SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 19, 2012

Benton: Gearing up for Round 3

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — In terms of debate performance, President Barack Obama had nowhere to go but up, which is likely the reason many seemed to believe he was the winner of Tuesday’s town-hall-style confrontation with GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Indeed, Obama was much more engaged than was the case in their first encounter. But Romney was not about to cede the stage or the time he got to speak to the incumbent. All in all, it was a pointed exchange that columnist and ABC News commentator George Will described as the best debate he had ever witnessed — and he’s seen all of them going back to those between JFK and Richard Nixon in 1960.

Though not mentioned by name, Salem Harbor Station became part of the discussion when Obama questioned Romney’s commitment to coal power by noting how, as governor of Massachusetts, he’d sought to close the power plant with the declaration that “coal kills.”

If reaction to this latest debate and recent polls are any indication, this race is still extremely close. The final exchange Monday (9 p.m., Boca Raton, Fla.), which will focus on foreign policy, could tip the balance one way or the other.

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Citizens for Limited Taxation is warning its members of a “tax hike onslaught that will ... follow when the new Legislature is seated in January.”

CLT’s Chip Ford, a Marblehead resident, says there are already signs that the Democratic leadership’s opposition to tax increases of any kind is waning. Indeed, a sweep by the majority party in next month’s election could embolden legislators to consider initiatives like an increase in the gas tax and a hike in the income-tax rate.

According to Ford, “State tax collections for this current fiscal year (which ends next June 30) are greater than the previous fiscal year’s state revenue haul — but for the Gimme Lobby and tax-borrow-and-spend Bacon Hill pols, more is never enough and never will be.”

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Time after time over several decades, the Salem Redevelopment Authority has proved itself a wise and caring conservator of the city’s historic central business district. Under various administrations, beginning with that of the late Sam Zoll, the appointed body has demonstrated an ability to rise above politics in making decisions affecting development downtown.

The result is the vibrant urban setting — the envy of numerous other cities of similar size — that one finds there today. Thus it came as no surprise that the SRA this week voted to retain and restore the 1970s-era fountain in Town House Square that honors native son Nathaniel Hawthorne, the great novelist, and provides an oasis of cool and calm near one of the city’s busiest intersections.

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Ward 2 Councilor Mike Sosnowski says he won’t vote for the appointment of anyone to a city job who doesn’t live in Salem. His colleagues in Lynn have taken a similar position by imposing a residency requirement on police, firefighters and others.

Not to be unkind to the city next door, but it’s doubtful that Sosnowski is likely to fulfill his political ambitions by promising to make Salem just like Lynn.

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Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at nelson.benton3@gmail.com.