Big changes coming to our little college town
Fortunately after the voters approve the Charter Question at this coming March 29 election the Town Treasurer -- according to state statute -- has 20 days to credit the Charter Commission account with $5,000. No questions asked.
Since Town Meeting could very well be exterminated by the new government the Commission proposes, they may not be overly friendly about appropriating seed money, which is kind of like a federal penitentiary charging death row inmates an electricity surcharge to power the electric chair.
The nine member Commission that will also be elected on March 29 has 18 months maximum to come up with a new government proposal, but there is no minimum limit. Then all it requires is a majority vote of the electorate at an annual election.
The Commission can issue a mid-term status report, hold at least two public hearings (1st one within 45 days of election) and must snail mail their final report to all the registered voters in town, so the $5,000 allowance is probably too low.
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Interestingly after the first Mayor/Council/Town Manager idea failed at the ballot box in 2003 by only 14 votes the boundlessly determined Stan Durnakowski went out and got enough signatures to bring it back two years later.
A legal firefight ensued when the Select Board, at the time led by Anne Awad and Gerry Weiss, refused to mail along with the Charter the letter of introduction by 7-of-9 Charter Commission members outlining why they came up with the new proposal. Which of course was done the 1st time around.
Select Board annual town report 2005
Yes this is the same Gerry Weiss who became Select Board Chair a few years later and co-conspired with Town Manager Larry Shaffer to tax the Boy Scouts Christmas tree sales on Kendrick Park.
And then trampled the First Amendment rights of the July 4th Parade Committee by denying them a parade permit because they refused to let unregistered protesters march in their private parade. Something the town's municipal 250th Parade Committee would also do a few years later.
And yes, Mr. Weiss and his wife Jenifer McKenna -- as loyal followers of the status quo -- have taken out nomination papers for Charter Commission.
Those who adamantly resist any change (that must be voter approved) in our inefficient overly guided by self-interest current government, need to answer the simple question: what are you afraid of?