The city’s ‘skeleton’ staff

Published 8:26 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It’s easy to think that people like Suffolk City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes, Media and Community Relations Director Debbie George and Budget Director Anne Seward are the folks who make the city’s government work from day to day. After all, their names — along with some others of the city’s administrative leadership — are widely known by people around Suffolk, and each of them holds an important position that is often under a public spotlight.

However, as many of those who hold positions of administrative leadership in Suffolk would be the first to say, much of the real day-to-day work that takes place is done by people who stand in the background, folks whose names most residents of Suffolk have never heard. These support staffers are the ones who stuff the envelopes, answer the phones, prepare the reports, file the payroll forms and perform all of the other numberless tasks that result from the workings of any government or private agency, company or department.

In Suffolk, those people are the backbone of the Department of Economic Development, the city manager’s office, the Department of Media and Community Relations, the tax assessor’s office, the public library, the Department of Budget and Strategic Planning, the Public Works Department, the school system and more.

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You’ll get a chance to meet some of those folks, and in the process learn a few things about Suffolk that you might not have known, in f.y.i., a new special section that will be included inside Friday’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald.

We’ve been thinking of f.y.i. — with its lists of various important Suffolk facts and figures — as kind of the skeleton that gives foundation to the other informational products we publish about our city. Those other products — like the muscles and flesh of a body — give our readers a sense of what the city looks, feels and sounds like on the outside, while f.y.i. gives them an insider’s view of how all those parts of the body are connected and work together.

So it is with the folks you’ll read about in Friday’s section. In some sense, it is only through the foundation they provide that Suffolk’s city agencies function as well as they do. The well-known names and faces might get the exposure, but without those folks working in the background, their departments would not run nearly as smoothly.

Look for the f.y.i. section on Friday and get to know someone who might be more important than you ever suspected.