Local Commentary

Editorial: Not Necessarily Our Fault

Let’s be realistic. There is an overwhelming tendency in life to blame one’s self for whenever things go wrong, and in many cases that blame is misplaced. The dog thinks that everything is its fault. The cat nothing. Humans can go either way.

In the case of the City of Falls Church and its school system, that tendency is magnified by the relatively small size of the place set against giant surrounding jurisdictions. To be honest, nobody in either Fairfax County or Arlington County seems to have much love to throw the City of Falls Church’s way. That’s just the way it is, and for those who’ve faced this for decades, it’s pretty standard and nothing to get all upset about.

The main way the City of Falls Church pisses off its much bigger (Fairfax a million people and Arlington 250,000 to Falls Church’s 13,500) neighbors is by being successful. It really frustrates those who imagine that there could be a lot of money to be made by someone, not in Falls Church, if the City threw its hands in the air and abandoned its independence, becoming a drop-in-the-bucket neighborhood of either Fairfax or Arlington instead.

People with big money who’ve spent a lot of it on cultivating political appointees or elected officials to do their bidding in the neighboring jurisdictions are angered by the fact they don’t own Falls Church officials in the same way. So, the general game plan is to throw stumbling blocks in Falls Church’s way whenever possible.

Ergo, don’t automatically blame the Falls Church Schools for the difficulty it is suddenly encountering getting its plans for the Mt. Daniel Elementary renovation and expansion approved by the county’s Planning Commission.

The real mover in this situation is the infamous McLean Citizens Association (MCA), whose reputation as a game-killer is well known throughout the region. The MCA decided to issue a scathing indictment and formal opposition to the Mt. Daniel project in early June. So it came as no surprise that during the June 24 Fairfax Planning Commission hearing that the Mt. Daniel project was not well received.

The MCA influences a lot of votes in the county’s Dranesville District, and its supervisor, John Foust, is up for election this November. His hand-picked member on the Planning Commission, John Ulfelder, has the final say-so on the Mt. Daniel Plan, since protocol on the Planning Commission is for the whole body to go along with whatever a commissioner in a particular district wants for something in their district.

With this dynamic in place, it does not bode well for the Mt. Daniel project now, and we feel the City should be preparing a Plan B. Even better, though, if the City were to find a way to counterbalance the MCA influence with a lure of its own.

It would not look good, for example, if it were shown that turning down Mt. Daniel was striking a blow against young children.