Arlington County is currently implementing an agreement between the residents of North Fairlington Villages and CBI Fairmac, the sales agent for the recently renovated townhouse project which has been plagued by sewer backups. The agreement was approved 4 to 1 at a meeting last week.
County attorney Jerry Emrich negotiated the agreement on behalf of disgruntled residents. Since September, when the residents first told the board of the problems, a contingent of residents has attended virtually every county board meeting. Some have complained that they felt the board and county staff were not doing enough to help them, although several board members claimed the county was doing all it could legally.
The agreement gives residents a two-year warranty against sewer backups. It also gives the county the power to order CBI Fairmace to clean out sewers which back up two or more times within a nine-month period, unless the management can prove that the backups were caused by residents' negligence.
The agreement stipulates that CBI Fairmace will post a cash bond guaranteeing its implementation of the agreement.
At a meeting last Saturday, Dr. Helen Hackman, the county's human resources director, told the board she is vigorously opposed to guidelines for health care planning proposed by the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia. The HSA is charged by the federal government with making recommendations based on health care needs over a five-year period.
Physicians and hospital administrators have mounted a campaign against the plan, which calls for consolidations in facilities and services to curb the rising health care costs. The plan is supported by several civic associations including the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, which represents more than 100 civic associations in the county.
Hackman called the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which must approve and final plan, "venal." In her capacity as county public health director she branded the plan "a menace to public health."
Hackman likened her stance to that of the hero in the Henrik Ibsen's play, "An Enemy of the People." In that play a public health director in a small Norwegian town discovers that mineral baths responsible for the town's economic prosperity are responsible for illnesses. His crusade against the baths infuriates local residents who ostracize him.
"You would be well within your right to declare me an enemy of the people," Hackman told the board chairman Joseph S. Wholey was visibly angered.
"That is a wonderful and kind offer," said Wholey through clenched teeth. He asked Hackman if she planned to pursue her opposition to the HSA plan on her own time, Hackman said she would continue to look to the board and county manager Ford for direction on the matter.
"You don't want to declare me an enemy of the people?" Hackman asked. "If you want me, I'm available."
"Thank you very much, Dr. Hackman," Wholey concluded.