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From boys to men

Last week we accused them of a childish tantrum, resorting to political trickery to get a radio tower approved. This week we’re going to praise them for one of the most mature, adult political decisions in recent memory.

Amid an environment in which politicians seem to be tripping over each other to be the first to cut taxes the most, the County Commission deserves considerable praise for demonstrating mature and much needed leadership in proposing a tax increase to pay for repairs to the county’s dreadful roads.

The less than $10 a year extra it will cost a typical homeowner is well worth the price, particularly now that the county’s Roads and Bridges Department appears to be under stable direction.

You may, of course, disagree. That’s your right. In fact, it’s your responsibility. By taking the bold step of proposing additional revenue for needed infrastructure repairs, and doing so in an above-board way that will afford the public a full and complete opportunity to be involved in the decision, the commissioners have convincingly demonstrated the type of leadership we at times have found lacking elsewhere this summer.

Disagreement — even vigorous debate — is not something to be shunned or avoided. We do, as columnist Jeremiah Lange suggests elsewhere on this page, want to keep it civil. But civil doesn’t mean silent. Raising a voice in protest, then working to resolve differences, is what democracy is all about. Simply smiling and thinking everything is great when it isn’t is not what our founding fathers had in mind.

For our part, we’re willing to occasionally be called “yellow journalists” or to take a hit financially when we take on a tough topic.

One of the blessings of publishing a subscription-based newspaper is that our biggest customer — the person we have to please — is not an official or an advertiser. It’s you, the reader.

You may have noticed, as several have, that the back-to-school advertisement the Marion schools typically place in our paper did not appear this year. We called for the ad and were told it wasn’t ready. Instead, it appeared in a competing paper, one that doesn’t cover Marion schools except for sports.

We don’t begrudge district officials for not wanting to advertise after we made life uneasy for them over how the superintendent received a big raise. Canceling a long-standing ad in response is their right — and a risk we knowingly take whenever we provide aggressive coverage and editorials. Our gamble is that whatever we lose in advertising by taking tough stands on behalf of our readers, we can make up for in terms of subscriber loyalty.

So, yes, we’re disappointed but not angry or hurt. As long as you, our No. 1 customer, want aggressive coverage and commentary, we’ll keep providing it, regardless of the cost. It’s what we do.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Aug. 2, 2012

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