Regarding your profiles of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ["Private Lives," Fairfax Extra, Sept. 23], I find it strange that not one of the supervisors mentioned his or her most favorite pastime of all -- kissing developers' behinds.
Peeved by Trivia
Call me a grouch, but do we really need to treat elected public servants as mini-celebrities a la Britney Spears? Does anyone really care whether a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors likes "carrot cake with cream-cheese icing" or thinks that Universal Studios in Hollywood is the most interesting place they've ever visited?
Many of us would rather know their views on local taxation, education issues or other matters that are of concern in our daily lives. Maybe it's harder to get a straight answer from a politician on these subjects than a "pet peeve," but as a responsible newspaper, shouldn't you try, rather than devote several pages of valuable space to trivia?
On TJ Decision
You have to give the social engineers who constitute the Fairfax County School Board full credit. Not content merely to undermine the concept of merit in admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology with a misguided imposition of diversity, the board now has decided to squeeze an additional 50 students annually into an underfunded physical plant already at capacity ["TJ to Admit More Freshmen," Metro, Sept. 24].
As do other parents of TJ students, my wife and I voluntarily contribute hundreds of dollars each year to enable our children to fully participate in academic and athletic endeavors partially or completely unfunded by the county or commonwealth. The reward, facilitated so ably by the combined efforts of students, faculty, administration and parent volunteers, is arguably the most accomplished public high school in the country.
But like all liberals, the board (their motto: "If it ain't broke, screw it up!") cannot countenance a system based on competence. Apparently the extraordinarily high percentage of incredibly talented Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian youngsters are not the proper shade of nonwhite to assuage the centuries-old guilt the board members inexplicably retain in their genetic material.
If they had the slightest clue about how special TJ is, their sole official action would be to increase its funding. If they are sociologically compelled to jerk their knees, let them establish another magnet school in Fairfax County that comports with their peculiar ideals, and let each school seek its own level of success.
Taxing and Spending,
Looking the Other Way
I read the editorial "Tax Cap Folly" [Sept. 26], which discussed a question on the Nov. 2 ballot in Montgomery County that would force the council there to freeze property tax receipts, after adjustments for inflation and new construction, with no exceptions.
I must say that I understand the frustration of Montgomery County residents. However, we don't have such problems in Fairfax County. We have barrels and barrels of money (an almost unlimited supply), and we spend it.
In fact, the Board of Supervisors elected last November was told by the voters that a tax cap does not work in Fairfax County.
Candidates who proposed a cap on new property tax revenue (including Republican board chairman candidate Mychelle B. Brickner) were soundly rejected by the voters, for the most part.
As in Montgomery County, Fairfax County public spending has far outstripped inflation over the past few years. The apparent difference in Fairfax is that voters don't seem to care.
Just the latest example. Fairfax County ended up this year with $48.7 million in carryover funds -- money that could have been used to offset property tax increases for 2005, another double-digit tax increase year.
Guess what the board did? You guessed it. They found ways to spend almost all of it. Kind of tells one where its priorities are, doesn't it?
I have not heard one Fairfax County voter express any concern.
Fairfax voters either agree with the tax and spending of the Board of Supervisors, don't care or are not paying attention. I suspect voter apathy. If apathy is the problem, those voters are paying dearly for their inattention.
Maybe a half-dozen, if we are lucky, of the nearly 1 million residents of Fairfax County would take notice if they knew that 2005 will very likely bring us yet another year of double-digit property tax increases. Check it out. I have, but I can't find a single person in Fairfax County who is interested.
Yes, that's about it -- home sale prices to date point to yet another year of double-digit assessments, with double-digit tax increases for 2005.
Don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Start with your supervisor, and remember what he or she tells you next year when assessments come out.
But if you are like the vast majority, you will ignore the situation and pay the tax. So, Montgomery County taxpayers who like to tax and spend, come to Fairfax County. We have those two things tuned to a fine art.
James E. Foster