Around Town

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2005

Dana Dickens was tapped to be president of the Hampton Roads Partnership, a regional economic development group supported by local leaders and 17 local communities. They struck gold grabbing him; it is our loss and the pay ain’t bad. It reminds me of how Bobby Ralph and his three coconspirators teamed up to boot Dickens and make Ralph the mayor. Now the group of six will decide who his replacement will be. I hope they will put more intelligent thought into it than when they rousted Dickens. We gained nothing by the eviction and the childish council &uot;picking&uot; game has continued and will for infinity. Much talk about changing the system but no more action than on lowering taxes.

Another reminder came from Councilman Brown that skin color counts, by suggesting there should be more &uot;minority&uot; city employees, more in tune with population. So I want it likewise with college and national football and basketball teams. There the number of blacks vastly outnumbers whites on almost every team in the country. Must we assume then that the country is nearly 80 percent black? Or is it that those black athletes were unfairly considered to be best qualified for the position?&uot; It’s obvious that coaches discriminate against whites. The question relative to city hall should be, &uot;Are minorities given full opportunity to apply for jobs and considered fairly?&uot; I’d guess they are and council members are responsible for keeping it that way. Besides, the mix of employees at city hall did not occur overnight. Where was Mr. Brown during the buildup? Why the sudden interest? Did a constituent poke him in the ribs or is this more foot in mouth?

A crowd gathered in line for the newest chicken purveyor- Chicfillall. It balances the loss of the Chinese chicken yock specialist who was kicked out of the Phoenix Bank to make way for a black museum. (Where is the white museum?) Another restive crowd is waiting expectantly for Mr. Milteer’s jump from a tall building, despite his statement he was guilty of giving Huntersville fifty grand. Suggestions include the Professional Building and the Hilton and the crowd doesn’t much care so long as he fulfils his promise… but maybe it wasn’t really a promise, more of a threat. He would have had to vote against the entire 2005 Budget. Who among the seven was brave enough to do that?

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Seems there is a lot of &uot;razing&uot; going on in the city, a fourth now earmarked for the iron ball. So where are those city employees that used those spaces for many months? And the current main police station will make the list shortly. What’s going on? Could it be, now that the city has purchased the Obici land, as we all knew they would, we will hear about a desire for a new city hall, where all employees can be under one roof, making it easier for the citizens to complete business? It would come as no surprise; it’s time we have a palace like the one in Chesapeake…where our mayor can hold court in more auspicious surroundings. And that 25-acre plot is located more in the middle of the tax paying &uot;business district&uot; which now stretches a mile up Godwin. But would city hall dare to leave the village?

I took another look at the feasibility of placing eight-foot sidewalks on both sides of Main from the Bridge to Elephant Forks. That will truly be something to watch. Many trees must go, front yards, driveways, it will be a hoot and you can bet that half a million, (free money they say) won’t even begin to cover that mess. There will be much cursing and inconvenience the whole way. Better we spend the money on streetlights, but the free money rules insist on sidewalks that no one is requesting. Who walks nowadays?

Be sure and catch Andy Damiani’s Round Table Talk Show on 13. Andy’s guest was Eric Nielsen, Director of Public Works, five jobs rolled into one. Dennis Craft, Communications Director came along to see how us &uot;professionals&uot; do a TV show but stayed off camera. The first, we did two shows to take advantage of the fact that I was cleaned up and was serious business. The second was Andy and I fooling around with events of 2004.

You will hear Andy decry the humiliation he suffered while driving down a city street and seeing his portrait sticking halfway out of a trashcan.

Do you believe it? Norfolk is considering cutting property taxes. If it happens here it won’t be more than a penny or two. Big deal, you won’t notice. Many Councils in caring cities consider making unfair increased assessments revenue neutral. That means lowering the tax per hundred of valuation to offset the increased assessments. That’s the human approach to citizens stretched to the limit, finding their own home to be &uot;unaffordable.&uot; Our city has too many &uot;improving the downtown village&uot; projects under way and doesn’t dare offend the village dwellers. Council members will continue to sit on their hands, hopefully creating a ground-swell of opposition to them being reelected. The only way to change city direction is to replace certain members. It’s in your hands unless you are, too, sitting on them. Downtowners love their mayor.

I heard a discussion of

creationism versus evolution where one person asked why the male of most every species produces millions of sperm to fertilize one egg. I don’t know which side she was on but one lady said it was because only one male in a million has the brains to stop and ask for directions.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at