Archived Story

Contemptuous and irresponsible

Published 8:44pm Saturday, January 19, 2013

There was one big difference between Wednesday’s meeting of the Suffolk City Council and the one in April when members decided to withdraw a proposal to give City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn a 21-percent raise. This time, nobody knew about the plan to give the city manager a significant bump in salary except a few council members.

Without advance public notice about the proposal, City Council chambers on Wednesday were largely devoid of the citizens who had showed up back in April to demonstrate their opposition to giving Cuffee-Glenn such a large raise while other city employees — including teachers and firefighters and police officers — had to accept slight adjustments that equated to cost-of-living increases, at best.

Without a roomful of angry voters and others holding picket signs on the sidewalk outside, council members on Wednesday voted to give the city manager a 14-percent increase in salary and then made the raise retroactive to Dec. 1. There was a brief public discussion of the issue following a closed session. In the public session, council members said Cuffee-Glenn deserved the raise for her hard work and for her contribution to improving the quality of life in Suffolk.

Maybe she does deserve a raise. She surely puts in significant hours, and the city has experienced a number of improvements during her tenure as city manager.

But members of the City Council do not work for Cuffee-Glenn. They work for the citizens of Suffolk, who spoke in near unanimity last year to say the raise should not be granted. Council is responsible to those citizens for its actions, not to Cuffee-Glenn. That responsibility should give members a strong sense of accountability for the things they do.

By choosing to make this decision without prior public notification, by doing so with only minimal public discussion and by taking this action outside of the normal budget process, when the public would have had a chance to respond to it, council members have demonstrated they feel no such accountability to the people who pay the taxes that must fund the city manager’s salary.

Members of the Suffolk City Council have made a big deal in recent years of having an open government. Wednesday’s action, which smacks of secrecy and a disdain for the wishes of taxpayers, proves how shallow council’s commitment to open government really is, and it testifies to a certain level of disrespect for the people of Suffolk.

Rather than cheerleading for the city manager and attempting to justify their actions, as some members did the day after their decision last week, Suffolk’s elected officials should have hung their heads in shame for the contemptuous way they treated the people who put them in the seats on the council chamber’s dais.

  • Johnny

    Charles Parr, Jeff Gardy and Linda Johnson have treated their civic positions as business opportunities for years. They are detestable at best. I beg of my fellow citizens to elects new, young, eager council members and a new mayor as soon as we get the chance. Corruption and greed does not suit our city well.

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  • chief601

    Well said, sir!

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  • happyGoLucky

    I like the idea one poster had…Someone needs to organize a spontaneous protest starting with targeting the business of these cowards. Start with Parr then Duman. There will be a Presidents day sale I’m sure…all car dealers have them. Great day for pickets and signs and the whole fanfare. Most people are off work so a good day to do it.

    Milteer should be ousted for knowing what was going on all along yet not saying anything about it. I’m sure his constituents new nothing about it…can’t picket him…heck he doesn’t even have a cell phone…not that he would return calls anyway.

    Does Gardy still practice law?? protest at his sham of a law office…and deface University of Richmond sweatshirts, his Alma Mata LoL…

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  • 4ever cynical

    This is as corrupt an organization I have ever seen! I am ashamed to live here. These clowns represent their self interests only… and no one will vote them out. We get what we get.

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  • guyr

    Well, obviously a majority of voters elected Linda Johnson mayor once again for another term. I didn’t vote for her because I keep up with what’s going on with our elected leaders. I think most people base their voting decisions on the candidate who has the most “vote for me” signs all over the city instead of taking the time to discover how they stand on the issues. To all those who voted for Johnson and the other council members you don’t agree with, you’re now getting what you voted for.

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  • bfhirsch34

    If our elected concil members have no regard for the citizens that elected them, and until the next election and into the future we can hit them where it hurts. They own businesses and it takes those same citizens to keep those businesses profitable, TAKE your business elsewhere.
    Sometimes you have to hit where it hurts before they listen.

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    This all started when the Parr/Johnson team realized that the mayor’s seat was in Jeopardy. By bringing on Bredemeyer as a dummy canidate just to pull votes from Mr. Bennett, they keep Johnson in a seat that allowed her and her conies ( Parr, Gardy, and evidently Duman now)to control this city any way they want to with out any regard to what the citizens want. I know Johnson, Parr, Gardy, and Duman and while I thought they would be good for the Council, it is apparent now they are just self centered and should resign immediatly. They are only in it to look out for there own good and if any one has ideas on how to remove them from office please let us know. It’s time to clear house. Duman, Gardy, Johnson, Parr, Milteer, Brown, and of course Selena and her over paid staff must go in order to get this city on the right track.

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  • jhuxster

    Excellent editorial that hits the proverbial nail on the head. However, it’s not a new attitude from city council. Vice Mayor Brown showed his true colors in April when he attacked those of us who said the CM did not deserve a pay raise of this magnitude and questioned the study’s validity. Government studies are like statistics–you can manipulate them to say whatever you want them to say.

    The contemptuous and irresponsible attitude of the council displayed in this action will continue. Like the current president, they believe they are a law unto themselves. They will continue do as they please and could care less about what the people who pay the bills think. If Parr and Duman think giving the city manager a raise of this nature is wise, prudent business they should do the same with their money for their employees. I doubt that will ever happen. I had several conversations with Councilman Parr when he first came onto the council. I thought he would make a difference. Now, he’s as bad as the rest. In the end, nothing will be done until we decided we’re mad enough and we’re not going to take it anymore. Otherwise, this council will continue to be contemptuous towards the people they represent and irresponsible with the money with which they are entrusted.

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  • MrJiggyFly

    This city council is full of a bunch of cowards. They don’t have the backbone return phone calls, read and respond personally to emails and letters addressed to them and hide behind “working papers” and FOIA. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

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  • Roger Leonard

    As a wise sage once proclaimed: You do get the government you deserve. We deserve this action, as we were the ones’ who put them in office…

    Will this end at a few angry words, or will action really lead to change? I am disapointed that those who disagreed, went along to get along, and I am disapointed in those who choose to reward the Manager for their own purposes, at our expense…

    If the manager had one leadership bone in here body, she would refuse the raise and advise the council “She Advises” that such an action is precieved as poor public policy. As the person supposidly implementing city policy, she know this to be true and should act properly…

    Disapointed in Sufflok Leaders…

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    • kris

      Roger I have watched you for years and have read your editorials as well, and I can say that you are a man “for the people” unlike our current city counsel. I agree with your comments here again. I was furious to hear of the 14% raise largely because the city counsel neglected to represent it’s constituents – that is a true shame. What hope do we have as a country in general that continues to elect selfish, irresponsible leaders who are not educated enough or fit to lead our city?

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  • dollyb12

    This is a disgrace. It puzzles me that the voters keep voting the same council members right back in again.

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    • suffolklady

      I don’t think people really pay attention to what goes on in city council, unfortunately. I live near northern Suffolk and I think this is especially true there.

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  • suffolklady

    The teachers’ raises did not even amount to a cost of living increase. It barely covered the amount we now have to pay to VRS. Some of us even lost money due to increases in other areas.

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