Test coming up for lawmakers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The campaign contribution numbers came out recently but it is such dull reading you may have missed them. It’s those numbers of dollars contributed to various incumbents hold-ing down seats in the Richmond seat of government.

As these are incumbents, the checks coming in must be rewards for some deed they have already preformed, or pressure to vote on a certain bill helpful to the contributors, or money they can use for reelection. This is the check writer’s way of saying. &uot;Hey, good job, keep it up.&uot; Our incumbents are not stupid…over the course of their careers they have learned where the wells are.

Mr. Jones did not come back at me when I said he did not favor the ordinance the City of Suffolk desperately needs to stay ahead of developers. Intelligent people realize an area to be developed should first have in place the utilities needed for the convenience of the incoming residents. Most people want a road to their house, perhaps a sewer, maybe water, surely electricity. And they should have, most certainly, a place to send the kids for an education, like maybe a school. Obviously those in the real estate or construction industries are not so keen on that idea; they just want to continue building and selling.

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Do you suppose that might be the reason the incumbents get substantial gifts of cash from those two industries, enough so that they regard the contributions more important than any old ordinance desired by the people that elected them? Could it possibly have any effect on how our representatives vote on certain matters?

Let’s peek at the numbers I saw in the News Herald. Senator Quayle picked up $21,650 from the folks that build and sell houses, topping Delegate Jones’ $18,572. Can you think of any reason those two gentlemen would vote against the city’s desired and sensible ordinance? Our Delegate Spruill placed a distinct third with a paltry $7,000. He’s our guy.

None of us care about the piddling amount given to incumbents for free tickets, dinners, a new tie, etc. But all of them profess to favor educating kids, they never run a campaign without stating that they live mainly to support our educational system that has the potential to turn out good young citizens. One thing that would help would be to give students solid brick buildings instead of temporary classrooms made necessary by pumping people into an area where schools have yet to be constructed. I think that another contribution to incumbents would come from the folks that make school busses and those dreary temporary classrooms. Developers should talk to the kids scheduled to eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning, and spend more travel time than a commuter.

While no such ordinance that could help cities will ever get by our &uot;statesmen&uot; in Richmond, it would be nice if at least the three named above would make public a statement that they support it and the developers be damned. Senator Quayle will introduce the bill and we hope he will not do it with tongue in cheek. If he honestly supports the ordinance and makes plenty of noise in Richmond he will be considered a hero. But unfortunately there are too many other incumbents on the real estate/-construction dole expecting more checks. It’s a damn shame that the State of Virginia government has a shoe on the neck of every city in the commonwealth. A handful of people sit there in the Capitol knowing they have the upper hand and none of them have been mentally tested for anything except the ability to be elected.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.