Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin wowed Fairfax County Democrats gathered for the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Sunday night at the McLean Hilton.

The Illinois Democrat related several stories about the early career of State Senator Barack Obama: his nervousness backstage at the 2004 Democratic Convention before delivering the keynote address; his incredulity when Senator Durbin first proposed a presidential run; and his dogged commitment to pass health care legislation as president. Senator Durbin also outlined significant Democratic congressional accomplishments, not unlike the New Deal initiatives of President Franklin Roosevelt: health care reform, financial reform of Wall Street, “putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street” as he expressed it, and consumer protection legislation. With special pride, he described his “swipe fee” amendment that would reduce the interchange fees paid by small businesses when customers use credit and debit cards to pay for purchases. The large credit card issuers, VISA and Mastercharge, unilaterally set the fees, which can be three percent of the purchase or more, instead of allowing financial institutions to compete the service. Durbin’s amendment would allow for a “reasonable” fee and more competition.

Joining Senator Durbin on the podium were 8th District Congressman Jim Moran, and 11th District Congressman Gerry Connolly. Describing Connolly as “a keeper,” Durbin said the freshman congressman already is showing significant leadership on difficult issues like financial legislation, and urged voters to re-elect him in November. Durbin also saluted Moran as an experienced member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, with whom he worked closely when he (Durbin) also was in the House of Representatives. Rounding out the trifecta for Northern Virginia was Jeff Barnett, a newcomer running against Frank Wolf (R-10). All four men received standing ovations at the conclusion of their remarks.

Volunteers are invaluable to maintaining and improving the quality of life in Fairfax County. Their contributions are numerous, but often overlooked in the busy rush of daily life. Fortunately, we get the chance to say “thanks” every so often, and one such opportunity occurred last month when Auxiliary Police Officer (APO) Peter Bockman of the Mason District Station was honored with the prestigious Joyce McDermott Award by the Fairfax County Police Department. APO Bockman started with the APO program in 1983, and one of four remaining members of the original class. He has devoted more than 25,000 hours of his time in assisting with the needs of the station and volunteering at community events. Pete’s special commitment is to ensure that patrol vehicles and equipment are kept in tip-top working order. According to Captain Ted Arnn, the Mason District Station has such great admiration for Pete and all he does that the station’s sally port has been renamed the Pete Bockman Garage, with an appropriate plaque. Congratulations, Pete, and thank you for nearly a quarter century of community service.

Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 31. The first Memorial Day was declared in 1868, and became an official Monday holiday in 1971 with the passage of the National Holidays Act. American Legion Post 1976 will conduct its annual recognition at 11 a.m. at the Cannon in downtown Annandale at the corner of Columbia Pike and Maple Place, rain or shine. This respectful and solemn ceremony to commemorate all who died in service to our nation is open to the public.


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov