Learning from mistakes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 20, 2003

As I’ve mentioned in this space several times before, opinions that I write here could very well be, and I imagine quite often are, wrong. That doesn’t bother me. Right or wrong, it’s my opinion.

What does bother me is when I make a factual error across the page under the &uot;Our Opinion&uot; section, which managing editor Stephen Cowles or I usually write.

Such was the case on Wednesday, apparently, when I railed against 25 percent assessment increases and urged City Council not to let it happen.


Email newsletter signup

City Council defenders were quick to point out my faux pas. Assessments, it seems, are governed by state guidelines and beyond the control of either Council or even the Assessor, who must follow the state formula in setting them, at least that’s what I was told.

So your taxes are going up, but it’s nobody’s fault. That should make you feel better about it. It’s an act of God, I suppose.

My mistake was, however, an honest one I think. City Council was holding a public hearing on the assessments that night. With that being the case, I reasoned that they must wield some influence on the matter. &uot;Is the public hearing just for show?&uot; I asked when informed of the error.

Apparently so. It’s merely an opportunity for people to come and complain. Nothing will come of it. I guess the hope is that once people get it off their chest, they’ll feel better, suck it up and just pay the $2.

City Council’s only influence in what people have to pay the treasurer comes through setting the tax rate.

So while I have no choice but to own up to and apologize for my ignorance of real estate assessment mechanisms, I think the position remains a valid one. A 25 percent assessment increase is too much. City Council can’t do anything about that, but they could, if so inclined, reduce the tax burden on those being hit so hard. (How’s that for a rationalization?)

I know what you’re saying, &uot;Fat chance of that.&uot; But it could happen. And when it does, be sure to check out our coverage that day of Hell freezing over.

If you were in your car on North Main Street or 58 Friday afternoon, you’re probably just now getting where you set out to go. What a mess!

Harvey White, our photographer, told me about the truck crash that morning at the Wilroy Road exit on the Suffolk Bypass, but it never occurred to me that it would be an issue nine hours after the fact.

I left the office at noon to go to the YMCA. It took about 15 minutes for me to make it to the train station. With traffic stretched out motionless as far as I could see up North Main, I made a left on Prentis Street. I think that’s the first time I’ve used it. Nice road.

Made my way to Constance Road and then to Holland Road. I was going to hit 58 and go to the Y that way, around the traffic. I got to about the Pitchkettle exit when I realized what a stupid idea that was. Rode the shoulder to the Downtown Suffolk exit, figuring traffic would be moving to the South and go back to the office. Wrong again.

I inched my way toward town. When I hit the intersection with Route 10 I saw vehicles actually moving west, so I figured I’d just go on to the Y and work out and wait out the traffic there. It was no better when I left and I made it back to the office about 2:30.

We all make mistakes and I made my share of them last week. The important thing is that we learn from them or, in my case, find a way to rationalize them. I can go either way.

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