LETTER: Deeds Not Words

August 13, 2012 by · 41 Comments 

August 13, 2012

During a recent work session discussion regarding allocation of a portion of City excess revenue to fund school technology upgrades, a City Council member stated that the Council is responsible for representing the entire City, not just the schools. I won’t argue with that. My issue with the current Council is the seemingly low priority and increased deterioration of actual support for our schools.

In the strongest possible way, I submit that our schools and the children that attend them should be the number one priority of every Council member and citizen of this City. The schools and the needs of our children should come first. This is the socially responsible thing to do. Our children are our future doctors, teachers, engineers, artisans, writers…you get the point. If we want to remain a world class school system, then we have to make investments in technology. Read more

LETTER: Councilman Webb Discusses Reelection Effort

March 19, 2012 by · 28 Comments 

March 19, 2012

To the Editors of the Falls Church Times,

I am running for re-election to the Falls Church City Council. It took time to make the decision to run again considering all the difficult decisions the council had to make during the economic downturn. My friends and family helped me to see that those difficult decisions are starting to pay-off and the City of Falls Church still needs energized voices to completely return to its strong fiscal state. I believe I am capable of providing a balanced approach to helping the city completely recover; moreover, I recognize the council cannot complete this task without the assistance of our citizens.

Growing up in rural southern Virginia my parents instilled the value of hard work and giving back to your community. They also gave me the value of spending for necessities and saving up for big ticket items. With that being said, I have brought those small town values with me to our “Little City”. We have experienced one of the most challenging recessions in years; one that made us make some tough choices to be able to get to this point today. Our “Little City” is in the beginning stages of observing a recovery and we are seeing increased interest from developers. With the current work being done on area plans, we will be in a stronger position to share what we want in future development in the City of Falls Church. I am looking forward to engaging our citizens in conversations about what we want the City of Falls Church to look like in the next decade.

We have heard about “The Falls Church way” is to get buy in from citizens because we know a plan without citizens input will be dead on arrival. At this time a taskforce has been established by the city council to begin the tough work on developing an affordable housing policy that will set realistic goals when it comes to taking cash versus units within mixed use developments. The group has all the stakeholders at the table: developers, city board and commission members, community groups and citizens talking about all the different aspects of what a good policy will need to be effective. As the council liaison to the taskforce, I will make sure when a decision is rendered to take cash in these developments there will be a plan in place. One that will either maintain existing affordable housing or work to expand regionally affordable housing near the city limits.

Fortunately our schools are one of the best in the state. For the past two years I’ve visited George Mason High School to help provide information to seniors and parents on what will be the first of many challenges that a student will face and that’s choosing the right college to attend. I believe strongly in the value of education; however, I will continue to advocate for a revenue sharing agreement between the schools and the city. This plan can strike a balance that will fully fund our schools while taking into account the services we provide to city residents. After witnessing the flooding experienced by residents during several storms this fall, it is very important that we continue to fund and expand our storm water management plan in the city. We have an updated Watershed Management Plan which outlines the needs of our city. One of my goals is to make sure we have the appropriate resources to alleviate flooding in our city.

As we continue litigation over our water system, I will work hard to ensure that the system continues to provide safe and quality water to all of our customers. I will, when it is appropriate, communicate to our counterparts in Fairfax to discuss and work on positive solutions. Yet, when it’s time to protect the interest of the City of Falls Church I will be the first to protect our rights. I recognize that we have experienced some challenging times in Falls Church and that some decisions made were not popular. But in making those decisions I carefully considered input from citizens and city staff, and weighed those insights with what I thought best supported our city. I have tried to make those decisions that would allow the city to maintain, survive, and eventually thrive.

Over the next several weeks I will work diligently for your support in allowing me the opportunity to continue the job that has started to make our “Little City” a star here in Northern Virginia. I welcome your input during and beyond the campaign.

Lawrence Webb

Lawrence Webb is a member of the Falls Church City Council.

Letter: Reflections on the Referendum Vote

November 10, 2011 by · 18 Comments 


November 10, 2011

I’d like to offer my congratulations to all of the referendum supporters. Though I opposed the referendum, I am very happy the question was brought to City residents to decide.

Though many are ready to now move on, I think we’ve really just begun.  November elections on local issues are completely new to Falls Church, there is a lot of work to be done and I hope the community will stay engaged.

Starting first with the election results, I am concerned to see that voter turnout for this first November vote on local issues was still only 30.7%.  As one of the biggest selling points for the change, moving to November didn’t magically improve turnout.  As a community, we need to keep thinking about how to keep everyone informed and engaged, and continue to improve turnout.  One idea that has been raised in the past is introducing vote by mail.  Perhaps we should think about acting on this or other ideas to get the vote out.

