Letters to the Editor: December 16 – 22, 2010

F.C. Needs New Approach to Fix Retirement Plan


A year ago I appeared before the City Council and suggested they focus on the City’s financial matters. I urged a significant reduction in expenditures. I also noted that every state has enormous unfunded pension/retirement liabilities which politicians created only to “kick the can” down the road for subsequent generations to resolve.

I sent a letter to the News-Press to suggest the City’s taxpayers brace themselves for a tax increase because the Council seemed unconcerned by my comments. As expected, when the budget for the current fiscal year was completed it was the taxpayers who had to adjust because their taxes were increased. In difficult times it seems only taxpayers have to cope, government has to continue as if nothing is happening. Spend as usual.

At that Council meeting a long serving Council member and the City Manager assured us that the pension/retirement liabilities were fully funded.

The News-Press reported its annual “State of the City” interview with the Mayor and quoted Mayor Baroukh saying, “We need to have a clear financial road ahead, and we really need to work on stabilizing our financials.” I wrote to the Mayor commending him for this focus and agreeing that “stabilizing our financials” is critical.
I suggested one significant manner in which the City’s finances could be stabilized would be to convert employee retirement from a “Defined Benefit” to a “Defined Contribution” plan. This approach is best for both parties. Employees contribute what they choose or what they think is appropriate for their retirement, and the City matches the employees contribution up to a point. The employee controls their retirement account and how such funds are invested. The City “stabilizes” its liabilities by eliminating future unknown liabilities.

In the Dec. 2 edition of the News-Press, the citizens are informed there is a pension/retirement obligation problem. The City is NOT fully funded. The report notes the City will “need to ante” certain amounts over upcoming fiscal years “assuming that the City will realize a return on investment averaging 7.5 percent during that time.”

The current situation extending into future years certainly does not result in “stabilizing our financials” as the Mayor wants to achieve. While this pension/retirement obligation may not be a crisis at this time, the City Council with the help of the Retirement Board should convert to a Defined Contribution plan as soon a possible.

Richard C. LaVelle

Falls Church

F.C. Home Owner Thanks ‘Decorate A Vet’ Assistance


A week ago we had an army of professionals and volunteers descend on our property as part of the Decorate a Vet program. They did basic clean-up, chores, some of which are beyond our strength.

They moved leaves, removed old fencing and a swing set, cleaned the gutters and did some repair work. They cleaned the grass off the walks and laid some stones; tall weeds were cut and the flower beds mulched. These wonderful people trimmed all the trees at the front of the house. They put down grass seed and planted pansies. They also planted a Christmas tree at the side of the property and trimmed it with red, white and blue lights. The dormers received wreaths; the front door was decorated with a wreath and running pine, and while lights that were extended to the bushes at each side. All this was done in a gracious manner and at no cost to us. In the evening a delicious dinner was delivered.

We are grateful to the following groups for all their hard word: Classic Stonescaping & Gardens, LLC, Sisler’s Stone, Mary Ann Ogle and Terra Landscape and Design, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack, CSI All Print, Hambletan’s Lawn and Landscape, Cavich Creative- The Grid, Youth Ministry of AUMC, Greenscape, Inc., Bartlett Tree Experts, Sam’s Farm, Meadow Farm’s Nursery, American Legion Post 130, and the many volunteers who worked so hard.

Thanks to all of you; you really made a difference.

Sgt. Thomas E. Karnis & Lenore F. Karnis

Falls Church

Praises Whipple ‘Peak Oil’ for Clear Analysis


Tom Whipple’s think piece on Dec. 8 on the issue of Peak Oil and it’s national implications was one the clearest and most comprehensive analyses on this subject I have read in many years. He made one major forward step in bringing forward into the public spotlight the question of social stability/ civil disruptions.

Others, from pundits to governments have studiously avoided this clear and obvious element in the major and disruptive changes we face. Without a continuously excessive supply of petroleum based liquid fuels and an ever growing level of public destitution, civil stability, much less economic recovery can not be assured or even realistically hoped for.

The big party of say 2005 is over. The hangover will last for years and that euphoria of extreme consumption will never return.

Errol Morris wrote a series of essays on this broad scale and unparalleled public and political denial of the clear and present dangers this last summer in the NY Time’s “Opinionator”. They can be found on his website www.errolmorris.com under the heading of “The Anosognosic’s Dilemma”. It is an unfamiliar mouthful but this producer/director of “The Fog of War” explains how and why we consistently deceive ourselves about major issues.

Tom Whipple’s article breaks this deceptive glass shell again. Thank you it’s publication.

Peter Hunt



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