Election Wide Open as News-Press Endorses Mixed Slate

Falls Church Times Columnist

April 29, 2010

Falls Church voters face the most conflicting set of choices for City Council this Tuesday to confront them in this century – and maybe in the last century as well.

Eight candidates are running for four seats, and the usual powers that be have splintered. Of the four candidates endorsed today by the Falls Church News-Press, only two are running on the CBC (Citizens for a Better City) slate. Traditionally the News-Press and the CBC have operated in lock-step.

Even more intriguing is the break between News-Press owner-editor Nicholas Benton and Mayor Robin Gardner and her politically active husband, Mike, who recently began writing an opinion column in Benton’s newspaper. Today, Gardner’s entire column is devoted to reasons why Council incumbent Dave Snyder should not be re-elected. Yet in the same edition, Benton endorses Snyder, albeit not without reservation.

Why the big breakup? My own back-of-the-envelope reasoning is that Benton, who has followed City politics for 20 years and knows which way the wind is blowing, has determined that the CBC slate will not win big. Certainly not in entirety. Even the CBC members don’t have their heart in it. Just look around the City – there are a paucity of CBC campaign signs. It’s really quite amazing, considering how big a race this is.

The lack of enthusiasm for the CBC campaign may stem from the strange way they picked their slate this year. No smoke-filled back room for the CBC – to the contrary, you didn’t even have to be a CBC member to vote at their convention! Just show up.

The results were just as surprising as the unorthodox method of obtaining them. Incumbent Dan Sze, anointed by the CBC four years earlier, wasn’t even nominated. He wisely withdrew from the race a few days later.

But the big shocker was that former vice mayor and longtime CBC loyalist Lindy Hockenberry also failed to win nomination to the CBC slate. This was apparently too much for News-Press editor Benton to bear, as Hockenberry leads his list of endorsements.

The News-Press headline reads:

Hockenberry, Peppe,
Lippman, Snyder

That’s a little misleading, because the editorial itself indicates a slightly different order of preference. The two lead choices are actually Vice Mayor Hal Lippman and Hockenberry, but their combined names were too long to fit on one line. Current School Board Chair Ron Peppe, having the shortest name, was elevated to follow Hockenberry.

If the News-Press applied a litmus test for endorsements, it would seem to be the vote on lending $2 million to the Falls Church Housing Corporation to build the Wilden senior housing project on South Washington Street. Hockenberry (who sits on the Planning Commission) and Lippman were  enthusiastic supporters of the venture, and Snyder voted for it as well, breaking with his oft-time ally, Councilman Nader Baroukh. Meanwhile, Peppe cleverly tiptoed through the hot coals, remaining vague on the question but alienating no one.  Among the candidates who did not receive News-Press endorsement, three of them – Johannah Barry, Ira Kaylin, and John Lawrence, were strongly opposed to the City’s $2 million loan, with only Barry Buschow appearing to mildly favor it.

So – only two candidates have managed to win the imprimatur of both the CBC and the News-Press: Lippman and Peppe. But in a time of potential voter backlash, are these endorsements helpful?


April 29, 2010 


44 Responses to “POLITICAL ANALYSIS:
Election Wide Open as News-Press Endorses Mixed Slate”

  1. Victoria Kwasiborski (Falls Church City) on April 29th, 2010 1:14 pm

    And over on Blueweeds, Mike’s sidebar poll shows the following. How about an FCT Times poll to add to the fun?

    Peppe, 73% of votes
    Kaylin/Barry, 51% of votes each
    Buschow, 39% of votes
    Lawrence/Lippman, 31% of votes each
    Hockenberry, 22%
    Not Voting, 7%
    Snyder, 6%

  2. Dale Walton, Falls Church City on April 29th, 2010 3:46 pm

    Don’t we have 5 CBC members of the 7 total members on the Council today? I feel we need more balance. I like what the independents are saying. My problem with L. Hockenberry is that, despite not gaining official CBC endorsement, my guess is she is still very much affilliated with CBC. Therefore, she will likely align herself and vote with the CBC block, when push comes to shove. If the citizens in Falls Church want more balance and independence in their Council, they will vote an independent slate next Tuesday.

  3. Ed Strait — Goodwin House, Fairfax County on April 30th, 2010 1:32 am

    Yo!!! George
    I’ve been living at the Goodwin House Baileys Crossroads retirement home for the past 16 months. I lived in the City of Falls Church for the prior 50 years. I may be the only person who has attended every CBC Convention since CBC’s founding in 1959 (includng the one this February). I’ve been twice President of CBC and three terms (12 years) a member of the City Council nominated by CBC conventions (in the 70s and 80s)

    I write about a factual error in your reporting. I refer to the “strange way they [the CBC] picked their slate this year” — “you didn’t even have to be a member of CBC to vote at their convention. Just show up.” The fact is that that has been a bylaw provision ever since 1971. That is a beauty of CBC conventions. Participation is open to any eligible voter in the City. The nominees are the choices of those who just show up. “A strange way???” Think about that. Couldn’t be more open — deliberately so.

