Notes on this and that

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

As of 9 a.m. EST, Monday, July 10, 62 percent of something like 121 respondents to our poll would seem to favor City Manager Steve Herbert’s departure. It doesn’t appear to matter to those folks whether he resigns, or is fired, just as long as he’s gone. Interestingly, those percentages almost exactly reflect the Parr-Ralph vote totals. The poll will remain open until about 4 p.m. Please cast your ballots ….

… I was glad to see First Son Tripp Johnson, son of Mayor Linda Johnson, join the discussion Sunday afternoon. He’s obviously an intelligent young man and made several good points in his posting on yesterday’s thread. I hope those of you on the dark side go easy on him, a boy defending his mother and all ….

… I heard something interesting over the weekend regarding the unanimous vote for Tripp’s mom as mayor. One of the council members, a strong supporter of the past administration, was reportedly overheard saying the reason he voted for Johnson is that he wanted to see her hang herself. Looks like there’s already dissension on the new “team”…


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… Several comments on Friday’s thread about the Millstone development and Charles Parr’s substantial ownership interest in property there.

Yes, Parr is fair game and I assume the News-Herald will report on it when a planning commission story is done n we had damn well better. It’s interesting sure, but conflict of interest under Virginia law? Hardly.

In fact, I don’t think there is such a thing as conflict of interest in Virginia. When I was with the Hopewell News back in the early 90s, the mayor of that city was an electrician whose firm held virtually all of the electrical contracts with the city and the school system. These were valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It got to the point where no other firm would even bother to go through the cumbersome bidding process, figuring what was the point?

The paper and a few citizens pressed the matter enough until we got a ruling on it from the attorney general or some state ruling body, I can’t remember. They said there was no conflict of interest as long as he did not help craft the contract or vote on it.

If that’s not a conflict of interest then nothing is …

…And I almost forgot, someone Friday seemed to take considerable joy in the Suffolk News-Herald “getting scooped again,” by the Norfolk newspaper or something like that. Yes, the bile generally rises in my throat on mornings like Friday when the Norfolk paper reported on the Millstone matter.

Still, comparing the Suffolk News-Herald to the Norfolk newspaper is like making fun of Driver General Store for not having the selection Wal-Mart has. The writer probably also gets off on kicking puppies and pulling the wings off flies.

We have two reporters who typically have to help be receptionists, work on obits and weddings or anything else that comes through the door. The Norfolk paper has three full-time reporters in its Suffolk office who do nothing but work their beat. They are going to get many things first, particularly when those in power are so chummy with them and whose every action seems designed to curry favor with the Norfolk paper’s editorial board. Nonetheless, I think ours do a pretty good job.

I like to think of the News-Herald as akin to the insurgency in Iraq. We’re not going to win head-to-head battles, but we can come up with an occasional quick strike and get something first, and we’re here for the long haul …