Option for Leesburg School

Instead of trying to renovate the old North Street and Douglass support facility sites for a new elementary school or put the school in an office park in the congested southeast quadrant of Leesburg, why don't Loudoun County public school officials consider building a neighborhood school for the southwest Leesburg communities ["Office Sites Weighed for New School in Leesburg," Loudoun Extra, Sept. 26]?

There are several tracts for sale on South King Street, some of which are zoned for gas stations and hotels. I would think residents of Woodlea Manor, Greenway Farms and Country Club Estates would rather have a school their kids can walk or bicycle to instead of a gas station.

In turn, the school system should transfer the faculty and staff from Evergreen Mill Elementary School (where these kids currently attend) so there is continuity. That would open the building for newly built communities and ones that are closer to that site. Sidewalks also should be added to Evergreen Mill Road so kids can walk to Evergreen Mill, Simpson Middle School and Heritage High.

Being able to walk or bike to school would reduce the number of buses and cars transporting kids to Evergreen Mill in the morning. It was a primary reason I chose to live in Tavistock Farms, where Cool Spring Elementary is right in the neighborhood.

As for the new Leesburg High School, I would suggest the school system purchase the Paxton Hall site to accommodate a new building for Leesburg Elementary School and then convert the existing Leesburg Elementary to a high school. This would require the town to dedicate the park at Plaza and Battlefield Parkway for the high school.

But it would be a win-win situation for the neighbors, who are still living with the threat of Paxton being developed and its rogue Board of Trustees seeking to destroy the 19th-century Carlheim mansion on that site. The Paxton Hall land provides enough acreage for an elementary school, and the historic mansion could be resold by the school system for offices or condos.

Ken Reid


The Developers' Prayer

Just 10 houses per acre,

It's all that we ask,

And we'll go to our Maker

Fulfilling our task.

Could you throw in a ballpark,

And a new mall or two?

What about a tall Wal-Mart

(Split the kickbacks with you)?

Would it seem to you greedy

To ask for new roads?

Or insufferably seedy

For new building codes?

We can handle the pols,

Their venality's easy.

What we need are some goals

That don't seem too sleazy.

Send us forth with your blessing

To buy up more farms,

Keep our growth effervescing,

Our bad deal from alarms.

Lend strength to our chainsaws,

Don't send us to jail.

Ours is a great cause:

"Let money prevail!"

David Stewart


Doubting Bush on Iraq

Americans live in a presidential election world that is divided by candidates who put forth differing assessments on the war in Iraq. The president was greeted with a cool assessment by world leaders at the United Nations, and a National Intelligence Estimate appeared to undermine his assertions about conditions in Iraq. Individuals such as Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), a number of Republican senators, professionals in the intelligence community and other citizens have asked that the NIE, an authorized report, be released to the public. I support this.

The NIE offers a less-than-rosy view of Iraq, in stark contrast to the view from the stump. I offer the following comment to President Bush: In many of your speeches and chosen comments to the press, you say "the American people understand." In doing so, you move from having to make statements of personal accountability, passively imploring for our compassion. But on issues of truth, what you need to know is there is a difference between understanding and belief. I understand many things, but I believe very little in you as president and in many of the things that you say.

Jay Cusay


Perilous Budget Deficit

President Bush, Sen. John F. Kerry and Ralph Nader are not worthy of my vote. Can we have another choice, please? Let's look at one glaring problem that Bush sweeps under the carpet. Bush believes that large sustained budget deficits do not pose a threat to our nation's economic future.

The facts are quite clear. If deficits don't matter, then there is no reason for politicians and the public to worry about them. In reality, the reason to be concerned about deficits is that over the long run, they really do matter.

No single year's deficit will harm the economy. But the accumulation of large deficits year after year burdens future taxpayers and undermines future living standards by soaking up national savings and crowding out productive investments. It puts upward pressure on interest rates, reduces the fiscal flexibility to deal with unexpected developments and raises the cost of servicing the national debt.

On our current path, the deficit will soar from about 4 percent of gross domestic product to a ruinous 12 percent of GDP by 2030. Clearly, this path is not viable. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Bush has no problem with $445 billion deficits for the foreseeable future. Americans should demand better. Since Bush doesn't care and Kerry is no better, our only choice is to hold Sens. George Allen (R-Va.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) responsible for this fiscal mess with no positive end in sight.

So Allen, Warner and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), do you believe that large sustained budget deficits pose a threat to our nation's economic future? Please back up your response with facts, not rhetoric. To put it in perspective, even assuming a robust economic recovery, to balance the budget we would need to cut the entire defense budget or cut all non-defense domestic spending or eliminate Medicare and Medicaid or eliminate Social Security.

During other difficult times, such as World War II and the Korean War, when domestic spending was cut and taxes raised, Americans have shown a willingness to lead and not push all of the costs of today's decisions onto future generations.

Eric Cuthbert


Reality of Bad Marriages

Contrary to the statement of the Rev. Jack Stagman of the Loudoun Church Alliance ["Religious Groups Nurturing Marriage," Metro, Sept. 28], equality for same-sex couples was very much an issue at the Healthy Marriage Initiative Summit -- but not because we brought it up. In fact, one of the speakers was an activist who traveled from Washington state to promote an anti-marriage equality rally on the Mall.

My question for Marriage Savers, however, had nothing to do with this issue. The emphasis on "preventing bad marriages before they happen" by the use of intensive premarital counseling and inventories shows that Marriage Savers recognizes that there are marriages that should never have taken place. Its protocol for couples who are already married, however, rejects that possibility, insisting that these "bad marriages" must be saved, and I questioned the lack of internal consistency this suggested.

My partner and I attended the summit because we wholeheartedly support the goal of strengthening marriages and families. In our view, healthy marriages are more likely when people are free to marry the person of one's choice.

David Weintraub