    Since you are reporting on the News-Press editorial and Mike Gardner’s op ed piece, let me point out two errors of fact in the front-page article on the election in the issue of 4/29. It short changes Lindy Hockenberry regarding her service on the Cit;y Council. She served from 2000 to 2008 — two terms, not just 2004 to 2008. Also, it states that “The first November City Council election will be held in 2012…” It will be held in 2011 under the ordinance adopted by the City Council.

    Best regards,

    Ed Strait

  4. George Southern, Falls Church City on April 30th, 2010 8:51 am

    Ed — Many thanks for giving us the story “behind” the story! Your name is well known to us, and we published the history of the CBC last year that you co-authored:


    But about the CBC nominating process: Isn’t it fair to say that this year was different? How many times in the past was the open vote anything more than an acclamation — that is, there were the same number of candidates as there were seats contested. But this year there were six candidates for four seats. And I believe this was the first year that you could vote “against” someone as well. (I didn’t vote — I just took pictures.)

    Finally, I hope readers realize that those reporting errors you point out in your final paragraph were NOT in the Falls Church Times!

    Thanks for reading — and for your 50 years of service!

  5. Larkin, Falls Church City on April 30th, 2010 10:49 am

    I will be a contrarian. If the News-Press endorsed a candidate, I will not vote for that candidate. If the News-Press did not endorse a candidate, I will vote for that candidate.

  6. Russell Wodiska Falls Church on April 30th, 2010 12:17 pm

    The assertion that there is a lack of enthusiasm for the CBC candidates is not true. While I appreciate that your gauge is street signs (and there are an abundance), this metric does not even begin to capture the reaction we have had from the citizens of Falls Church. As the campaign manager for the CBC slate of Buschow, Lawrence, Lippman and Peppe, I can tell you that support for our candidates continues to be passionate and wide spread.

    The CBC candidates have walked every street of the City and knocked on every door. They have been ubiquitous at local city events, and are diligently listening to voters. They are taking notes about what the citizenry think about the important issues of today and their view of the future. The support they have received has been overwhelmingly positive.

    The candidates and the CBC continue to receive generous donations daily in support of the slate, and we just finished up four candidate forums with each event drawing more people than the one before it. As the election draws near, I am inundated with volunteers asking how they can help support the full slate.

    As the candidates have mentioned (and the FCT), they have differing views on a few issues. Not only is this not a secret – it is one of the major strengths of this slate. What is important is that the four CBC candidates have shown their ability to work together to find common ground, and develop real solutions to address our most pressing problems. There is no “CBC position”, and never has been. This is a non-partisan organization that seeks to find qualified and experienced candidates to run for local office. On this front, I believe they have succeeded wonderfully.

    Regardless of your views on individual candidates, please come out and vote on May 4th.

  7. Dale Walton, Falls Church City on April 30th, 2010 12:32 pm

    The CBC needs to be judged by its track record. If citizens like the current state of the City with higher taxes, going off track with changing the election date, etc. they should vote CBC. If, however, Citizens are not happy with the current state of the City and what they see going forward, then they should vote for independents to bring more balance to the City. Like Ronald Reagan asked in the famous debate with Jimmy Carter…..are you better off than you were 2 or 4 years ago? If yes, vote CBC; if not, vote for independents. I personally like what the independents are saying. I am definitely not one who is going to want to see a City Council that is all CBC…..that does not bring the level of independence and diversity the City needs. It is foolish to think that the CBC candidates are that different…….in the end they are all going to view things pretty much the same way and vote similarly. As much as I disagree with the News-Press, I think they got it right by endorsing a mixed slate. …although I have my doubts about Lindy Hockenberry who unless I am wrong was CBC when on the Council.

  8. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on April 30th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Dale, I know there is no way to convince you otherwise, but things are actually the way Russ says – the CBC holds a convention to nominate candidates. If there actually was a conspiracy and all CBC candidates agree on everything, why would six run for four nominations and one choose to run despite not getting the nod? Clearly there is disagreement among those who sought the nomination!

    The one thing you say correctly is that Lindy Hockenberry was a previous CBC nominated candidate in 2000, 2004 and 2008. David Snyder also has been a CBC nominated candidate, including his last election in 2006. So if you won’t vote for anyone who has carried the CBC endorsement, your choices have dwindled significantly.

