Thursday, December 17, 2015

Let The Battle Begin


Adam Lussier, Amherst For All (left) Town Clerk Sandra Burgess (right)

As of 4:30 PM Amherst Town Clerk Sandra Burgess has certified 3,247 signatures on the Charter petition drive to put before the voters this spring the question of changing our form of local governance and the election of 9 Charter Commissioners to carry out that long overdue proposition.

The monumental task required the signatures of 15% of Amherst registered voters, or 3,215.

But Amherst For All is not exactly popping the champagne bottles and collapsing in a happy heap.

Instead they are calling for one more massive push Saturday to continue collecting signatures as a cushion against what is sure to be a challenge from pro-Town Meeting zealots.

On Monday, hopefully with hundreds of additional signatures, one of the members of the Steering Committee will sign a statement with the Town Clerk saying they are done with signature collection.

The Board of Registrars has ten days from the 12/21 date of the final submission to certify signatures and issue a Certification Report, which is December 31.  Objectors wishing to challenge signatures have two "working days" from December 31st, which gives them a deadline of January 5, 2016 (because January 1, 2 and 3 are not working days) by 5:00 PM.

The hurdle for disqualifying signatures is a high one, and thus far no one in the entire history of the town has ever successfully overturned a ballot question or candidate nomination using a signature challenge. 

Click to enlarge/read

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

No need to overturn it. It will be defeated.

Larry Kelley said...

Said General Custer.

Anonymous said...

A couple of questions: If it takes only 15% of eligible voters to put it on the ballot, what percentage is needed for it to pass? Also, on what grounds can signatures be questioned/rejected? I do recall, some month ago, when certain folks were submitting papers for TM or Select Board consideration, many (MANY) of the signatures were highly questionable. I bet they weren't doggedly questioned as the ones for AFA will be ("hypocrites," I say, under my breath).

Larry Kelley said...

Takes only a simple majority to pass at the ballot box. The Town Clerk did already reject over 10% of the signatures for the usual reasons: not a registered voter, wrong address, illegible signature, etc.

Kevin said...

Whether or not it passes, things will never be the same.

May Amherst be governed by those 1) with fiduciary duty, 2) subject to the same laws as other officials who try to use thier elected position to influence state-mandated boards, and 3) who respect our ethics laws and are subject to conflict of interest.

The authors of our town charter never intended our governing body to be above the law. It is time to revisit the charter and fix it.

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

I'm a Hadley resident, so I don't have a dog in this fight—though as a UMass employee, I'm interested in Amherst politics. But it strikes me that journalists should strive to be as objective as possible, and when you write, "...what is sure to be a challenge from pro-Town Meeting zealots," it's not clear that the language is objective. "Zealots" is a loaded term, since it implies fanatical devotion. Why not just "Town Meeting supporters"?

Larry Kelley said...

Because they are zealots.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

You seem to be confused. Conflict of interest is DEFINED by Massachusetts General Law 268A: members of Town Meeting are NOT above the law.

Respectfully,

- Your Friend

Anonymous said...

Brian,
You think Larry is a journalist? That's like looking at that picture of him at ground zero posing with the flag and thinking he's a first responder. Basically Larry is a pissed off old man from Amherst who never got over the fact it has changed. Don't worry Larry town meeting won't change either, its here to stay.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I'm a columnist (who are supposed to express opinion), photographer, reporter, editor, publisher and all around informed citizen unafraid to attach his name to anything even remotely important.

And pretty damn young at heart.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Maybe the charter campaign should distance itself from Larry. If we can convince enough UMass undergrads that TM is responsible for squashing their parties, maybe we can get them registered and voting in favor of the charter commission (and subsequent permanent-and-long-overdue termination of TM form of government). Table at the Campus Center, anyone?

Larry Kelley said...

Actually on my Twitter feed I entertain the Hell out of my rather large contingent of student followers.

Anonymous said...

9:14

15% of eligible voters is a very high bar in Amherst, where more than half of the voters are no longer at the addresses where they are registered (different dorm, different rental, on sabbatical, moved out of town, etc.).

15% in Amherst means 40% of likely voters

Larry Kelley said...

Yep.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that insight. 15% didn't seem like a very high bar, but when you put it that way..

And for folks dissing Larry about he's pissed that the town has changed, etc. You're not paying attention. He's been one of the most vocal proponents of development and progress and yes, change, in this town. It does seem ironic, but his aim is true. Or at least it appears to be.

Larry Kelley said...

I love irony.

Unlike sarcasm, it does not require a special font. (Usually.)

Anonymous said...

9:05 you are mixing metaphors, Morrisette/Costello

Anonymous said...

Ha! I didn't think ANYONE would pick up on the Costello reference. Good eye.

Anonymous said...

That's Abbott and Costello...