Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Peloquin Responds to “What I Want To Know” - Part I


 [Editor’s Note: In this article Amelia Peloquin responds to Question number 1, indicating she plans to respond to other questions at a later time.]


1. What is your position on the Town Council's proposed amendments to the Southbridge Home Rule Charter?

Suffice to say, as a follower of local government, I didn't like the Council's handling of the Charter Review Committee's work.  On balance, as a voter, I will not be supporting most of the ballot questions.  The fate of the Southbridge Home Rule Charter is the biggest local issue I've spent time dealing with this year.  I've written about this topic extensively, and you are welcome to read my work here:



and here:


I actually felt strongly enough about this issue that I went to the State House on February 29 to talk about my problems with the Southbridge Charter change legislation (H.3900) at its hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. There is a video of this hearing available on YouTube:



The one unified bill (H.3900) has since morphed into eleven different bills.  The controversial Section 2-2-2 revision regarding financial qualifications for Town Council candidates lingers in the original bill (apparently in legal limbo) while nine other proposed charter revisions were pulled out and made into separate bills.  And curiously enough, there's a new bill that came straight from Rep. Durant, that seems nearly identical to the 2006 special legislation amending our charter to specify that Southbridge is legally a town, but exempted from Ch 40, Section 32 of the MGL.  (http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2006/Chapter5)


Here's the breakdown of the charter change legislation, with links to each individual bill:

H.3900: An Act relative to the charter of the Town of Southbridge

Unless I'm mistaken, the only charter change proposal left behind in this bill was Section 2-2-2, pertaining to financial qualifications to ballot access for Town Council candidates.  From what I've heard, the House Counsel is not sure as to whether or not this Charter change proposal would be legal under the MGL. 

From a civil liberties perspective, I would not support this charter change provision whether or not the House Counsel decides it would be permissible under state law.  Every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote, and every voter has the right to run.  As an American, this is something that's deeply important to me in terms of my core values.    

Generally speaking, I think ballot access (and election law in general) should be regulated at the state level, because these are incredibly important issues that are central to the democratic process that we rely on to have a functional system of government.  As such, they deserve a higher level of regulatory oversight.  Besides, remember what happened in Quartzsite, AZ?  Link:http://www.statebrief.com/briefblog/2011/03/23/town-council-eliminates-competition-with-im proper-election-rules/   

I am hesitant to think local politics in Southbridge would improve with the introduction of a policy that could arguably be subject to the manipulation or abuse of local officials who seek to limit competition in local elections.  I'm comfortable with the idea of trusting voters to make the right choices.

H.4039: An Act exempting the town of Southbridge from attorney general approval of by-laws.

As I mentioned above, I'm not really sure why this bill has been filed.  It seems intended to do the same thing as the 2006 Session Law, An Act Relative to the Charter of the Town of Southbridge 
Link:

That being said, what's the deal with this law, anyhow?  One of the many things that bothers me about our current charter is that we're some sort of strange hybrid between a city and a town.  It causes a lot of confusion for a lot of people.  We're a town, with a city form of government, ruled by state laws that apply to towns, except the attorney general is not required to review our by-laws?  Why on Earth not?  Just because we have a Council for a legislative body as opposed to a Town Meeting doesn't mean our by-laws are particularly well-written as a result.   If you sit down and read our controversial trash by-law, for example, you will see that it's written in such a way that it doesn't even make sense.  If we had the advantage of state oversight of our by-laws, perhaps they would be more well-written. 

H.4040: An Act relative to non-councilors on committees in the town of Southbridge.

I don't have a strong opinion on this one.  Voters, vote as you wish.

H.4042: An Act relative to the prohibition on multiple appointments to quasi-judicial boards in the town of Southbridge.

Again, in a general sense, I don't have a strong opinion on this one.  That being said, it is widely stated by members of the community that this proposed Charter change is targeted at a particular local citizen who is currently serving terms as both a Liquor Board member and a Board of Health member.  If this is true, it really rubs me the wrong way.  I don't like the idea of changing our Town's constitution because there's a guy out there that a few people on the Council don't like.  

H.4041: An Act relative to the removal of the vice chairperson of the council of the town of Southbridge.

I would support this, because it brings the removal process of Vice Chair position in line with that of the chair.  There is currently no removal process for the Vice Chair specified in the current Charter.

H.4043: An Act relative to the addition of members to the Board of Health in the town of Southbridge.

Can of Worms, aisle three.  Why is there a proposed Charter change to a five member appointed Board of Health in the works, when the Town Manager, Town Attorney and a majority of the Councilors already claim that a five-member Board of Health is currently legal?