    The CBC organization of which I am a part has no say as to how an elected official votes or stands on any issue. Don’t believe it? Just ask the candidates and currently elected officials.

  9. Ron Peppe (Falls Church City) on April 30th, 2010 2:10 pm

    Russ is absolutely correct that the strength of the CBC team is that we represent very diverse views but have been working well together as a team. Each of the 8 candidates offers different strengths and weaknesses, but the 4 of us who were endorsed by CBC offer a pledge to work together while fully debating the issues. I do not think any of us want to see “business as usual.”

    I have served on the school board for the past 4 years and did receive a CBC endorsement for this position, but no one from the CBC ever told me how to think, or even suggested a particular position on any issue- they just helped with the election process. It is working the same way this time- we all showed up and asked for support, and 4 candidates for city council received the CBC endorsement. It had nothing to do with positions on issues- it had to do with perceptions about how well we would do the job.

    In my own experience, I vote for someone whom I think will work hard with the rest of the team to get things done, and not because of one particular issue. Issues come and go, and we often end up dealing with new and unexpected issues in the day to day business of governing.


  10. Dale Walton, Falls Church City on April 30th, 2010 2:19 pm

    Thanks for your comments. I have read the various materials. No, there is no way you can convince me that the CBC’ers don’t think the same way generally and when push comes to shove will vote in block. Therefore I am firmly convinced that the City needs more independence and diversity with its Council. No way guys, but nice try! I have to give you credit for the image you are trying to portray.

  11. Dale Walton, Falls Church City on April 30th, 2010 2:56 pm

    I wanted to engage others about Mr. Gardner’s (our Mayor’s husband) assault on Mr. Snyder in the News-Press. First of all in the interest of full disclosure, I do not know either man. I understand the timing. But it strikes me strange as to why this attack? I view It as either desperation, meanness, political stupidity, or some combination. Why not keep to the high road if you feel you have a good record to run on. Why stoop to the “low road” and such negativity. I would like to hear from the candidates, especially those from CBC, as to whether you agree with or disavow yourself with Mr. Gardner’s comments.

  12. TFC on April 30th, 2010 4:19 pm

    No one has come to my house in Broadmont…all I have received is postcards in the mail..not even the kind they might put in the door to indicate they came a’calling….just in with the regular mail in the box. Maybe someone is scared they might get an earful???

  13. Barry Buschow on April 30th, 2010 5:28 pm

    Dale, I would love the opportunity to speak with you. If that is possible, or anybody else, please email me at [email protected]. TFC please email me your address and I will find out why your door has not been approached. I can only try to reach out, you must reach back. I am happy to discuss any and all issues you wish…….

  14. Hendrik Jasper, Falls Church on April 30th, 2010 8:16 pm

    I haven’t seen what makes Mike Gardner “politically active.” He’s a bystander who writes a mean-spirited blog (and now a mean-spirited column, as pointed out above) about political rivals of his wife. By my measure, one has to actually be in politics to be politically active.

  15. Lindy Hockenberry City of Falls Church on April 30th, 2010 11:01 pm

    This entry put a lot out there and I feel that I want to respond from my side. First, about CBC. The convention has always been open—“no dark, smoky rooms” and the only thing that was different this year was that people could vote “for” or “against” a candidate. This in itself was very unusual and as a result, I was not endorsed by the people attending the convention. Now, I have my theories, but that doesn’t matter now. After much thought, I decided to run as an Independent Candidate for City Council and believe me that was not an easy decision and it caused conflict within the CBC that I feel badly about. Running as an Independent demands a huge committment of both time and financial resources and it is very difficult being by yourself in a campaign. However, I found so many friends who were willing to help me along the way. I feel that I can serve our City and our citizens well , as I have before, by being on City Council.

    I want to make one point perfectly clear—CBC in no way ever tells you how to vote—ever. There is always the willingness for people to work together as it should be. As far as voting, I have always been an independent with only these things in mind—our City, our schools and our citizens. In my years as a teacher in our schools. I was an advocate for both staff and students. On City Council for eight years, I have been the most involved of any member—that’s just how I am. I am by very nature ubiquitous within our city—always. Now, if your opinion of me is based only on the Wilden vote, I ask that you take a closer look at my record. The bottom line is that I am to my very core pro City of Falls Church, pro schools, pro business, pro smart growth and most of all, pro people. Endorsements are only opinions by a group or a person, but the voters are the ones who must choose those candidates who will truly lead to our sustainable future.

