Letters to the Editor: January 20 – 26, 2011

Knowing History Builds Pride in F.C. Water System


In a News-Press story last week, Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields stated that the city is proud of its water system. “We’ve been in business since the 1930s,” Shields was quoted, “and we’re very proud of our record of service.” Understanding the history of our water system will reinforce that pride in this valuable city asset.

In the 1930s, Falls Church was a town within Fairfax County, not an independent city as it is today. At that time, water was provided through municipal wells. Following World War II, construction of a huge housing project (Tyler Gardens, now know as Winter Hill) caused quite a stir. It was the largest project ever proposed for the town. In addition, the anticipated 950 new residents posed a severe burden on the town’s four wells.

To meet this need, the town issued 30 year bonds worth one million dollars in 1948 to finance a connection to the Arlington County water system at Chain Bridge where the county receives its water from the Delacarlia Filtration Plant in Washington, DC. This was a significantly large financial obligation for the small town to take on, and was so noted by newspapers at the time. The effort, hailed as a state-of-the-art system in a national public works magazine, was also cited for the long term vision of the town fathers.

Over the years, the Falls Church water system grew to serve residential neighborhoods beyond its borders, several of which today include areas such as Tysons Corner. During this growth, the city has consistently maintained the water system in a state-of-the-art condition. It is one that we can all be proud of, and one that we should retain to insure that it is kept in top condition for future generations.

Paul Barkley

Falls Church

Opposes Incivility in Local F.C. Political Discourse


I am writing in honor of the legacy of Dr. King by joining volunteers across the nation engaging in activities of community service. I am participating in the ‘letters to the editor’ campaign by weighing in on my concerns over the current tone of civil discourse in our local and national political arenas.

To begin, I want to address two, highly volatile commentaries in last week’s issue of the News-Press. However, before I get into that needless duel, I would like to point out my experiences at the Health Care Forum rally hosted by U.S Congressman Jim Moran and Dr. Howard Dean in Reston.

As folks were entering the building that afternoon, they were handed a copy of George Washington’s, “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation”.

As an officer of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, and acting Organization for America Health Care Reform volunteer, I was side-by-side regional and state directors, handing out the flyers to the 5,000+-audience members. While running up and down the bleachers, I was in shock, by what rude, lewd, and all-out mean-spirited responses I was getting from certain sections of the auditorium. It went from spitting, inappropriate sexual innuendo, to having flyers balled-up and thrown in my face. My Congressman, the Honorable James Moran (VA-8th District) started the rally by telling us that if we cannot abide by these rules we need to step out. Nobody left…but Moran supporters escorted out some people later.

Now, getting back to our current local city council debates, that are getting heated up about voting policies, speculative rumors over oppositional party affiliations, and who looks better in blue, I have this to say to the troublemakers and bullies, either knock it off or get out of Dodge. At let me also suggest you go to our local library and read a copy of Suzy Becker’s, ‘All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat’ and ‘The Basic Rules of Mah Jongg’, otherwise you too can go back to where you came from.

Donna Byrne

Falls Church


Former Councilman Assails Mabry’s ‘Character Assassination’


I read former Vice-Mayor Sam Mabry’s commentary in last week’s FCNP with raised eyebrows. I have the pleasure of knowing Mike and Robin Gardner well and I find Mr. Mabry’s efforts to rob Mike and Robin of their essential humanity to be disappointing at the very least. Like many of my fellow citizens, I am guilty of overheated rhetoric at times, but I have always tried to draw the line at character assassination. I was proud to share the dais for two years with Nader Baroukh, like me an immigrant, allowed to become a full citizen of this glorious republic and to call ourselves “Americans.” I was less proud of being called “un-American” by Mr. Baroukh during a council debate. Many of us have felt the sting of Mike Gardner’s pointed pen, but Mr. Mabry’s name-calling seems to be an effort to dredge the rhetorical channel with ever heavier freight in order to focus on the basest elements rather than elevating our debate to the issues that concern most of us in the effort to make our City more perfect.

So Sam, my friend, if it makes you feel better, you may call me “Uncle Chow Mein”; For that you will be forgiven even if it will not be forgotten. Kindly remember that the public leadership in the City of Falls Church have a special role to play in the morality play that truly is America, but only if our leaders live up to the ideals that draw us together.

Daniel Sze

Falls Church

Opposes FCNP’s Decision to Hire Helen Thomas


Kudos to Sam Mabry for a well-articulated argument against the hiring of Helen Thomas, and to the News-Press for having the equanimity to print it. If only the News-Press displayed the same judgment when they decided to hire her in the first place. There’s a reason why Ms. Thomas has been without an outlet for her columns since her ill-advised comments about Palestine. As objectionable as her racist remarks were, they only exacerbated the lack of objectivity that has characterized her writing for years. On the day her employment by the News-Press was announced, I received a sarcastic note of congratulations from a newspaper publisher in Chicago. In the world of journalism, she has become a joke. Not a funny joke, unless one laughs at bigotry. So now Helen Thomas has become inextricably linked with Falls Church, the only place on the planet that provides her a pulpit from which to proliferate her prejudice. We are worse for it.

Collin Agee

Falls Church


Helen Thomas’ Voice Was Missing in Media


I would like to say thank you for bringing Helen Thomas! Her voice in the media is missing. I’m glad to see she’s with you. The media without Helen is like life without breathing on your own.

Jean Rhodes

Los Angeles, CA

Questions Editorial Clarification of Letter on Thomas


I would like to make a comment about your response to the Letter by Beth Helemen in last week’s Falls Church News-Press. You are implying then that because now there is no persecution of the Jewish people in Germany or Poland (and I don’t believe that is true) they should leave Israel. Well than maybe the Palestinians’ should go back to Jordan because before the 1948 division by the UN there was no Palestine though Jews were living there for over 5,000 years. Then what about the millions of Jews from Iran, Iraq and Egypt (and other Arab countries where they had lived), should they go back to those countries too? Or just Poland and Germany?

Many months ago I wrote a Guest Commentary in the News-Press. There was a response to my commentary where the writer stated that it was only four million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust, as if that made it alright. And in the comments about Helen Thomas, Sarah Eggleston wrote about people being killed on the boats running the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Could you imagine what life would be like here now if the U.S. had not formed a blockade of Cuba? Maybe they should have allowed ships from East Germany through. And to make another analogy, maybe we should give all the land back to American Indians; after all they were living here well before the Europeans came.

Jay Rubin

Falls Church


Thomas Challenges Leaders to Act Ethically vs. Inequities


Thank you for your courage in giving space for Helen Thomas to express her views in the Falls Church News-Press. She is an institution! However inappropriate her comments were as a newspaper reporter/journalist,they were not meant for public consumption.

Ms. Thomas has contributed so much to the progressive cause by challenging our leaders to act ethically and in the best interests of their constituents. She has opened readers’ minds to inequities and corruption. She is a role model in her knowledge, perspective, experience, grit and willingness to continue to speak out. Her age is no barrier. I welcome her return!

Moya Atkinson

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.