Reader praises paper’s insightfulness

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Editor, the Suffolk News Herald:

I’m writing to praise Andy Prutsok’s column in Sunday’s edition. Mr. Prutsok is right on the money in his assessment of this City Government’s (Council and City staff) penchant toward secrecy and pre-ordained action on things about which we mere taxpayers should be informed in advance. I’m very glad that someone in Suffolk besides me and Bob Pocklington has the guts to write about the very sad state of affairs in our city’s government. Further, probably more than anyone else in Suffolk, Mr. Prutsok, as editor of our only hometown newspaper, is in a position to speak out for Suffolk’s taxpayers – and Sunday’s column was a great start!

Unfortunately, Mr. Prutsok’s column only touched on some of the arrogance with which we ordinary taxpayers are treated by those elected to serve us.

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While Mr. Prutsok wasn’t here during the &uot;railroading&uot; of the &uot;Unified Development Ordinance&uot; (UDO), those of us opposed to the UDO still remember being told: &uot;We [council members] know what’s best for Suffolk&uot;. We remember having to petition the City under the Freedom of Information Act so we could obtain lists of property owners and let them know what the City was doing to them; and we certainly remember being charged $1,400 for the lists.

We also remember having to endure opening prayers at Council Meetings when our Lord was asked to give us (the UDO opponents)the wisdom to recognize that we were wrong to oppose the UDO’s regimentation of our lives and the taking of our property rights.

The News Herald’s write-up of Council’s most recent &uot;Retreat&uot; was also enlightening. I am appreciative that the Retreat was held in Hampton where the room rent was more in line with what mere taxpayers are able to pay. But one has to wonder what went on during the &uot;bonding&uot; sessions attended by those Council members who elected to have a night or so out at taxpayer expense rather than make the less than 30-minute drive home as certain &uot;commuting&uot; Council members did. And by the way, isn’t there something in the law about meetings among a certain numbers of Council members being public?

Regarding growth in Suffolk, I was interested in reading the &uot;Suffolk Little&uot; version of &uot;The Sky is Falling in.&uot; According to the News-Herald, Council was given the grave news by the City staff that: (1) &uot;the city has been gaining an average of 950 homes annually for the past six years&uot;, and (2) &uot;if the high rate of growth continues at its existing rate, Suffolk’s 28,000 households could double in 10 years.&uot; Apparently &uot;nary a soul&uot; among the Council members questioned either of these statements, both of which aren’t supportable. Suffolk has not &uot;gained an average of 950 new homes&uot; a year for the past 6 years. And, even if that were true, and it isn’t true, anyone proficient in 5th-grade arithmetic would know that 950 times 10 equals 9,500. The same 5th-grader would also be able to divide 9,500 by 28,000 and come up with a total growth of only some 34 percent – not the scary 100 percent postulated by City staff. Your guess is as good as mine as to what may come of these false predictions of doom, but I suspect the property owners in Suffolk had better grab their wallets and get ready for another round of property right reductions.

C.L. Willis, P.E.

Suffolk