  16. Lou Mauro on April 30th, 2010 11:34 pm

    Can’t wait for election day—- the pre-election hot air is stifling! Gordon, Russell, Ron, Lindy, et al—- instead of sparring verbally with Dale, if you want to prove him wrong, check the voting records for say, the last 10 years, and find out the percentage of votes by CBC-endorsed Councilmembers, with the exception of Dave Snyder, that differed from one another. We all breathlessly await your report— to the extent we can still breathe at all.

  17. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on April 30th, 2010 11:49 pm

    George alluded to the voting process at the convention, and now Lindy does too, so let me explain it.

    Conventions voters were given the choice to vote for, against or abstain for each candidate.

    This was devised so that the convention could have the option of deeming a candidate not qualified. It would prevent an assured victory if there were the minimum (or less) candidates running for the available seats. The “against” vote assures this ability. Candidates had to receive a positive score (more for than against) to be eligible for the endorsement.

    The CBC executive committee in a unanimous decision changed the rules so that this system was implemented. In 2010, four ran and were nominated for school board, meaning all had positive scores. Six ran for council, and four were nominated, meaning at least those four had positive scores. The scores were not released intentionally so that no candidate would be differentiated by their score. Only the individual candidates and the chief teller are aware of the results.

    Some would have you believe that the convention could be “hijacked” by a group of voters intent on preventing a candidate from receiving the endorsement. In 2010, there were 160+ votes cast, meaning that there would have to be over 80 “anti” votes cast. This would be a hard task for any individual to organize.

    So we have the four CBC council candidates, Buschow, Lawrence, Lippman and Peppe. We know that they received positive scores, and that those who attended the CBC convention felt them BEST QUALIFIED for the endorsement. That important result cannot be minimized.

  18. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on May 1st, 2010 12:01 am

    Lou, give me a break. The voting results are the responsibility of the councilpersons, and they live and die politically from them. I certainly don’t agree with all of the decisions made, but I know that there was no-one in a smoky CBC room telling them what to do. Ever think that the voting results might be affected by the political skills of the councilmembers themselves?

  19. Victoria Kwasiborski (Falls Church City) on May 1st, 2010 6:06 am

    TFC, we’ve only had one candidate come to our door, as well. They all seem to prefer stuffing my door or filling my mailbox with glossy and colorful campaign rhetoric, none of which could possibly be considered an environmentally friendly use of resources. But at least we’re not getting robo-calls!

  20. TFC on May 1st, 2010 7:48 am

    I haven’t even had stuff jammed in my door…only postcards in the regular mail. I appreciate Barry’s offer to set up a time to visit.

  21. Ron Peppe (Falls Church City) on May 1st, 2010 9:01 am

    I am surprised so many of you have not had someone knock on your door. The CBC candidates split up the city and every house was assigned to someone. My own feet are aching from walking and knocking each Saturday and Sunday in March and April! We each only leave literature is no one answers the door.

    Today’s agenda is much the same…more walking and knocking.

    Barry’s idea to offer to schedule something is a good one. Feel free to email or call [email protected]. My website at http://www.ronpeppe.com also has a link to call me, as well. I am sure any of the candidates would do the same if you want to interview, compare and contrast!


  22. Russell Wodiska on May 1st, 2010 9:32 am

    To anyone who wants to reach the CBC candidates — please go to http://www.CBCcampaign.com. They have always been completely available to the voters. They will answer any of your direct inquires.

    Barry Buschow: [email protected]
    John Lawrence: [email protected]
    Hal Lippman: [email protected]
    Ron Peppe: [email protected]

  23. Jane Scully on May 1st, 2010 12:01 pm

    I live in Broadmont and have had a number of candidates come by, one CBC and two independents. Perhaps you weren’t at home? Perhaps you didn’t answer the doorbell? It takes a little effort on the part of voters to get to know their candidates, more than just waiting on the sofa for them to come to you. The LWV Forum was excellent, and you can watch it one the web or look at the Voters’ Guide. Our Falls Church Times has also done an excellent job with candidate questions.

    Why wait around for your schedule to match a candidate’s canvassing when you can do a little learning yourself at your leisure?

  24. TFC on May 1st, 2010 3:07 pm

    I did watch the Forum and I thought it was a good way for some candidates to get opinions out there.

  25. Ron Peppe (Falls Church City) on May 1st, 2010 4:37 pm

    It is nice to get the endorsements, even if only to show that at least one person thinks you could do a good job. As we have heard here, some folks will vote against you just because of an endorsement, so it goes both ways.

