Letters to the Editor: August 9 – 15, 2012

F.C.’s 17% Fund Balance Is Way Above Normal


As a result of what appeared to be sneaky tactics by members of the Falls Church City Council to push through a change in funding for school technology at the 11th hour, I felt the need to do some research.

I thought it would inform my opinion on the specific funding issue, but I found my research begging a different question instead. Where does the City’s 17% reserve target come from? Apparently 48 states and D.C. have some variation on the “rainy day fund.” They average 5% with a range of 5-12%. Among municipalities, the literature I found suggests that 8% is typical. So why is Falls Church City hoarding taxpayer funds instead of spending those funds for our benefit or returning them to the taxpayer? I understand the argument of uncertain economic times. Presumably, though, one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the nation would better weather another downturn than most; indeed, the last downturn demonstrated as much. It’s not City government’s job to keep our money for us indefinitely to use at its discretion. Spend it wisely or give it back.

Kathy Rondon

Falls Church

Urges F.C. Council to Grant School’s Technology Funds


As a taxpayer in the City whose children graduated from our schools, I want all our children to have the excellent education mine received. Our highly-rated schools also keep my property values high.

On Monday, the Falls Church City Council will vote to determine how to spend last year’s surplus of $3.4 million. Council passed an ordinance on first reading by 3-2 that provides funds for the schools, but stipulates that they be used for Capital Improvement Projects only, which takes away the School Board’s right to use its share of the funds as it deems best.

The School Board requested $500,000 of the surplus funds to jump start its urgent technology needs. This is an area the Board cut over the past few years in hard economic times to maintain its priorities of recruiting and retaining the best teachers, small class sizes and student achievement, and to stay within City Council budget guidance.

We are at a point where we can continue to provide a “World Class” education for our students or be second class in terms of technology. FCCPS is far short of best practice, which recommends one computer per student in the upper grades. Superintendent Toni Jones, who is an expert in technology, completed an evaluation that documents FCCPS’ need for an immediate infusion of funds to begin to rectify our current situation. If this is not done, it will start to impact our ability to attract the best teachers, who want state-of-the-art technology in their classrooms, and student achievement, where even SOL testing depends upon digital proficiency to take math tests. Best practice instruction at every level also includes many technical components.

We can pay for this upgrade now with surplus funds or pay for it later. Paying for it now gives our children critical new technology this year.

Sharon Schoeller

Former F.C. City Schools PTA/PTSA President

Traffic Slows at Flashing Speed Signs for Only a Second


I drive daily from Seven Corners to Falls Church City round trip, and am dismayed that ever since the flashing “Your Speed” signs were installed, traffic seems to move faster than ever. Most people do slow down right at the signs, but speed up before and after. Before the signs came, police often used radar to give tickets to speeders. I have not seen police on my route for a very long time. Were the signs meant to eliminate police presence?

Carol Simpson

Falls Church

How Will Taking Guns from Law-Abiding Citizens Help?


The tragedy of the slaughter in Colorado sits heavily on our nation. The question my mind keeps asking is “How can a person, smart enough to get into and progress in a tough PHD discipline as he was in, turn and do such a thing?” The answers are beginning to come out, but I expect we will never be able to know or comprehend fully what goes on in the mind of the those disturbed enough to commit such a crime. If we cannot understand, how can we prevent such a crime? Would our editor, so quick to call for gun control, advocate rounding up all the mentally disturbed, since there is a direct and undeniable connection between insanity and murder. Crazy people have killed presidents, tried to kill presidents, congressmen and congresswomen, their own relatives, etc. etc. Even President Obama, surely no friend of gun rights (except maybe for murderous drug-related gun runners in Mexico), seems to understand and himself has not called for new restrictions. The bottom line for me is that it is mystifying that somehow someone actually thinks that taking guns away from honest law-abiding citizens will make us safer from those outside the law who are bent on evil, or the insane. There have always been bad guys in the world; taking away guns from the good guys will not make anyone safer.

Dave Phelps

Falls Church

Expressed Opinion Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Discrimination


Me thinks that Wayne Besen, several mayors, an alderman, and many others have somehow – either mistakenly or maliciously – confused freedom of speech with the much more inflammatory issues of discrimination or a distorted version of freedom of religion.

To set the record straight: according to the wire news services, Chick-fil-A is in strict compliance with various laws of the land and discriminates against no one. Further, Mr. Dan Cathy said nothing about gays, lesbians or even same sex marriage . He did espouse the historical Christian view that marriage is between a man and a woman; and by-the-way this is the same view President Obama endorsed until a few months ago.

I would defend to my death the rights of Mr. Wayne Besen and Mr. Dan Cathy to say what they wish, but please, Mr. Besen, do not use an expressed opinion to imply there is discrimination or some distorted view of religious freedom.

Even Mr. Adam Schwartz, an attorney for the ACLU, said: ” – – the government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words. When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint (which) the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination.”

This is a violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the USA.

David Blanchard

Falls Church 


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