Saturday, August 04, 2007

Middletown's Charter Review Commission

Friday morning the Middletown Charter Review Commission was the subject of a suit brought by Antone Viveros and others in challenging the right of the Council to appoint members to the group rather than holding an election. This is the second time that Viveros has challenged Middltown's procedure in Charter Commission reviews. Local lawyer Joe Palumbo acted in his behalf. I would have liked to have been there, but no go. Thanks to Daily News Reporter Matt Sheley for his article.

John McDaid of Hard Deadlines will be encouraged (!) that Portsmouth Concerned Citizens President, Larry Fitzmorris, was seated next to Antone. At least Antone's group, Island Watchdogs, charges no membership fee & doesn't take a vote on whether or not approve members. I met Antone "on the road" last summer campaigning. While we don't always agree on issues, I admire his grassroots initative & dedication.

These are the appointed members of our local charter commission (nothing about this group is listed on the town's web site, BTW) . Oh, Antone was NOT appointed, despite his applying. I would have appointed all who applied rather than abide by the arbitrary number of nine - this was the motion the "White Knight" Silveira & " Tries Harder" DiPalma voted for. "Mother" Theresa Santos, who must not have been well that night, commented that everyone knows that a committee is always 9 people. Hmm, just like the Supreme Court, the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, & all town boards/commissions - NOT.

Members:

Virgel J. Blaschke - ab., ab
Elizabeth Pike Bozyan
Lucie-Anne Dionne-Thomas , Sec'y. I appreciate the info she furnished me
Francis A. Forgue
David P. Leys
Robert F. Matose - ab., ab, late
William R. O’Connell - ab.
Morrie P. Seiple - ab., ab, ab
Barbara A. Vonvillas
Shirley Mello - Council rep.

Minutes don't indicate who officers are.

What have they been up to? Reviewing their minutes, these are present suggestions. Their next meeting is Sept. 6. I went to their Aug. meeting. Unfortunately town hall was locked & not enough members showed up for a quorum. Why apply for a committee & not attend? And why should a Chair put up with this?

So far these changes are what they are suggesting to the Council. It is up to the Council to decide which of these changes, if any, will be voted upon by the public.

1. Council terms of 4 years.

Current status: 2 years
Other towns/cities w/4 yr terms.: 5

2. Non-partisan Council Elections.

Current status: Partisan.

Other towns/cities w/non-partisan Councils: 7
The unanimous vote for this surprises me as one member has stated publicly that they oppose this & two others have stated in various venues that they oppose it. Another member who was absent also publicly opposed this.

3. Council terms: two four-year terms (limit), then a min. of 4 yrs. off.

Current status: 2 yrs.
Others towns/cities: 5 have 4 yr-terms, the rest 2. None have term limits.

4. Charter Reviews: every 5 yrs.

Current status: Every 10 yrs.
Other towns/cities: 13 have no time requirements, 11 require them every 10 yrs., 4 every 6 yrs. , 8 every 5 yrs.

5. Bond limitations: change Sec. 207(g) to read: Bond Limitation Without Referendum. No bonds shall be issued pledging the credit of the town in excess of 1% of the property tax levy (raised to appx. $260,000 from current $100,000)in any one fiscal year unless submitted to a vote of the electors at either a general or special election, and approved by a majority of the electors voting at said election.

6. Section 305 of the Charter to read as follows: “The council or any of its members shall not direct or request the appointment of any person to or his removal from office by the town administrator or by any of his subordinates [this sentence fragment removed]. Except for the purpose of inquiry, the council and its members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the town administrator ; individual council members shall not seek to direct the actions of the Town Administrator and neither the council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the town administrator, either publicly or privately.”
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