    The comments about CBC being a block are interesting. As Lindy said, no one from CBC ever tells you how to vote, and I think (especially given the current slate of candidates) it would be hard to articulate a “CBC position” on any issue. From my experience, CBC is more about a process to help select and support people because of their skills rather than any political beliefs. Maybe it was different in the past. The selection process is far from perfect, but it is a way to help sort things out and encourage people to get involved who might otherwise never want to try to run for public office.

    As for most votes being unanimous or nearly unanimous, that is true in most local governments where people actually try to work together rather than staking our political extremes and backing themselves into corners. When I was on the board of directors of the state association of boards of education in MD, I saw this repeatedly across the state. Well functioning councils and boards have very thorough and open debates, and often huge disagreements along the way. If they work through these issues, they are usually able to pull together with something to vote on that improves during the process enough that many, if not all, members support it by the time it gets to a vote. Contrast this with the US government, where every issue seems to be a partisan split and people vote as instructed by parties that seem more intent on “winning” than solving problems (and I am pointing fingers at all sides, not just one or the other).

    I do think we need some change, particularly in making sure we open the process more and communicate better, and that we improve how the staff and elected officials work together, but having everyone vote the same at the end of a process is not in itself a symptom of a problem in every case. Unanimous votes created by splitting the baby or throwing money at something to hide a problem are indeed signs of poor governance, but they can also mean a group worked through issues and pulled together with the best solution.


  26. Ralph McGehee Charleston, SC on May 1st, 2010 7:30 pm

    “The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“. Albert Einstein.

    “Vote CBC May 4th. Maybe this time they’ll get it right”. Ralph McGehee

  27. Linda Neighborgall on May 1st, 2010 10:38 pm

    Lou Mauro makes a good point, really. Look at the voting records of Mr. Lippmann and Ms. Hockenberry when she was on the Council. They consistently voted in lock-step with Ms. Gardner and her other reliable Council cronies (and in tune with the editorial positions of Gardner machine’s official spinmeister at the News Press) in what one astute observer described as Kabuki theater — formalized pantomime pretending to be a deliberative body engaged in “public hearings” and “debate.”

    On matters of great importance to city voters/taxpayers that should have been fully and honestly aired, it was patently clear that backroom decisions had been reached, often by a bare majority of members and for transparently specious reasons. Under the guise of “making the hard decisions,” as more than one dependable sycophant urged, the current Council simply ignored inconvenient and substantial citizen opposition and unilaterally changed the city election date without a citizen referendum, approved a senior housing facility without clearly disclosing its costs to taxpayers, and engaged in an ill-conceived water war with Fairfax County.

    For some time now, we’ve had a “might makes right” Council majority who have been out of touch with the concerns of the majority of people in the city who value open government by open-minded elected officials, prudent financial management, long-term planning in all aspects of government, and perhaps above all else, elected officials who respect and trust the voters and treat them as partners in city governance. We have had a mayor who, with her husband and their blog, ridicules and disrespects people of good will who don’t agree with them, and a Council who, by their official silence, condone this sickness.

    With this history in mind, I am uneasy about electing another Council with a dominant voting bloc. What is needed is the robust exercise of independent
    judgment by inquisitive minds — always in an atmosphere of respect — and subject-matter expertise in financial and enterprise management, long-range planning for economic development and health, and fundamentals of democratic process. These are the qualities I will endorse when I vote May 4. Feel free to join me.

  28. Lou Mauro on May 1st, 2010 10:52 pm

    Gordon and Ron,

    Dale did not accuse CBC of smoke-filled back room deals or improper collusion. Nor was he addressing “unanimous or nearly unanimous” votes of the entire Council membership. He merely asserted that in his opinion the CBC Councilmembers seemed to vote in lock-step. Saying what you would do or what you think should happen, no matter how meritorious, is irrelevant. To prove him wrong you need to go back and check the records and see how often CBC members, with the exception of Dave Snyder, have voted together. Shouldn’t take too long. We’ll wait.

  29. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on May 1st, 2010 11:28 pm

    Oh, Lou, there you go again. Look above, Linda N. just made the back room deal accusation. The CBC endorses candidates for office. That’s it. This year, the CBC convention, open to every voter in Falls Church, found BUSCHOW, LAWRENCE, LIPPMAN, and PEPPE as the BEST QUALIFIED candidates. It is ridiculous to assert that these candidates will make decisions in lock-step. It’s just not who they are.

  30. Linda Neighborgall on May 2nd, 2010 12:10 am

    Gordon, you mistake the meaning of my comment. I’ve no beef with the CBC, nor with their nominating process, or even their nominees, although reasonable minds may differ as to the overall best-qualified candidates with the greatest potential to govern effectively. Nor do I contend that the CBC directs the votes of candidates they endorse and who are elected to Council. In fact, there appears to be a schism within the traditional CBC axis, which suggests a refreshing lack of over-all lock-step.

