who dare to question the government’s ability to manage the funds it already has before asking for more.

Jim Gianiny

Falls Church


Moved to F.C. Not For Schools, But Location


I have lived on Gresham Place in the City of Falls Church since 1995. The draw for me to move here was the close proximity to D.C. and easy access to Rt. 66. I did not move here for the schools. I have two major concerns that may make me now regret my decision to move here.

First, I am being told the property tax rate is going up 20 cents – primarily to support the school system and the water problem with Fairfax County, while other services are being reduced. Second, the system that came up with the assessed value of my property is out of whack with reality.

If my first concern is true, I will be paying almost $2,000 more a year as a retiree on a minimal fixed income, but getting fewer services.  I have never had children in the City school system and neither do most of my neighbors or other residents. Why do the majority of people who here and do not have children in the schools have to pay outrageously high taxes for the minority that do?  I’m also told that taxes need to be increased because of the water issue? How did the City let this get so out of control?

On the second issue, I found out that since I moved here in 1995, I have been paying higher taxes than I should have. The City had been using the incorrect square footage on which to base the assessment. I contacted the City to correct it, however, because of some obscure rule, I was credited for only three years of paying higher taxes. Additionally, after checking the assessments of the 33 homes in Gresham Place, I realized that there are a lot of disproportionately high assessments that benefit the City. Why doesn’t the city have accurate information on our homes for tax purposes?

Elected officials and City management created these problems and now the residents have to pick up the slack for the many errors. The people responsible should suffer the consequences and not be in office for much longer.

Susan C. Jordan

Falls Church


School System Should Learn to Give a Little


As a former employee for over19 years, I find it appalling that once again the schools are spared the knife during the budget season. I worked there from 1983-2002. The cry was always
“let’s save the schools.” The school system should learn to be fair and equitable and give a little.

It seems unfair that the regular employees always seem to take the blunt of the budget cuts.

Brooke M. Anderson

St. Pete Beach, Fla.


Can’t Grasp Why the Cuts to the Library


I am writing to protest the proposed cutbacks to the Mary Riley Styles Library.

Approximately 90% of the citizens of Falls Church have library cards, and the library serves us seven days a week with nearly 120,000 books as well as access to the library resources in Arlington and Fairfax County libraries. Our library also provides us with the use of numerous databases, including, but not limited to biographies, book reviews, business and companies, magazines and news, encyclopedias, and Washington Consumers Checkbook. Our library’s 20 major national newspapers are heavily used and the 260 periodicals include 20 that are foreign language. Students attending our city school system have a wealth of resources for research and general study at Mary Riley Styles. We can also participate in reading and book discussion groups. The library’s children’s programs include puppet shows, craft events, story time, as well as performances from visiting actors and magicians. We have a local history room that serves as a primary resource for historians and an organized catalogue of the events that shaped our community and our region. Our city employs only eight full time library staff in addition to a number of part time people.

This invaluable resource is presently funded by less than 3% of the Falls Church City budget. I can’t understand the logic that would lead our city manager to advise cutting the funding to this city treasure at the levels being proposed, and I am dumbfounded to learn of the magnitude of these cuts.

Peter Markham

Falls Church

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