Time for a new strategy

Published 8:57 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2014

By Roger Leonard

My how time flies, especially when there is hope for change in the air.

With the recent council election behind us and a clean sweep in hand, and with a clear mandate for change under our belts, it’s time to set a solid and effective strategy going forward.

Email newsletter signup

I have taught strategy for some time now and when defining such, I always start with a true change-initiator first. As such, I would propose that one of the very first significant initiators must be a change in city administrative leadership. During the last several years, this issue has been our most telling failure.

Just as we found consensus several years ago when council let Steve Herbert go, it is well past time to again look at changing city managers. This is a reasoned cause of action, due to the utter failure by our present city manager to do anything other than the bidding of a mayor-centric clique, which has not had the best interest of the citizens in mind for some time.

This utter management failure has included many lost opportunities, with the following few examples:

  • The meltdown of the communications department with a significant IT failure and very stifling transparency problems.
  • The dangerous strategy that has added significant public debt, which must be paid back by our children.
  • The failure to work fully and properly with the School Board, due to personality issues in city hall.
  • The myopic failure to understand the value of the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad to the community, in a dash to control it all.
  • The manipulation of the city budget to punish the enemies of this administration and to reward friends.
  • And perhaps the most corrosive of all, the way the city manager put her needs and wants above all else, by example of her 14-percent pay raise.
Working forward with a full and more effective team, after addressing the city manager, we can vet realistic strategies. We can define strategic opportunities for transportation, development, economic prosperity and transformation of government locally into a transparent operation.

After sacking the city manager, lets’ move on to discuss the following:

  • When the city is not paying tipping fees to SPSA, why are citizens paying for garbage services?
  • Why is mismanagement of the utility enterprise fund tolerated and resolved only by raising water and sewer fees?
  • Why have we neglected strategic needs like schools, roads and true economic development to diversify our tax base?
Our new council must set us on a new and transformative path with strategies that make Suffolk a better place to live. Council must serve all citizens, instead of only the powerful and the connected. It must serve by merit, rather than favor. We need to balance the wants of the powerful, with the capacity of the serfs, who have paid dearly with ever-higher taxes and fees.
We need to truly think beyond the backroom plans of the past, which benefited only the mighty. We need strategies that benefit our full community.

With our new council, we could do these things and more. Will they listen and act? Time will tell, but we all hold great hope for a new direction and new leadership, in our beloved city of Suffolk.

Roger Leonard is from Suffolk. Email him at rogerflys@aol.com.