Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

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

Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby sean_czarniecki on Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:48 pm

bobr - Excellent post. I agree with most of what you included. Of course the financial amendments and discussions at Town Meeting are difficult to work through as we have recently witnessed. The point is that we *can* do it. We recently learned the difficulties that are faced and what is needed to make something happen. I would still rather have the option available to be able to attempt to make the amendment. Other types of articles are certainly easier to make amendments to. My main point is that arguments about the small turnout for Town Meetings with non-controversial articles is pretty weak. The people turn out when they really get concerned about an issue.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:03 pm

FYI:

MONDAY, Dec. 6, 2010 -- Special Act Charter Committee, 7 p.m. Town Hall
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby U8Coach on Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:36 pm

Is this an informational meeting or is this the decision making session?
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:21 pm

I believe it is their regular committee mtg. open to the public as they prepare to make their presentation to the BOS....not sure as to decisions.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby qwilson on Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:39 pm

WOW - I haven't had a chance to come here in a while but as I read through this post, I couldn't believe all the inaccurate information.

#1 - The BOS last fall (09), had people apply to be part of the Charter Committee. We have provided no guidance or direction in terms of what we want. Quite honestly it is irrelevant what I want. Based on feedback from the residents we asked them to look at our current form of government, determine what works (& doesn't) and then look at alternatives and tell us if there is something that makes sense for the Town of Tewksbury. This group was provided 18 months to come back to us with their findings. The interviews for this board were conducted at a BOS meeting (Which was televised).

#2 - Fin Comm does not put together the budget with the Town Manager. The Town Manager puts together a budget which Fin Comm then reviews, edits, makes suggestions etc.

#3 - Bob R - I love your suggestion to make Town Meeting an event which is worth attending. If people actually felt they had a say or voice in the process, then I believe they would attend and provide input.

#4 - Personally if we move to a council or stay with the current BOS/Town Meeting set up.....people need to have a say. I think in both models you still want to elect your Selectman (or Councilers), School Committee, Planning Board, Zoning Board, Board of Health....allowing residents to have a say in who represents them. As someone who has seen the Town Manager have little oversight in the Clerks office, I would change that position to appointed.

#5 - I hope the people on the committee, share the agenda of providing Tewksbury a better form of government. Obviously what that looks like will depend on their own personal experiences.

Either way, all of these topics are being discussed and at some point the Selectman will be provided an update on the findings to date. We will certainly weigh in with our concerns as some of the things I'm hearing I don't think are a positive change for Tewksbury.

I would certainly find it helpful if over the next few weeks people put suggestions on here about what they think would make our model more vibrant, more engaging and one that works better for the town of Tewksbury.

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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:16 pm

From TewksburyPatch:

http://tewksbury.patch.com/articles/cha ... ?ncid=M255

I have edited this post to reflect my commentary (in red) and let me preface this by saying nothing is meant to be personal or disrespect the volunteer committee....just my observations and opinion.

Charter Commission Will Provide an Update to Selectmen


Progress being made toward recommended changes in town government format.
By Bill Gilman | Email the author | 9:11am


Elizabeth Carey, chairwoman of the Special Act Charter Commission, stresses that crafting a revised charter to present to the Board of Selectmen, and ultimately to Town Meeting voters, is a work in progress.

But the key word is "progress."

"I've got a tentative appointment scheduled with selectmen at their Dec. 21 meeting at 8 p.m. to give them a thumbnail sketch of where we are at," said Carey. "We're making progress. As much as we have run into a few obstacles, this has been a real learning process."

Very poor timing to hold this during Christmas week when everyone is busy.....WHAT IS THE BIG RUSH?

The commission was formed in June 2009, charged with examining the town charter and recommending possible changes, particularly relating to the form of government the town uses. The term of the commission was originally scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2010. However, selectmen have extended the term until the conclusion of the 2011 Annual Town Meeting.

According to Carey, the commission has researched several forms of municipal government and has spoken with officials from several Massachusetts communities.

The commission has been leaning toward recommending abolishing the town's present Board of Selectmen/Town Meeting form of government and replacing it with a Town Council government. The latter would place more decision making authority under the council and the town manager.

