Local Commentary

Editorial: Was Falls Church Being Misled?

For our money, it was a laudable outcome at Monday’s Falls Church City Council meeting when the Council wound up voting 7-0 on three ordinances to set the budget for the coming fiscal year. Yes, there are a lot of competing issues, and it is the task of our elected officials to sort through and prioritize them. This Council did a very good job of that, deciding in the end to give the Falls Church City Public Schools the 3 percent cost of living boost it sought for its teachers and staff while overall, the line held well to keep overall costs in check such that the net impact on City taxpayers was a relatively modest one.

We concur with those who argued Monday night that everyone on the Council is acting with the best interests of the City at heart. There’ve been times in the past when we weren’t so confident this was true, causing us to ponder whether some ulterior motive may have slipped in to, say, erode the capacity of the City to maintain its political identity as an independent jurisdiction even while swimming among much bigger fish on all sides.

Frankly, it is not hard to come up with reasons why Falls Church’s jurisdictional neighbors might be encouraging, shall we say, conditions that would lead to an absorption of the City into either Fairfax or Arlington county. The City may be a meager 2.3 square miles, but it has the highest household income and best educated population of all the area and an active and independent-minded public that doesn’t usually take kindly to being told what to do by the arbitrary whims of so-called powerful people.

In our Little City, it has always been the big neighbors who’ve periodically succeeded in making life here indeterminate, and it’s the big boys in the form of Fairfax County and WMATA who now appear to be colluding to optimize their economic development at the West Falls Church Metro station without any interest in bringing Falls Church to the party (see News Briefs, page 8). We are not overly skeptical, but also not too naive to imagine that the “fix was in” years ago when urban planners proposed the City limit its development on its West Falls Church school property to an area sufficiently removed from the Metro station as to yield the big stuff, and big bucks, to someone else.

In fact, this appears likely to be the case. It was made easier for them by narrowly focused locals who didn’t want the football field to be moved, even slightly, to make the City’s bid for a slot right by the Metro station viable.

Others may take an “oh well” attitude toward this. But if it’s true, there was a lot of duplicity and mendacity involved, and to any purveyors of truth or integrity, such constitute egregious violations of core human values. To others, sadly, it is simply “doing business.”