Going on retreat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2005

Annapolis. Edenton. New Bern. Williamsburg.

And, finally, Suffolk.

After years of leaving the city for its annual fall planning retreat, the Suffolk City Council is staying here. Ignoring the city manager’s recommendation to hold the retreat in Norfolk, the council voted 4 to 3 Wednesday to stay on their home turf in September.

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On one hand, the move deserves a round of applause. After all, why should city leaders spend our money meeting and eating in another locality? Might as well support Suffolk businesses.

On the flip side, maybe our city leaders could learn something from a field trip to Norfolk that can’t be accomplished with pictures and words. See affordable housing initiatives in action. Walk through the city’s revitalized downtown. See the directions that Suffolk neighborhoods should – and in some cases, should not – take in future years.

There’s nothing wrong with the decision to stay home this year. But with Norfolk’s close proximity, we wouldn’t object to council members traveling there to meet – so long as they are laying their heads on pillows in Suffolk at night.

Thirty miles of travel is no excuse for a costly hotel bill. But it could reasonably justify paying for a couple of meals for each council member.

After all, taxpayers will be picking up their food tab, regardless of which city they happen to be dining in.