He#8217;s not sorry for anything

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Suffolk City Manager For Now Steve Herbert (What time is it?) got a big send off in today’s Norfolk newspaper, a front page centerpiece bio.

It was interesting reading and provided a lot of information about the Mr. Herbert that I, nor do I believe many Suffolkians, knew. His Vietnam War service, for instance, was admirable if not heroic.

But, as 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry showed, heroic Vietnam service does not carry much weight in the 21st century political arena.

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The article also included a lot that I did know about Mr. Herbert. The comments by his former CO to the effect that he’s the type of person who is more apt to act and apologize later than to seek permission, pretty much sums him up, though I would have said he’s the type to act and not apologize later rather than ask for permission.

If today is Mr. Herbert’s last day on the job, he can leave Suffolk with a good bit to be proud of and is leaving it n at least from the standpoint of infrastructure n better than he found it.

His performance during Hurricane Isabel was exemplary, during which he rolled up his sleeves and put in long hours seeing to it that Suffolk got back to normal as quickly as possible.

If he’s leaving, he’s also leaving Suffolk taxpayers on the hook for a few expensive things n the hotel, the cultural arts center in Historic Downtown Suffolk and taking over road maintenance immediately come to mind. Who knows? History may show that those were the smartest investments any city ever made. We sure as heck better hope so.

But his greatest success, I think, came from his significant role in unifying what was at times a bitterly divided community. That unity, of course, manifested itself May 2 in the resounding defeat suffered by Herbertism at the Suffolk polls.

He did that by politicizing everything. It got almost comical the way people would be called to come to speak at public hearings on behalf of initiatives he supported. He didn’t seem to understand, or more likely understood but didn’t care, that his job was to implement the policies of those who are accountable to the citizens, not making the policies and that’s what led to his being in the situation he finds himself in.

Whatever happens today, you can bet one thing for certain: Steve Herbert is not sorry for anything and if he had it do over again he wouldn’t change a thing.