Time to peek into the crystal ball again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

I’m going to go out on another one of those “looney” limbs, as Robert Pocklington recently described it, and make a prediction.

In case you missed it, I got lucky in predicting the May 2 election results. Like a compulsive gambler, I’m going to let it ride on the mayoral election that will happen at City Council’s reorganization meeting in July.

Linda Johnson should be and will be mayor, Curtis Milteer vice-mayor.

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This will mean big changes in the way our city does business, and I think they will be changes for the better.

For at least the past six years since I’ve been here, this pair has been on the losing end of most city council debates. That alone tends to make me think they must be on to something.

If the powers that be are always against you, more often than not the reason is because they know you are right and fear you.

Why I think this is a good thing is that Johnson seems to be in favor of shedding a little more sunshine on what goes on over on Market Street. Many of the differences she has had with fellow council members and the city administration seem to revolve around their desire to do things on the QT as much as possible. If something can’t stand the light of day, chances are it’s because it’s not the right thing to do.

As for Milteer, I’ve had many policy differences with him over the past six years, but it seems like the more attention I pay to City Council, the more sense he makes, particularly over the course of the last year. Neither Johnson nor Milteer fear speaking their minds or asking the tough questions. Others will ask them, too, but it seems to pain them at times to do so. Johnson and Milteer thrive on it. That’s a good thing for a representative.

This pair, who if not kindred spirits, were at least thrown into each other’s arms, for lack of a better phrase, by the actions of the majority. They fought side-by-side in the trenches for a long time, and as a result, should work well together for the betterment of our community. Still, they will need four votes to fulfill the destiny I’ve ordained for them. Those will likely come from Charles Parr and Jeff Gardy, the new kids on the block. Parr and Gardy seem to possess many of the same qualities, and from my conversations with them, share many of the same concerns. The only reason I do not think they will wind up in the top posts is their professed disinterest in the jobs.

That leaves three n Charles Brown, Joe Barlow and current Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett.

Brown is the most interesting character in city government. He has been a vital member of the bloc that has ruled Suffolk for the past several years, this despite the fact that he did not seem entirely comfortable in the role, at times appearing as if he could bolt at any moment. I’m not so sure he always shared the philosophy of those he sided with, but knew his support was necessary to them and it would be rewarded with bacon for the Cypress borough. As a savvy, smart politician n and don’t kid yourself, you don’t stay in office as long he has if you are not n surely he can sense which way the wind is blowing, and is likely already maneuvering for a spot on the new team. If he doesn’t, he knows he will wind up completely marginalized and will be no good to anybody in his borough. If that happens, he’s liable to wind up with a challenger on the ballot four years hence.

I don’t know about Barlow and Bennett; perhaps they will wind up being the Johnson-Milteer of the new council. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think we should have total conformity. There needs to be a loyal opposition, someone to advocate for the Devil on issues. That could be their new role.

Of course, this is all just guesswork, albeit by someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the situation (not to mention someone who obviously needs more to do with his time).

July is just a month away, and it cannot get here quickly enough for me. Everything needs a good shake-up from time to time, and this is a big one. It will be interesting.

I’d be interested in your thoughts, too. Go to the Editor’s Blog at suffolknewsherald.com and let Suffolk know what you think about this or any issue.

Andy Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9601 or at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com.