Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Live reporting - Franklin, MA: Charter Review

Present: Kelly, Jones, Vallee, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Zollo, Powderly
Absent: none

Meeting Purpose  review changes of Council subcommittee, review proposals from Citizens Committee, and hopefully come to a consensus

Whalen - decision on election date and terms, all at once or staggered terms
no compelling reason to overcome the logistic challenges to adopt a staggered term

Zollo - I agree with that

Cheli - yes, the citizens committee agreed as well to keep it as is. Worry about losing the institutional knowledge is not valid as it did only occur once (1997) in the last 12 years. We studied it a lot. We have a Town Administrator and Staff to maintain the continuity we felt we needed. The staggered terms could be done, it would be more expensive with more elections but we did not recommend it.

Ken Norman - addressing the issue of staggering terms. The whole purpose of this exercise was to have staggered terms. To my mind it is quite simple. The top vote getters get the longest term. This is how the problem was solved in this charter. You need to commit yourself that you either need to have staggered terms or you don't. It seems pretty simple.

Mason - neither committee was charged with going to staggered terms. The charge was to exam what changes needed to be made and propose those. The issue of the staggered terms was commitment to four or more years. The Council preferred to review their position every two years.

Whalen - I think we said we could do it. We did not come up with a compelling benefit to make the change.

Norman - the history of the town shows that it did occur. The history is being ignored.

Nutting - you can find arguments on both sides. The citizens seem to want the option of deciding who they want every two years.

Vallee - There is a learning curve to become a council. I think it is important to have staggered terms.

Cheli - Ken participated in a lot of our meetings. I had Debbie Pellegri pull the data on the elections. 1997 was a different year. I look it as an anomaly, an outlier. I look it as a unique period of time. I came on the committee with the idea that we needed to fix this. I looked at the data and decided otherwise. It is a sentiment of the citizens that they want the options to "throw the bums out" every two years. The Charter Review in 1995 was a major effort. They reduced the council from 17 to 9.

JIm Dacey - chairman of the 1995 Charter Review committee. "Pray to God it never happens, but we'll that God when it does." It wasn't a fresh group in 1997, some finance and other committee folks did change positions and run in 1997. That was an anomaly.

Zollo - I appreciate every ones input. I went into the process thinking of the staggered term. By decreasing the volume, increasing the quality of the debate, there would be a better council. The data as referenced convinced me otherwise. I think the four year term would be a deterrent rather than having folks willing to serve two year terms. We need more people who are willing to get involved.

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