Since the Beacon started running Bob Cushman's bi-weekly "The Taxpayers Spin," more than 60 columns have been published in the editorial pages of the newspaper. The former Ward 1 Councilman's observations have covered a range of topics, but for the most part he has focused on city government and schools, with an emphasis on the budget, taxes and the legacy costs of pension and health care benefits for retirees. Bob attends City Council meetings and is a regular among a group that follows city government and is vocal in expressing their opinions.
Last week, I decided to end Bob’s column. The decision was not made abruptly or without careful consideration. The editorial pages of the paper have long reflected my belief that the newspaper should serve as an open forum for opinions and ideas, covering every side of the issue. That has not always been popular, but the Beacon will continue to do that. Bob’s comments have a place in this public discourse and the newspaper will continue to print them.
Why then, not in a column?
First, as a column, the appearance is that the newspaper endorses what he is saying. In fact, we have had some lively discussion over the editing of the column. I would add that Bob has made the column available to the paper at no charge and he has never been a paid employee of this company.
Second, and this is more the issue for me, Bob is no longer an observer of news – he has become the news.
He often speaks at city and state meetings and testified before the joint finance committee of the Senate and House reviewing state pension plan reforms. He is a regular on radio talk shows and has been featured in other news media.
As we go forward, I welcome Bob’s views in the editorial pages of this paper and will call on him for his spin on developments so important to this city and its future. His input is valued and so is yours.