Second, I was really struck with what appeared to be a partisan vote. Consider:

– 1,738 votes to pass the referendum
– 1,730 votes for Democratic Candidate Saslaw (the only contested race on the ballot)

Perhaps it’s some anomaly or strange coincidence, but I suspect the local Democratic Committee’s support of the referendum through sample ballots, emails, etc. had some influence on those numbers being virtually identical.  To be clear, it is freedom of speech and well within their right to support anything they want to quite frankly, but in my view this is a slippery slope of political endorsements that will allow partisanship to become an integral part of our local elections.

Going forward, I hope the City Council will do everything in its power to limit partisanship in our elections.  This includes not only a charter change which Mr. Webb recently raised, but I would ask the Council to go further and pass a resolution, or intent statement, stating why this was put to a referendum to begin with, and declaring for future generations that they hope it will not enable partisanship at the polls. While not binding, my hope is it sets the tone for generations to come, and helps preserve the proud
non-partisan tradition that we have.

Second, and equally important, I hope the local Democratic and Republican Committees adopt similar resolutions or intent statements, and perhaps even a code of conduct that reaffirms their current public positions of not allowing partisanship to influence local elections.  Political endorsements of candidates, co-mingling political advertisements, canvassing door to door for state and local party candidates should all be declared off-limits.  I hope this will also help set the tone within their respective organizations to
prevent future partisanship.

While these actions would help, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think our City Council and the local political committees alone have the final say on whether or not our future elections become partisan.  It really will be up to each and every one of us as individuals to stand firm, stay vigilant and ensure it does not become a staple in our future. The diversity of candidates and opinions that we gain from staying non-partisan will benefit our City for generations to come.

Mike Novotny
Falls Church City

LETTER: City of Falls Church Fireworks on as Usual

June 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 


June 26, 2011

A variety of special events organized year-round by the Recreation and Parks Department are one feature that makes the City of Falls Church such a popular place to live and visit. All City departments, including Recreation and Parks, have had to make cuts in programs and staffing levels due to the economic challenges of the past two years. Recreation and Parks has responded to cuts in its budget by reducing some programs and by asking for donations and sponsors for special events and activities. To date, more than $4,000 has been donated to help defray some of the costs of special events. Additional donations are welcome and needed. Read more

LETTER: Farewell, Jerry’s of Falls Church

March 28, 2011 by · 12 Comments 


March 28, 2011

Farewell, Jerry’s.

Everyone has a place for comfort food. My place was Jerry’s Subs and Pizza in Falls Church City. It is no secret to the staff there that I would sneak in on an occasional Thursday between office hours and my daughter’s class for a cheese steak. Mmmm. We are all supposed to eat right, but occasionally we get to cheat. A mentor who was an oncologist in my residency training used to say cheating on the diet was one less day in a nursing home!

Anyway, I was sad to find out this past week during my most recent foray that Jerry’s Falls Church is closing in two weeks. Jerry’s has been in Falls Church City for a long time. It once was the sponsor of many Little League baseball teams and a favorite for after- game family get-togethers. Its Monday night discount pizza was a City favorite, with the line often stretching deep into the restaurant.

More recently, the place has been quiet. When the previous owner sold a few years ago, the restaurant’s new owners upgraded the decor to the new Jerry’s standard. Unfortunately, they abandoned the community involvement of the previous owner. Business dropped off. As a business owner in the City, I know that community presence is very important.

Then, the owners moved the napkin and condiment dispensers behind the counter. You could no longer eat a few pickles while waiting for your dinner. Extra napkins or ketchup? Had to ask for them at the counter. Business faded away.

But I still visited. An occasional Thursday afternoon was a great chance to read the local paper while indulging in a cheese steak. Jerry’s also was a great place to grab a pizza or sub to eat at the summer Concert in the Park. There are other places to grab a sandwich or pizza, sure, but Jerry’s was just convenient for our town.

Farewell, Jerry’s Falls Church. I am told that the employees will work at the other franchises in Seven Corners and Idylwood. I won’t be seeing you often there –- just too far to travel for a quick bite. Hopefully, your Broad Street storefront will be filled with something else delicious. We had a good thing going.

Falls Church City

Letters to the Editor should be submitted to [email protected]. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.

LETTER: Is Red Light Camera Ticketing Right Hand Turns?

