, Salem, MA

August 19, 2013

Our view: Some cheers, jeers for local newsmakers

The Salem News

---- — CHEERS to the continued success of what is rapidly becoming a local tradition: Summer farmers markets.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Massachusetts ranks seventh in the country for number of farmers markets. State numbers put the number of markets at 255 in the summer, with another 40 or so in the winter. That’s up from about 167 markets — total — in 2008.

A good chunk of the increase can be attributed to several relatively new or growing markets in communities such as Salem, Beverly, Swampscott and Marblehead that feature fresh, locally grown fruit and produce.

The waning days of summer are the perfect time to take advantage of ripening local crops. And the markets have plenty of other products to offer as well, including bread, cut flowers and wine.

JEERS to the continued cluelessness of some legislators when it comes to the newly minted tax on computer services.

Business leaders and IT experts say the 6.25 percent tax on some services — but not others — is highly confusing and threatens to strip more than $500 million from companies and consumers.

Don’t tell that to lawmakers, especially those scrambling to explain their vote in favor of what has become a lightning rod for criticism.

According to the State House News Service, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey released a fact sheet saying the new revenue stream was a “modernizing” and not a new tax.

“The changes to the sales tax will help level the playing field by requiring technology companies’ products to be subject to the sales tax, just as other businesses’ products are taxed.”

Over in the Senate, however, Stephen Brewer and Michael Rodrigues sent their own fact sheet outlining all the services that will not be subject to the new tax, including technical support and website hosting.

So depending on which “fact sheet” you choose to believe, legislators meant to level the playing field, or tax some businesses and not others.

Sounds like they need to get their stories straight.

CHEERS to the Ipswich Police Department for calling on the town’s youth to help name its new police boat.

Chief Paul Nikas and his officers selected the new name — Tigershark — from about 500 entries submitted by elementary school-aged children across town.

“There were some great names,” Nikas said. “They used some ingenuity. They thought it out.” (The Ipswich High School mascot is a tiger.)

The names were submitted by four students: Summer Smith, Casey Nordberg, Anna Jones and Colin Hansen. They each won a ride in the boat with their families during Crane Beach Picnic Day in June and a $20 gift card to Dairy Queen.

JEERS to the panic over the most important set of knees in New England.

When offensive lineman Nate Solder rolled over Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s left knee during practice last week, you could hear horrified gasps from Providence, R.I., to Presque Isle, Maine. Fans prepared for a season of covering their eyes as fleet-footed but errant-armed Tim Tebow dropped back to pass.

Brady limped off the field and soon enough, word came through social media that Brady was done for the year, maybe for his career. One Bloomberg business reporter tweeted that Brady had torn the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his knee. Which was true — in 2008.

Turns out, Brady’s pretty much fine. And we’ve learned yet another lesson about waiting for facts before assuming the worst. The regular season can’t get here soon enough.