    I merely observe — as anyone must who has not been completely blind to the devolution of the present Council majority into a voting bloc with its own agenda — that recent Council “hearings” on important and controversial subjects have been perfunctory and well-rehearsed as to pre-determined outcome. The so-called “public hearings” regarding these important issues have appeared to irritate the Kabuki players, as the underappreciated and largely unheard concerned citizens nonetheless gamely approach the podium for their alloted 3 minutes of futile commentary.

    Nothing to do with the CBC, really.

  31. Victoria Kwasiborski (Falls Church City) on May 2nd, 2010 6:50 am

    Jane, we’ve done considerable research on the candidates for this election. There’s just something to be said for a face-to-face with a candidate, particularly if they haven’t rehearsed answers to every possible question (that is, they might just say what they truly think or believe) that a well-written website or Facebook page, glossy campaign material, or prepared video soundbite can’t match.

    p.s. (to the candidates): we’ll be home all afternoon…

  32. Ron Peppe (Falls Church City) on May 2nd, 2010 12:27 pm

    I’m still knocking on doors today, so maybe I will see some of you (depends on who got you on his or her list- the CBC split up the city to cover all the homes with registered voters, and I am finishing up my list today).

    My point was not that votes are not usually unanimous or close to it- they usually are. The question is whether there is a fair and open process to get to that vote. There are many meetings and work sessions prior to the televised votes. A group that works well together will have worked through many of the issues during those work sessions. That is how the school board has functioned. For examples, we set up more meetings and enabled easier web participation for this budget season. Despite the positives, there is always room to improve.

    As I said, I think the council has some room to improve on how they use their time and communicate things. Even if they use an open process, if there is a perception that the process is flawed, we need to work on it. I think all of the candidates, and certainly the CBC candidates I have talked to, agree on that point. In general, public hearings should always be held at separate meetings in advance of actual votes, so that the board/council can reflect on the comments before committing to a vote.

    One thing I have observed — often the folks who complain the most about elected officials being inflexible and not listening to and acting in response to public comment are often the same people who complain that candidates do not take strong positions on specific issues. You can not have it both ways — a strong, inflexible position up front means you vote that way regardless of any public comment or other data. I know some people think “moderate” means you do not stand for anything, but I think flexibility, willingness to listen and see both sides of an issue, and then make a decision based on all the data is a better way to govern in the long run. I will admit I am pretty inflexible on trying to keep our city and school system independent, but, even within those confines, there are different way to get there.


  33. Lou Mauro on May 2nd, 2010 7:20 pm

    Gordon, sorry about duplicating your use of caps, but you don’t seem to be listening. To begin with, as Linda says, no one is criticizing the CBC as an organization. Moreover, no one has said anything about the current CBC CANDIDATES themselves. Dale said he was going to vote independent because his impression has been that (regardless of what they say before they get elected) ONCE ELECTED, the CBC-ENDORSED COUNCILMEMBERS have voted in lock-step and he doesn’t want to take the chance that his vote would help perpetuate that sort of voting pattern. You questioned Dale’s impression and I told you that the only way you can disprove it is to check the CBC-endorsed Councilmembers’ (except Snyder) voting record. I’m still waiting.

    The fact is that neither you nor I have any way of knowing what any candidate will do once he or she is elected. I do know, however, that it is very naive of you to say that it’s “ridiculous” to think that the current CBC candidates might vote in lock-step because it’s “just not who they are.” Indeed, one might even say it’s ridiculous.

    Ron, I appreciate your willingness to make what is to many the major understatement that the current Council “has some room to improve.” And no one is talking about the School Board. Compared to the Council, the School Board has been a paragon of openness and efficiency. Again, though, what you and the other CANDIDATES say now is not of great import. However, if you (or any other candidates) get elected and ACTUALLY bring honesty, independence, reasonableness, transparency and balance to the Council—- well, more power to you and them!

  34. Barry Buschow on May 2nd, 2010 8:16 pm

    Victoria, it was a pleasure talking to you this afternoon with John Lawrence and Greg Rasnake. A good discussion of the issues. Bottom line, as we discussed, who will get the job done??? CBC offers 50 years of experience on all major levels. Thanks again for talking with us….

  35. Barry Buschow on May 2nd, 2010 8:17 pm

    Lou, you know, there is no lock in step with this CBC slate…..

  36. Barry Buschow on May 2nd, 2010 8:20 pm

    I never heard from Dale…..

