Letters to the Editor: Why Aren’t Commercial Assessments Increasing?


Letters to the Editor: April 9 – 15, 2015


Why Aren’t Commercial Assessments Increasing?


In regard to property taxes, the homeowners are bearing an increasing share of the burden. If you look at the tax assessments of commercial properties in Falls Church, most show no change over the last four years. Of those that do show a change, the majority are decreases rather than increases. Thus the increasing assessments on homes provide all of the increased real estate taxes, unless there is also an increase in the tax rate. If no change over four years is correct, why would investors in commercial buildings continue to own them (except if they run the business that operates there)? If you look at assessments on commercial buildings in nearby Arlington and Fairfax, they mostly show moderate increases. What good is it for the council to seek commercial development if the properties don’t increase in value over time? Maybe the council should look at how the city assesses commercial property.

Stephen Donnelly

Falls Church


Class of ‘64, Not ‘66, Gifted Graduation Bell to GMHS


Barry Buschow’s letter in the April 2 News-Press mentioned the bell which is rung during graduation ceremonies by all graduates of George Mason High School. It was the class gift of the class of 1964, whose alumni held their fiftieth reunion in 2014 (not 1966, as Barry guessed).

Cricket Moore

Class of 1964, George Mason High School


‘Coach’ Jack Gambill Sends His Greetings


A highlight of attending the 2015 National School Boards convention in Nashville was a lunch in nearby Murfreesboro with “coach” Jack Gambill. At  39 years, Jack may hold the record for continuous teaching service to Falls Church City’s schools. He retired in 1994 but when we met on March 23 he proudly displayed his Mason baseball cap and the watch given him at the time of his retirement.

My wife and I shared stories with him of Nancy Sprague, Harry Shovlin, Michael Hoover and Ken Burnett among others. Jack wanted us to especially greet former Superintendent Warren Pace, and convey his fond memories of working with Warren’s wife Mary, who began her career the same year Jack did, and showed an exemplary commitment to her students.

Jack was very pleased to hear that lights are now on the football and baseball fields which were earlier dedicated in his honor, and that the schools’ sports programs have extended to include swimming, lacrosse, and both field and ice hockey since his days as coach. He was quite familiar with the state championships of the girls in basketball and both girls and boys in soccer with numerous state championships in the succeeding years. And he recalled coaching the 1980 baseball team to a state title.

Some of Jack’s old school style has morphed into cutting edge. He fondly remembered taking kids on discipline and letting them pal with him all day instead of attending their regular classes. Fairfax County schools recently emerged from a couple decades using a far less successful discipline scheme that entirely removed troubled kids from their schools and cast them to an unfamiliar school or worse yet to the streets during a time on suspension. Fortunately, they’ve shifted now to an in-school suspension policy using Jack’s kind of 1-to-1 relations to reconcile students who have discipline problems.

Thanks to Sue Thackrey for staying in touch with Jack and his wife, which included Sue’s years working in Nashville with the Grand Ole Opry. Sue was instrumental in arranging our time to meet.

We look forward to sharing many more of coach’s memories –and current events – at the upcoming celebration for the schools’ day care and IB programs to be held at Mary Ellen Henderson on Thursday evening April 23.

Kieran Sharpe

Falls Church City School Board


AAUW to Recognize Equal Pay Day On April 14


On Tuesday, April 14, the American Association of University Women will recognize Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to what men earned in 2014. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the median earnings for women working full time, year-round is only 78 percent of what men working full time, year-round make. And, Latina women make only 54 percent of what white men make, and African American women make just 64 percent. In our own Commonwealth of Virginia, the statistics are only slightly better: median earnings for women are 79 percent of men’s earnings.

The pay gap is not caused solely by differences in career and lifestyle choices made by men and women. AAUW’s 2012 report, Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation, controlled for many factors such as college major, occupation, industry, region, workplace flexibility, parenthood, and hours worked and found that one year after graduating from college, women still earned 7 percent less than their male counterparts.

The wage gap between men and women isn’t just a number; it’s an economic issue for many families. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that in 40 percent of households with children, the mother is the sole or primary wage earner. Pay equity is the key to families making ends meet and moving working families into the middle class.

Something must be done to close the gender pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced on March 25, 2014 in the U.S. House and Senate, is an important step in that direction. The measure creates stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, enhances federal enforcement efforts, and prohibits retaliation against workers who ask about a company’s wage practices. Ask your Senators and Representative to support this important legislation.

Bunny Jarrett

President, AAUW Falls Church Area


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.