Local Commentary

Editorial: Goliath 1, David 0

Let’s see, can anyone identify what government agency was responsible for sending the successful resupply mission to the International Space Station last week?

What? It wasn’t a government agency, but a private enterprise? Isn’t that illegal?

Of course not, not in today’s world when the U.S. is outsourcing everything, including the prosecution of its wars.

But in the case of the City of Falls Church’s desire to sell its water system to a private entity, the rules are very different. They are rules, mind you, made up in 1947, some 65 years ago.

It was an agreement crafted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1947 that was cited by the chief counsel for the Corps last week to dash efforts by Falls Church to find a fair deal for the acquisition of its embattled water system.

We consider the ruling, in light of the last decades’ orgy of government outsourcing, to be disingenuous, at best. If anything, the focus should have been on how to bring the policies of the Corps into the 21st century, not to use an ancient, out of date agreement to torpedo a proposed deal.

You can imagine that if it was Fairfax County, and not little Falls Church, that wanted to sell Corps water to a private user that veritable heaven and earth would be moved to justify acquiescing to the request.

That cuts to the core of what’s going on with the water dispute between the Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church. The bottom line is that is all being defined by clout: who has it, and who doesn’t.

This is playground justice, and just as in the cases of bullying, it doesn’t happen among equals, or even near equals, but only when the bully is sufficiently superior to his chosen victim that he feels like he can puff himself all up and roar like a lion.

We don’t know what Falls Church is contemplating as its next move after last week’s Core legal opinion scuttled the bidding process set up to deal the system to the highest bidder. Maybe the big roaring lion scared off all potential bidders for good, like a scene from “Stand By Me” gone bad, with the pals scurrying for cover to leave the victim to fend for himself.

But whatever the eventual outcome, there is no doubt to us that, from the beginning, the plan was to eat Falls Church’s lunch.

The dispute had nothing whatever to do with whether Falls Church made this or that bad move to bring a torrent of ills upon it. Fairfax County, once the parameters of the Tysons Center development plan began to take shape, coveted the Falls Church water system, and began moving in. Falls Church’s response has been defensive all along, even if ostensibly, and hopelessly, preemptive.

This has been no one’s fault at Falls Church City Hall.

This is now our world: Goliath 1, David 0.