A view of ‘THE SYSTEM’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

Surely some will come down upon me for these observations: I read about the applicants lined up, hoping for jobs at the Hilton Inn. You could say there are both positives and negatives; it’s great that some will get a job. Mayor Ralph said the large number of applicants indicated the interest generated by the hotel, and enthusiasm of residents…typical political mush. He was talking about some 600 applicants for jobs that could pay as little as just tips, to a max of $9 per hour. Is this the basis for saying that the hotel demonstrates the confidence people have in a new business – that the hiring of 40 people is significant?

I see it a bit differently – that our educational system allowed 600 high school graduates to be so unprepared for the &uot;jobs market&uot; that they find such employment salvation for their financial predicament. Ask yourself where those rejected will go next. Ask yourself why so many adults are seeking a second job, or wanting to improve on the even lesser wages of their current job. Ask yourself why nearly all businesses, factories, and retail stores know they can depend on a pool of such employees everywhere they set up shop. 600 minus 40 still leaves 560 hat in hand.

Why? You know the answer and where to point your finger.

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We have an educational system that grinds out a large percentage of near adults only partially prepared for higher education, and totally unprepared for facing life on their own. We have a system of parents who refuse to correct their own undisciplined children. We have a system that disarms teachers and forces them to &uot;live with it.&uot; Check with Lisa W. Rath who suffered the wrath of a student.

We have a system that drives good teachers out of the classrooms to seek administrative jobs within the system, or, sadly, out of the system. We have a system that insists, year after year, all that is needed is more money. What is really needed is a thorough examination of the system. But not by people in the system and that includes school boards. More on this subject later.

As for needing the Hilton, the mayor said it’s filling a void for people who want to visit and invest in Suffolk. Well, so much for the Holiday Inn and other motels. About the only thing startling that I see downtown is the large numbers of new restaurants, whether they’re old or new, and several others headed this way. I recently read about an Italian restaurant and an &uot;upscale&uot; Italian restaurant. Does that mean one sells inferior food, or does one just charge more? With all these places to dine, Suffolk customers will not starve. But I wonder which eateries will go broke when it is discovered there are not enough customers to fill the plethora of seats that will soon be available.

I can visualize each owner offering larger portions to hold their base clientele, again adding to the obesity problem. I visualize more roly-poly downtowners waddling on the streets. Where will this end–someone should redirect city’s mission to add businesses in the village. Perhaps more &uot;Lose Weight&uot; emporiums to maintain a healthy balance. As for &uot;upper class&uot; customers, surely we can’t count on Hilton Inn residents to walk any farther than Kelly’s or Wendy’s. And surely the Hilton will have its own gourmet kitchen. The real winner will be the owner of the oil company opposite the Hilton if he opens a middle price diner. Not only will he provide a more pleasant view from the Hilton’s north windows, he will cause customers to salivate with a mural of colorful fish on his roof. Or he could buy a few of those the mermaids and maybe some pink flamingos.

Who has a hand in spending its money, our, money, making things pleasant for the villagers. The city is busy dispensing $50,000 annually to dress up the downtown buildings. This is your tip-off that businesses reaching for the money have not done well enough to afford doing it, or that they just like free money. Facade grants can be used for improving appearances, up to ten grand, $5000 for fences and $2,000 for better signs. My only business is living but I sure could use some help paving my driveway.

Robert Pocklington is a regular News-Herald columnist. reach him at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.