To the Editor: To all the neighbors (yes, neighbors, plural) on the south side of Old Courthouse Road between Course Street and Pine Valley whose sidewalks I shoveled today: Don’t thank me, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for all the kids – including mine – who walk to school, or who would, if only there were a safe pathway to walk. I know the sidewalks probably don’t seem important to you; after all, once you cleared your driveway, you’re pretty much good, going straight from your car into your house through the garage or carport. You may even think the sidewalks aren’t even your responsibility, being public property and all. (You’re wrong on both counts.
We live near the newly established Fairfax Connector Bus 432 route to the Spring Hill metro station. The bus will begin running when the Silver Line starts operating in a few months. This one-way bus route will run along residential streets in Fairfax County and the Town of Vienna. A portion of the route connects Old Courthouse Road and Beulah Road via Creek Crossing Road, East Street NE, and Church Street NE. Last May, 95% of residents of these three streets and contiguous side streets signed a petition to the County requesting a route adjustment. Among many alternatives acceptable to us, we proposed routing the bus to continue up Old Courthouse to Beulah, maintaining service for our neighbors on Old Courthouse and Beulah Road who want the bus. Our repeated requests have been denied.
I made it. It’s five years after receiving a terminal diagnosis on February 27, 2009 from my oncologist: stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, accompanied by a "13-month to two-year" prognosis. Let’s be honest, medical professionals don’t toss around the word "terminal" because you’re going to be treated at an airport. Presumably, they know their facts and figures as well as the patient’s present condition, confirmed by a variety of diagnostic results from X-Rays, CT Scans, P.E.T. Scans, lab work and of course the ever-popular biopsy, so their diagnosis/prognosis is a bit more than an educated guess. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule and until proven otherwise, I was not about to succumb to their statistics. Still, based on the best medical knowledge available at the time, this patient (yours truly) was given a limited life expectancy and encouraged to take the vacation I had always dreamed of – for obvious you’re-life-is-now-shorter-than-you-ever-imagined-type reasons, and yet, five years hence, here I am.
To the Editor: Public opinion on the subject of marriage is being systematically “stamped-out” in Virginia. Where it conflicts with the will of the State, conscience holds no bearing — so says the Obama faction. This causes me to think a mistake was made (inadvertently, I’m sure) when the editorial, written by Mary Kimm, was published in the Feb. 20 edition of the Gazette. It was placed under the subject heading, “Opinion,” which surely offends the worldview of those (like Obama) who’ve gone to such great lengths to ensure there is no opinion, beyond that of the State. In response to her curious recital, I submit the following observations: Homosexuality is religion. It is dark, humanist religion. The religion of those who hate God. It is agnosticism (Gk., ignorance), deliberately carried into practice, by those “in pursuit of a vain thing.”
Prior to 1996, I had not given much thought to same sex marriage. Then, in September of that year, DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was passed. Now DOMA confused me. I really did not understand why marriage needed defending. If gay people got married, would that make me want to abandon my wife or make me want to become a gay man? What nonsense! If gays adopted kids who needed homes, wouldn’t that be a good thing, and how was it different from an infertile straight couple who adopted? If gays had legally-recognized families, would they do any worse with the institution of marriage than straight people who for years have sported a 50 percent divorce rate? In November 1996, as a member of City Council, I proposed that we include in our legislative package a same-sex marriage proposal for consideration by the Virginia General Assembly. Hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. That was the first legislative proposal for same-sex marriage in Virginia, maybe the first in the country. It didn’t pass, but I can tell you it made for some very interesting politics in my next election six months later.
To the Editor: Is the “Complete Streets” policy adopted by Alexandria also to be termed “complete idiocy?” After listening to two hours of testimony before Council recently about the proposal to eliminate parking and put bike lanes on a stretch of King Street, the question occurs to me as a cogent one. The idea of Complete Streets seems like a reasonable idea. More people are using bicycles rather than automobiles to get around and bicycle rights-of-way in the past have been enormously unclear. Complete streets is touted as a way to accommodate cars, pedestrians and bicycles. Unfortunately, some very questionable planning decisions are being made in the name of the concept. For example, the Duke Street transportation plan calls for a bike path to be built on the south side of that major artery, separated from the street traffic and from pedestrian sidewalks. While that might seen like good idea, it would require condemning a strip of land, all now private property, to construct the bike lane. Thus homeowners on Duke, roughly from Jordan east to Wheeler, would lose a healthy chunk of their already small front yards.
