SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 6, 2013

Benton: Baker should focus on Dems' tax votes

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — Swampscott’s Charlie Baker made it official Wednesday, releasing a video declaring his candidacy for governor of Massachusetts.

He said all the right things about family, jobs and the Red Sox, but no doubt wanting this to be a positive piece, failed to bring up the issue of higher taxes, which would appear to be the issue on which any Democrat would be must vulnerable in 2014.

Baker still appears very stiff on camera, a fact accentuated by the crisply pressed shirt and pair of blue jeans he was wearing. In fact, such was his laser-like focus on the camera, this observer kept thinking he might trip while walking about his yard.

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Now, if President Barack Obama can only sell Russia’s Vladimir Putin this week on the wisdom of retaliating against Syria for those chemical attacks, he’ll really deserve salesman-of-the-month honors.

As of last Friday, he’d failed to convince North Shore Congressman John Tierney. The Salem Democrat issued a statement declaring that “in the coming days, the Administration must present to Congress its strategic, legal and national security considerations as well as articulate objectives, costs, duration, and ramifications.”

Given public skepticism generally, the president did take the wise course asking for congressional approval rather than launching cruise missile strikes on Syrian military targets unilaterally. Providing he can round up a sufficient number of Republicans and Democrats to back his plan for a limited response, it will make it that much harder for the GOP to criticize the outcome.

The fact is that regardless of how this latest vote turns out, Americans are tired of trying to solve the problems in a Middle East whose Muslim residents appear united on one thing and one thing only — their contempt for the United States.

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Sunday had to be a good day in the Driscoll household. There on the front of the Globe’s Metro section illustrating a story on most-admired mayors, was a pantheon of municipal chief executives with none other than the Salem incumbent at top and center.

Columnist Yvonne Abraham asked the candidates for mayor of Boston to pick their favorite mayors, and John Barros chose the person Abraham described as “the hotshot mayor of Salem.” Others named were current mayor Tom Menino and predecessors Kevin White and Ray Flynn.

Others were from cities elsewhere in the country, and one even named a former mayor of Haifa, Israel. But other than Menino, Driscoll was the only Massachusetts politician mentioned.

You can be sure the story got more than a few mentions at the following morning’s Democratic Labor Day breakfast in Boston.

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The pushback against a major new commercial development at the intersection of Route 128 and Brimbal Avenue in Beverly is hardly surprising. But Mayor Bill Scanlon is right when he says it potentially holds the key to much-needed future infrastructure improvements in the city.

The traffic on Brimbal is already bad, and the new traffic lights and ramps contemplated for that North Beverly corner will help significantly. But these don’t come cheap, and getting the state and developer to pitch in will ease things considerably for hard-pressed Garden City taxpayers. And then there’s the additional property tax revenue that will be generated, which can be used for things like new schools and public-safety facilities.

It will be interested to see how those seeking to succeed Scanlon will come out on this project.