Letters to the Editor: December 23 – 29, 2010

Clarifications Needed For Story on O’Connell Field


I want to thank Charlie Clark (“Our Man in Arlington”) for his fair and balanced description of the Bishop O’Connell sports field controversy. As Mr. Clark correctly notes, there is growing opposition among homeowners to O’Connell’s request, to the County Board, for a special use permit to install numerous tall light poles surrounding renovated and re-oriented baseball and football fields.

I would like, however, to correct a few factual errors. Katy Prebble, O’Connell’s President, is quoted as stating that the stadium lights are needed to give the students “the full offerings of sports because the nightly descent of darkness cuts off practice time.” O’Connell’s request, however, does not merely seek a modest extension of “dusk” practices to extend practice time. Rather, O’Connell’s permit application asks the County to allow O’Connell to light its fields 365 days a year until 11 p.m. O’Connell recently acknowledged that the bulk of the night-time use would not be for O’Connell students at all. Rather, that time would be reserved to its “partners” in this effort – Marymount University for collegiate practices and games and (potentially) Arlington County’s Department of Parks and Recreation for youth and adult leagues.

O’Connell’s neighbors are not opposed to its efforts to improve its aged sports facilities for high school use, even though new facilities constructed with synthetic turf will increase the days and hours of use and further aggravate day-to-day parking, traffic safety and noise problems. They are, however, opposed to O’Connell’s proposal to light those fields year-round until late in the evening for use by a substantial rotating user group. As you point out, the neighbors are concerned with the inevitable decline in property values arising from O’Connell’s proposal. They are more concerned, however, with the loss of what those property values reflect – a neighborhood whose night-time setting is now characterized by the sounds of sprinklers, of children playing hide-and-seek and crickets. Those sounds will be masked by crowd noises and public address speaker announcements. Light pollution will be significant, and traffic safety and parking problems severely aggravated.
Eventually, the County Board will need to make a policy choice – whether to favor an enriched sports experience for private school students or protect neighbors’ reasonable expectations of quiet enjoyment in their homes, and the substantial financial investments they have made in their properties.

John F. Seymour


Life in F.C.: Really Bad As Gardner Thinks?


Mr. Gardner has me confused and worried. At first I thought that his was the schtick of the lovable curmudgeon, not unlike Andy Rooney or the pseudonymous Ed Anger of the late, lamented Weekly World News. But he didn’t really follow up his rants with proper punch lines. Later his stream-of-consciousness style and intensity of rhetoric put me in mind, distantly, of the great Allen Ginsburg and his seminal poem “Howl”. And in my book that is high praise. But certainly Mr. Gardner is not writing poetry, nor intends to. Lately his unrelenting negativity reminds me of the equally great John Belushi, who, playing a talking head, used to fulminate about the issues with ever-increasing fervor until he fell off his stool.

Is life in Falls Church really that bad? Are we citizens really such crass and awful people? Is there no decency whatsoever in those whose political views clash with Mr. Gardner’s? Which, just by the way, I’ve been unable to unravel.

Dave Rockwell

Falls Church

Brooks Wants To Keep Truth Submerged


David Brooks was groomed by Richard Mellon Scaife’s money to write articles about the truth from a conservative perspective. He massaged those stories so well that Brooks eventually got national syndication, and finally New York Times fame. A better conservative voice of reason and champion of obfuscation is hard to find in America. But is he right? Usually no. But every liberal minded American likes to delude themselves that Brooks represents some element of sanity in an otherwise crazy ideology called modern conservatism. Brooks’ job is quite simple: Keep the truth submerged with psychobabble, or just dismiss it. Being a respected member of the nation’s punditocracy has allowed Brooks to bend the stories of the day to the will of his Corporate and conservative paymasters.

Then along comes Julian Assange and his Wikileaks phenomenon. Assange openly declares that most of the mass media in this country is so Corporate and so venal that it is impossible to use them anymore to get real news to the people. Thanks to the Internet, Assange has managed to provide information, previously kept secret, about the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While his latest round of leaks concerning American diplomacy, or rather lack thereof, has demonstrated to the American public how far down the road of Empire this country has gone. The passionate indignation vocally aimed at Assange is not so much because of the information he has presented, but more due to the unforgivable fact that he has shown to the world that the Emperor (United States government in this instance) really has no clothes!

Worse, the supposedly impartial and curious American mass media has been in bed with this regime and its murderous policies for at least a decade. So when Brooks declares that we need new news filters, and new methods to police the internet, be very afraid. It is yet another call to take away freedom of the press in America. And once we no longer are able to exercise our first amendment rights then we no longer live in America.

Andrew Brown



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