Letters to the Editor: On the Planning for F.C.’s Women’s Walk


Letters to the Editor: March 30 – April 5, 2017


On the Planning for F.C.’s Women’s Walk


Planning for the Women’s Walk began in February after Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation realized there were no plans to recognize Women’s History Month in the city. I envisioned an event to highlight local women’s history and bring people together across racial, ethnic, political and religious lines. Foundation board member, Dr. Beverly Pittman suggested the event be health-conscious and encouraged walking, then secured funding from the American Council on Exercise and vice president Irene Chambers suggested highlighting accomplishments of Falls Church women of the past such as Harriet Foote Turner — who led 12 enslaved people to freedom in Canada while posing as their owner. Foundation board member Rebecca Tinner Stotts suggested this event was the perfect opportunity to bring local churches and generations of deeply rooted family descendants with the broader community together.

Next I met with Sarah John, MD (who with AAUW chapter president Kristan McMahon secured event funding) and Marybeth Connelly who garnered the support of the elected women of Falls Church including City Council members: Marybeth Connelly, Letty Hardi, Karen Oliver; School Board members: Erin Gill, Margaret Ward; Treasurer: Jody Acosta, as our co-presenters, and we were off and running!

Thanks to all who made the walk a success: Nick Benton/Falls Church News-Press, Cpl. James Brooks/Falls Church Police, Delegate Marcus Simon and wife Rachel, Mayor Tartar, council members Phil Duncan, Dave Snyder, Letti Hardi, Karen Oliver, Marybeth Connelly and planning commissioners Lindy Hockenberry and Melissa Teates, the City of Falls Church, honorary grand marshals Carol DeLong, Betty Blystone, Mildred Tinner Leake and Jackie Bong Wright, Falls Church elected women, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation board and advisory members, sponsors: American Council of Exercise and American Association of University Women, walk guides and hosts, contributors (The Happy Tart, Lincoln at Tinner Hill), resource fair hosts and all participants.

On Sunday few knew that a serious family medical emergency had taken me out of town during our planning. The walk was co-ordinated from 700 miles away with only a cell phone, text messages, emails and phone calls! Marybeth Connelly was at the helm in Falls Church, working with Foundation board and advisory member (Debra Z. Roth), volunteer (Mary Knieser), our elected women and others!

Nikki Graves Henderson

Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation


Rental Units Do Not Provide Enough Tax Revenue


Your front page story on the new Broad-Washington project contains gigantic error. It indicates 292 apartments will alleviate tax pressure on City residents. Rental units don’t provide tax revenue to support the increased infrastructure they create. They don’t pay real estate tax. Homeowners do. The traditional annual residential real estate tax increase is shouldered by homeowners. Each year homeowners pay more tax to support the burden developers create.

Over a decade ago the City sold homeowners the promise that mixed-use with condo owners would add to the tax base and not increase enrollment in FCCPS. The Broadway is the only mixed-use property with condos. The rest contain rental units. I remember the first developer that went to the City begging to change from condos to rentals because of the real estate market downturn. At the time it was a reasonable plea by the developer, proper kindness by the City Council, and good business sense by both. This is no longer the case. Now developers take advantage of homeowners by passing along the tax burden developers create. To seem benevolent developers sway the City Council with proffers of a “contribution” to the City (sometimes for FCCPS to appear more charitable).

Homeowners have a vested interest in the City. Homeownership creates long-term and greater ties to the community. Condo owners are unlikely to sell what they own on a regular basis. The Kathleen Halayko Scholarship exemplifies the importance of homeownership. It requires students to attend FCCPS K-12. How many children in apartments are eligible for this? How many apartment dwellers knew our recently retired beloved Mt. Daniel principal or that it’s named for her?

We have too many mixed-use rental properties. It’s time for the City Council to live up to the promise made to homeowners for mixed-use buildings. The City must require condos, not apartments, for all residential space in all mixed-use buildings. The City can still require affordable dwelling unit condos just like they have in mixed-use rentals. It’s time for the City Council to stop annually increasing homeowners’ taxes that developers create on the profits developers make.

Dave Rifkin

Falls Church


AAUW to Recognize Equal Pay Day On April 4


On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) will recognize Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to what white men earned in 2016. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the median earnings for women working full time, year-round is only 80 percent of what white men working full time, year-round make. The situation is even worse for most women of color. African American women make just 63 percent, Native American women make about 58 percent, and Latina women make only 54 percent of what men make.

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 under the age of 18, the mother is the sole or primary wage earner. Pay equity is the key to families making ends meet and moving working families into and then keeping them in the middle class.

The pay gap is not caused solely by differences in career and lifestyle choices made by men and women. A 2012 AAUW report found that one year after graduating from college, women still earned 7 percent less than their male counterparts. A spring 2017 AAUW report shows that the one-year-after graduation gap still exists, and ten years after graduation, the gap widens to 12 percent.

In our own Commonwealth of Virginia, women earn 78 percent of what a man earns in Virginia. (Virginia ranks a dismal 35th in pay equity.) In real terms, this translates into less money for feeding families, health care, paying off student loans, and saving for retirement. Passing a federal law like the Paycheck Fairness Act would help protect everyone in all states. But until that happens, each state will continue operating under antiquated regulations and piecemeal state and local laws to combat unequal pay. As we wait for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, Virginia AAUW members will continue to urge the state legislature to make improvements to Virginia’s equal pay laws so that fair pay is an accessible reality for everyone.

Kristan McMahon

President, AAUW Falls Church Area Branch


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