Actions have consequences, and sometimes its parents or gadflies with too much time, and privilege, on their hands that can cause a degree of harm in a community that is hard to justify. It comes as no surprise that on the same day this week, three well-meaning and well-qualified public servants announced they’re, as they say, “Outa here.”
Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones fought the good fight here for five years. A superior administrator, she is leaving for a very highly regarded school system in Connecticut, a step up. But for reasons that were never made clear, her efforts to introduce technology into the classroom and leadership style made her a target of some in this community who may have begun with an ax or two to grind, but soon settled in on drawing her into their cross hairs.
The school system’s Tom Horn took a lot of the brunt of the offenses of these people, constantly being badgered for legal opinions and challenges. He maintained his decorum well, as we suspect this ability was reinforced by his search, behind the scenes, for an exit and liberation to the Elysian fields of his earlier days, coaching sports somewhere else.
As for the City’s esteemed Financial Director, Richard LaCondre, he faced more than the local newspaper’s seemingly endless flip-flopping between spelling his name with a “Le” and a “La” (“La” being correct). He was targeted by a noisy citizenry each and every budget season, especially by some who thought they knew better than he because of their backgrounds in banking, or whatever, but who could never grasp that a public jurisdiction isn’t supposed to run like a bank.
LaCondre’s considerable sense of good fashion will be missed, as some were still wearing white after Labor Day this week, and even those among us, like this newspaper, who did not concur with his conservative fund balance policy have to admit that compared to Petersburg, Virginia, for example, as profiled in a local paper this week, he’s held firm to the kind of sensible fiscal policies that have, and will, keep the City solvent well into the future.
None of these defections suggest that things will change in Falls Church for the rest of us still here. And none of them will guarantee that things will improve as a result. It may cause more to wonder if they couldn’t do better, or be happier, elsewhere. After all, little Falls Church can seem to loom mighty large in the minds of those who dwell on it, even so large as to blur or deflect a clearer focus on things that really matter, like neighborliness and generosity.
One of the most important gifts one can bestow upon another is basic human respect and the assumption of good intentions. Back stabbing, suspicion, dark rumors, ill words and whispers may be games that suburbanites play, but there’s nothing virtuous about them. Nothing.