Last week the General Assembly reached the midpoint of its annual session, or "crossover" as it is called in the legislature. At this time in the calendar, the House of Delegates and the Senate have completed work on the bills that were introduced into the respective houses. Any bills that were passed are now sent to the other body for consideration. In order for a bill to become a law it must pass through both houses in identical form and be signed by the governor. When a bill is passed in different form in the two houses, a conference committee with representatives from both legislative bodies is appointed to work out differences in a compromise that must then be approved by both houses.
In case you missed it, the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count took place Feb. 14 to the 17th. This 4-day event takes place in February every year across the county—and last year saw participation expand into 110 other countries. This amazing example of citizen science in action engages birders of all ages in a count that helps create a real time snapshot of bird populations just before birds start their migration back to the north.
To the Editor: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) applauds Virginia state Senator David Marsden (D-37) for his tireless efforts to pass legislation to crack down on fox penning, a brutal blood sport in which wild-caught foxes are released into fenced enclosures and made targets for packs of dogs in gruesome competitions. When the foxes are cornered and forced to fight for their lives, the dogs are also often injured. A bill to place a moratorium on fox pens – S.B. 42 – passed the Senate earlier this week, thanks to Sen. Marsden’s continued efforts to keep the issue of fox penning front and center to ensure that the foxes – and dogs – are protected against this vicious activity.
To the Editor: On Feb. 6, my letter in the Gazette made the suggestion that the county and state should recycle all of the sand we find in our street gutters that was spread to improve traction for vehicles during snowy weather. My letter apparently struck a nerve with my down-the-street neighbor Paul Siegel who replied in last week's Gazette. Mr. Siegel sarcastically characterized my suggestion as the "independent invention of recommended Action C1-2 in Chapter IV of the Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan of 2004" that was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2005. He conceded that, 9 years later, recommended Action C1-2 has not been acted upon.
To the Editor: I am troubled. I can't fathom whether our council members are aloof by design or by nature. Whatever the reason, apart from Silberberg, their collective disdain for the residents they purportedly represent strikes me as arrogance pure and simple. But they are not beyond detecting community discontent. To placate it, an enormous amount of city staff time and more of our money was used to concoct a manual explaining how we the citizenry can interact with them. What chutzpah.
To the Editor: Olin Studio’s third presentation of proposed waterfront landscaping was a community engagement session that showed some small progress in meaningfully engaging the residents of Old Town — those most affected by these changes. It gave small groups of people time to talk together about the two design options, with all tables sharing their opinions in our usual neighborly way.
To the Editor: On Thursday evening, Virginia’s anti-gay-marriage laws were ruled unconstitutional. On Friday the world celebrated the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day. In two days, on Sunday, I will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the day I met the love of my life. We have been in a same-sex marriage for more than 40 years, although our church at the time had to call it a “Holy Union” to avoid running afoul of the laws of Georgia.
To the Edior: The recent district court ruling invalidating the Marshall-Newman Amendment defining marriage in Virginia as limited to one man with one woman is an example of abuse of judicial discretion. Our Constitution’s legitimacy relies on its preamble’s opening words, “We the People.” The U.S. Constitution created the judicial branch, but both the Constitution and the judicial branch it established are subordinate to the People. When the people of 31 out of 50 states reach a consensus, in this instance marriage defined as one man with one woman, the judiciary, even if it can articulate a basis, is insubordinate to the People when it annuls the legal principle they have embraced — especially based on a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling.
To the Editor: (Regarding "Petition Halts Senior Housing Development at Cornwell Farm," Great Falls Connection, February 12-18, 2014).
"Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night…" Have you ever heard that motto before? You have if you’ve been to the New York City General Post Office. It’s not actually the official motto of the post office, but it’s engraved on the front of their building since 1896. Therefore, for the sake of this story, let’s pretend it is.
To the Editor: A recent letter recommended resident-only on-street parking near the waterfront. However, this prescribes the wrong medicine for Old Town's constrained parking. One need only visit blocks in the District or Arlington's Clarendon neighborhood to witness the results of resident-only parking zones. Many of the spaces are left unused in the evening hours, a waste of public resources. On-street parking works best when it is about 85 percent occupied, so that most spaces are in use but turnover occurs frequently enough for a few spaces in each block to remain available at any given time. If demand by residents is far less than the supply, the supply should be opened for use by others.
Virginia is historically slow in extending rights.
In 1967, Virginia was one of 16 states that banned interracial marriage and had criminal penalties for violators. Mildred Jeter, an African-American woman, and Richard Loving a white man, married in 1958, were convicted and banished from living in Virginia for 25 years to avoid serving a one-year prison sentence. On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, overturned the convictions of Mildred and Richard Loving, declaring the ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional.
Not to state the obvious (which I readily admit I do), but to be given a terminal diagnosis: stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, along with a rather disappointing prognosis: "13 months to two years" is a challenging set of extremely unexpected (given my immediate family’s medical history) circumstances. I don’t want to say that I live under a dark cloud – because I don’t like the negative implication or reaction it conjures, but I definitely feel as if I have a metaphorical sword of Damocles hanging over my head; which I only refer to as an-out-of-context Three Stooges reference wherein a non-Stooge was innocently standing under a pie which Moe had thrown to the ceiling and there it stuck, hanging precariously over the character’s head. Now I still don’t know the proper historical context of the sword of Damocles, I only know the Three Stooges version, but there was some imminent danger involved (not death, mind you), but rather a falling pie which ultimately landed flush on the character’s face as she looked up to make further inquiries. Nevertheless, pie issues/references notwithstanding, having seen my oncologist today while being infused and receiving a big smile/ "you’re going great"/thumbs-up set of gestures/reactions while reclining in my Barcalounger with a chemotherapy I.V. dripping medicine into my right arm, is the kind of super-positive feedback with which I can live. Along with my every-three-week pre-chemotherapy lab work and my every-three-month CT Scan followed by my every-three-month face-to-face appointment with my oncologist, this is how I roll. Worrying about upcoming tests, waiting anxiously for results, trying not to anticipate good, bad or indifferent; living day to day and trying to appreciate my good fortune and the unexpected above-average quality of life with which I’ve been blessed – for a terminal cancer patient, that is.
Spring is near; Style, fashion, form, Quality and its purpose — A new day; As yesterday was — Knowledge of tomorrow
To the Editor: During a recent discussion, a member of City Council raised the question as to why the city doesn't have standards for installation of bike lanes, for example, recommendations by width of street, volume of traffic, etc. This is an excellent question.