Dog and pony shows

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

Trent Lott asked for a lot of forgiveness for things he said recently, but it was too easy for detractors to follow the trail back to his early years in politics. As a normal young white Mississippian he behaved then the way he probably still thinks today but tries to cover it up.

Nobody forgets the old Lott and they don’t buy the claim that he has changed. It’s true, eliminating him won’t in any way alter the future of minority citizens, but a lot of folks will feel good if he waves goodbye. The so-called national black &uot;leaders&uot; will puff up with pride but they will have done little to make it happen. Jesse, Slapton, Kwami, and others are only important because the liberal media and the Democratic party uses them to deliver 90 percent of the black vote. If they should fail that duty, they and Democrat financial support will quickly fade away.

For all the years they have claimed to be achievers, current black leaders have very little to show for all their blather about &uot;liberating blacks.&uot; Any positive progress for black Americans is just as much the result of conscience-stricken white Americans who for decades have known the black American situation is inequitable and are still slow to improve it.

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Republicans alone decide the Lott issue and they pray their action preserves their good intentions toward blacks. Lott has them in a bind and if his party doesn’t support him he is vain enough to exit and take us back to a 50/50 head count in the Senate. It’s not his style to assume a backbench seat. But with or without Senator Lott, with or without national black leaders, equality will be a long time coming; we have too many citizens, of all colors, who find pleasure in being offended.

I caught what some would refer to as a &uot;Dog and Pony&uot; show on local cable television, where for the first time I can remember, Dana Woodson, Public Information coordinator did her job by chairing a meeting with Mayor Dickens, Elizabeth McCoury; Downtown Develop-ment coordinator, and David Freeman; Neighborhood Develop-ment Services director. Have you ever seen such fancy titles in your life? They are more like job descriptions. A show of this kind is long overdue and many citizens hope it will continue and provide the public with some insight into just what these well-paid people do for us.

Of course they trotted out the usual &uot;center-pieces,&uot; mentioning the upcoming restored High School, the Railroad Station, Main Street Center and a couple of new restaurants downtown. McCoury apparently gets feathers in her bonnet for some of these achievements but one wonders if those projects required the services of a coordinator.

One new eatery owner was heard to say he was in court one day, saw an empty building across the street, decided a restaurant would do well there and took a chance.

Elizabeth hints at other on the horizon &uot;revitalizing&uot; to restore faith in our downtown. Not a word about the Prentiss House but the Suffolk world, according to the mayor’s enthusiasm, depends largely upon Constant’s Wharf and continuing attempts to build the Hilton Inn complex. One place where I have failed to spot much spontaneous enthusiasm is among the downtown business owners who still wonder what the Hilton will do for them.

The man with the toughest job is David Freeman. His work involves endless loose ends and reminds me of a man struggling to keep his head above the quicksand. There is no danger that he will run out of work but might run out of money, We hope that he can succeed even with the odds so great against him. He gets the messes and is expected to instill hope in quarters where there has been little. He assignment is to eliminate dilapidated housing, abandoned cars, tall weeds and debris, improving living conditions of those forced to suffer the discomfort and embarrassment of them way too long. He can do as much for a neglected area as can an increase in police protection. Hopefully, our tax dollars will be funneled in his direction in sufficient quantities. I see his work as far more important than a Hilton Inn and a Tourist Bureau. First let’s take care of our own citizens.

Here’s a scoop for you, a bar and sandwich place, Kelly’s, with two other places in Tidewater, will move into the vacated video store by Rite Aid Drug store in anticipation of the spin-off business from the Hilton. And, though it is the wrong place for it, Cracker Barrel will buy out Bunny’s so we can sit on their porch and wait for dinner. Of course it will have a gift shop. I’ll bet you didn’t know that, Elizabeth.

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