Letters to the Editor: September 30 – October 6, 2010

Riding on the Last-Ever GEORGE Bus


At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 24, 2010, I was the only passenger to board the GEORGE bus on its final run from West Falls Church Metro. When I got off the bus, the amiable driver and I agreed “what a shame that this was the end of George,” and we wished each other well.

Being a person with only one real leg, GEORGE was a big help to me. I will miss the shuttle bus service that transported me to and from the West Falls Church metro station.

I fervently wish the City of Falls Church’s decision-makers would now adopt a “can do” attitude and determine a way to provide a less-expensive-to-operate shuttle service so that those of us who can’t or don’t want to drive to the Metro can get to our jobs on Metrorail.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been slapped on both cheeks. I no longer can get to the metro conveniently, and now that our Mary Riley Styles Public Library is no longer open on Sunday afternoons, I cannot enjoy that pleasure I valued for many years.

The exorbitant real estate taxes that my wife and I pay no longer seem to cover services that are reasonable to expect as city residents.

I ask the City Council to please come up with solutions for public transportation and additional library hours. Means of operating buses through the city would include: (1) seeking bids for a private company to provide buses, drivers, and the servicing and maintenance of the buses; (2) utilizing smaller, cheaper-to-operate vehicles; (3) offer fewer runs – maybe only two runs, say 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.,; (4) being more creative, have an “on-demand” taxi service that riders could arrange by phone or email with our local Yellow Cab company, using the technology of something like Metro’s Smartcard or, (5) arrange for the Don Beyer limousine to serve as an on-call method of transpiration, similar to item 4. City decision-makers, please take on a feisty “will do” spirit for our citizens. Don’t tell us there are too many details to make a system work economically.

Where there’s a will…yes, there’s a way. Let’s have a good, affordable shuttle system in place by January 2, 2011.

Matthew Evans

Falls Church


Troubled By ‘Un-Democratic’ Changes at GMHS


Are we teaching our kids the right lessons about democratic government? If the student government at George Mason High School is any indication, then the answer is no.

A startling and significant erosion of democratic principles has taken place at GMHS. First, broad based participatory classroom representation was removed beginning in the 2009/10 school year by the elimination of TA Representatives. Second, direct election of student government officers by the student body was eliminated in favor of indirect election by the student council executive board. Third, unelected positions were created to retain past serving members of the board. Many of these unelected members now hold officer positions. Fourth, and most troubling, all of these constitutional changes were made without engaging the broader student body or seeking their approval.

Principal Byrd, the faculty advisors, and the students who participated in making these changes all must shoulder responsibility for these actions. However, when confronted by students beginning in April 2010, the collective response has been that no one has done anything wrong. Principal Byrd recently wrote in the school paper, Lasso, that the offending constitutional amendments were made “after considerable discussion, in good faith, and without malice” and so should be upheld. The “good intentions” of the participants misses the mark by failing to acknowledge the fundamental failure to directly engage the broader student body in these important and significant changes to their government. Expediency is no excuse.

Peter Davis, a graduate of GMHS, recently encouraged the Falls Church community to call upon the school board and school officials to initiate an official comprehensive review of civic education and practices in the City’s school system with an eye toward bolstering civic participation and empowering students to ultimately assume an essential role in our society. The events at GMHS make such a comprehensive review imperative if our young adults are to be interested, active, and productive citizens in our democratic community.

If the dismissive attitude at GMHS regarding this issue is allowed to stand, then there should be no wonder that young adults here and around the country are not more engaged in civic discourse.

Tod Read

Falls Church


Separate Election Date Costs Taxpayer Dollars


Regarding the matter of when Falls Church’s local elections should be held, I think Peg Willingham’s letter to the editor last week hit the nail on the head. Let me state in a different way a key point she made: How much does it cost to have an extra election in May, and can the City of Falls Church continue this wasteful use of tax money? To not piggyback local elections on top of state and national elections held in November just doesn’t make logical sense. Perhaps the News-Press, as a public service, could run a story on all the expenses involved in putting on an election. With many important items being cut from the local budget left and right, why would the city council NOT cut this totally unnecessary expense?

Peter Byrd

Falls Church


‘Fighting Gravity’ Mom Thanks Local Supporters


I wish to thank the News-Press and friends in Falls Church for providing your support, encouragement and votes for Gregg Curtin and the young men in “Fighting Gravity,” the black light illusion group who recently won third place in America’s Got Talent (AGT). Gregg and the boys are thrilled and they are now touring the USA with other AGT performers. They will perform in Washington D.C. on November 4. Thank you again to all for your kind thoughts and words.

Leslie B. Curtin

Falls Church


Wall Street $ Goes More to Dems Than GOP


Under the rubric of, why let pesky facts get in the way of a good emotional rant, our FCNP has done it again in his most recent “column.”  Ranting that the Tea Party and Wall Street are in bed together ignores the simple fact that it is the Democrat Party that has benefitted vastly more than the Republican (or Tea Party for that matter) from Wall Street money/contributions.

In 2009, for example, the Democrat Party received (from large Wall Street donors of $20,000 or more) $11.7 million compared to $2.1 million for the Republicans.  Goldman Sachs gave $4.5 million to the Democrats and $1.5 million to the Republicans.  Citicorp $3.1 million to Democrats and $1.8 million to Republicans.  Moreover, Wall Street’s four of the top five recipients of largesse in 2010 are Democrats, Senators Schumer, Reid, Gillibrand and Dodd (notwithstanding his announced retirement) and the lone Republican Representative Kirk (IL).

The now hated Freddie and Fannie gave to Democrats over Republicans at a rate of 6 to 1 and that the top recipients in 2008 were Senators Dodd and (gasp) Obama!

Seems our editor should re-write the editorial and think about how Wall Street money has corrupted the liberals in the Democrat Party.

Alternatively, our editor’s should write a retraction like those in the old SNL “news” show when the rant went off the wall into non-facts, “Nev-er mind.”

Dave Phelps

Falls Church


Thoughtful Moran Contrast Sharply With Opponent


Northern Virginia is being showered with attention by political leaders. President Obama had two televised back yard discussions here recently. House Republican leaders traveled to Sterling last week to unveil their so-called “Pledge to America.” Last Sunday afternoon Congressman Jim Moran was in Falls Church sharing his vision with the Democratic Party faithful and inquisitive newcomers.

I found a stark difference between the thoughtful, reasoned approach of Congressman Moran and what I will call the flim-flam of Republicans at Sterling.

Republicans claim they are not just “the party of no.” They now have a new agenda to guide them as they attempt to reclaim the majority. In studying their plan in detail, I find virtually nothing new. It includes, (1) tax cuts for the wealthiest, (2) repeal of the health care, (3) increased funding for missile defense, and (4) full throttle on our wars.

I term their Pledge a “flim-flam” because they are at war with arithmetic. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center points out that the only way to balance the federal budget by 2020 with their stated agenda is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government. There can be, for example, no national parks, no Small Business Administration, no Social Security or Medicare and yes,–even no more Congress.

In contrast, I heard Congressman Moran point out that it took eight years from the time we had a balanced budget under President Clinton to the depth of our financial hole under President Bush and it will take time to claw our way out. To stop all stimulus spending and cut the federal workforce in the middle of this economic meltdown, as this Republican plan does, is to destroy the chance to recover in the near future. Our strategy must be to prime the pump short term and do a prudent mix of spending cuts and tax increases over the long term.

The Republicans/Tea Party are excited by the prospect of getting their hands on the levers of power. I, for one, am becoming aware of what a disaster that would be.

Bob McCan

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.