Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

When I first moved to the Washington area, I had the great good fortune to work for two members of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Frank Church of Idaho), and met and worked with many ambassadors during that time. In diverse Mason District, it is not unusual to meet foreign ambassadors and consuls at cultural events, and a number of American ambassadors and foreign service officers are Mason District constituents. Each and every one has demonstrated, whether in business or social settings, the fine art of diplomacy, both in the practice of conducting international relations, and tact in dealing with people.

That fine art was on display last week as the House Intelligence Committee grilled Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and Ambassadors William B. Taylor, Jr., and Marie Yovanovitch about Ukraine as part of presidential impeachment hearings. Their responses were focused, succinct, and ever so tactful. They were steady under pressure, as are most seasoned foreign service officers and ambassadors. I was proud to watch them testify, yet saddened that their chosen careers in service to the nation had forced them into this spotlight.

In his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 2017, Mr. Trump said that “We will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.” Three years later, that comment appears not just rhetorical, but dangerously true. In her testimony, Ambassador Yovanovitch noted, with apparent sadness, that “the State Department is being hollowed out from within” by the Trump Administration. Is that the course Mr. Trump referenced? When I was in college, international relations offered an exciting career — to serve the country, to see the world, and to make a difference. Many graduates joined the Peace Corps for a couple of years, and segued into a foreign service career. I think that idealism still exists, although it often is stomped on by the current administration’s perverted notion that what is good for Mr. Trump personally also is good for the country. Perhaps he meant “we will determine a dangerous course for America…”

With the election of new members, the Board of Supervisors suspends consideration of land use applications in November and December, resuming those cases in January when the new board meets. However, the SSPA (Site Specific Plan Amendment) process for South County, which includes Mason District, continues, with a deadline for nominations of Dec. 3 of this year. Nominations for changes to the Comprehensive Plan, the guide used by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to make land use decisions, will be reviewed by county staff. Selected nominations will be reviewed by district task forces appointed by the Supervisors, before proceeding to Planning Commission consideration. Amending the Comprehensive Plan is a lengthy process, upwards of two years.

For more information about SSPA nominations, log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/plan-amendments/sspa/south.