Readers get the last word on this page

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 26, 2002

Last week I relinquished this space to Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens to respond to some criticism leveled at City Council by the newspaper.

It’s an unwritten policy that we allow our readers to have the last word on most opinion pieces that we write. We are certainly under no obligation to be fair on our opinion page but typically make the effort.

Our opinion page is intended to be a forum for residents of Suffolk to speak their mind about topics of general interest to their fellow citizens. We don’t normally, for example, publish letters that center on a private dispute between individuals or between an individual and a business – letters that purport to represent &uot;facts&uot; which are not verifiable and generally of a slanderous nature against some individual or business. And we get a lot of such correspondence. We typically suggest to the writer that they take their issue to small claims court or the Better Business Bureau.

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Many times contributors, as in the case of the mayor last Sunday, are responding to an opinion expressed by the newspaper under the &uot;Our Opinion&uot; section, or a columnist.

We consider ourselves to be as fair a game as the politicians or institutions that we some times criticize or at which we poke fun.

It’s our intention to encourage that exchange and do what we can keep the letters streaming in.

Despite the natural human tendency to get in the last word on a subject, we do our best to restrain the urge out of fairness. We figure that we’ve had our shot and if we failed to effectively communicate our position and run rings around someone logically, then tough. It’s time to move on and try to do a better job next time. With a warehouse full of paper, drums of ink and a complex distribution network at our disposal, it’s just not right to bicker in print. We have an unfair advantage.

So despite how unflattering or even downright stupid a letter to the editor may be, it’s typically the last word on the subject, at least as far as we are concerned.


I was pleased Wednesday to see our mayor take a stand against a representative of the shelter industry over proposed Unified Development Ordinance regulations governing cluster housing developments.

Not that I necessarily agree with or even fully comprehend what the city is proposing to do in regard to these already controversial developments, it’s just that it’s refreshing to see a politician stand up to a representative of an industry that is far and away the biggest contributor to local campaigns.

I also got a kick out of the phraseology – &uot;the shelter industry.&uot; I always thought folks intent on buying up land and erecting hundreds of homes on it for resale and attempting to influence local zoning laws were &uot;builders&uot; or &uot;developers.&uot; Apparently, they want to be called &uot;providers of shelter.&uot; The name conjures images of big-hearted do-gooders, altruistically providing housing to the poor – and is certainly more genteel sounding than &uot;sunsuvbeeches,&uot; which is how many unsuspecting Suffolkians referred to the unscrupulous ones who in the 1990s left them holding the bag for high-priced, cheaply built homes on poorly drained lots that helped prompt enactment of the UDO in the first place.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.