From the Editors: Closing Our Fourth Volume
A look back at 2014 and a look forward to 2015
Year's end always seems to be a time of reflection and analysis — a measuring of both the last twelve month's high and low points, an opportune time to evaluate the last 365 days to make sense of them as a collective whole. So as 2014 draws to a close and we put the final touches on the fourth volume of the Erie Reader, you'll find such contemplation and consideration in the final issue of this volume.
For starters, Arts & Culture Editor Alex Bieler takes us through 2014 in this issue's year-in-review feature, examining the biggest stories — both nationally and locally — to measure their impact. Nationally, stories like the Ebola outbreak, the shooting deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, the legalization of marijuana, and the challenges to the Affordable Care Act standout amongst the many stories that shaped how we've lived 2014.
In Erie, headlines went to the closing of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, the derailing of the proposed rail terminal, continued Bayfront development, the increase in heroin-related deaths, the establishment of a quasi-community college, and the results of this year's midterm elections. Alex also details the ebbs and flows in the local entertainment scene, noting the closing of a landmark venue and the emergence and reemergence of others.
In his column, Contributing Editor Jim Wertz dubs 2014 "The Year Of The Gun," as violent crimes continue to plague our city and challenge our neighborhoods while many stand idly by with feet planted firmly in the ground and hands stuffed in pockets. In short, The Year Of The Gun casts a pall over the good nature, the good stories, and the progress of Erie, and as 2015 knocks on the door, we can wait no longer to peel back the veil and stare the problem down to know how best to search for solutions.
Contributing Editor Rebecca Styn re-evaluates the topics she covered during the last 52 weeks to address chief issues still facing like the city and region — like relocating a school into an unused school building, along with putting a potato chip plant in an already existing but vacant potato chip plant. While 2014 saw a fair share of accomplishments, much work is left unresolved and is still in need of solutions.
Year-end reflection often revolves around the holidays, and in "Exile On State Street," Rick Filippi ruminates of the City of Erie's Christmas gift — or lump of coal depending on how you look at it: A tax increase to the tune of 7.3 percent, bringing the total percentage increase since 2012 to more than 21 percent.
To deal with an increasing budget, raising taxes is the easy answer, but as we continue to burden those choosing to live within the City, is it the right one? Shouldn't our political leaders be looking for more creative answers, ones that don't solely raid the taxpayers' bank accounts? Rick — in addressing what he calls a Christmas present we did not ask for — looks for those alternatives in hopes of challenging leadership to be bold, not just to be bankers.
The final days of December are a good time for Top-10 lists and for assessment. Alex Bieler and John Lindvay reminisce on the best albums and best moments in geek culture, respectively here, while James R. LeCorchick takes grading literally, issuing mid-season scores to local university basketball teams, as he looks at both the past and the future.
And perhaps the future is where the lion's share of our attention ought to go and this time of the year. We know — when adjusting our future based on our past — that hindsight's 20/20. Now that we've inspected our recent past, it's time that we turn our sights to the future.
While it's easy to see clearly our most recent action, envisioning the future takes truly audacious perception. 2015 needs to be the year we look to call upon the inspirers, the dreamers, the visionaries who dare not only to see and wish for a better Erie, but to endeavor and labor to make that vision a reality. Otherwise, we'll be right back here writing the same From The Editors twelve months later.