Sounds very good, but…

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

Suffolk again envisions another centerpiece. I thought we were all through with those expensive centerpieces, courthouse, cultural center, Hilton, etc, those items that city hallers insist will revive the dinosaur and turn Suffolk around. Now it’s a $46 million recreation center complex way over in Driver.

We must stifle these dreamers who are expert at finding ways to make increasing assessments absolutely necessary. Perhaps it’s a neat idea for Driver; and it should also pull in a few fast food outlets to restore energy to the athletic participants. With gasoline at $2.15 a gallon, parents will certainly be happy to ferry the kids out there in their big guzzlers…especially those who must use the bridge detour.

Do I care…the assessment on my home site just increased $81,000, or $875 each year. I merely have to find a way to come up with an additional $73 every month to satisfy the mayor and his boss; the person who convinces him it is OK to pillage.

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They need the money for the pet projects of theirs, not mine. I’m sure those who spend our money feel good about the fact that they now take 12 percent of my income. Last year it was only 10. I got less than a 2 percent raise from Social Security and a 27 percent shafting by the city. It puts me in mind of Ali Baba and the six thieves; it’s too early to include Mr. Barlow, and Blackbeard the heartless pirate.

Ask yourself; do they care how you struggle to pay bills? But apparently the general public is happy about the whole idea of enhancing life in the village. I hear very few squealing brakes; people hollering &uot;Uncle.&uot;

Do you suppose the city will hold public meetings about tax increases?

Mayor Ralph manages to put himself on both sides, and no sides, of any question. Like electing the mayor. But he does come up with reasons we should make no changes whatever. How does he really feel about taking over VDOT? Lately he seems to be for it even though several wise citizens introduce valid questions that dim the prospect. I often wonder if he is not just following instructions and hoping to drag three council members with him. If we were to research his previous comments I believe he is on both sides. Didn’t he once favor dropping the tax rate by an impressive amount…until the city manager took him by the ear?

And what happened to Linda Johnson, Calvin Jones, and others who were leaning toward reducing the tax rate? I would have bet they had the heart to do it…they can’t be pleasing their constituents by missing this opportunity. Are they not squeezing the life style of those who voted them in to make changes? All they have done so far, except for nodding yes too often, is take part in ribbon cuttings and gold shovel brigades. Whatever happened to their hind legs? Every person I have talked to, or heard from, is at least mildly upset with their government’s spending, but fail to act to stop it. They have lost control of their city and their council member.

And our tourism director, another department cart before the horse, is still pushing another centerpiece, an interpretive center for the Dismal Swamp even though Richmond nixed the millions needed for that pet project. Chesapeake and North Carolina have already picked that idea to pieces and spending millions to attract nature lovers. Will the city accept the offered grant to continue studying the dead horse? Probably.

And speaking of dead horses, there is no way VDOT will repair the bridge over the Nansemond, and no way the city will patch it up under the conditions stated by VDOT. Get used to the fact that there will be no bridge for many years.

Funding also disappeared for the rising of the Phoenix as a black museum. But there is an easy solution…that would put the museum where it ought to be…in the Village. Why has no one considered having the black culture memorialized in the very expensive cultural center? What would be a more fitting place? The same goes for the Confederate artifacts…what’s wrong with honoring southern forefather’s culture? Then there would be no need to debate the issue of

&uot;Confederate Month.&uot;

I just spent a week, and a lot of money, visiting Savannah. The place is alive with tourists and Confederate flags.

Everywhere in the south but Suffolk there are museums pointing to the great issue of dividing the country over a philosophy. If the conceivers of our cultural center ever expect to pay their way, instead of being subsidized by we taxpayers, they better go after the foot traffic that would be provided by visitors to both. Or are we spending millions to learn about painting pretty pictures, amateur acting, and chamber music? Let’s put some meat in the place if we want tourists. And toss in Lynettes’s tourist Visitor Center and Dismal Swamp interpretive Center. Then you could call it a Cultural Center, what the heck, and make room for the Red Hat Ladies.

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There’s an old song…&uot;Oh there’s a Tavern in the Town.&uot; Business owners better take notice. One opened in north Suffolk, that other city. And they have movies up there, and a Wal-Mart, and, on and on up there. Will North Suffolk become the Town Center and our current &uot;downtown&uot; just another village on the outskirts? Oh, but a fine village…just ask our downtown coordinator.

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