Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Discussions about upcoming warrant arcticles or anything else related to Town Meeting.

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby mike_flynn on Mon May 07, 2012 8:12 am

or Kevin Donnelly at the 1/31/12 Public Hearing:

Kevin Donnelly @ 1/31/12 Public Hearing wrote:I have several comments on the proposal. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six months, I’ve gone to a lot of charter committee meetings, I’ve gone to different town meetings, I’ve gone to different public hearings, and I have some comments.

Very first, I want to put something to rest that really just bothered me, I mean. There’s been a statement made that only three towns in Massachusetts over 25,000 population have Open Town Meeting. That’s true, okay. Tewksbury by the way has about 30,000 people. But the implication is that the rest of the towns over 25,000 population have Town Council, and that’s not true, alright.

The statement implication is simply not true. Of the 27 towns between 25 and 35,000, three have Open Town Meetings, nine have Town Council, fifteen have Representative Town Meetings, so the majority have Representative Town Meeting and not Town Council. I just want to set the record straight.

In regard to the Open Town Meeting, I agree with the committee. The Open Town Meeting simply has not worked. When 200 people show up out of 20,000 voters, 1%, that’s appalling. Something needs to be done.

But my third point is, I don’t think this Special Act Charter Committee Town Council is the way to go, at least not as it’s currently put together. It simply goes too far.

I believe, as the previous speakers have mentioned, under this new charter, citizens essentially lose all their rights to the Town Council.

The referendum and initiative procedures are a sham, since all important issues are prohibited from referendum and initiative consideration under Section 8-5: Measures not Subject to Initiative and Referendum. Such things as budgets, appropriations, policy decisions, in essence anything important.

5% signature threshold, 1,000 signatures, must be filed within 20 days for referendum requests to be valid, that’s onerous. 15% voter turnout to be valid is hap-hazardous, capricious and onerous.

The proposed SACC charter does not require ratification at a regular town election. I don’t know if people know that. It doesn’t require going to the ballot. The committee has said they are going to send it to the ballot. The SACC committee has stated they would put it on the ballot. Voter ratification should be part of the charter, not up to somebody. “Trust me” is not an acceptable answer, especially since an amendment to the charter passed on 10/19/11 requiring voter ratification of any future charter changes was conveniently eliminated from the 1/10/12 document. I don’t know how that happened, but it’s gone.

Voter ratification of the charter and all subsequent changes is extremely important. Otherwise, the Town Council can simply change the charter to whatever it wishes. I hate to use an old-fashioned term my friends, but that’s tyranny. All elected town committees will de-facto report to the Town Council. This includes the School Committee. Prohibitions in Section 8-5 essentially prevent the School Committee from protesting anything important.

After careful consideration, I recommend that the Special Act Charter Committee Town Council charter proposal not be put on a Special Town Meeting warrant, and if it is, I urge that it be rejected at Special Town Meeting.
User avatar
mike_flynn
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby mike_flynn on Mon May 07, 2012 8:13 am

or Jay Kelley again at the 1/31/12 Public Hearing:

Jay Kelley @ 1/31/12 Public Hearing wrote:The gentleman had raised the issue of special interest influence at Town Meeting, and I think he’s right about that. Certainly at times, town employees and condo residents have come to Town Meeting and dominated it. But, there’s more to it than that.

Special interest dominance at Town Meeting is not new. He mentioned two recent ones. In the 50’s, builders dominated Town Meeting. In the 30’s, greenhouse owners dominated Town Meeting. And around 1910, and this is before my time, I would bet that the owners of horse-drawn carriages dominated Town Meeting.

That’s the first thing that was left out.

The other thing that was left out was the implication that by changing the form of government, you would get rid of special interests. For example, there are no special interests that have influence in the state legislature, there are no special interests that have influence in congress. That’s simply not true.

What will change is, instead of the special interests being out in the open and you know who they are, they will do their magic in private. We won’t know who they are until decisions have been made.
User avatar
mike_flynn
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby mike_flynn on Mon May 07, 2012 8:14 am

or Bob Rauseo at the 2/7/12 Public Hearing:

Bob Rauseo @ 2/7/12 Public Hearing wrote:From my perspective, looking at this proposal, I’m being asked to give up my vote at Town Meeting in exchange for a voice, a voice that for the most part I already have. I have the voice to come to this meeting and express my opinion, I have the voice to come to any Finance Committee or any other public hearing and express my opinion. To have the vote at a public ballot on overrides and debt exclusions, but I have that now. So I’m saying, I’m being asked to give something up. What am I getting back in return? And what I’m getting is the initiative and referendum petition possibilities. I don’t think that’s a good deal, and I reject it and would like to keep my vote.

...

