EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

December 29, 2013

Editorial: A look back at some of the big issues of 2013

The quality of our political leadership, taxes, spending and government secrecy were among the issues we examined in editorials over the past year. Readers can be sure these issues and others will provoke further commentary in the coming year.

In a democratic republic, how elected officials represent and relate to their constituents is of paramount importance. “Bread and butter” issues such as spending and taxes affect everyone.

Newspapers report the news without bias or favor. But on their opinion pages, newspapers for well over 100 years have invited debate on the issues of the day, expressing the views of their editorial leadership and welcoming those of readers through letters and columns.

Here are some of the issues that drew our attention in 2013:

Politics. The three Massachusetts cities we serve held mayoral elections in 2013 and there were tight races in Lawrence and Methuen. We commented on several occasions on the need for professional leadership in these communities.

In Lawrence, we argued that City Councilor Daniel Rivera was the better choice for mayor over incumbent William Lantigua. Rivera, we said, has the educational, work and political background needed to bring professional leadership to the city. Rivera told us Lawrence must combat its lawless image to entice new businesses to locate here and it must get its finances together to end its dependency on the state.

“This isn’t what some in Lawrence want to hear,” we wrote Nov. 1. “They’d rather listen to Lantigua’s easy promises and empty rhetoric. This is tough medicine that Rivera is offering. But Lawrence needs it.”

Rivera narrowly won the mayoral election on Nov. 5 and prevailed in a recount.

Taxes and spending. The two go hand-in-hand, for government has no money to spend that it does not take, via taxation, from its citizens.

In Massachusetts, after years of tight budgets, Gov. Deval Patrick wanted to take advantage of a slightly improving economy to go on a spending spree. At the beginning of last year, Patrick proposed a $1.9 billion tax increase to pay for his transportation and education initiatives. Patrick even pulled out one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook, surrounding himself with kids holding signs calling for “compassion” and “courage.”

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