  37. Sam Mabry (Falls Church) on May 2nd, 2010 8:34 pm

    Kudos to Messer’s Mauro and Walton for their effective and convincing demystification of the political dynamic in the city. As evidenced by the CBC controlled Council’s members’ decades’ long monolithic lock-step voting pattern, this surely and certainly debunks Gordon Theisz’ on-going representation of what the CBC is and how it functions.
    Gordon is my physician, and I was glad that I entrusted the care of my Mother to him during her last years with us. I hold him in the highest personal and professional regard. But his view of the CBC as an organization, which I am sure is sincere on his part, is pure political fiction.
    Additionally, I differentiate the rank and file CBC members from its elitists-for without the former, none of us few independents could have been elected to the Council—and some of us were elected twice.
    True, the CBC is an organization that anyone can join, but it has a core group which has had a powerful and sustained influence in our community. It is from their ranks that would-be candidates have received encouragement to seek its nomination. Without a nod from the CBC organization, potential candidates for elected office for the most part have found their aspirations stymied.
    Again and again it has been stated that the CBC organization’s only function is to provide for the nominating process.
    And yet, the CBC’s social and political dominance over city government, and the cliquishness of its elites, has been obvious for many years.
    It is the historical fact of CBC dominance over city politics, its distillation of the Council to a body of self-selected people in near lock step, that begs the question whether the City populace is as monolithic in its view of budget, economic development and other municipal issues as the dominant politicians would have us believe. The evident intolerance of dissent from outside the CBC organization over the years naturally leads to the correct conclusion it’s just the CBC and its adherents who guide the city along a path that only they choose to follow. For proof, just look at the way the controversial election date change and Wilden project played out by Council diktat, without adequate public examination of the issues and input. And look at how the mayor’s husband, on her behalf and that of her Council followers, publicly vilifies those who disagree with the Council in his toxic blog.
    Dr. Theisz defends this political history yet argues for electing the entire CBC-endorsed slate to “select and define the future policies of the city.” He can’t have it both ways. In view of the financial mess the city is now in, he can’t argue in favor of once again electing as a group a CBC slate of Council candidates who vow to “work together,” without acknowledging the history of lock-step voting by CBC-endorsed candidates that brought us to where we are today.
    Of course, what the community is coming to realize is that we are now fighting for our municipal life with unsustainable tax increases and moribund development efforts, even while surrounding jurisdictions have survived and are even ready to rebound from the National financial meltdown.
    Dr. Theisz’s spirited and loyal defense of the CBC’s near dominant role in city government runs counter to the political philosophy that has sustained and enhanced every American institution from the beginning—that in order to thrive, democratic institutions need serious debate about competing ideas and competition among diverse citizens. For example, on Tuesday, Great Britain will elect a new government. Three parties are vying vigorously in one of the oldest and most distinguished Parliamentary systems in the world-and our National Parties are already gearing up for the November contests. But according to Dr. Theisz, in Falls Church we only need one party. This is both at once an unfathomable position and one which degrades the entire political history of our Nation.

    Unquestionably, the marketplace of ideas must be pursued by elected officials “working together,” but also disagreeing together when needed, and resolving disagreements openly, honestly, and constructively. and appreciation of ideas and organizations.
    In our community, Dr. Theisz, while well intentioned, would better serve this community, in all its diversity, by advocating for these principles. For example, if he wanted to take a real step toward political diversity in our community, rather than another letter to the editor, he could call for the censure of the Mayor’s husband who has adversely impacted the physical and political health of our community with his written attacks on common citizens who have held no office other than trying to do what they believed best for their community.
    These citizens are merely asking for the freedom to allow their ideas to be elevated for serious debate rather than being bullied by a little man who is content to hide behind his spouse and his computer terminal.

  38. Cecily Shea Falls Church City on May 2nd, 2010 9:06 pm

    If anyone wanted to personally talk to a candidate, all one had to do was go the the Farmer’s Market this past Saturday. I found 5 of them within a 15 foot walking distance of each other at 9:15 AM.

  39. Lou Mauro on May 2nd, 2010 10:32 pm

    Barry, I know you and the others on the CBC slate are nothing if not well-intentioned, but, for the umpteenth time, please don’t TELL us that you are not in lock-step as CANDIDATES. In light of the Council majority’s voting history, SHOW US if and when you get ELECTED.

  40. Ron Peppe (Falls Church City) on May 2nd, 2010 11:54 pm

    Lou- I think you are correct that we should think more about what someone will do once in office. I would recommend we look at a candidate’s actual experience than just have faith in what he or she promises. All of the CBC candidates offer a long track record of service on various board and commissions, including the school board and city council. Some of the other candidates do, as well, but some do not. People can love or hate some of our track records (and goodness knows I have heard from folks over the years who are not happy with some of my own decisions as a school board member), but at least there is a record to examine.