I believe originally the Special Act Charter Commission's mission/goal was to STREAMLINE the Town Mtg. process and make it more understandable for the average resident. (which I support)
The RADICAL change proposed is an entirely different matter and changes the ENTIRE process/format of our Town government which effects EVERY board and committee in Town and of course takes away the residents' vote, as final say would be up to the Town Council. (which I do NOT support)
It is my understanding that this change in mission statement was based on the poor turn out at the Oct. Special Town Mtg. which coincidentally was the first time Town Warrants were not mailed to every household. Also I believe the vote was taken without ALL members of the commission in attendance. (even though a quorum was met) WHY would something of that magnitude be done/voted on without all commission members present?

Some residents have voiced concerns that eliminating Town Meeting would put too much power in the hands of elected officials.

"I know that's people's concern," said Carey. "But when I look at our boards, I don't see any type of a power struggle. I don't think that's a big concern right now that a board would have too much control."

I would agree that we have some good members on Town Boards at this point so why take the power away from them to do their jobs and then let the PEOPLE decide as opposed to a Town Council?

One of the priorities commission members have articulated is to have certain town boards, such as the Board of Health, Planning Board and Housing Authority remain elected positions. However, the commission has learned that under certain forms of municipal government, some boards must be appointed. The legal restrictions have posed a real challenge for the commission as it crafts its recommendations.

"One meeting we will be discussing something and then the next, we have to change it because of the law," said Carey. "We want this document to be able to serve the community well and let people still have their say."

I believe whether or the boards are elected or appointed, virtually is a moot point since the Town Council is ultimately the deciding body taking the power and end result away from them. **As it stands now, committees or boards must craft their articles, following a detailed process to get information/awareness out and reach out to the residents via public hearings as well as public mtgs. with individual town boards to hopefully EARN their endorsements at Town mtg. where ultimately the article passes or fails on its own merits. It is a collaborative effort.** Why would boards go through that tedious but thorough process only to have it pass or fail at the discretion of a nine member Town Council? I personally don't buy the notion "that the people would still have their say via electing the Town Council members"......we have all seen how THAT can go down with special interests etc. and a lot of DAMAGE can be done in a three year term if the "wrong" people end up in charge.


Carey says she would also like to construct a document that the public can easily read and understand. To that end, she asked for, and received permission from, her fellow commission members to rename the sections using a numerical and alphabetical system.

The commission is hopeful to have a document to present to the Board of Selectmen in early 2011, as close to New Year's as possible. After that, according to Carey, there will be at least two public presentations of the proposed document, at which time residents will be able to ask questions about the recommended changes.

Lastly, I would wonder if these upcoming public presentations are in fact already TOO LATE for public input/residents to really CHANGE anything if the BOS does not have the power to "veto" the Charter Commission's proposal as the document would already be submitted and been printed in the upcoming Annual Town Mtg. warrant. This commission may have been meeting over the last 18 months, but it has been only the LAST TWO mtgs. that have been held at a PUBLIC BUILDING ie. Town Hall. Whether or not ALL the mtgs. have been "open to the public"....I don't know any residents that would be "comfortable" attending an official mtg. at a committee member's home. In closing I would say, IMO, due diligence was not performed via public outreach or mtgs. with the individual Town Boards (who may at this point not even fully understand the repercussions BEFORE it reaches Town Mtg. floor) **via the protocol I mentioned above** ie. the proper procedure to bring an article to Town Mtg. And though it is true that said article (to change to a Town Council and all it entails) would pass or fail at Town Mtg. as to whether or not it would go to the ballot...is that not putting a decision of this magnitude in the same special interest hands who control Town Mtg.? And realistically, HOW MANY AVERAGE RESIDENTS would fully understand the repercussions of their decision at the ballot box? Would they just figure...."well I don't go/don't want to go to Town Mtg. anyway...so what the heck, this sounds better?" Even now, I don't think people actually realize the power they would be GIVING UP. Just some food for thought to ponder for the masses.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:14 pm

BOS Mtg. Agenda for this Tues. Dec. 21st, 7:30 p.m. @ Town Hall

Though as I stated above, "Christmas week" is lousy timing....if you care about this issue, it wouldn't be bad to have a few residents in attendance to validate that this monumental issue and Town Officials' reactions to it are being watched.

