EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 7, 2012

Your view: Letters to the editor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Re-open Berry Pond to swimmers

To the editor:

I would like to call attention to an article written by Bill Kirk concerning the Harold Parker State Forest, which appeared in The Eagle-Tribune on Aug. 26. The only thing missing is the once popular swimming spot — Berry Pond — that has been closed for the last three summers.

Gov. Deval Patrick three years ago said there were not enough funds in the budget to keep some of the swimming areas open. Berry Pond was on the list to cut. I called the governor’s office in October, 2011, and asked that the state add funds to the budget to open Berry Pond for summer of 2012. Also I made several calls to Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and all the senators on the Ways and Means Committee.

Next I started to call all the representatives on the Ways and Means Committee, and when I called the second representative on the list, the aide said I was not following protocol. I was going about it the wrong way. He said I should call my senator, who was Sen. Steven Baddour at the time, and state Rep. Jim Lyons. The only one who called me back was Lyons. Rep. Lyons made a call to the DCR Commissioner Edward Lambert and arranged a meeting April 18, 2012, at Stevens Memorial Library to discuss Berry Pond. Senator Bruce Tarr’s Chief of Staff A.J. Paglia came and also Rep. David Torrisi was present. Berry Pond never opened last summer.

What angers me seems to be a lot of waste and mismanagement in the budget. For instance take the Probation Office. Legislators rubber-stamped bloated budgets for probation officials, which was in the 307 pages of independent consul Paul Ware’s report. Where were the checks and balances as to where all the money went? Legislators did not do diligence in their job with taxpayers’ money. As a result criminal charges were brought against top officials at the probation office. This investigation is still ongoing and costing the taxpayers even more money.

Another waste and mismanagement in the budget is the EBT card abuse. This is outrageous allowing people to use these EBT cards at the ATM machine. How do legislators monitor where the money is being spent?

With unemployment so high and gas prices outrageous this past summer, who could afford to take a vacation? But, if Berry Pond had been opened, families could enjoy a picnic lunch and a cool swim and get away from every day stress.

To the legislators up on Beacon Hill: How about giving back to the people of this great state some enjoyment and recreation we deserve? It is the people’s state and we are paying legislators’ salaries. The legislators on Beacon Hill are there to serve the people of this state with honesty and integrity. Please do the right thing and add funds to the budget to open Berry Pond for the summer of 2013.

Phyllis Rines

North Andover

End tax exemption for online purchases

To the editor:

I am someone who truly believes the success of our society is rooted in a robust and healthy economy. One of the surest ways to encourage such an economy is through supporting our local, independently owned businesses. Supporting these businesses does not just involve consumers utilizing their services and products; it also requires that our government be engaged with these businesses, be made aware of their concerns, and that our government is active in addressing policies that place these businesses at a disadvantage.

It is with this belief in mind that I write about how happy I am to see Mayor Steve Zanni of Methuen joining with seven other Massachusetts mayors in taking the lead in demanding that our local businesses be treated with fairness by our state and federal government. Specifically, these eight mayors have joined with businesses and concerned citizens to push Massachusetts and the federal government to eliminate the tax loophole which allows online retailers to avoid charging the 6.25 percent Massachusetts sales tax.

Currently, online retailers are not required to charge the Massachusetts sales tax, meaning that a purchase made online can save a consumer 6.25 percent over what they would be paying at an actual brick-and-mortar establishment. This places our local businesses — from our mom and pop stores, to larger retailers — at a competitive disadvantage to their online counterparts.

Closing this tax loophole offers many benefits. First and foremost, closing the loophole eliminates a policy that penalizes local businesses — businesses which employ local residents, and support municipal budgets through commercial property taxes. Second, closing this loophole will generate tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for our state — revenue that can be used to support road and bridge repair, public education, and our local communities. As a government, we shouldn’t be punishing our brick-and-mortar establishments, and we certainly shouldn’t be doing it at such a high cost.

It is great to see Mayor Zanni joining with other mayors in taking the lead on closing this loophole. It is especially encouraging to see such state leaders as Treasurer Steve Grossman join the growing chorus for eliminating this penalizing policy. Let us hope that the voices of these leaders and our local businesses are heard by lawmakers in Boston and Washington.

Janet McLennan