Letters to the Editor: August 12 – 18, 2010

More Commercial? What About Pearson Square?


David Snyder must have one huge set of cajones! In your August 11th edition, you mentioned that Snyder is demanding 50% commercial development at the Gateway Project.

Has he forgotten that the same city council held Maple Avenue’s Pearson Square hostage for years and ultimately forced them to create a block-long row of unused, unrentable commercial space? What miracle has happened in this Great Depression that will cause commercial stores at Gateway to rent more quickly? Has Mr. Snyder not seen the travesty of an entire block of unrented commercial buildings on Fairfax Street (a block that the holy Episcopal church is holding hostage so that they can “own” the street someday [see previous articles in the FCNP]; for indeed there is no “Christian” reason why a church would not rent out retail space unless it is for power or for spite!) And why must Mr. Snyder determine the nature of multimillion dollar building projects, anyway? Is it because of the streams of new tax money that will be cascading into the city’s coffers just like the windfall from the vacant buildings on Fairfax and Maple? Mr. Snyder, please tell me: how much tax revenue does a vacant commercial building generate?


Scot Walker

Falls Church


Some Cyclists Do Engage in Unsafe Practices


As a cyclist and a driver, I agree with Mr. Gough (July 29 Letter to the Editor) that some cyclists ride in an unsafe manner. Everyone operating a vehicle on the street should operate in a safe manner, with concern for the safety of those around them, and the conduct of the cyclist he referred to in his letter is certainly unacceptable. But I part with him on the cause of the problem, or the solution. I don’t agree that cyclists are “allowed to ignore traffic laws and engage in dangerous behavior unchecked by the authorities,” or that a motorist operating unsafely “would’ve been pulled over immediately and ticketed heavily.”  I think most readers will agree with me that they often see other drivers operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner, without being ticketed. Drivers speed, they roll through stop signs, they fail to stop at red lights before turning right on red, they don’t signal, they talk on their cell phones, etc. etc. They aren’t allowed to do so, but there just aren’t enough police officers to enforce all moving violations. There will never be enough enforcement. (If there were more enforcement, it should be directed at cyclists and motorists alike. My view, as a cyclist and motorist, is that other motorists are a far greater physical threat to my safety.) We all – motorists and cyclists alike – need to be considerate of others and cognizant of the laws and of what is safe.

Michael L. Roy

Via the Internet


Driver Hostility Toward Cyclists is Unjustifiable


I am always dismayed by the flash-paper hostility of drivers toward cyclists, such as I saw twice in last week’s Letters to the Editor. I’m a native, a married father of three and a commuter for over 30 years and most is silly blather as Falls Church and Arlington are among the best city venues bikers and drivers could ask for.

Drivers in Falls Church are aware of cyclists and their crossing points to an extraordinary degree. They stop to accommodate cyclists even to their inconvenience. Our drivers seek eye contact to share the road and offer smiles and gestures of communication rather than hand gestures of another sort. Perhaps the superb bike trail system we have has created a class of knowledgeable, bike-savvy drivers.

The hijinks mentioned by the FCNP letter writers are actions of the ignorant and should be curbed. Drivers (and writers to the editor) who can’t see the common sense difference between a helmetless, careless moron who screams through a stop sign without looking and a well-equipped, well prepared Falls Church cyclist who slows, looks both ways and chooses to roll through a deserted stop sign to save momentum are just venting. This kind of ignorant, indiscriminate anger–and it goes both ways–is corrosive and poisons the air between two groups that need to share.

Cyclists can do stupid, dangerous things but let’s recognize those are almost always errors needing correction and not the psychotic death wishes of suicidal road lemmings. Most Falls Church citizens are more than willing to meet half way, but those who aren’t should temper their rhetoric.

Scott Fitzpatrick

Falls Church


Precarious F.C. Budget Real Story Behind Wilden Vote


The column inches you dedicated in last week’s newspaper to The Wilden’s obituary and the blame for its death were remarkable and tiresome. You managed to bury the real story of the week and the real reason for the majority of taxpayers’ opposition to The Wilden (62% by your own poll) on page 9 under “Falls Church News Briefs.” The real story and the real reasons behind The Wilden’s death are the precarious Falls Church City budget and issues of fiscal timing, the difficult economy, and the failure of the FCHC in this economy to mitigate risk for 4,600 middle class households who are struggling to balance their own budgets because their discretionary income is down considerably.

You reported that City revenues, after just one month of the current fiscal year are running $191,801 behind budget. Behind the $161,449 decline in expenditures are several staff vacancies, including a missing CFO for the City as our external auditor commences the FY10 audit. Despite the previous Council exhausting $15 million of fund balances over a 3-year period, tough expense cutting decisions this year and delivering the largest real estate tax increase in anybody’s memory (and the largest in the entire metro area), the fragility of The Little City’s financial health should be front and center with the City staff, Council and the FCNP. We aren’t out of the woods yet.

Why not redirect some of your energy to constructively suggesting sound fiscal measures that will help our Little City be a sustainable municipality? Why not dedicate some of that printer’s ink to the constructive work of the Council and the citizen volunteer bodies who are trying to respond to our predicament? You live here too, so why not unite the citizens of Falls Church for a sustainable city rather harp on divisive issues that nobody thought to be a priority in the City Manager’s town hall meetings?

Richard Sommerfeld

Falls Church


Guest Commentary Was ‘Offensive’ & ‘Little Bit Racist’


I found the Guest Commentary by Jay Rubin in last week’s News-Press to be offensive and, dare I say it, a little bit racist. The first instance of this sentiment that jumped out at me was the statement that Jews have won 105 Nobel Prizes compared to 5 won by Arabs because Jews value “study and hard work” and “the environment and human rights,” which seemed to insinuate to me that Arabs do not share those same values. The author went on to say that Palestinians do not want to do “the same thing as the Israelis have done” i.e. build a modern, prosperous nation-state, is because the Palestinian people “want to remain in limbo so that they can be a cause for the elimination of the State of Israel.”

Although I am not Palestinian, Muslim, or even Arab, I am still shocked and offended that these sentiments made it into your community newspaper and I am embarrassed given the fact that the News-Press undoubtedly has Palestinian, Muslim, and/or Arab readers who will be personally offended by this commentary.

Further, the author’s idea that one Israeli death is worth 40 American deaths is repulsive. A human being is a human being, whether he or she is American, Israeli, Muslim, Jewish, black, white, straight, gay, and so on.

The commentary ended on a note praising France for banning the burka and expressing the author’s fear that, because of growing Muslim populations, “it won’t be long before both the United Kingdom and France are under Muslim law, Sharia.” This is nothing more than a prejudiced conspiracy theory. And even if it were not, how is banning burkas and telling people what they can and cannot wear – as Sharia does – supposed to combat that?

I agree with the guest commentator that issues such as the West Bank Barrier should be debated openly, but I reject the idea that we need to resort to stereotypes and conspiracy theories to do so.

Michael Irvine

Falls Church

Letters to the Editor may be submitted to letters@fcnp.com or via our online form here. Letters should be limited to 350 words and may be edited for content, clarity and length. To view the FCNP’s letter and submission policy, please click here.