Letters to the Editor: Amendment Should Create Fairer Districts

Letters to the Editor: January 2 – 8, 2020

Amendment Should Create Fairer Districts


Having worked on redistricting for 15 years, I was distressed to read Del. Mark Levine’s critique of the Constitutional amendment that the General Assembly will reconsider this session (“Guardrails Can’t Prevent Amendment’s Gerrymander,” Dec. 26, 2019). While many advocates supported a bipartisan amendment developed by OneVirginia2021, I believe that the approved amendment will create districts that are fairer than those created by our current system in which legislators draw the lines.

It is ludicrous that Levine characterizes the current amendment as the “Republicans’ constitutional amendment,” when the provisions he opposes were part of the amendment sponsored by Democratic Sens. George Barker and Dick Saslaw as an alternative to putting redistricting totally in the hands of citizens. Since both parties wanted legislators to be included, Levine now fears that two Republican members could thwart the process and throw redistricting into the hands of a state court that he cynically views as a tool of the Republicans. But the Barker-Saslaw amendment included this same provision for resolving a deadlock, as did three redistricting bills co-sponsored by Levine himself. In addition, that approach is the norm in at least three states with redistricting commissions. In all three, proposed maps have never ended up in the state supreme court.

Even if they did, Levine incorrectly argues that all of the current justices were chosen when Republicans were in control. His argument also assumes that all justices are political hacks, intent on promoting partisan goals.
In 2011, the time was ripe for reform when control of the legislature was split between the parties. Unfortunately, the parties worked out a backroom gerrymandering that helped to make activists out of people like me. Polls show that seventy percent of Virginians support redistricting reform. Let’s be willing to engage every voter and compete in the marketplace of ideas. And if Levine’s fears turn out to be realized, well, the next generation will get another decade to try to perfect the process.

Sara Fitzgerald

Falls Church

F.C. Should Study Bringing a Dog Park To the City


For Falls Church City City dog owners, Arlington County’s recent closure of the Banneker Dog park reopens questions about whether the City should establish one or more dog parks of its own. This has apparently been considered before but the dog didn’t hunt. There are possible dog park sites in the City that border commercial areas and are remote from both Tripps Run and Four Mile Run, alleviating certain environmental barriers affecting dog park placement.

On Dec. 4, 2019, I submitted a Petition to the Parks Department and the Parks Advisory Board asking the City and the Board to study the issue with a goal toward establishing one or more parks (possibly serving the East and West Ends).

I, along with others interested plan, will continue to work this issue. We understand that establishing a dog park is more complex and costly than meets the eye, but hopefully, in the not too distant future, the News-Press’ beloved Critter Corner can feature a ribbon cutting photo of dogs charging into their new City Park.

Al Krachman

Falls Church

Parking Garage Could Help With F.C. Development


Kudos to Ms. Patchett (News-Press, Dec. 26, Letters to the Editor). You are correct, new is not always better.

The traffic impact will be impossible to navigate with traffic issues already at the corner of West and Broad.

I suggest a parking garage somewhere between Whole Foods and Harris Teeter because we will be able to walk to and from both stores!

Thompson Italian and Clare & Don’s did not bargain for parking to be taken from them, this is devastating.

Residents need to think at the polls in November about who they want to run their a City.

Barb Molino

Falls Church

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