GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

February 16, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Spotlighting issues when debate is on ground floor

It will be several weeks before the town of Manchester gets the chance to adopt or reject a potential bylaw limiting or banning the use of those little plastic grocery and convenience store bags with handles.

Before any such proposal becomes law, the town’s selectmen — in conjunction with Manchester’s municipal law firm, Kopelman and Paige — will have to finalize its wording for the Town Meeting warrant. Next, the warrant article must withstand any number of potential amendments at Town Meeting, then it must gain the approval of town voters who show up that night at Manchester Essex Regional High School.

So, given its fairly preliminary status, one might wonder why we would present a Page 1 story outlining all aspects of the proposed bylaw this early — before the warrant is even finalized, and before any specific wording of a plastic bag ban is in place.

Why would your community’s newspaper do that?

Because it’s not the mission or duty of your community newspaper to wait until something is officially announced — and it’s certainly not our duty to wait until a proposal becomes finalized before we let you know about it. Our goal is to let you know about what proposals or plans are in the works in our communities when we know about them — so that any such issues or potential new laws can be up for discussion, not just in Town Hall meeting rooms, but on the street corners, in the parks, and — perhaps especially in this case — in the aisles of local stores and supermarkets.

Let’s face it, the best way to generate honest, open discussion when it can make a difference is to open that discussion before any proposal gets too far advanced — and that was our idea in getting out a story about Manchester’s plastic bag proposal this week.

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