(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following unedited email was forwarded to Sudbury Patch.)
You have probably seen these inexplicable signs around town about voting for "3
- 5" selectmen. What's going on is this: The same crew of destructive
close-to-Tea-Party obstructionists that has been trying to take over Sudbury for
the last few years has now proposed that the number of Selectman in Sudbury be raised from 3 to 5. This will be voted on this Monday evening (September 24, 7:30 PM) at a Special Town Meeting.
It's a curious motion. Of course, many towns do have 5 selectmen, and there is
nothing either right or wrong about this. My own suspicion is that by having an
election with more than one open slot, they could succeed in getting at least
one of their people elected by bulletting a candidate.
Regardless of that however, the motion as presented is strange. There *is* a
standard way to change a Town Charter. We did this in Sudbury in 1994, when we instituted a Board of Selectmen-Town Manager form of government. Briefly (and it is spelled out in Article 43B of the Massachusetts General Laws), the
conventional and expected way to propose such a change is this:
a) A petition is presented, signed by at least 15% of the registered voters of
b) Following the certification of the signatures on this petition, a Charter
Commission of 9 citizens of the town must be elected. (And voters must also
have the option to vote for not electing a Charter Commission at all, thereby
ending the process.) If elected, this commission studies the matter at great
length and (depending on whether it agrees) drafts and proposes a Charter
c) This Charter change must then be approved by a 2/3 vote at Town Meeting.
However, that's *not* what what is going on here. The motion as presented is a "Home Rule Petition". This requires no Charter Commission, and only a majority vote at this Special Town Meeting, which will probably be lightly attended. It does however need to be approved by the State Legislature.
I'm opposed to the measure as presented.
I think it is mischievous in intent, and not an honest proposal for the
improvement of Town government. I don't think that it will make town government more inclusive or efficient. Rather, I think it is likely to make it a scene of continual fabricated accusations(*), and will bring to a standstill any attempts to rebuild our badly damaged public schools.
I do know that an amendment will be proposed at the Town Meeting on Monday to refer this motion to a special committee.
I intend to be at the meeting Monday (September 24, at the High School, starting at 7:30 PM). I will vote *for* the amendment, and otherwise will vote against the motion.
I hope you will join me. There is too much at stake now in our town, in our
state, and in our nation for this kind of destructive behavior.
(*)The people organizing for this have done much of it on a "Lavendergate"
facebook page. There's no issue of public policy here. It's just that they
lost the last election, and they're furious.