Following is the agenda for Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Scheduled Agenda Items

7:00 P. M. Executive Session – Collective Bargaining Update

1. 7:30 P. M. Senator Susan Tucker

2. 7:45 P. M. 99 Restaurant – Change of Manager

3. 8:00 P. M. Elizabeth Carey, Chairman, Special Act Charter Committee
Status Update


4. Residents (per topic per person five minute limit)

Town Manager

Executive Session

5. Approval of the Minutes

6. Reports
a. Board Members
b. Town Counsel
c. Secretary
d. Special Committees

Unfinished Business

7. Licensees-outstanding taxes

Correspondence Action

New Business

8. Finance Committee-High School Building Committee appointment

Adjourn
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby bferrari on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:44 pm

"I know that's people's concern," said Carey. "But when I look at our boards, I don't see any type of a power struggle. I don't think that's a big concern right now that a board would have too much control."



Well when you and your spouse are both enjoying full pensions on the backs of taxpayers, then yeah I guess everything would look peachy keene. Seriously, this whole movement away from our current form of government is BULL and yet another way to take your voice and control away from you..

Think about this, if no one shows up to vote, then the government already has the power it needs. Enough talk about stealing our voices... NO NO NO NO changes to current town government! Other than to make it better and less wasteful.

Stop pensions, move to 401K like the rest of the world does. Start paying more for your healthcare like the rest of the world does. Stop getting guaranteed 3 to 5% raises EVERY YEAR, the rest of the world does NOT.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:46 pm

From TewksburyPatch:

http://tewksbury.patch.com/articles/cha ... ?ncid=M255

Chairman of Special Act Charter Commission to Make Presentation to Selectmen Tuesday

Elizabeth Carey to update board on progress and framework of recommendations.

Credit Bill Gilman

As Christmas and New Year's draw near, it is a slow week on the municipal meeting front.

The only board scheduled to meet this week is the Board of Selectmen, which will convene Tuesday at 7:30 in the auditorium at Town Hall.

Among the items on the agenda will be an appearance by outgoing state Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover.

In addition, Elizabeth Carey, chairwoman of the Special Act Charter Commission, will provide an update to the board and will present a framework of her committee's recommendations. While details and language are still being ironed out, the commission is likely to recommend the abolition of the present Town Meeting form of government in favor of a government in which a town manager and Town Council are given more authority to make financial decisions.

Whatever recommendations are brought forth will be decided on at the 2011 Annual Town Meeting.

Carey is scheduled to appear before the selectmen at 8 p.m.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby bferrari on Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:01 pm

Why does Andover still have town meetings? Because the people in that town care and it shows. Billerica gave that up long ago, now we are next ?

SHOW UP AND VOTE AGAINST THIS, OR YOU WILL LOSE YOUR VOICE IN THIS TOWN FOREVER

I can't be more plain than that. It's THAT important to keep your voice. VOTE NO Against any change in the current form of government!
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More Delays

Postby bferrari on Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:38 am

This is ridiculous, and this "committee" is going to suggest what new form of government we will be using?????????

Just because "we are getting bigger" doesn't mean we need to change our government. There are other towns much larger that still have Town Meeting as we do now. Stop making excuses.

Also, did anyone see the news yesterday where the population of MA growth has slowed down to a record low number? Many people are leaving the state. I don't think Tewksbury will be doing any more "growing" anytime soon.

Liz has made her mind up already according to this article, yet "there is much work to do". Also, why will every board be an "elected" board, but NOT THE HOUSING AUTHORITY ? Already playing some favorites it seems.


http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_16917633


TEWKSBURY, More delays in charter review
By Joyce Tsai, jtsai@lowellsun.com
Updated: 12/22/2010 09:06:45 AM EST

TEWKSBURY -- After more than 18 months of studying the merits of overhauling its open Town Meeting to adopt a more representative form of town government, the Special Act
Town Charter Committee's official update to the Board of Selectmen last night was probably more notable for what it left out than what it included.

