It was like watching a replay of last year

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

While viewing the Suffolk Council work session, it was obvious that certain council members were too late to the party. What should have been discussed weeks or months ago appears to have made it to the floor that day.

I could read Councilman Curtis Milteer’s mind easily … he wants the money being sunk into repairing (restoring) the old courthouse to be shifted to projects in his borough that were started eons ago, but never finished. No one can read Charles Brown’s mind when he appears to talk for and against something in the same sentence, but he should go along with Milteer.

Joseph Barlow has bought the idea that this city must have the Tourist Bureau ensconced in the million-dollars plus, fixed up courthouse, and the mayor agrees. He wants to be reelected and knows where the votes are.


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Some folks have sold four on council on continuing to throw unlimited dollars at the courthouse visitors center, hoping the overstated tourist pamphlets will eventually draw enough dollars to pay a few bills and make the move sensible. Then that part of town will be known as the Tourism Complex … hotel, courthouse, and I suppose McDonalds, until somebody convinces four of the seven we need an Interpretive Dismal Swamp Center as part of the complex.

I wish someone would add up the dollars spent so far on tourism and measure them against what they claim is net return. I suspect the tourist dollars return quoted as being spent in Suffolk are as exaggerated as the pamphlet descriptions of things to see in Suffolk. I see this all as a runaway horse.

The mayor wanted order in the court and felt he had to intervene when Milteer, councilmembers Leroy Bennett, and Linda Johnson were not in any hurry to approve the spending budget. Real discussions had begun, finally, to make it to the floor to be kicked around. All three said, &uot;Whoa, we need more time to ponder moving money from this project and give it to that project. You see, City Manager Steve Herbert, with considerable help from formidable Christine Ledford, has all the spending laid out for everyone to see and the printed word can intimidate. How dare anyone at this late date confuse the issue? Time is of the essence.

Well, they gave themselves until the next meeting to vote up or down on the budget. You might call this a stiff defense, but just where will these heads get together to make changes? For the second year in a row I give those who said, &uot;Whoa,&uot; a silver medal for trying, but the gold will go to the mayor, Calvin Jones, Barlow, whoever the fourth vote is that says to leave the manager’s budget intact. That’s just the way it is, folks … a replay of last year.

As for the reduction of the tax rate … you will get a nickel, that’s all, and the manager fully expects that and it’s already figured in the plan. To go above that will take guts on the part of the four who figure the spending plan can be altered to keep a few more young and old households from going under. Those people are being hit with rising interest rates, energy costs including gasoline, and those things called groceries. Everyone I talk to is sweating out the next assessment rise. How many more folks will need to visit Suffolk Social Services?

I like Milteer for his stand-alone courage. He says the old courthouse has been like it is for many years and a few more won’t hurt. That million plus to bring it up to snuff could be better spent elsewhere. Amen. He wants some of the leftout city areas to get a place at the money trough. There is a downtown that has been feeding long enough and another part of downtown that is spinning in the wind. I believe Milteer has been a very patient man and right now needs some help from his cohorts. To prove his point he invited all those at the work session to board a bus and he would show them what he is talking about. I heard no takers.