Highlights from Joint Committee on Elections Laws, Bill H04471

Rough notes from today's three to five hearing on Beacon Hill.

Rought notes from the discussion…….

Tom Conroy presents that we will hear two sides of the issues.

Panel asks for elected officials who want to speak.


Selectmen Obrien, speaking as a citizen, not as a selectmen, requests that this be sent back to town meeting for study. Why? Born out of a special town meeting from a citizen of Framingham. The posting for town meeting was only 17 days.  The short posting prevented town citizens from deliberating.

The debate was only 75 minutes with only two people presenting. Out of 20 spekers in total, only 18 spoke to amendments.  The main motion itself only received 5 minutes of discussion. The moderator failed to allow for sufficient discussion.  The last time we looked to change our charter we had multiple committees and discussion. Larry leaves a copy of the town meeting minutes and his prepared remarks.

Other elected officials asked to speak. Haarde up,


I was not planning on speaking. Topic has been researched, debated and studied in Subdury since the 1950s. It was brought up 2.5 years and the town said it needed to study. Nothing happened. Citizens in town of Sudbury lost patience and took action.  

Measure was voted, overwhelming vote, 700 members, at town meeting, in 1994 we had 350 people. Two amendments, one to study and one to townwide debate defeated.  It has been studied.

Next – they ask three people in favor, three opposed

Mike Troiano, For.  Dan Depompei, For

Stan Kaplan, opposed

Art Gutch Opposed


Request made on five prior occasions. 135 of other towns have gone from 3 to 5.  None have gone back.  Current selectmen and insiders oppose the change as it will dilute their power. In 2010, they said idea not fully vetted. Grass roots measure to put up an article at town meeting in September.  At the meeting, the measure passed overwhelmingly.  Today , we find the same thing we found since 2010. The same old argument “What is the rush?”  We were paralyzed in the spring based on the recusal of our chairmen.

This is a long way from seminal change. Town has 92 departments and committees.  We have asked people on these committees when the last time their selectmen showed up, they didn’t know. We have a  problem in our town. A concentration in two few for too long, the need for fresh perspective. What we really want is more representation.

The very foundation of town meeting argument is the one which builds the most support is theoretically the best one for the town. Yet here we are today, once again trying to get this blocked.


Poor behavior after town meeting in May that coalesced and brought this group. Many of us believe this change is not as important as it was years ago.

The change does not change structure, does not create conflict, it does not change the manner in which anyone is appointed. It does not change general provisions. Some residents question impact on by-laws. Our by-laws are independent. There is no conflict. I request you approve this. If however, there is doubt, then ask for a change, but if you do this, make the change immediate.


I do not yet know a 3 member BOS or 5 member BOS is right. I simply don’t have all the facts, nor do I have the recommendations from a non-partisan group.  135 adoptions to the charter, 34D, the legislature. Changing the town’s charter should be a deliberative process.  In 1994, we changed the process to a cooperative.   So why now should Sudbury voters be compelled to change our charter at a town meeting when only 6% of town voters were present when nearly x thousand residents were not present. I am not objecting to the number of selectmen, I am objecting to the process.  House rule xxx is nothing but a legal loophole. This should be brought before an annual town meeting for all to decide. I ask for the committee to refer back to the town for a nine member board.


I am usually an observer in town politics. My wife Lisa Gutch would have liked to be here, but could not. Not only is there is an issue with the voters, but also the volunteers in our town.  We have had a period of time in Sudbury with a period of divisiveness. But even with this, everyone says it is a great town. How did it happen? We have a number of folks running the town and they have been doing a great job.

The reason is that it gets people to vote.  This doesn’t happen at a special town meeting. Government is not perfect.  In Sudbury more an agenda of replacement over substance. Have any of you ever seen a town charter change at a special election? 

Thrusting this bill through a crack in the process. A select few were lured by friends to vote at a town meeting. We need to have a deliberative discussion.  The second thing I noticed at town meeting, it almost came across to me as though it were a flash voter mob.  Many people attended town meeting just to make one vote. For someone who has been involved in town meeting, it was because friends told them to go.

