Updates from Letty – November 25, 2020

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

With the approaching holiday, my update is hitting your inboxes early and will be short and sweet. We did cover important business, so I hope you take a few minutes to read and take action in between your modified holiday plans. We received a briefing from the health department on COVID-19, an update on the Police Use of Force Review Committee, and voted on several items, including asking our boards and commissions to begin equity reviews in their respective policy areas.

If you take away nothing else this week – remember this: the CDC reported last week that more than 50% of COVID-19 cases come from asymptomatic transmission, highlighting the importance of mask-wearing whenever you’re in public. The health department affirmed that the current surge of COVID-19 is attributed to people letting their guards down via casual and seemingly innocuous activity. It is difficult for governments to regulate those behaviors, so we need everyone to do their part to change the course. Don’t let 9 months of effort go to waste.

City Council’s next meeting will be December 7th, which will be a joint work session at the beginning with the School Board, kicking off the start of the next budget cycle. My posts will resume then. In the meantime, I am thinking about remaining thankful this Thanksgiving. As you look for different yet meaningful ways to celebrate safely, remember to keep “living local” to support our small businesses and neighbors who are less fortunate.

Take care,

What Happened This Week:

(1) City Council Work Plan & Equity Reviews
Thank you for all the input regarding my thoughts on the school renaming last week. As I’ve written before, we all play a role in social and racial justice. We voted this week to cascade our work plan to our Boards & Commissions, with a specific request for them to “contribute to a review of all City programs, projects, and services through the lens of racial and socioeconomic equity” with recommendations due back to us in March 2021. Example policy changes could be akin to the elimination of library fines (which we found disproportionately impact families that could use access to library resources the most), ensuring transportation investments are equitably distributed across the city, and tasking the Historical Commission to review names of City buildings, parks, and other public places. 

(2) Police Use of Force 
We received an update from our Police Use of Force Review Committee, which we know is an important topic for our community. Since the summer, they’ve been thoughtfully reviewing current policies and 5 years of use of force data. We will be extending their charter until February 2021. If you haven’t yet taken the survey to collect the community’s experiences with our Police and Sheriff departments, it is open until next Friday, December 4th.

(3) First reading votes
As I wrote last week, we took first reading votes on several items (see last week’s post), including granting December 24 and 31 as additional holidays and small one-time hazard pay for City staff, similar to what school staff are receiving.

What’s Coming Up:

Remaining City Council Meetings in 2020:

December 7
December 14

City Council Meetings start at 730 pm, unless otherwise specified. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings including virtual Board & Commission meetings: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings