Friday, January 6, 2017

Charter Commission Flip Flop?

Charter Commission:  8 out of 9 were in attendance last night

Much to the horror of the Collins Institute consultants the Amherst Charter Commission spent an hour discussing a topic not on the agenda, a sort of do over of the previous meeting where a 5-4 straw vote set a path towards Mayor/Council leaving our current Select Board/Town Meeting/Manager system relegated to the dust bin.

Town Meeting loyalist Gerry Weiss read a defiant statement lamenting the lack of discussion by Charter Commissioners about "improving" Town Meeting and suggested he would outright oppose any new form of government proposed that did not include Town Meeting.

Weiss was joined by Julia Rueschemeyer who echoed the same concerns even going so far to say the lawyer in her was tempted to call for a revote knowing Mayor/Council supporter Irv Rhodes was not in attendance.

But Chair Andy Churchill pointed out a 4-4 tie vote would still mean the motion fails, so it would not undo the 5-4 vote from the previous meeting.

The Select Board will vote on Monday night whether to allow town boards and committees to use "remote participation," so in the future when Mr. Rhodes is traveling and unable to make a meeting he can use an electronic device to participate and his vote will count.

The consultants were concerned about an already tight deadline with this backtracking taking up valuable time.

The Commission decided to flesh out the Mayor/Council proposal for the rest of the meeting and on January 19th briefly revisit the idea of "improving Town Meeting" and take yet another vote which form is the best for them to pursue over the next six months.

Although Mr. Weiss was quick to acknowledge that it will still end up a 5-4 vote in favor of Mayor/Council.

Over the rest of the night they did vote to support forming a Council of 13 members, one per precinct (Amherst has 10 precincts) and three elected "at large"; and the precinct Councilors serve two year terms while the three at large Councilors each have a four year term.

And, like a kid taking his toys and going home, Mr. Weiss abstained on those two votes. 

Let's hope on January 19 when the Charter Commission reaffirms their earlier vote to mothball Town Meeting, Mr. Weiss will simply resign and let someone replace him who can help move the Commission steadily forward on solid ground rather than seeking a quagmire.


Anonymous said...

Apparently in Larry's world a charter study means having a preordained opinion.

Anonymous said...

Methniks that we have created a circular firing squad

Anonymous said...

Forrest Gump said it all.. life is like a box of chocolates-you never know_ what you are going to get...Question ... Selectboards convinced they are diagnosable " Uber Gifted Wunderkindens" can be be very dangerous-but so can a solo flexing opinionated mayor .. what gives..please enlighten us.before these menches do ...GROAN ...!?!!&@$$$

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that "straw polls" were binding decisions.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think until I hear from Dr eddie!

Dr. Jed said...

Can't wait to see less problems as a result of going through this improvement process regardless of the system used. Just hoping for better services and lower taxes.

Dr. Jedi said...

May The Force be with them.

Anonymous said...

To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The 5 Charter Commissioners are the hammer, making up every possible reason to nail town meeting, blaming every problem on it. No credit to town meeting for the many successes of Amherst? Oh no.

Larry Kelley said...

Even a dead clock is correct twice every 24 hours.

Dr. Ed said...

Just hoping for better services and lower taxes.

In AmHeRsT?!?!?

The problem in Amherst is that no one is ever accountable for anything.

This won't change until accountability is somehow restored.

Anonymous said...

Well that's a detailed critique too. Now it's all so clear.

Anonymous said...

In a rare moment of agreement with Ed:

We need Town Council members who are easily identifiable by and answerable to geographic constituencies, precincts or wards or whatever you want to call them. We don't have that. When political power is spread so widely and thinly as it is in Town Meeting and the rest of town government, Ed is right (gasp!): no one is accountable.

Town Meeting is terrific at preventing things, and so to the extent that Amherst is wonderful because of the absence of certain things (big box stores, etc.), Town Meeting must be credited.

But Town Meeting is also reactionary and undependable. There is nothing reliable about it, and reliance interests matter for various enterprises in society, especially business. It's not deliberative. It's government in an arena. It is easily manipulated by fear and misinformation. It is not a place to build things, to make progress, to exercise leadership. It's also a place where the average voter cannot easily follow what is going on. It's a black box of political conflict, and the learning curve for members is long and steep.

Rich Morse

kevin said...

There is no reason Amherst can't have Town Meeting. Town Meeting will be on the ballot, too. A No vote in 2018 would be a vote to keep Town Meeting. They don't need a Charter Commission, they can just fix it themselves. Like, all you would need is a conflict of interest rule, no Parties in Interest. And fiduciary duty. And no using their elected position to influence a state-mandated board. And no more behind the backs of the voters closed listserv. They can do that themselves. Why do you need a Charter Commission for that?