True confession

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 3, 2005

There was a picture in the Suffolk News-Herald of handsome Michael Bollinger, highly paid and newly hired executive director of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. That picture was to me an honest confession giving us a clear message. A kind of hapless look on his face, arms outstretched, palms up by a picture of the Cultural Center as if he was asking, &uot;How are we going to pay for this thing? I have written several times before how they will pay for it…you will pay for it. Either by attending or financially supporting the various functions taking place there, or via your taxes. It would be nice if a few large corporations reached into the payable dividend pot and wrote a fat check. Upfront perhaps but they usually don’t continue the practice because stockholders squeal. Maybe some of that old Suffolk money will become &uot;unearned revenue.&uot; but even then it will take a chunk of tax dollars annually to support the centerpiece, yours.

There was that sentence again, the one often uttered by the mayor and the manager, this time spoken by Mr. Bollinger, &uot;The center will only strengthen downtown and help it become a destination.&uot; That &uot;centerpiece&uot; thing again and one must admit that the new Courthouse centerpiece made downtown a destination…for lawyers, suspects, victims, and the guilty. How many stay for lunch or a gift purchase is arguable. Surely tourists don’t stand in front of it and gape. If anyone stays at the Hilton it probably won’t be tourists…more than likely it will be business executives on the corporate dole. But watch it now that the city will allow the construction of hotels in our Suffolk north. That’s where a large portion of high tech, high pay corporations will be, and their visitors will stay.

DMV, although not considered to be a centerpiece, helps make downtown a destination. And certainly Walmart is often a reason for traffic congestion, although it is not quite downtown. Our constantly increasing supply of restaurants gives rurals like me a reason to travel down there but eateries are popping up everywhere and make the decision a tough one. Do I go north, east, south or west to eat? I like the food and ambiance at Art’s Kitchen but we not averse to trying them all.

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We have a checklist and intend to test the lot over a period of months. Trouble is we can’t keep the list up to date; they rise and fall on an irregular basis. And the mill is rife with rumors of more to open but apparently there are no Hooters on the horizon, disappointing hundreds of young stud pickup truck owners. It will be interesting to see how many boats will occupy the Hilton Marina. TGIF in the park will cause a parking problem and an opportunity for police to practice capturing DUIs. Don’t we have all the centerpieces we can afford? And you’ll be hearing a true confession again when the city spokesman says it will be a few years before any Hilton profit shows.

The talk about &uot;regionalism&uot; is beginning to have an effect on business. Note that the Yellow Book now includes Suffolk, for the first time in this format. Our city is even on the cover page map. There are no lines indicating borders and that may be deliberate so as not embarrass a couple of smallish eastern cities that are hemmed in by water and other principalities. The map makes Suffolk look like it is leaning on the others, pushing them into the surrounding waters. The problem is that the book is too thick and heavy…first time I picked it up it slipped and damaged a toe on its way down.

I wonder if Dana Dickens had a hand in this new format, but if so where are the two other cities north of the water divide, Newport News and Hampton? Surely it’s the current size of that book that prevents including both of them. The New York phone book is not that big. If Dana had his way there would be two; South HRYB, and, North HRYB. Having the region appear to be split in any fashion presents a problem for those promoting all the cities as one economic powerhouse. But golly, including Suffolk is a start, and now spending to make our downtown a jewel is that much more important. Right Bobby?

Do you suppose the threat of a miniature guillotine would in any way reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse? Not wise because the procedure can’t be reversed if DNA proved innocence. Either there is more and more abuse in this nation or the info-media delights in serving that news to us on many platters. I heard of this crime at age five, but way back then a beating usually served to reform the culprit. Let’s see, that’s over 75 years ago and our justice system is still mulling over how best to prevent this evil. Even Dr. Phil in nonplussed and many adults practicing various religions are helpless to control their inclinations and actions. There was a recent infamous case where a subhuman raped a child, cut off her arms, and still walks the streets a free man. That’s how liberal this country has become, at least the judges. Go figure.

No sense writing anything more about property taxes. It’s in the hands of our council. We will hear how hard they tried to defeat the rising tide of spending but the gifted city manager and school superintendent, both CEOs, have prevailed…proving once again that you can’t fight city hall, or won’t.

Robert Pocklington

is a regular News-Herald columnist. E-mail him at