Meals tax issue fraught

with misinformation

Dear Editor,

Fairfax County voters have an important decision to make this November regarding the future of our schools, services, and communities. Unfortunately, the conversation is being distorted by meals tax opponents who—through ignorance or deceit—are spreading material misinformation about the scope of the proposed meals tax.

One of the latest false claims is that, with a meals tax, “[a]ll ready-to-eat prepared foods sold in the county, by anybody, to anybody” would be taxed. This claim ignores significant exceptions that are required by law and that the county has publically acknowledged.

The numerous exceptions that allow for ready-to-eat prepared foods to be obtained meals-tax free would potentially affect: (1) industrial workers; (2) restaurant employees; (3) religious observers; (4) students and school employees; (5) patients and residents at hospitals, nursing homes, etc.; (6) parents using day care centers; (7) homes for the aged, infirm, handicapped, battered women, narcotic addicts, or alcoholics; (8) age-restricted apartment complex residents; (9) supporters of nonprofits and other organizations that serve meals as fundraisers; (10) users of certain charitable services such as Meals on Wheels and others.

Furthermore, Fairfax County can, and should, explicitly exempt prepared food and beverages if purchased through programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the food program for Women, Infants & Children. Both Richmond and Middlesex County have shown that such exemptions, which help protect our most vulnerable citizens, are possible.

Jason V. Morgan


Reader: Climate

change is real and previous letter writer is wrong

Dear Editor,

Tom Harris, Executive Director of International Climate Science Coalition(ICSC), recently responded with disfavor to Rev. Dr. Jean Wright’s comments August 21st regarding the absence of Climate Change within the Fairfax County’s “2007 Environmental Vision” statement.

I do not profess to be an expert on climate change or environmental concerns, but I am astute enough to agree that climate change/global warming is indeed taking place (whether one believes it is because of pollution and/or natural causes)! Anyone like Reverend Wright who speaks to the importance of including this environmental concern in a mission statement for society’s benefit/ consideration is to be applauded and commended for their thoughtfulness.

Climate change is real. Pollution is real (and rampant). Anyone refusing to acknowledge such realities cannot be very connected the importance of nature on the planet on which we live. We humans certainly may not be, as Tom Harris asserts, able to “regulate earth’s climate merely by reducing C02 emissions”, but we can most certainly have a favorable impact on air quality and pollution levels. (I doubt that many of us would choose to return to car engines from the 1960s and believe it would be possible to easily breathe in today’s urban areas.)

Tom Harris’s International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) has only about 140 “climate scientists” on their world wide register. “ ICSC keeps the identity of donors strictly confidential to protect their privacy and safety.” So there is no easy way to know what types of (wealthy) naysayers are donating to the ICSC.

The ICSC Registry Statement reads “We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.” (note “dangerous”)

Interested persons can more clearly understand what the ICSC is about by watching the ICSC you-tube videos, and reading the mission statement.

No matter the cause of climate change, it is happening. ICSC is critical of environmental activists’ efforts seek change in governments to their attitudes about climate change.

Just as Reverend Wright wrote about their native Alaska guide who stated he was glad for the environmental activists involved with the Trans Alaska Pipeline “because it made the pipeline safer”! Result: improved technology, improved safety for humans, animals, and the environment overall. The environmentalists accomplished much that ultimately saved money and helped protect the lands and its inhabitants.

Putting down environmentalists and socially responsible policies around greenhouse-gas emissions (generated by humans!), is simply wrong. It almost seems that Tom Harris thinks excess CO2 is a benefit, that CO2 is getting a bad rap, and that efforts to protect our environment with clean and sustainable energy sources is wrong. I disagree. You have to start somewhere to protect the children and the environment.

Douglas Willard


Reader: Letter writer’s blithe denial of CO2 emissions is dangerous and wrong

Dear Editor,

Tom Harris’s letter in the August 26-28 Fairfax Times was way off base in attempting to poke some holes in a December 2015 letter from the Rev. Dr. Jean Wright about the urgent need for Virginia officials and utilities to act to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. Mr. Harris belittles the very real (and dangerous) effects of CO2 emissions on climate, which have been backed by a majority of the scientific community. By arguing that CO2 is not “‘dirty’, like graphite or soot”, he apparently hopes to convince readers that efforts to control CO2 emissions are irrelevant to the health of people today. This blithe denial of reality can have an unfortunate stagnating effect on climate policy.

While CO2 is necessary to life on earth, unbridled emissions are a significant contributor – no one says it is the only cause – to reaching the danger zone of climate warming likely to occur in the next few decades. (Recent studies suggest the danger zone will be reached even sooner than 2050, as was previously predicted.) I’ve lived in Fairfax County for 33 years, and I’m a long-term Unitarian Universalist, and I care about what happens to our community. Contrary to Mr. Harris’s assertion, now is the time to set limits on carbon pollution, like those in President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that he dismisses, and to enact energy efficiency measures to keep dangerous fossil fuels in the ground. Rev. Wright’s letter is well worth re-reading. I urge Gov. McAuliffe and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to heed reality and pass policies that will protect us. Climate change is real, it is here, and now is the time to act.

David Culp


Reader: Climate denier not a scientist

Dear Editor,

Why are you giving print space in our local paper to some pseudo-scientist from Canada?

The ICSC is an organization run by four guys from unrelated fields that have “less to do with science than with public relations.” They reportedly take money originating from ExxonMobil so that they can write to local newspapers casting doubt on the realities of climate change.

Most Americans are not falling for their rhetoric, and correctly agree with the vast majority of scientists when it comes to climate change: The fact is that climate change is real, it is happening now, it affects us all, and it is caused predominantly by human activities (deforestation and the use of fossil fuels – oil, coal, and gas). This is the universally accepted, scientific consensus.

The IPCC, a panel of thousands of current researchers, authors and experts, from over 130 countries, has put together the most recent climate science findings, and they have reached the following conclusion:

“The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

Please don’t say that in the interest of journalistic fairness, all viewpoints deserve to be presented regardless of scientific fact. If that’s your argument, you’ll have to print the next letter that comes along trying to con people into thinking that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it.

Marge Landis