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Now that we are ignoring the town charter…

July 25, 2012

As 180 readers have no doubt heard by now, Walpole Town Meeting voted on Monday night to ignore a provision in the town charter requiring Finance Committee public hearings on Town Meeting warrants to be held no later than three days prior to Town Meeting.

Our own RTMs set a precedent that bylaws and provisions of the charter in general can be ignored if considered inconvenient. What a dangerously slippery slope!

But now that we are heading down said slippery slope, here is another provision of the charter I think the town should ignore as well:

Article II, Section 2-6: Nomination, Election, and Term of Office (for the Legislature Representative Town Meeting)

Special rights of incumbents.

(1) Incumbent Town Meeting Representatives shall have the following rights:

(a) to forego the filing of nomination papers if they have filed a written statement of their intent to seek re-election with the Town Clerk twenty-one (21) days prior to the last day for the filing of nomination papers for the office of Town Meeting Representative; (See Article VII, Section 7-1, Computation of Time.)

(b) to have the words “candidate for re-election” added to their names as they appear on the ballot.

(2) The term “incumbent” shall include those Town Meeting Representatives who are required to stand for re-election because of a redistricting of the precincts of the creation of new precinct, provided that a portion of his/her original precinct is contained in the new precinct; but,

(3) For the purposes of this paragraph, the term shall not be taken to include those persons who have been elected by Town Meeting Representatives to fill a vacancy.

From now on, I am calling on Town Clerk Ron Fucile to ignore the above provision of the town charter because I believe part of the problem in Walpole is our incumbent Town Meeting Representatives who say nothing and do nothing and just show up to Town Meeting to vote the pro-spending party line. Many of those RTMs repeatedly called for an end to debate on the Town Meeting article on Monday night – depriving their fellow RTMs of a chance to discuss an important issue. Many of the RTMs from Precincts 3, 6, and 7 had the audacity to vote against the will of their own constituents when they voted to appropriate the override money. These people deserve no special privileges on the ballot. Let them work for their re-election and go back to their constituents and admit that they trampled on the town charter and denied the public a right to weigh in during a public hearing. Most residents don’t even know who their RTMs are – it is time the incumbents reintroduced themselves to their constituents rather than relying on stupid voters voting for them when they have their name first on the ballot every time they run for re-election.

In fact, I think the town should ignore Article II altogether, which stipulates that Walpole should be run by a Representative Town Meeting. Evidently, Town Meeting has become too dominated by a partisan special interest group to be representative of the people. They have been rendered irrelevant and powerless, because they can’t even enforce their own charter, didn’t get to vote on the override during Spring Town Meeting as procedure should have dictated, and town officials did an end-run around Town Meeting by raising property taxes to reflect the override even before Town Meeting had voted on the appropriation.

Do any 180 readers have any other suggestions for parts of the Walpole Town Charter or specific bylaws that we should start ignoring? Please submit ideas to Town Hall.

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