'Strange Bedfellows'

'Strange Bedfellows'

Letter to the Editor

After reading in this past week's Connection's Election Letters' section ["Setting the Record Straight," Connection, Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2005], Liz Bradsher's rather revisionist-history review of how Del. Dave Albo (R-42) "certainly did assist ... getting the South County Secondary School built ..." and how the idea of both Albo's opponent, Greg Werkheiser (D), and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to use the proceeds from the proposed relocation of the existing FCPS' Lorton Transportation Administration Unit up to the currently-available and ready-made former Lorton Prison's Reformatory Administration Building as a way to leverage county funds for the planned new South County Middle School is such a bad idea, I now better understand the meaning of the old phrase, "politics makes strange bedfelllows."

For in fact, as one of the several parents (and grandparents in my case) who worked with Liz, Lisa Adler, Cathy Kost and Elaine O'Hora in that very hectic early-on 1999-2002 time-period of gaining community, political and financial support for the original South County High School at its current Laurel Hill site, it was Liz herself who was one of the most vocal critics of Del. Albo's all-fluff/no-substance political-grandstanding vis-a-vis his then-campaign rhetoric as to how he and he alone had discovered the "long-lost Holy Grail" for solving the South County High School funding problem. Those of us who were actually closely involved in those initial discussions with the Board of Supervisors and the School Board and even in the early-on/what-if meetings with Del. Albo vis-a-vis potential state support — are quite aware that in fact neither the so-called "Albo-Rust Plan" nor anything else Albo did or proposed during that brief time-period had any real impact on getting the new school approved or actually funded and built.

In addition, to add even more fuel to the other "how quickly we forget" fire or to "the pot calling the kettle black" twisted-irony that Liz regales us with in her letter — vis-a-vis Werkheiser's and others' proposal to sell off the old Lorton School property so as to help FCPS with money for expediting not only the needed SCMS but also the rest of the FCPS' unfunded facilities' program — I am reminded of the letter Liz shared almost exactly five years ago with the School Board and others (including myself as the then co-chair of the county's Laurel Hill Planning Task Force) that essentially proposed the very same thing and asked for our support for this very creative proposal, but without all the reactionary or negative vitriol that she has used in her most recent letter on this same subject. She also seems to have forgotten that both Supervisors Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) and Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) have had under discussion with FCPS and School Board leadership this very relocation for almost a year now (to help effectuate the exceptionally-positive community-serving construction of the long-sought Lorton/South County Inova Healthplex) and that some quiet BOS/SB discussions as to relocating the FCPS' Lorton Transportation Unit at either of the South County Area's EPG or its Laurel Hill sites have been underway for about as long. By the way, although Liz was not on the most recent Laurel Hill Planning Task Force from its very inception, she should have been aware during her time on the task force that the final task force recommendations (accepted by the Board of Supervisors less than one year ago) did actually propose that the Reformatory-Penitentiary Adaptive Reuse Area become a so-called "mixed-use area" (i.e., for commercial/office-retail, public-institutional, educational and limited residential uses), that recent land-sale prices in Lorton are now in the $1.3 million/acre range (making the 4.23-acre Lorton School parcel worth almost $6 million), that Fairfax County stands to also save $6.4 million (by not having to renovate/replace the Lorton Transportation Unit at its existing site) and that there have been estimates by some firms to renovate the Reformatory Administration Building for office/educational uses that would cost far less than the "... well over several million dollars ..." she mentioned in her letter.

In closing, I could bore your readers even more with all sorts of other "real/ancient history factoids" as to what did or did not happen and what was or was not said back in the good old days when Liz Bradsher, as our exceptionally dedicated and ever-so-talented and skillful leader of the Hayfield Pyramid Solutions Group, was "on the right and relatively-speaking non-partisan side" of this amazingly successful pro-community educational campaign. However, I will end with one final thought that I and others of our South County Schools' Alliance (of which the HPSG was a part) used to use as our slogan during that campaign: "Nothing You Do for Children ... Is Ever Wasted." I would like to believe that Liz and Mssrs. Albo and Werkheiser continue to have that very same objective in the way they carry-out their personal and political lives today; I would only hope that we can all soon come together and work on making sure that that ideal is actually implemented once again for all of God's children and grandchildren — whether here in southern Fairfax County or in Richmond.

Neal McBride

E-mail Submission

The author of this letter is the former chair and member, Laurel Hill Planning Task Forces' #1,2 & 3; former president, Lorton Federation; former Mount Vernon District Education Bond representative; coordinator, South County Schools' Alliance; and Newington Forest Community Association's liaison and alternate liaison to the Mount Vernon Council and South Springfield Alliance, respectively.