    I know I am biased here, but I do agree with you that the school board has tried to be open and deliberative. We worked very hard this year on engaging the public and opening communication with the city council. One of the reasons I am running for city council is to try to bring some experience with that kind of open process to the council.

    I can say without hesitation that the CBC candidates have all pledged to work together on these kinds of improvements, so that we can sustain our independent city and schools.


  41. Barry Buschow on May 3rd, 2010 10:12 am

    Regardless of the outcome….We are all Neighbors and let’s respect our fellow neighbors!!!!! That’s the bottom Line……..

  42. Hannah Jordan on May 3rd, 2010 9:00 pm

    I hope everyone knows that the CBC does not endorse the mayor’s husband’s blog. He is a private citizen and has a right to express his opinion. I am a (new) member of the CBC Executive Committee and I would prefer that he tone down the rhetoric for many reasons-the main one being that we are all neighbors and need to work together, whether we agree with each other’s positions or not. I am speaking as a private citizen and not specifically as a CBC member, of course. (CBC does not take “positions” on issues anyway) In response to Sam Mabry and the “cliquishness” of the CBC: that may have been true at one time, but I don’t think it applies today. I am no insider, but was asked to join the committee last year. I re-read the bylaws before accepting, and decided that I wholly support the principles of the CBC-good city government, responsive to the needs and interests of Falls Church city residents, including good (and independent) schools, good public services, etc. (please see the website for further information). Although you may not agree with individual CBC candidates or a current council member’s stand on a particular issue, I don’t think many citizens would disagree with the CBC principles in general. There is no “group think” among the CBC members and candidates, save caring about our city. I am pleased to see that we have so many citizens willing to run for city council this year. Choice is good for debate and for the overall health of the city.

  43. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on May 3rd, 2010 10:56 pm

    Comment #50 (or whatever this is) probably isn’t the best place to start this discussion again – but I’m still somewhat confused by the CBC. On the one hand the CBC likes to say they don’t take positions on issues (at least that’s what I think I’ve heard) but on the other hand their by-laws have some specific positions on issues (like strong schools – which I agree with).

    I’ve also heard that a big part of the BCB is to help support qualified candidates for City Council and the School Board – but they don’t seem willing to endorse more than 4 (or 3, depending on the election) candidates in any one election. I can see why they do this logistically (it doesn’t make tons of sense to print up yard signs with 5-6 names on it for a 3-4 person election). However, the fact that they only endorse and support candidates for the number of open spots means that they’re not just supporting qualified candidates – they’re supporting a sub-set of the qualified candidates.

    I know this year they changed the system so there was the possibility of them supporting fewer than 4 candidates – but I’m not sure how much that helps the situation.

    My other problem is that there wasn’t much (any?) campaigning before the CBC convention. Each candidate gave an opening statement and then answered a fraction of the questions posed by the audience… and then we voted. We had hardly any info to go on. The four that “won” then get all the backing of the CBC. It all seems kind of confusing and messy to me.

    Personally, I’d like to see more pre-convention campaigning so people have some idea who to support for the CBC nomination. And even better than that would be to have the CBC support however many qualified candidates ask for support. Defining who is qualified might be hard to do.

    I appreciate the fact that the four CBC candidates are willing to work together and have had meetings and conversations. What if Lindy had made the ticket and not John (or Barry or Ron or Hal), would those four not be able to work together? What if all 4 CBC candidates don’t get elected – will the ones who are elected not be able to work well with the other council members?

    It just seems to me that the four CBC candidates were thrown together on decisions by people without tons of information. They didn’t pick each other. I think this means two things:

    1) Unlike past CBC tickets these four probably won’t be on the same side of most issues.

    2) People should probably ignore the CBC endorsement and consider all 8 candidates on their stated positions on the issues that are important, as well as whatever other factors people consider when voting.

  44. Hannah Jordan on May 4th, 2010 8:16 am

    Andy-You make excellent points, many of which have been discussed in the past year at CBC meetings and will surely continue to be discussed. I agree that having more information on the candidates before the actual convention would be helpful. One stumbling block to that is that some candidates were still deciding up until the last minute (I do not remember what the deadline was, but I would surmise that it needs to be moved up a bit). I happen to agree with you about the possibility of endorsing more than the number of open slots on the slate. That was discussed, but the idea did not gain enough traction (yet). Thanks for the input. Happy voting, everyone!

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