, Salem, MA

August 12, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for recent newsmakers

The Salem News

---- — CHEERS to those involved in Little League baseball’s Challenger division for their continued efforts to make the country’s greatest sport available to all youths.

The Challenger program is designed to let kids with physical and mental difficulties enjoy the game of baseball. It’s especially popular in Danvers, where 9-year-old Jacoby Catanzaro was a participant.

“Jacoby had just started to like sports and was involved in the Special Olympics,” Jacoby’s father, David, told correspondent Jean DePlacido. “He had fun playing in a soccer program; then we found out about the Danvers Challenger program from some of the other parents. We weren’t sure he could do it, but he loved it.”

Boy, did he love it. Jacoby made the transition to the standard Little League division and recently helped Danvers National win the Manchester-Essex District 15 Invitational. Jacoby pitched and had a couple of big hits in the championship game. His success, and the genuine joy he takes in playing the game, speak well of the town’s Little League system.

“We never thought (Jacoby) would be able to play regular baseball, but Karen Devaney, who runs the Challenger program, worked hard to make his dream come true. I can’t say enough about people like Karen, who do so many kind things behind the scenes. What she has done to make this possible is nothing short of a miracle.”

JEERS to lawmakers’ continued celebration of the Bay State’s “sales tax holiday” as some special favor for lowly shoppers and businesses. Studies have show such holidays don’t do much for store owners. Shoppers don’t spend more overall — they put off shopping until the holiday arrives, meaning less business during the other 51 weekends of the year.

As for shoppers, it feels more than a little insulting to watch taxes rise throughout the year (enjoying that indexed-to-inflation gas tax hike yet?) before having some loose change tossed your way.

We agree with the Tax Foundation: “If a state must offer a ‘holiday’ from its tax system, it is a sign that the state’s tax system is uncompetitive.”

CHEERS to summertime community traditions. For the past several days, the pages of this newspaper have been full of pictures from two longtime local events, Salem Heritage Days and Beverly Homecoming. Both events, spread over several days, are among the best the North Shore has to offer.

With goings-on ranging from lobster boat races and ice cream socials to high-level cycling races and music-filled block parties, there’s something for everyone.

Ellen Talkowski, special projects coordinator for Salem, said Heritage Days gives residents a chance to “be a tourist” in their hometown.

She might as well have been speaking for both communities when she said, “We want people to enjoy themselves.”

Mission accomplished.

JEERS to those who continue to insist the police unions’ vise-like grip on road details is all about public safety. It’s about money out in Sutton, where state troopers and local police are fighting over who gets first whack at the lucrative work on Route 146.

The State Police Association of Massachusetts put up a billboard in town saying they offer the best protection. Millville police Chief Ron Landry called it an insult, telling the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, “It’s very disappointing that the state police would advocate that they provide a better service than other law enforcement in the state.”

According to the Associated Press, Timothy P. Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said the confrontation is driven by opportunities for paid details, which the AP described as “a lucrative source of income for local and state police.”