On November 12, citizens of Wrentham will vote on a proposed new Town Charter. Even as the Charter is being presented to the town for consideration, as many as 30 or 40 small and large changes have been made—and continue. Copies of the Charter were distributed to various public venues around town, including the Fiske Public Library; however because of these amendments, the latest print version (dated November 4) cannot accurately describe the current proposal. Most likely, the most recent version will be distributed at Town Meeting, but obviously that does not permit voters sufficient time to read and reflect on the amended Charter, which is about 35 pages long.
There is no compelling need to push this Town Charter through at the November 12 meeting, especially since it will be easier to implement the Charter than to amend it. (It takes a simple plurality of votes (50%) to pass the Charter, but it will take a 2/3 majority to amend or revoke it.) The “time crunch” to get the Charter approved is artificial. It makes more sense to forestall voting, to permit citizens time to read and consider the revised Charter and so make informed decisions. The fact that so many changes are being made at the last minute has to raise the question of how well-thought out the original Charter was. All the more reason to delay a vote on this matter.
Now I would like to address a central change embodied in the new Charter, which would transform the current Town Administrator position into a “Strong” Town Administrator. What does this mean? This change gives greater control and authority to the Town Administrator and makes it harder to remove him from office. Whereas now the Administrator can be removed by a simple majority vote of Selectmen, a Strong Administrator would require that four out of five Selectmen must vote to remove.
Considering the way current town officials are conducting our common business, do we really want to expand their power? In widely circulated emails, some people express “faith” in the goodwill of the individuals proposing the warrant changes. Let us not go forward hoping and praying for the best; let us demand accountability and transparency from those who would govern our town and spend its money (our taxes)—in the millions.Sincerely,