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Proposed charter changes

February 17, 2015

This morning, I submitted two citizen petitions to the Walpole Board of Selectmen requesting two separate articles on the Fall 2015 Town Meeting Warrant to change the Town Charter to address two separate significant issues.

The text of each proposed town charter change/Town Meeting article is below. I have also provided links so that people can learn more about why I personally feel very strongly that the proposed changes are necessary.

I hope that my fellow Town Meeting Reps., along with Selectmen and the Finance Committee, will support these two small, but still meaningful changes that will further enhance and protect our town’s Constitution. Selectmen have the ultimate option of sponsoring either or both of these articles as their own, which would certainly give both measures a greater chance of approval. Otherwise, it will be brought to Town Meeting as a “citizen petition.”

Petition #1: This proposed charter change would stop the practice of counting prisoners at MCI Cedar Junction for the purpose of apportioning the RTMs among the eight precincts. Under the current system, the counting of the Cedar Junction inmates gives Precinct 5 an unfairly inflated number of representatives based on the true non-inmate, voting population of the precinct.
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To see if the town will vote to amend the Walpole Home Rule Charter, Section 2-3, “Apportionment of the Representatives Among the Precincts,” by inserting the following subsection (C):

C. The number of inhabitants shall not include any persons who were counted within the town solely by reason of their incarceration in a correctional facility located in the town.

and amend Section 2-4, “Precincts,” by inserting the following subsection (C):

C. The number of inhabitants shall not include any persons who were counted within the town solely by reason of their incarceration in a correctional facility located in the town.

Petition #2: This proposed charter change would ensure that town officials obey the letter of the law as stipulated in the Charter, and can not disobey an occurrence of the word “shall.” Town Counsel has ruled on three separate occasions during the past two years that any instance of the word “shall” in the context of the Town Charter is simply a suggestion on town officials that is not binding.
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To see if the town will vote to amend the Walpole Home Rule Charter, Chapter 1 “General Provisions,” by inserting the following section 1-6 “Definitions”:

Where it appears in this charter, the word “shall” is always mandatory, and not merely directory.

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