Sunday, December 18, 2016

Charter Fork In The Road

The Amherst Charter Commission has scheduled a marathon four hour meeting Monday night in an attempt to close out the year with a major milestone setting a direct course for a noteworthy final destination:  a new and improved local government.

And all roads lead through the question whether Town Meeting should continue beyond the 257 year mark?

At the consultants urging -- with time starting to run out -- the Commission will probably come to a straw vote on whether to keep Town Meeting in some form as the legislative branch.

A majority of members have telegraphed enough discontent with Town Meeting to indicate a yes vote for a replacement Council form of legislative branch, but a 5-4 vote will not be overly reassuring to the voters who have to approve the new Charter by majority vote.

But even Gerry Weiss,  stalwart defender of Town Meeting seems agreeable to at least downsizing the body from the current 240+ members and he also liked the idea of replacing the five member Select Board with a Mayor, but was told by the consultants the Attorney General would not accept such a hybrid.

Back in 1996 a Charter that failed miserably downsized Town Meeting to 150 members, kept a Town Manager but added a separate Council and a weak Mayor (elected only to lead the Council).

Something for everyone to hate.

The most contentious issue that will create the most enthusiasm for both enacting and/or defeating the new Charter proposal is this  issue about keeping or killing Town Meeting.

The Charter Commission, after nine months of meetings, public hearings and general outreach needs to bite the bullet and make this epic call. Now!

Hint:  Any new Charter that maintains antiquated Town Meeting -- in any form -- is doomed to failure. 


Anonymous said...

Feeling any better about Town Meeting after it voted down the new Wildwood School reflecting the will of the voters? Where else will the voice of the people of our town be heard? With one exppensively elected mayor?

Larry Kelley said...

No, not in the least.

A dead clock is correct twice a day.

Scrooge McDuck said...

Given enough time, an infinite number of monkeys in a room with an infinite number of typewriters will eventually recreate all the works of Shakespeare.

Just because town meeting occasionally makes a good decision doesn't make it an effective form of government.

Anonymous said...

Still wondering if all the time, money and energy that is going into considering a change would be better put to use doing public works of good?

I think it is a stretch to think that anything of substance would be different after such a change anyway.

Anyone willing to put a tally of time and money put forth...and then divide it by 40,000?

Anonymous said...

What are the bad decisions that Town Meeting has made?

Scrooge McDuck said...

2:57 asked "What are the bad decisions that Town Meeting has made?"

Let's start a list:

1. Cherry Hill Golf Course.

Larry Kelley said...

Well we could talk about the two-thirds vote AGAINST flying the commemorative American flags on 9/11 taken in 2007, but let's not.

Or almost any sane zoning article that has come along over the past thirty years.

Anonymous said...

Larry, your last comment is "fake news" and you know it: Town Meeting passed many zoning amendments over the past decade which were pro-development....

Anonymous said...

The mega trailers at Marks Meadow that were never used to the tune of $500,000

Anonymous said...

wow that is a searing list of wrongs over 30 years! it's a surprise anyone lives here! off with their heads!

Larry Kelley said...

Yep. That's what the Charter Commission decided last night.

Nina Koch said...

To 6:53 AM,

Your statement is not correct. The portable classrooms at Marks Meadow were indeed put to use for things like Title 1 and other support programs that needed their own space. This misunderstanding is due to misleading information from Larry. He stated repeatedly that the portables were never used for regular classrooms. That's true. But there was never any intent to use them that way and it really doesn't matter what the particular use was. People hear the phrase "never used" and don't see the rest of the sentence. The truncated sentence then succeeds in changing the truth in people's minds.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Nina the big mistake you failed to pick up on 6:53 AM post is the portables "only" cost $200,000 not $500,000.

So it makes me wonder how much you really know about the situation.

And if you were on the floor of Town Meeting that night (which obviously you were not) you would remember they were presented as being useful for "regular classrooms."

Nina Koch said...

It doesn't matter what kind of class was in the portable. If they had moved a 2nd grade class to the portable and put the support program in the former 2nd grade classroom, would it make a difference in your opinion on the expenditure? Either way, the portable was used for educational purposes.

Your reporting has created a false impression.

Anonymous said...

the facts remain thatTM voted on portal classrooms, that were never needed. They were dooped which happens every time ™ gets together.

Kevin Collins said...

I would love to keep Town Meeting. If we had a Town Meeting with fiduciary duty, that would be fantastic. And a Town Meeting that did not carry on its deliberations on a closed (private) Yahoogroup would be exemplary. A Town Meeting that was not immune to the law, free to use its elected position to influence state-mandated boards would be really great. And a Town Meeting that was not self-selected, where it takes one vote to win, your own, would be a real democracy. Otherwise, would someone please flush the toilet, the smell is getting bad.

Larry Kelley said...

Methinks thou doth protest too much. W-A-Y too much.

Anonymous said...

The yahoo group was open until yahoo took away that feature, a yahoo group of hundreds isn't exactly private when the town manager, select board, etc. can join, and Collins constantly posts on the yahoo group he finds so abhorrent. Go figure.

Dr. Ed said...

Nina, you do not need multiple, full-sized/fully-equipped portable CLASSROOMS for Title I and such stuff. That's like buying a 72-passenger school bus (instead of a van) to transport a couple of kids, a waste of resources.

In addition to everything else, those were electrically heated, any idea how much that cost?

No, Nina, if you needed conference rooms, you should have bought conference rooms -- one or more smaller trailers which would have been a hell of a lot cheaper.