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Keeping watch in a new year Opinion pages in The Buffalo News will offer a marketplace of ideas

If today still is a day for resolutions, here's ours: In 2007, we intend to please, annoy, inform and -- we hope -- persuade you. That's our role as a newspaper editorial page. It's a time-honored tradition of American journalism, and one that this newspaper takes very seriously.

The opinion pages of The Buffalo News are intended to be a marketplace of ideas -- an array of columnists with differing viewpoints, a representative sampling of opinionated letters from our readers and local columns dealing with a variety of views on issues and the quality of life. We print criticisms of this newspaper and its editorials as well, because we take our role as an institutional citizen just as seriously.

The unsigned editorials in this space are the opinions of The Buffalo News in that role as an institutional citizen. We offer informed opinions based on experience, resources, contacts and the simple fact that we have far more time to spend on analyzing policies and issues than most of our readers. Editorials are one more tool you can use to reach your own opinions; we try to make that tool a valuable one.

Here's what you can expect from us in 2007:

Locally, we will continue to watch efforts to restructure governments and promote fiscal recovery. We will look for leadership in those efforts, especially at the county level, and for signs of union-management cooperation, especially at the city level. We are not anti-union, as a few union leaders have charged, but we do see the need for re-engineering governmental services, and the way they are delivered, to return enough financial health to fund contracts that fairly compensate workers.

We also will continue to back community-creating downtown housing, significant architecture symbolic of both Buffalo's heritage and its rebirth, development of the medical campus and redevelopment of the waterfront.

For all of Western New York, we will continue to look for more efficient governmental services through cooperation, consolidation or merger -- in short, through a greater degree of regionalism. We will continue to support efforts to renew the regional economy through job-creating tourism and business growth, including Niagara Falls, and we will push for important regional transportation projects including a dramatic new Niagara River bridge.

At the state level, we will push for fundamental reforms in governmental practices including ethics, lobbying and legislative procedures. We will continue to portray New York's status as a high-tax state as poison for economic redevelopment, to decry both taxes and mandates that drain jobs and population from this state, and to insist to the Western New York delegation that no level of skill in manipulating a broken governmental system is as important as restoring a truly open and representative government in Albany.

At the national and international levels, we will continue to push for federal policies that increase this region's chances for economic recovery -- including elimination or drastic change of the planned border passport or ID requirements. We will argue for conservation and other energy policy changes that could reduce American dependence on foreign oil, a failing of this and previous administrations that failed to recognize the threat posed by that dependence to our economy and foreign policies. A nation that can touch the surface of the moon surely can power its future in ways with less risk to prosperity and freedom.

Our advocacy for the environment will continue, centering on Great Lakes issues. We will view any erosion of civil rights with suspicion, champion economic and social justice, support efforts to combat poverty and condemn violations of constitutional rights, and especially defend the First Amendment. We will push for a carefully planned and timed withdrawal from Iraq, so that U.S. forces there don't become simply cover for sectarian violence.

Whenever we comment at any level, we will strive to be fair and well-reasoned. We will welcome your criticism and your own opinions as well -- and we always will defend that freedom of expression and your right to be informed as a fundamental duty within a democracy. All year, every year.

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