Vote Yes

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 14, 2002

I watched Ross Boone and a financial expert debate the pros and cons of the one-cent increase in the sales tax so roads, bridges, and tunnels can be updated to accommodate current and future traffic in Tidewater. Mr. Boone won hands down because he used an old trick called &uot;common sense.&uot; His opponent was well armed with projections, columns of figures, and obviously concerned with the increased tax on restaurant meals as though out eaters are worried about a 1 percent increase in the price of shrimp. The debate took place on the edge of Main right in front of Ryan’s where traffic was about normal for Suffolk. The program was Andy Damiani’s Roundtable Talk, and the object was to show heavy traffic now and look out for what is to come. The people and auto projections are frightening and there is no doubt that something must be done and soon. Even if us old-timers might not benefit, we do have children and grandchildren who will long after we are through slowing up traffic. They, the powers, calculate we must borrow over $5 billion and get going now if we are to benefit from regional trade, jobs, and not be hung up on the highways for endless hours. On the Bob and Andy portion of the show Andy demanded I divulge the way I would vote.

That was easy, I will vote &uot;Yes&uot; because there is no other logical and sensible way to solve the problem.

You have to give Steve Herbert applause for shifting gears when he saw the downhill slide of his campaign for putting the Indian Village over in Driver, like a man dropping a hot horseshoe. When that Task Force voted unanimously to put Mattanock in Lone Star Lakes he must have crumpled inside knowing he would have to go back to city hall and tear up all his blueprints and the long list of sensible reasons it should be in Driver near Dumpling Island. Never has a man been so completely alone, so chagrinned, but with a smile he accepted the wishes of the all-powerful force as though that’s really where he wanted it to go and he was only kidding when he suggested the alternate site. And as far as I know, this was the first official acknowledgement that the city had plans for a Marina at Lone Star. So it’s back to the drawing board for that project. We congratulate Chief Bass and Dot D. for their patience. Surely Lynette heaved a deep sigh.

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It’s easy to understand why Suffolk residents froth at the mouth when shown huge bills uncovered that expose the &uot;exorbitant&uot; cost of the retreat at Tides Inn. The latest revelation that the facilitator costs went over ten grand sent many into frenzy. I guess they figure that no one, including the expert, is anywhere near worth $140 per hour. Especially when you could hire four high school counselors for the same amount. But council members are not high school students. What follows next may appear to be unkind but even the best hospitals hire facilitators to attend meetings where even the highest officers meet because even they need to learn how to get along with each other. They must also learn to listen to and understand the other guy’s viewpoint. Think about it – those hospital officers are more than likely very well educated in their various specialties. But as bright as they are they are not necessarily expert at arriving at an intelligent cooperative conclusion. They represent different parts of the hospital and are there to provide solutions to what they perceive to be their problems.

Compare them with seven councilpersons meeting to decide the fate of a city of some 62,000. Each has their own viewpoint regarding the part of the city they serve and may not require the same solution to problems they recognize in their borough. Back to the hospital for a second – I said each comes to the meeting a well-educated person and an expert in their field. Can we say that about our council members? Think about the man or woman you helped send to the Council. Is that person fully equipped to deal will millions of dollars, and decisions that will affect the future of thousands? If you sent them there unprepared you may be paying the consequences by seeing your tax dollars used to hire the services of a &uot;facilitator.&uot; Someone in city hall, appointed or elected, decided one was necessary to head off impasses, deliberate blocking, political maneuvering, and half-assed expensive decisions. While the expert’s services are quite expensive, you may very well be getting your money’s worth over the long haul. Or perhaps you’d rather go back the old A and B teams. Think about it before you voice your opinion and risk looking silly. This is no longer a &uot;rube&uot; county and no rubes should be sitting on Council. If you put one there you are perhaps responsible for the high cost of getting things done properly.

I’m on the side of the City Manager for releasing the names of tax delinquents. Our Treasurer indicated that the manager could not release without council approval. Myles had his wrist slapped mostly because the list was not up to date and some were embarrassed. So who gave him that list? Shoot them.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.