Eden Center Reps Call for Better Policing,
Council Approves 8% Water Rate Increase

Falls Church Times Staff

September 12, 2011

Leaders of the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce and several Eden Center patrons this evening criticized recent actions of the Falls Church police and called on the City Council to improve the relationship between the Center and the FCPD.  The comments came in the wake of last month’s raid on the Center, which allegedly uncovered gambling operations at numerous establishments.

The speakers charged that the raid has given people a false image of the Eden Center, which in turn has hurt business.  They criticized police procedures and conduct, before, during, and after the raid.  Several said they had never heard of the Dragon family, which police alleged ran the gambling racket.  Some maintained that suspects were not read their rights or were banned from the Center without due process.

Spokesman Ty Nguyen offered the Council a list of suggestions for better policing.  He recommended establishing a drug free zone; creating an Eden Center community watch; designating an FCPD liaison, which he termed a full time bridge to Vietnamese community; appointing a City Council liaison, who would sit in at Council meetings; permitting “walk along volunteers” to assist the police; and having Miranda rights texts available in English and Vietnamese, while providing translators to read suspects their rights whenever a warrant is being served.

Vice Mayor Dave Snyder stated that he had never heard of the issues presented tonight, but called the speakers’ comments constructive.  “We cherish and highly value our relationship with the Eden Center and will work to assure a safe and prosperous environment for all concerned,” he said, to considerable applause.

Mayor Nader Baroukh added that he felt the vice mayor’s comments summed up the feelings of the entire Council and pledged to continue the dialogue and outreach to the Eden Center community.

Councilwoman Robin Gardner pointed out that at one time the police had maintained a sub-station at the Center.   “I’m glad we’re taking this as seriously as we are,” she said.  “Some of the stories are extremely disturbing.”

City Manager Wyatt Shields said that Falls Church is committed to community policing.  “The police are there to protect and to serve and I have no doubt about that,” he said.

Water Rates Rising

The Council approved an ordinance authorizing an 8% water rate increase, effective October 1.  The measure was adopted, 6-0, with Councilman Lawrence Webb absent.  According to Mr. Shields, the impact to the average customer would vary from $2.00 to $7.00 per quarter, based on usage.

The monies received through the increase will remain in the City’s water fund in accordance with a 2010 order of the Fairfax Circuit Court.   That order did not enjoin the City from setting its rates, only from transferring water system profits to its general fund.

Prior to the vote, Councilman Ira Kaylin noted that Fairfax Water had advised Falls Church in writing that it would not challenge the rate increase.  Many Fairfax County residents have protested the measure, which they regarded as unfair.  Over 90% of the water system’s customers reside in the county.

City “Bailing Out” on the Voting Rights Act

At the request of the Electoral Board and the General Registrar, the Council approved, 5-1, a resolution to begin the process of “bailing out” from the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Ms. Gardner cast the only negative vote.

The Act requires certain jurisdictions, including the City of Falls Church, to notify the U.S. Department of Justice before making changes in their local voting procedures, such as changing a precinct/ward location, adding an absentee voting location, or conducting registration drives.  Exemption from the requirement will provide overall financial and personnel efficiencies, while continuing to abide by the letter and spirit of the Act.

Congress amended the Act in 1982 to establish a process for local governments to be exempted or “bailed out” from the pre-clearance requirements if they have demonstrated a positive record of protecting voter rights in their jurisdiction for a period of at least ten years.  Since 1982 over 18 counties or cities in the Commonwealth have successfully gone through the process.

City Manager’s Report

Mr. Shields stated that the City received over 8 inches of rain during last week’s storm, something that could be expected only once every 85 years.  He said that the storm management system was well maintained but that it had been overwhelmed by an event it was not designed to handle.  Many homeowners have reported flooded basements, especially along Sherrow Avenue, Timber Lane, W. Columbia St., and lower portions of Broadmont.

The City is waiving the excess trash fees for the next two pickups but is not waiving the bulk pickup fee.  Mr. Shields cautioned that appliances under water should be replaced rather than repaired.   Only qualified contractors should be hired to deal with sewer backflows.  A list is available on the City’s website.

Mayor Baroukh suggested that the City hold a town hall meeting to address the flooding problems and other emergency management issues.

Cox Cable soon will be shifting FCC-TV from Channel 12 to Channel 11.  The new channel will be available throughout the City and Fairfax County.  Channel 12 is only available in eastern portions of the county.

Mr. Shields cited Gary La Porta for his recent work in conjunction with the City’s planning efforts.

Vision Statement and Work Plan

The Council passed resolutions, 6-0, approving its vision statement and the work plan for the current term.  The Council amended the work plan prior to the vote to include references to the Eden Center.

September 12, 2011 


4 Responses to “Eden Center Reps Call for Better Policing,
Council Approves 8% Water Rate Increase”

  1. Dave Phelps, Falls Church City on September 13th, 2011 8:31 am

    Am I missing something here? As a Falls Church City resident, I already pay a reportedly 60 percent more for my water than Fairfax County and now, we have an 8 percent increase in rates? What is wrong with this picture? Fairfax County, please come and rescue us from this idiotic situation. Maybe the City could sell its water operation to Fairfax and all of us would benefit, especially those paying now more than 60 percent more for our water. And telling us it is only another $2-7 per quarter does not satisfy. If I were selling a gallon of mild for 60 percent more than the guy across the county line, would you buy it? It is time to stop this absurdity.

  2. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on September 13th, 2011 8:56 am

    Dave, I’m not sure that selling the system to Fairfax County would impact the rate much (if at all). The City gets water from a different source than Fairfax County and has a different cost structure. I suppose it’s possible but I’m not sure how Fairfax County would manage things differently to reduce the cost.

    While Fairfax County water is cheaper there are other water authorities in this area with prices similar to Falls Church.

    I’m not saying the City shouldn’t sell the service – maybe that’s a good idea – I’m just saying that it’s unlikely to have a big impact on our water rates (at least as far as I understand the situation).

  3. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on September 13th, 2011 12:51 pm

    Mr. Phelps – if you sold you house and moved into the Fairfax County water authority area, you could make a lot of money on your home, avoid the supposed extra 60% cost, and spare us your complaining about money used to maintain a water system.

  4. Nu Dang Phong on September 17th, 2011 9:38 am

    the police have people at eden many years ago on bike and everyone love to see him only nice police people talk to every bod else very mean dont like polce mean now

Feel free to leave a comment. Please increase the credibility of your post by including your FULL NAME and CITY. All comments are subject to editing for courtesy and content.