There was no mention of any details of what the committee planned to recommend, whether the town should move to a Town Council or not -- or how else it plans to change Tewksbury's town charters and bylaws.

Rather, Liz Carey, the committee chairwoman, essentially gave a brief history of the committee's origins and its mission, and then informed the board, after postponing its presentation a couple time since October, that it would have to wait yet another month to hear details. The committee plans to present its proposals in a working session with the board on Jan. 18.

"We continue to discuss the final draft and we are looking forward to the working session," she said.

Carey also said she plans to schedule public hearings on the issue and put the committee's report on the town's website, as well as submit the recommendations for the May 2011 annual Town Meeting for town approval.

If approved, she explained, the town would have to petition the General Court, Senate and House of Representatives, get the governor's approval, and then go back to town for a ballot question at the April 2012 town election.
But that, at least in his eyes, is "putting the cart before the horse," said Selectman David Gay, after the meeting.
"I'm absolutely dumbfounded that the Board of Selectmen have no information on this still," he said.

In particular, he lamented the lack of transparency in regard to the committee's work.

"I was surprised to hear that there had been 25 meetings by the committee so far," he said. "I was shocked. I didn't even know they had five meetings."

And he questioned whether the meetings had been properly posted and why so many meetings had taken place, up until recently, at a private residence, former Town Clerk Carey's home, rather than in a public venue so they could be clearly open to the public.

"I'm dead set against the committee," he said because, "its end result would mean that people would not be able to vote at Town Meeting anymore."

"It puts too much too much control in the hands of few people," he said.

However, Carey cited poor attendance at Town Meeting and manpower used for Town Meeting preparation as reasons for such changes.

"Tewksbury is getting bigger, and governing our town is getting busier and more demanding," Carey said. "We are seeking to find the best form to make our town government more efficient and effective."

After the meeting, she said her committee will likely recommend the town move to a town council of seven members and keep its boards as elected officials, with the exception of the Housing Authority.

But besides that, "I wouldn't want to let too much out of the bag," she said, since more of the options need to be researched still.
SOUNDS LIKE YOU MADE YOUR MINDs UP ALREADY.. THIS IS A REPEAT OF THE MILLS MALL COMMITTEE DEBACLE. SIMPLY A PROCEDURAL FACADE TO COVER THE ALREADY ACCEPTED MANDATE THAT THEY WILL BE WORKING TOWARDS
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby Chasnbos on Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:18 am

This committee is trying to arrogated the power from the citizens to 7 individuals with the expectation that all will rubber stamp it without a document of review for citizens.I thought the Committee’s scope was to review the town charter and form of
government, evaluate whether any changes would be beneficial to the town and submit a written "document " of gov't choices pros/cons with a recommendation
and report to the Board of Selectmen by such such a date as a starting point.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby Harley on Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:18 pm

I think that this article says it all!

If this committee is a subcommittee of the Board of Selectman, then Open Meeting Law should apply. Hopefully, being the previous Town Clerk, she should be more than aware of this. Also, meeting minutes need to be filed so if the BOS have some concerns on what has been going on, walk over to the Town Clerks Office and pull them. If they are no files, then someone should be filing a complaint. If the BOS are not happy with the results, they should take their concerns right down to Galvin’s office and stop the entire process in its tracks!

This entire process is being looked at because the “old timers” in this town aren’t getting their way anymore. They want to narrow it down to “7” of their closest cronies to continue on the demise of this town. That’s what it really comes down to.
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Re: Well, this is a FINE mess we've gotten ourselves into!

Postby swamper on Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:54 pm

Great article! Thank you David Gay for sticking up for the residents and telling it like it is. Transparency in procedure is a BIG issue and I believe the original mission of this committee was supposed to be to assess and make recommendations to streamline the TM process and to provide OPTIONS to be carefully scrutinized....not to plow full steam ahead and radically change our form of Town government! Also I believe this "change of mission" came about with a couple of key representative members not in attendance to vote. Coincidence? One also has to consider the makeup of "some" commission members.....Rick O'Neill??? PLEASE! I also agree with Harley's comments. No matter how they try to spin it, this absolutely smacks of old boy network.
BE AWARE.....VERY AWARE!
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