Citizens, not officials, are Suffolk’s salvation

Published 9:58 pm Saturday, April 14, 2012

To the Editor:

I would like to thank you for providing informative and on-the-spot reporting regarding the city’s proposed budget. But after reading Vice Mayor Charles Brown’s column Friday, I had to go back and reread your articles.

Did I miss something? Am I reading the same Suffolk News-Herald Mr. Brown reads? I did not see anyone question Ms. Cuffee-Glenn’s work history. Nor have I read where her competency or ability to do her job has been reviewed. One more thing that I seem to be missing is any reference — other than Mr. Brown’s — to her gender.

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This letter is not about abilities and qualifications, but about the compensation package as a whole and the report that City Counsel appears to be basing it on. What factors were used to obtain these salary guidelines? Did they take into consideration the state of the economy, the unemployment rate or the general well being of the American people?

I wonder about the salaries of the average working people in the area. I wonder what an employee of a law firm should make, or an auto mechanic should earn. Are the working folks in Suffolk making the same as people with the same skill sets in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Washington, D.C., or Atlanta?

In Friday’s column, Mr. Brown mentioned the tornado that devastated the Obici hospital area and Town of Driver and stated he did not recall seeing anyone but the city manager and her employees working that emergency.

But I recall the young men and women from neighboring fire and rescue and police departments who rushed to our aid. I recall six off-duty deputies from the City of Chesapeake, riding in the back of an open pickup, fighting the traffic backup to be of assistance. I recall the citizens of Suffolk, wet and cold, working in the rain, walking in front of emergency vehicles and clearing a path.

Where was Mr. Brown when the displaced sought shelter at truck stops, because they had nowhere else to go? I recall the good-hearted citizens who bought coffee and meals for total strangers in need of their help.

Where was Charles Brown then? Suffolk citizens know where we were. We know where the young men and women from our neighboring cities were. And we know where we will be when the next disaster comes our way. We will pick up our chainsaws and clear the country roads for our neighbors. We will offer aid and comfort and buy meals and clothing for perfect strangers.

Our actions in those times reflect our embrace of John F. Kennedy’s call for Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

“We the People” of the United States of America are this country. The citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia are this country. The residents of the City of Suffolk are this country. We know what we are willing to do for our country. But what are the members of City Council willing to do for it?

Robert L. Fowler
Suffolk