February 3, 2011 by · 20 Comments 


February 3, 2011

I received a warning citation in the mail regarding a red light I allegedly ran on West Broad Street and Annandale Road, heading east . I didn’t recall running a light, and indeed, in the photos, it looks like I’m at a stop with my foot solidly on the brake. I questioned my memory and let it slide, being that it was simply a warning, not a citation.

However, over the past few days I’ve been at that intersection and, while waiting in the left lane for the light to turn green, noticed the camera snapping away photos of cars who approach the light, stop completely, then safely take the right-turn on red to proceed down Annandale Road. There is a sign posted stating there is No Right Turn on Red for Trucks, but doesn’t stipulate anything regarding cars.

What action will the City of Falls Church take to ensure that motorists are not improperly ticketed at this intersection? I don’t believe making the “No Turn on Red” action cover trucks and cars alike is the right answer, as it would be a response aimed at changing the rules to net the tickets. Nor do I believe cars should have to deal with the administrative details of fighting a ticket. Indeed, most people may not think to challenge that there isn’t a sign there.


Letters to the Editor should be submitted to [email protected]. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.

LETTER: Beware of Predatory Towing at West End Plaza

January 19, 2011 by · 32 Comments 


January 19, 2011

I am disgusted by the towing practices in some of the parking lots in Falls Church.

Tuesday — an icy day when hardly anyone was out and about — my husband decided to go to his very first yoga class at Bikram Yoga at West End Plaza. He parked in the West End Plaza parking lot (which would make sense considering that is where the class is), ran upstairs, and completed his 90-minute yoga class.

On the way out of the building he noticed a sign that said something like, “Please park in the back parking lot between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. or you will be towed.”

He also then noticed a sign in the parking lot when he went out only to find his car missing, but it was not prominent or obvious. If it is such a big deal that people using the upstairs should not park in the lot, there should be a sign on every space.

It makes sense that if you are going to a yoga class in a shopping center, you can park in that shopping center’s parking lot. There was not a spot on the parking space that said not to park there. There also were many empty parking spaces, considering the weather.

In addition, the back parking lot (where he was supposedly supposed to park) was covered in ice and was not safe to drive on. Another man who uses the studio regularly was towed as well — he said he drove to the back to find parking but it hadn’t been plowed so he assumed it was OK to park in the front, considering the weather and the empty lot.

What kind of business practice is this? Does this make us want to use this shopping center? What an inconvenience, waste of money, and waste of our time.

I’m sure I’ve read about other instances of predatory towing in Falls Church. The City really needs to address this issue.

Falls Church

Letters to the Editor should be submitted to [email protected]. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.

LETTER: CBC ‘Favorably Disposed’ Toward Schools

November 30, 2010 by · 3 Comments 


November 30, 2010

Lou Olom, in his letter that you posted yesterday, is absolutely correct: “They (the schools) are central to this little city’s achievements for half a century. I hope they will continue for the next half century.”

Lou is too modest to describe his own role as a leading fighter for the high-quality public school system in Falls Church today. He personally made a lot of this happen.

He was the main activist who organized and chaired the Citizens for a Better Council that fought that fight in 1959 for the critical vote to support our young public school system.

Some years later, while serving on the school board, he almost single-handedly brought the International Baccalaureate program to Falls Church schools. That program is now the crown jewel of our schools.

Lou’s 1959 Citizens for a Better Council went on to become the Citizens for a Better City. Over the past half century that organization has held biennial nominating conventions for qualified candidates for the City Council and has campaigned for their election. Those candidates are pledged to the CBC principles — one of which is “Preservation of the independent status of our public school system and the continuing provision of a first-class education to all members of the diverse student body.”

A recent tabulation [click here to download Excel spreadsheet] shows that in the 26 elections (1959-2010) 72 of the 91 City Council seats up for election were won by CBC-nominated Council candidates. Those are the “favorably disposed city councils” referred to by Lou.

Up until 1994, school board members were appointed by those CBC-nominated Council members. In the 9 elections (1994-2010), 30 of the 32 school board seats up for election were won by CBC-nominated board candidates. Those CBC-appointed and elected individuals are the “dedicated school board members” referred to by Lou.

If Lou’s hope – a hope, I believe, shared by most of us — for high-quality schools in Falls Church “for the next half century” is to be achieved, continuation of CBC’s success in nominating and electing “favorably disposed” City Councils and “dedicated” School Board candidates is critical. CBC has led the struggle for 50 years. Good schools is CBC’s issue.

Citizens need to remember this history as next year’s School and City budget processes are now under way and later as the 2012 City elections approach.

Falls Church

Letters to the Editor should be submitted to [email protected]. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.

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