Okay, so now I’m being asked to give up the power that I have at an open Town Meeting in exchange for a promise that I’m being listed to well now, which I agree, that I’m going to be listed to even better in the future. So, give up the power in exchange for a promise. Seems like a bad deal to me once again. I don’t like it.
User avatar
mike_flynn
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby mike_flynn on Mon May 07, 2012 8:15 am

or David Plunkett at the 2/7/12 Public Hearing:

David Plunkett @ 2/7/12 Public Hearing wrote:I don’t think that the town has gotten to the point where we’ve gotten too large that the proposed form is a necessity. And I think that would be a key point, that until such time as that this community has grown too large that Town Meeting cannot work, that you need that special Town Council form of government, I hate the idea of giving up what we have.
User avatar
mike_flynn
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby mike_flynn on Mon May 07, 2012 8:16 am

or even Jay Kelley at the 2/7/12 Public Hearing:

Jay Kelley @ 2/7/12 Public Hearing wrote:First, with respect to the Special Act Charter Committee, a couple things. We owe them something. We owe them thanks for spending all the time that they have over the last few years putting together a Charter. We also, I believe, owe them good-faith consideration of what they’ve done, not to reject it because we may not have not liked the method.

What we don’t owe them, though, is a vote.

We have to decide, based on what they’ve proposed, whether or not it’s best for the town. And the issue is not whether or not Town Meeting still works. It does still work. So does the City Council form of government.

The issue is, do we want all of the legislative authority, now exercised by citizens of the town, to be turned over in total to elected officials?

To be specific, with a couple of examples, when it comes to the School Budget and whether that’s going up or down relative to the Town Manager’s or the Finance Committee’s recommendation, or when the issue is zoning and my neighborhood, where it may be changed from residential to heavy industry, I want to keep my vote on that.

The Board of Selectmen before us I think is a very good board. It may not be the best one I’ve ever seen, but it’s in the top five. However, I’ll predict that in ten years, none of you will be on this board, and there will be different people.

I can tell you in the past that, speaking statistically, there have been irresponsible Selectmen. And there’ll be irresponsible elected officials, whether they’re Selectmen or City Councilors, in the future. So we should not be making the decision [based] on the performance of a board that is substantially better than average.

We, the voters in the town, have almost no influence on what happens at the Federal government level, we have a little bit more at the State level, but not much, and we’d have a little bit more if we had a City Council.

We have the most influence at a Town Meeting. We ought to keep that, as the earlier speaker said, we ought to keep that influence and that power for as long as we can, for as long as it works, and that’s the time when we ought to consider this Charter. Not now.
User avatar
mike_flynn
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby Clorox on Tue May 08, 2012 10:20 pm

how come no one FOR the charter change got up to speak at the citizen's microphone?
Clorox
 
Posts: 260
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby swamper on Tue May 08, 2012 10:37 pm

Embarrassed? Futile? Without a leg to stand on? Writing on the wall? :wink:
NO SLOTS IN TEWKSBURY!!!
NO TO RE-ZONE AUG. 20 TOWN MTG.
NO AT BALLOT (if need be) SEPT. 21
User avatar
swamper
 
Posts: 6013
Joined: Sat May 06, 2000 1:01 am
Location: Tewksbury

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby Little Willie on Wed May 09, 2012 7:11 am

How about Warren Carey? I think he was against the charter change for obvious reasons but with wifey on the commitee his lips were sealed!
Little Willie
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 5:12 pm

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby newtotewks on Wed May 09, 2012 10:48 am

As someone said at last nights meeting " a discussion has been started", lets hope both sides can continue to discuss this idea in the weeks, months, even years to come. The attendance at last nights meeting was over 600, Monday night about 150, and tonight? I hear the argument about losing your voice and or your vote, but when only 150 voters show up, is your voice and your vote really being heard and counted? A fella behind me last night said he was told to show up and vote NO, but he had no idea what he was voting NO on, I handed him my copy of the article, a little to late to make an informed decision. I wonder how many voters actually read the article..... water under the Brown st bridge for now.

Stay well Tewksbury!
newtotewks
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:55 pm

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby GuitarTeacher on Wed May 09, 2012 10:50 am

newtotewks wrote:As someone said at last nights meeting " a discussion has been started", lets hope both sides can continue to discuss this idea in the weeks, months, even years to come. The attendance at last nights meeting was over 600, Monday night about 150, and tonight? I hear the argument about losing your voice and or your vote, but when only 150 voters show up, is your voice and your vote really being heard and counted? A fella behind me last night said he was told to show up and vote NO, but he had no idea what he was voting NO on, I handed him my copy of the article, a little to late to make an informed decision. I wonder how many voters actually read the article..... water under the Brown st bridge for now.

Stay well Tewksbury!


I would rather 150 concerned voters who care show up to Town Meeting and vote than 9 council members who may or may not know what their disctrict(s) want.
==========================================
"A painter paints pictures on canvas.
But musicians paint their pictures on silence."
-Leopold Stokowski
User avatar
GuitarTeacher
 
Posts: 698
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 1:01 am

Re: Who's pushing for a Town Council, and why?

Postby swamper on Wed May 09, 2012 12:32 pm

I wholeheartedly agree. There was NEVER any guarantee that 9 councilors would be any more knowledgeable on Town business than the faithful constituents who already attend Town Meeting and stay involved on a regular basis. I'll take my chances on the 150. That being said the Townspeople shared a victory last night and Open Town Meeting lives on to see another day!
User avatar
swamper
 
Posts: 6013
Joined: Sat May 06, 2000 1:01 am
Location: Tewksbury

Previous

Return to Town Meeting