SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 7, 2014

Benton: Doing the right thing for the wrong reason

It took a Republican governor’s veto of a bill passed by the Republican legislature for Arizona to avoid further embarrassment last week.

Regardless of its zany supporters’ assertions, the bill had nothing to do with freedom of religion and everything do with the fear that, as happened next door in New Mexico, some business might be sued for refusing service to a gay couple. Gov. Jan Brewer did the right thing; sadly, not because it was the right thing to do, but because of fear it might cost her state the Super Bowl and other lucrative business opportunities.

Meanwhile, back on this reporter’s former home turf, the Salem City Council has passed a non-discrimination ordinance put forward by the city’s No Place for Hate Committee. Mayor Kim Driscoll signed the ordinance Monday making Salem the first community on the North Shore and one of only five in the state to expand upon the state’s existing non-discrimination law by extending it to the transgender community in the matter of public accommodations.

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It’s rare that a city or town planning board finds itself at the center of a mayoral election as happened recently in Beverly.

Voters in North Beverly and Montserrat were livid over a decision by the board to approve the rezoning of land near the intersection of Route 128 and Brimbal Avenue that would allow the construction of a new shopping plaza and a long-planned new highway interchange. Mayor Bill Scanlon and both of his would-be successors supported the rezoning as well; but the eventual winner, Michael Cahill, saw fit to throw neighbors a bone by asking for Planning Board chairman Richard Dinkin’s resignation.

After 30 years on the board, Dinkin did not go quietly, opting to voice his dismay in a speech to the City Council. Cahill says he wants all members of his administration to show “respect in all public discourse.” Sadly, some only feel respected when you agree with them.

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