In wrapping this up, please make a deliberative decision.


I wanted to hear Mr. Obrien before I speak. This thing is broken. The blue ribbon panels. I grew up in Hudson.  Tells a humorous story about Celucci. There was transparency.

We have two selectmen working against the interest of one.  LS school committee, you can’t get elected without approval by Lincoln board. These panels that Mr. Kaplan talks about will be stacked. When there was murder at the high school, we never learned what happened form that panel.  I am tired of kicking the can down the road.


40 year resident.  Concept of chapter 43B Mr. Kaplan.  Mr. Abrams goes into discussion about 1994 chapter 43B similar to what we heard at town meeting,  We normally have about 300 people at town meeting.  We had 700 people.  With regards to town meeting, it was very clear to the moderator after both amendments failed, that it was time to vote.


32 year resident of town Sudbury. Serve on council on aging. Will of people at town meeting. Amazing how many things pass at town meeting, but fail at town election. People vote in our town, 85% at more recent election.

The special taxing on aging, passed unanimously at town meeting, then the committee sent it back to the town for study and town wide vote.


Concerned citizen of Sudbury. Beautiful town, excellent. Going 3 – 5 is a major change to town government.  This is an informal session. As you can see today. A little background, there is a group in town interested in lowered taxes without regard to little else. Three years ago, they won a seat. They have also challenged incumbent selectmen and they lost both elections. Frustrated by not getting elected, they put the article before you.  People can be on a board and make it difficult. They used a facebook page, got all their friends.  What is the rush. 


I was at the table, so no notes. But Siobhan and Pat had great things to say.

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Rob F November 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Where does Susan Offner get the idea that this came from a fringe group that wants to lower taxes? It started out as a group of people frustrated by the behavior of certain members of the town government at Lavender one night and grew into a discussion of how to address that frustration. As discussions about that issue progressed in the town, one option that seemed acceptable to everyone on the facebook page (which was *not* populated by a group and their friends - I didn't know any of the main players before joining the facebook group) was to increase the size of the BOS. This can all be seen by looking at the postings on the group's page. That's called "transparency". The main organizer of the group, Mike Troiano, has stated repeatedly - INCLUDING AT THE TOWN MEETING WHICH I PRESUME MS. OFFNER ATTENDED - that he is a lifelong Democrat and believes in taxes for services. Others in the group have said the same thing. *I* say the same thing. Are there people in the group who want lower taxes? Sure - it's a group of diverse, thinking people, and therefore will have people with different opinions. Just like our town. Those are the facts. Plain and simple. Ms. Offner, if you are reading this, I strongly suggest that you get your facts straight before you start tossing accusations around, especially if you're going to do it in front of elected officials. Otherwise, you do your self and your cause a great disservice.
Concerned Sudbury Parent November 27, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I can't believe the audacity of Selectman O'Brien to appear before the committee to argue against the 3-5 measure. If nothing else, isn't it his responsibility to represent the interests of Sudbury residents? The vote at the special town meeting and the message it sent couldn't have been more clear. There was an overwhelming turnout and and an equally overwhelming majority of residents in favor of the measure. Selectman O'Brien is doing nothing less than thumbing his nose at the people of Sudbury. And the hyprocrisy of complaining about the amount of debate on the amendments versus the main measure is breathtaking considering the amendments opposed the measure. Selectman O'Brien's position only further underscores the need to pass this measure. Only then can we start to repair the broken system in Sudbury and continue to weed out the corrupt self-interested parties on the BOS and SPSC, and in town government.
Sid Bourne November 27, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Two great comments that I heard, I believe from Sioban Hullinger and from Pat Brown: First, we have a Town Meeting form of government, and the Town Meeting spoke loud and clear, in favor of this bill. Don't undermine our Town Meeting by requiring a general election on the same issue. Do you think Town Meeting is irrelevant just because you don't like the outcome? Second point: the opposition you hear here, specifically Stan Kaplan and maybe Art Gutch, were heard at Town Meeting when they offered amendments. Those amendments were voted down. Town Meeting has decided thier points already.
psycho November 27, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Unless Lavender Larry is afraid of losing his power- why fight it?
JJoseph November 27, 2012 at 11:54 PM
The Lavender gang has spoken. If you think Larry(The Door Man = "Can I help You?") and Drobinski (The wanderer) represent you, even though Town Meeting overwhelmingly decided otherwise, then do nothing. Otherwise, stand up and take back Sudbury. We need more and better representation.
siobhan hullinger November 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Joint Committee on Election Laws Please write to express your support for the immediate passage of H04471, “A home rule charter relative to the charter of Sudbury.” Since this is a joint committee it has 2 Chairmen: Barry R. Finegold  Senator from Andover Address: State House, Room 416B, Boston, MA 02133 Phone: 617-­‐722-­‐1612 Fax: 617-­‐722-­‐1058 Email: Barry.Finegold@MASenate.gov Aaron M. Michlewitz Representative from Boston Address: State House, Room 134, Boston, MA 02133 Phone: 617-­‐722-­‐2400 Fax: 617-­‐570-­‐6575 Email: Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov
Edward Stark November 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Larry O'Brien, Susan Offner, Stan Kaplan and Jack Ryan all spoke? Where were Mark Kablack and here's a bast from the past: Michelle MacDonald and Tom Witkin? If they showed up it would have been the best meeting ever!
JJoseph November 28, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Stark, You forgot cousin Collins!
Edward Stark November 28, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Collins is done. Haven't heard from him since he almost drowned the room with his own sweat at town meeting a couple years ago while he was blaming an override on special needs kids and not the outrageous contracts he and Jack Ryan gave the LS teachers. Plus all of his kids got their teacher's union scholarships, no need to be involved anymore.
Robert Fucci (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Folks ... I know this is a touchy subject but lets stay away from personal attacks and refrain from bringing kids into the topic. You can keep it civil and still get your points across.
Karoles November 28, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Just an observation, lamenting why Mr. O'Brien was against the rule, but why aren't you also talking about Mr. Haarde? He is also on the board, and hopefully spoke as a resident too. And, why is it such a problem to have it go to the ballot? I am not sure why there is such a push not to. Forget about Town Meeting, when you change the town's charter, you go to the ballot. It is the right thing to do. It is history, even if you don't believe that, it is.
siobhan hullinger November 28, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Mr O'Brien is an elected official and has been given a mandate by the legislative branch - town meeting - to move from 3 selectmen to 5. It is his duty to the the townspeople. He spoke as a citizen, however, just as Mr Haarde. Our charter specifically recognizes town meeting as the legislative voice - not a ballot vote. There are no changes to the duties and responsibilities of the Board of Selectman. A change from 3-5 is administrative in comparison. Karoles - I ask you this - why the push NOT to move forward with the legislative ( town meeting ) mandate? I have yet to hear an answer to this question. At the hearing yesterday, opponents never voiced why this should not go through and as a matter of disappointment, there were more statements about "flash mobs" and "them", "they", and "their" - but no substantive points of matter. Mr O'Brien even suggested that the commission send it back to the BOS for an appointed 9 member study committee - I found this particularly jaw dropping - why would this be a reasonable solution when he is chair and he opposes the measure? WHo on earth would think this would be appropriate? If that does happen, that study committee MUST be elected, NOT appointed. Why didn't the BOS study this like they said they would 2 years ago? I also ask - what does Mr O'Brien have to lose?
sudburycitizentoo November 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
You are in pitbull territory--careful! These posters don't recognize their own hypocrisy, Karoles. You are spot on.
siobhan hullinger November 28, 2012 at 01:02 PM
@sudburycitizentoo - please explain the hypocrisy - I am interested, really.
Mike Hullinger November 28, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Karoles, Why is it such a problem to support the clear legislative decision at Town Meeting? Under the Act that created our Board of Selectment and Town Manager form of government, the Town is empowered to change the duties of the Board of Selectmen by a vote at Town Meeting, no townwide ballot required. This effort to expand representation on the BOS from 3-5 involves no changes to BOS duties, so why the townwide ballot, where none is required by law? Is it such a problem to respect the overwhelmingly approved decision at Town Meeting, even if you don't agree with the vote? Is Town Meeting the legitimate legilsative forum of this TOwn only when it reaches decisions you like? Will others in the future have the opportunity to require decisions they don't like at Town meeting first be put to a Town wide ballot vote before they can be approved. Either respect the legitimacy of Town Meeting or move to have it abolished.
pmotw November 28, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Are people who want to lower taxes bad? They were heroes in the 1700s and we enjoy freedom because of their beliefs and heroic actions.
sudburycitizentoo November 28, 2012 at 04:33 PM
and now the Hullingers are double teaming--are they the new Kablacks?
Robert Fucci (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 04:35 PM
So two people asking one to explain his/her stance is wrong? Really?
sudburycitizentoo November 28, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Are you the Editor or are you a commenter? Oops, forgot. More hits on the website means a paycheck......
Robert Fucci (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Attack me for asking a question if you choose. You have that right. As editor of the site it's my job to ask questions.
sudburycitizentoo November 28, 2012 at 05:15 PM
cha ching
Sudburytoo November 28, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The people of Sudbury spoke at Town Meeting. The vote was overwhelming. Yet, Mr. O'Brien is going to Beacon Hill to fight against the people that just voted. Sudbury, remember this come election time. I don't want to hear the "tradition" argument either since that went right out the window when Bob Haarde was passed over as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. I still have not heard one valid reason why more representation is a bad thing. There must be too many skeletons in the closet for the incumbents.
kyle mccarthy November 28, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Hey Sudburycitizentoo how can you compare the Hullingers to the Kablacks since neither of the Hullingers have any direct financial stake, whereas the Kablacks obviously do? Furthermore to echo Siobhan, please elaborate on your statement "These posters don't recognize their own hypocrisy"
SkimThreePercent November 28, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Rank the following couples from best to worse: 1 Art and Lisa 2 Carl and Susan 3 Bonnie and Clyde 4 Jody and Mark 5 Siobhan and Mike The winner gets free drinks at the Lavender. Entries must be postmarked by Friday November 30th.
Sudburytoo November 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I am getting tired of Gutch and Gutch pretending to be the spokespersons for all things Sudbury. " A select few were lured" Art and Lisa, the hall was packed. It was not a few and the vote was overwhelming. Go back to being Larry's campaign manager. He is going to need one.
kyle mccarthy November 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Bryan S November 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Make your voice heard today on 3 to 5 with our state representatives regardless of what side of the issue you are on. My letter and email addresses for the committee members can be found here: http://sudburyvision.ning.com/profiles/blogs/make-your-voice-heard-on-3-to-5-selectmen-today
Rob F November 29, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I know that I, personally, disagree with people who see all taxes as evil and want to lower taxes regardless of what it costs the town in terms of the services and quality of life it offers. I believe that this is what Ms. Offner is talking about. However, I cannot stress enough that I DO NOT KNOW THIS FOR CERTAIN. I can only assume things based on what she (and her husband) have written. I will not present my thoughts or opinions about them as fact.
Rob F November 29, 2012 at 02:50 AM
To respond to Karoles' first question: the reason no-one is talking about Mr. Haarde is that he did his job as a member of the BOS - he spoke in favor of the measure passed by the legitimate legislative body of the town. When a member of the BOS speaks, it is not realistic to expect him to be able to express one opinion as a member and another as a private citizen. Perhaps in an ideal world, Mr. O'Brien could speak against the measure while supporting it as Chairman O'Brien, but this is not an ideal world, and his opposition carries the weight of his Chairmanship whether he is speaking as Mr. or Chairman. Therefore it was his duty to speak either in favor of the measure or not at all. Mr. Haarde spoke in favor of the measure, as a member of the BOS should.


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