Never bite the hand that feeds you

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

For decades, every time a new City Council was seated and new officers installed there had followed, in keeping with the times, a gala celebration, a big night in Suffolk. This time, instead of the Hilton, the &uot;gala&uot; was held in Riddicks Folly. There were no platters of shrimp, or cute little rolls stuffed with southern salty ham. This time it was cake, punch and peanuts, and a limited amount of attendees by invitation only. Why the difference?

Go back to the last two budget meetings when council members were not satisfied with the amount of cuts. They insisted on 12-cents and told the city manager to make the budget fit that amount. So the city manager cut the Council Contingency Fund from which such council parties are paid. So the previous Council bit the hand that fed this one … and the glorious evening caused a lot of attendees to wonder why the austerity. Now you know. But what we don’t know is just how many other surprises lie ahead.

Even the city spokesperson fell a little short of expectations. Those Commonwealth Officers in the front row already feel disconnected with the city and were not even introduced to the audience when protocol insists they should be. And the same thing happened to Senator Fred Quayle; there is no higher office in Suffolk. Surely he had more important functions to attend. Personally, I believe Andy Damiani deserved to be recognized and he didn’t get an invitation to the gala. Shame, shame.

Email newsletter signup

I was reminded by the newly seated mayor that I was incorrect about the possibility of there again being an &uot;A&uot; team and a &uot;B,&uot; team. I was only joshing, but she set us all straight that this Council would be the &uot;C&uot; team … the citizens team. This could mean that from now on council members will ignore what might be important for their respective boroughs and vote ‘yes’ only on what is good for the city as a whole. That would be something to witness, but sooner or later the borough divisions will be noticed.

If I were to guess what will be revealed as time goes by is that both North Suffolk and South Suffolk will get more attention than in the previous administration. If you carefully analyze the council members individually you will see it yourself. Think about where each one lives, their current business, their business relationships, their connections and you will see the possibility of farmers getting far more attention. Farmers get plenty of tax breaks, but run the risk of failing crop markets. Is it possible that a lot more of them will want to sell because of a different set of market conditions?

All speak of continuing the revitalization of downtown, whatever that means; but many citizens are getting a bit weary of certain people selling that idea. Downtown is a four-block area, and if one adds up the dollars spent in that area compared to the rest of the city, they might wonder. The question often asked is how many citizens are interested in the downtown revitalization compared to how many couldn’t care less. Many believe we are large enough in total area to have a dozen downtowns … and why not?

Many still think the only &uot;draws&uot; downtown are DMV, city hall, and the courthouse. By actual count we have in this city, four million restaurants, 250,000 retail outlets, and one movie theatre. Count the miles from Eclipse to the Courthouse, or the North Carolina border to the liquor store and you’ll get the idea why many avoid trips to the big city.

Congrats to Linda Johnson for assuming a unique roll in this city, and by now she has completely read the Robert Rules of Order. She has got to watch those members who make motions, seek amendments, and make long speeches. We believe she will do well. And we hope she will stay with the folks that would like to see a bridge between two of our downtowns.