How not to elect a mayor

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 23, 2002

The ink wasn’t even dry on their resolve to make it possible for Norfolk voters to elect their mayor, as opposed to the council doing it, when the Norfolk Council jerked hard on the reins to stop the wagon.

Apparently they agree the voters should decide who the leader will be, but can’t agree on a Ward system that would provide a fair system for citizens electing the mayor. It’s the old black/white problem that still exists in most American cities where there is a less than equal mix of black and white citizens. The reds and yellows don’t count, of course, and apparently how they vote is of no consequence. Notice that they don’t demand a red or yellow ward.

But many blacks still think whites don’t think like blacks when it comes to what is good for a city, or particular areas of the city. They insist they must have the ward boundaries drawn so that some have more potential black voters than whites. They figure that’s the only way they can have equal say.

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But no ward votes its full strength anyway, and unless the majority voting is black it could actually go the &uot;white&uot; direction. Then what? Does that mean that wards should be drawn so that every citizen in it is of one color?

Apparently a wise choice can’t be made for mayor in Norfolk unless blacks have an equal opportunity to elect one of their own. Indians haven’t a prayer in hell, nor the Chinese a Chinaman’s chance. I see equal wards as racism perpetuated by both sides.

Like I said before, it is very possible our Myles Standish is headed for the top job in Portsmouth and this raises the specter of speculation, a fun game played by many. Is Myles Standish grooming Steve Herbert so he can slide into the vacated city manager position because he thinks he is the right man to be his successor? OK, so we spend a few thousand for a nationwide &uot;search,&uot; this satisfies the voters, and then Council ignores all other candidates and appoints Stevie Wonder, knowing that they would all the time. Or is Myles grooming Steve Herbert for Suffolk so Steve won’t get the idea of trying out for the Portsmouth job which Myles wants? Sneaky, huh?

This upper level stuff can get deadly and complicated when bigger buck jobs are at stake. I am a fan of Mr. Standish but I just can’t see him retire and stay retired more than a day or two.

Being the head man of Portsmouth can’t be all bad in spite of its public school chaos, and land and water shortages.

I’m guessing that the Portsmouth waterfront renaissance is far more appealing to Myles than raising the phoenix down at Constant’s Wharf, and no place to go but up.

An editorial in a foreign newspaper (the Pilot) states that no locality in western Hampton Roads can meet its water needs without the help of its neighbors.

Suffolk and Isle of Wight have formed a waterless regional water authority, perhaps worth nothing, but Suffolk retains power over other cities because a lot of their water is in Suffolk and we can control their connecting pipelines between sources. We are still blocking Chesapeake’s plans for a pipeline like a snotty kid who owns the only ball bat and won’t play unless he can pitch.

According to the editorial Suffolk has played the role of bad boy several times over past years and still can. It also states that neither Isle of Wight or Suffolk has enough water treatment facilities to support the ongoing housing boom that is just underway.

Norfolk has water to sell, Portsmouth has excess treatment facilities, and if Suffolk will cooperate in the real water region authority, everyone will have sufficient potable water.

Apparently our current mayor, Dana Dickens, has a friendly approach to the situation, will listen to reason, and foster cooperation between Hampton Roads cities.

That’s a refreshing change.

I salute Korean war veteran Samuel Almond, a young 70 year old, who leaked blood back in the 50s while fighting off North Korean communists. He was a tough young soldier who wanted to do what he could for his country and did.

I’d like to have had him beside me when we crossed France and Germany in the 40s.

But back then they wouldn’t have allowed a black and a white to be shoulder to shoulder anywhere even though they were as important to ending the war as anyone.

I didn’t understand then and still don’t today. My blood was the same color as theirs and we were on the same American team.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist.