LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let's Not Rush to Increase Number of Selectmen

Residents Stan Kaplan and Carmine Gentile ask for a a non-partisan group to study the warrant article and report back next year at Annual Town Meeting.

Board of Selectmen Expansion Article 4 at Special Town Meeting  September 24th

A petition article has been placed on the warrant for the September 24th Special Town Meeting to increase the Board of Selectmen (BOS) from three to five members.

We believe that this issue needs some non-partisan study so that Town Meeting voters can make an informed vote. The Sudbury League of Women Voters would be a neutral party to conduct this study, should they agree to undertake this assignment, and report back at the 2013 Annual Town Meeting in May.

Questions to consider:

  • Would a BOS expansion slow down the decision making process in Sudbury? 
  • How would BOS expansion impact on Town Departments and Committees? What (if any) impediments to the Town’s good governance can be foreseen?
  • Is three the most effective number of Selectmen? Five? Seven?

We don’t know the answers to these and other concerns but we can tell you that Sudbury’s three-member BOS has worked well now for hundreds of years, so what’s the rush?

A Special Town Meeting is not the appropriate forum for such a seminal change to the Town’s governance. This matter should be brought before an Annual Town Meeting after careful study by a non-partisan group and not railroaded through a lesser noticed and lesser attended Special Town Meeting by special interest proponents.

The League of Women Voters has a long and successful history of improving good government in Sudbury. It was the League that caused us to change Town Meeting rules to limit motion presenters to 10 minutes and other speakers to 5 minutes, saving time and increasing efficiency. It was the League that worked successfully to end the practice of allowing the Moderator to schedule lists of speakers in advance. We can count on the League to perform a thorough non-partisan examination of this issue and report back to us in several months. 

Please plan to attend this Special Town Meeting on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at the LSRHS and vote with us to refer the issue to the League of Women Voters now for everyone’s informed consideration at the May 2013 Annual Town Meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Stan Kaplan
98 Victoria Road