Last week, the initial skirmish over the state budget erupted in the Virginia legislature. The proposed House and Senate budgets are significantly different in how they address elementary-secondary education. Virginia provides about 23 percent of Fairfax County’s public school funding. The federal government pays about 5 percent and the remainder comes from Fairfax County, which is largely funded by real estate taxes. The only Northern Virginia County with lower real estate taxes is Arlington County.
To the Editor: It is unfortunate and, I daresay, disappointing that Mayor William Euille, an otherwise serious and thoughtful African American, apparently felt compelled to issue a proclamation, on behalf of the City Council, honoring the Confederate General Robert E. Lee (opinion, Jan. 23-29). Euille should have considered the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who upon hearing of Lee's death in 1870, wrote: "We can scarcely take up a newspaper that is not filled with nauseating flatteries of Lee, from which it would seem … that the soldier who killed the most men in battle, even in a bad cause, is the greatest Christian, and entitled to the highest place in heaven."
To the Editor: In reading the exchange from the two residents of Stratford Landing, I would like to add this. As a dog walker in this neighborhood I have noticed that there is not enough sand still lying in the street to justify the effort, especially when you consider that most of that sand is mixed with soil, road residue and decaying leaves.
To the Editor: State Senate Bill 510 — prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of the misdemeanors of stalking, sexual battery, or assault and battery of a family member, from possessing a firearm for a period of five years following their conviction, after which their gun rights would be automatically restored — passed the Virginia State Senate with bipartisan support. It then went to a sub-committee in the House of Delegates, where it quickly died.
One essential step in successful negotiations is to anticipate what the other side needs or wants and attempt to come as close as possible to that position to arrive at a compromise. This process is followed effectively on a daily basis in businesses, families, and legislatures. While the rhetoric has been harsh from the Republican majority in the House of Delegates about not approving an expansion of Medicaid in the state, I understood their partisan and ideological stance but was confident that some middle ground, or as Governor McAuliffe calls it “common ground,” could be reached. My optimism is starting to wane.
To the Editor: Disappointment was the general sentiment of the Oakcrest community when we heard that no action was to be taken by the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 11 concerning our SEA. However, we appreciate the responsibility displayed by Supervisor Hudgins in her motion to defer, because we understand the importance of a thorough, fair review of our application. There has been an intense level of community involvement in this SEA process, coordinated by Supervisor Hudgins. Oakcrest met with the surrounding community in a series of well attended meetings with the Hunter Mill Land Use Committee from January through March of 2013. We met directly with representatives of the Hunter Mill Defense League and had discussions with their traffic consultant in order engage in healthy dialogue about our amendment proposal.
To the Editor: Thanks to Senator Barbara Favola, the Virginia General Assembly had the opportunity to keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of sexual battery and the assault of family members, not permanently, but for five years following the conviction. Research shows that, in domestic conflicts, victims are five times more likely to be murdered when the abusive person has a gun. Those who advocate for gun rights oppose many reforms, like background checks, claiming they would not stop “the bad guy with the gun.” This bill, however, was designed to do precisely that – keep guns from convicted bad guys – yet it was opposed, too. This likely life-saving legislation (SB 510) had bi-partisan support in the Virginia Senate but was defeated by the Republicans in charge of the House Courts of Justice Committee. Shame on them. They do not deserve the honor of serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is time we had leaders who choose to protect victims and the vulnerable rather than criminals. Ame Burgoyne McLean
I am the human member of our own community center. It is called the barn. I share it with three Arabian mares, some winter birds, and too many mice. On snowy mornings, like the ones in these photos, I must traverse a too steep slope to feed some very impatient horses. I start the journey armed with my pitchfork poised like a staff for balance. While breakfast satisfies the hungry muzzles stretched toward me, I grab a hammer and begin to crack the ice in their water buckets. These are not average barn buckets. They are bright yellow and hang in each stall like spring daffodils blooming on the end of a double snap. Actually, they must be art because I found them at MOMA in New York City. I still wonder how buckets for horses could find their way into a museum shop but, they were spectacular and now they are mine.
During last Thursday’s budget debate, the General Assembly considered the budgets proposed by each chamber. The biggest sticking point continues to be Medicaid expansion, which the Senate budget included but the House budget did not. I vigorously support Medicaid expansion because it’s critical to the 400,000 individuals who could obtain health insurance coverage and would create as many as 30,000 new healthcare jobs. As required by federal law, Medicaid currently covers “mandatory eligibility groups” such as children and pregnant women and gives states the flexibility to cover “optional eligibility groups.” In Virginia, this includes a small fraction of disabled adults not needing long-term care services and working parents with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). All childless adults making less than 138 percent of the FPL and many more disabled adults and working parents would now be eligible for coverage. The expansion would allow individuals with incomes below $16,105 (or $32,913 for a family of four) to qualify.