Carmine Gentile
33 Surrey Lane

joanne September 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM
I find this letter insulting to the residents/taxpayers of Sudbury. We are quite capable of determining what we feel is right for town. We do not need LWV to do a study about it! The letter leads me to believe that they have no idea the turmoil that has been going on recently. Three selectman may have worked for the past hundred years, however times have changed.
SkimThreePercent September 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM
No thanks, the League of Women Voters DOES NOT run the Town, we (the people) do! This group tools for the group that these gentlemen play strong roles in for many, many years. The point seems to be that there is a need to WIDEN, to limit participation in TOwn government just like ALL the other Towns have done. Two years ago, the League lost the tape of the Candidates debate when Drobinski was out shined by his challenger. They pulled a Rosemary Woods on us. This year they again tried to obstruct the Sudbury Water District's annual meeting. Let's get real. Let's allow the adults in the room to have the opportunity to get involved. Have the LWV put up a candidate directly rather than through the back-door.
Laura September 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Really Carmine??? Why would you want the LWV to do this study??? There about as neutral as O'Brien.
siobhan hullinger September 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM
In 2010, when this petition was presented to the townspeople at the annual town meeting, it was expressed that more study was needed. Why didn't the LWV do that? Why wasn't a study done by the BOS? If a study was so needed and compelling, it would have been done 2 years ago. Instead, the issue was ignored hoping people would simply forget and move on - just as with many other issues in town. Why don't we study financial impacts of any of our inititatives? THAT is a study we really need.
Laura September 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM
ooops - typo better to admit it now
Scott Nassa September 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Over 250 people signed a petition in less than 2 days. Like all other articles we have had over 3 weeks to digest. I wonder how the two above authors felt when taxpayers were presented with a budget reflecting an increase of $3 million ten minutes before 2012 town meeting started. How long did we have to digest that one? The only arguments opposition have presented to date are 1. how our bond rating will be effected and 2. we haven't had enough time to digest. Neither argument holds any water yet Mr. Troiano's case at this point seems to have zero holes in it. For that reason I would encourage those looking for more representation to show up to Town Meeting Monday night and vote yes.
JJoseph September 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
There are a lot of citizens in Sudbury that would argue the 3 selectmen has not worked well at all. Look at what has happened over the past four months. The League of Women voters is not neutral at all. The people behind this are diverse. Some are Democrats, some Republican some are independent but we all want One Sudbury and to feel represented. That does not happen in todays political environment in Sudbury. Expanding the board of selectmen will not slow down decision making. Simply look at the sewer system in Sudbury which has been "studied" for decades. It is time to move forward as a united community.
M September 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Stan, it's pretty clear you have larry on speed dial, but we need a change.
Mike Hullinger September 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Expanding the BOS will increase the likelyhood that the BOS will try and understand the long term financial impacts of their decisions on the taxpayers of Sudbury. In 2005, the BOS accepted a formal Community Housing Plan that never once mentioned the financial impacts of the plan. Just recently, the BOS heard a report for the Malone gravel pit from a land use planner suggesting the highest value of the land was for high density residential development, again without any mention of, let alone an analysis of, the long term financial impacts on our taxpayers and additional stress on our infratstructure and school systems. Our BOS will cite that we, by law, can only approve an annual budget, but this is no excuse for not planning and understanding the long term financial consequences of thier decisions. With a 5 person board, Town Manager contracts will be less likely to be renegotiated in secret without any notice to the citizens, and citizens petitions will be more likely to be heard, not restricted.
Michael Schwarz September 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Stan and Carmine, I would like to disagree with a couple key points with your note: You refer to the change as being railroaded by special interest groups. Initially this came about from a group of Sudbury residents who were frustrated at the lack of information coming from the current BOS regarding the "Lavendergate" issue. That was due, in part, to one BOS member recusing himself from the discussion and deadlocking the other two. Can you clarify why you feel that this can be categorized as special interest? Also, you outline some specific concerns: On the first issue I would argue (using my above example) of a reason that a three member BOS can slow down the decision making process. I would also ask if you agree that the right level of representation is necessary as a part of that process. Regarding the impact on Town Departments and Committees, I think Michael Troiano indicated in the presentation last Monday that the currently we have over 40 committees. How a 3-member BOS group can support that number effectively? What is the right number? Based on the data of surrounding towns, I think a strong case is made for 5 selectmen as an effective form of government. As I've said previously to both sides of the issue - let's discuss this based on facts & data. I look forward to a constructive discussion on the issue. I know I can be swayed either way, but right now - based on the facts, I'm voting for this proposal. Michael Schwarz
Michael Troiano September 20, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I'm more than a little insulted by this. 3 words stand out for me. "Rush." We've been talking about this as a town since before I was born. In 1961. We've spent the last 6 weeks kicking around ideas for how to drive transparency and accountability, and the last 3 working to get the word out across town. We waited for a cost-effective forum to make our case, and now that one's arisen, you ask "What's the rush?" The gaul is amazing. "Seminal," as in "seminal change to the Town's government." We have a Board of Selectmen now, and we will have one then. We have a Town Manager now, and defined processes, rules, procedures, a Town Clerk, documentation, committees, boards... All of it, unchanged by this measure. We're asking to move from a 3-person group at the top to a 5-person group. Is this such a profound altering of our method of government that 51 years isn't enough time to reflect on it? Have I mentioned that 135 neighboring towns have already made this change? Oh that's right... I only did that among "special interest proponents." Finally, "Railroaded." This one gets me most of all. We are following the rules here. We are doing our level best to spread the word. We are asking for a vote of the town, and taking our case to the people, rather than letting the too few who've held power for too long decide what is best for us. We are the ones who've been "railroaded" by this kind of nonsense years after year. And we have had enough. See you on Monday night.
Nanette LaRochelle September 20, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Your comment "We don’t know the answers to these and other concerns but we can tell you that Sudbury’s three-member BOS has worked well now for hundreds of years, so what’s the rush?" is laughable. Seriously? You both really believe this? The events of this past year, and the embarassment and frustration the residents of Sudbury have endured because of them is proof that a 3 selectman board does not work "well", and we don't need some "independent" group to make that decision for us. You need to pull your heads out of wherever you have them stuck, and open your eyes. To quote Bob Dylan "The Times, they be a-changin' ", and I, like many other Sudbury residents, will be there on Monday to make sure they do.
Michael Troiano September 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Thanks for your openness, Michael, and your desire to make a fact-based decision. There are actually 92 board and committees, the rest of the details we've provided are available here: http://sudbury.patch.com/articles/video-sudbury-resident-makes-case-for-5-member-board-of-selectmen See you on Monday night, please say hello.
SkimThreePercent September 20, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Mike, stay on message and you will be fine. The others can't or won't. What seems to be happening here now is that SPS doesn't want to go nuclear with their usual election evening eblast given their standing in the community and their strong lust for roof repairs so the machine is looking to the League to deliver the knock-out punch to swing the vote against the Town. But the League has not reported their position on the article. Make the LWV report at Town Meeting directly with their plan, or admit that they are being used by the O'Brien/Gutch/Chicago machine as the new tool. If LWV doesn't take ownership of Carmine's plan,case closed.
JJoseph September 20, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I am unclear what the connection is? Because we only have 3 Selctmen and one had to recuse himself because of his "social proclivity" the remaining 2 selectmen were deadlocked. Five selectmen would not put us in this position.
SueChap September 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM
It is apparent to me that Selectman Chairman Larry O'Brien's losing political opponents are orchestrating a smear campaign that will win them the spoils that they failed to achieve at the ballot box in this most resent Town election for the Selectman seat won by Mr. O'Brien. Shame on you! Selectman O'Brien's only breach at the Lavender Restaurant that evening was his social proclivity which I applaud! Chairman Larry O'Brien did nothing wrongful here and those who attack him on this overwrought matter do so without merit and with a not-so-hidden agenda. Respectfully submitted, Stan Kaplan 98 Victoria Road http://sudbury.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-stop-the-smear-campaign?logout=true
Michael Schwarz September 20, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Stan, I find your response disappointing. Earlier, I provided my rationale why I'm voting for the proposal and hoped your would present a case with a different viewpoint. Instead, I see a response of "you have a case of sour grapes" which does nothing to further your position. To be honest, it makes me less inclined to consider any valid merits of your case moving forward. You outline resentment for the recent election. I know there were some that wanted to pursue a recall option and I am grateful that they did not. At the end of the day, Mr. O'Brien was elected and we need to abide by that decision until the next election. You also mention a "not-so-hidden" agenda. I'm afraid that I'm not clear what you are referencing. I hope you'll reconsider the approach and provide some supporting information. Sincerely, Michael Schwarz
Wendy Kaiser September 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Unfortunately, there will always be a few who are threatened by change and therefore resistant to it. An additional "study" is the last thing Sudbury needs. We need broader representation which will result in healthy debate, informed decisions and positive change in our town. Wendy Kaiser
Kirsten Vandijk September 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
If you can keep in mind that the Warrant Article is the subject of debate and interest and not the person who gathered the signatures necessary to place it on the meeting's agenda then the this frivolous letter should have no effect on you. Keep a level head and expect the unexpected. This is Sudbury after all ;) The people will speak very soon. The vote will be taken. A decision will be made. And we all will continue forward. Objectivity is an important friend.
JJoseph September 20, 2012 at 08:57 PM
SueChap/Stan, If you truly believe the only breach was "social proclivity" then I suggest you use that argument at Town Meeting and tell everyone in town how proud you are of what happened that evening and why you believe 5 members instead of 3 would be a problem. This is not a smear campaign, this is an effort to stop the nonsense that has been happening with a few in town who believe they are above listening to the people and they can do as they feel with disregard for rules and regulations. Two more sets of eyes on the board of selectmen would be helpful in getting the transparency that has been lacking for a long time. This could have been a recall provision article but instead is intended to be positive and a way to bring the divided community back together. Why are you so afraid to have a more inclusive, diverse and expanded board of selectmen? The bond rating argument doesn't work, the not properly vetted argument doesn't work, the incorrect process didn't work, etc... It is time for change, don't fight it, embrace it.
SueChap September 23, 2012 at 01:18 AM
For the record, SueChap is not Stan. Please. Please do not confuse me with this loon.


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