At the October 3 Town Council meeting, I advocated for a move to an elected Board of Health, whether it be 3 or 5.  The Council subsequently voted 5-4 to send the question of a five member elected Board of Health to the voters.  But then, on October 24th, Councilor Regis moved to rescind her vote, and the council voted to send a five member appointed Board of Health to the voters.  As Gus Steeves wrote in his October 24 editorial, entitled "Let Elected BOH Go To Voters" a ballot question as to whether the Health Board should be elected or appointed, along with a followup question as to whether it should be 3 or 5 members, would be the most legitimate way of putting an end to the ongoing Board of Health controversy.

I personally feel very strongly that the Board of Health (and any quasi-judicial board, for that matter) should have a number of sitting members that is in line with what is directly specified under the Charter.  I believe it's a misinterpretation of our Charter to consider the Town Manager as having the power to change the number of people on a board under the reorganization provisions if the number of board members is specifically listed in the Charter.  (See Section 4-5-1, "subject to...the terms of this Charter")  It requires a Charter change, which explains the existence of H.4043: An Act relative to the addition of members to the Board of Health in the town of Southbridge.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm one of the 21 citizens on the 3 vs. 5 Board of Health lawsuit.  If this issue is still not resolved by the end of June, I will file appropriate disclosures with the Ethics Commission and recuse myself from any Council votes relating to the suit. 


H.4044: An Act relative to the appointment of the liquor licensing board in the town of Southbridge.

I don't have a strong opinion as to whether or not the Liquor Board and the Conservation Commission have the same number of seats.

H.4045:An Act relative to the rescission of appointments to quasi-judicial bodies in the town of Southbridge.

I am opposed to this Charter change.  The people who wrote our Charter put Section 4-4-2 there for a reason: it's an important check on the Town Manager position.  Quasi-judicial boards should not be subordinate to the Town Manager position--they're independent entities whose decisions are legally binding, and as such, they need to be able to operate outside of the Town Manager's sphere of influence.  

H.4046: An Act relative to the removal of the manager of the town of Southbridge.

I am opposed to this Charter change.  The Town Manager's job is to do the day-to-day work of running the Town in such a way that the majority of the Council approves of his performance.  If this is changed to a 2/3rds supermajority, then the Town Manager only needs to keep four people in the entire Town of Southbridge happy enough to want to continue employing him.  I am comfortable with keeping the bar for performance set a bit higher than that.

At the October 3, 2011 Council meeting, the Chair asserted that many communities in Massachusetts were making the transition to a 2/3rds supermajority required for removal of a Manager, but in my ongoing review of municipal charters in Massachusetts, I haven't found evidence of this.  

H.4047: An Act relative to the prohibition on commercial manufacturing or sale of alcohol by the members of the liquor licensing board of the town of Southbridge.

I would support this, as long as the restriction is limited to commercial manufacturing and sale.  If a liquor board member is interested in homebrewing beer in their garage or attending a winemaking class, I don't see a problem with it.


H.4048: An Act relative to the recall of elective officers in the town of Southbridge.

I would support this.  The current figure of 25% is way too high.  15% is a much more realistic figure, given the current state of voter turnout in local elections.



more to come.

30 comments:

  1. Typical Peloquin style, the use of "I" throughout. Didn't three other people go to the State House to argue against the Charter changes? You'd never know it from this response. All about Amelia, she does it all without help. A younger version of Denise Clemmence.

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    1. "Jon" (really how do you keep track of all these various names?), Mr. O'Brien didn't ask about anyone else. He asked a question directly to the candidates. So, her proper use of speaking in the first person is a reason to not pick her? That's just desperate.

      The fact is that she was there fighting for you. And you weren't there, whoever you are. As one who was there with her, I'm not offended at all because Amelia was the reason I went. She rallied the group, she made the phone calls, she even drove us there. Except for Councilor McDonald who always intended on going, it wouldn't have happened without her. So let me speak authoritatively on this matter. I give Amelia full credit and she wins this argument.

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  2. That's not an answer, it's a seminar. Just what we need another Pam Regis.

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    1. "Cathy" being thorough is something we actually need. Our current councilors didn't even know that they voted to pay someone $36000 do do a "consulting" job for something that Casella is already contractually obligated to do.
      You want short, politicized answers, vote for "Get your free tornado Hot Dog" Clemence. I wonder how many hot dogs $36000 would have bought? Anyway, if you want someone who's actually reading and understanding everything, VOTE FOR AMELIA. With her there we won't have to be constantly watching out for what the Town Manager and the carpet-baggers are doing behind our backs.

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    2. And the manager still got the $36,000 for the same consultant and Amelia is still not sure if she would get rid of him. Waffle, waffle, waffle.

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  3. Huh? Is this an answer or a distraction? I still don't know what her answer to the question is?

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  4. I think it's interesting that these small group of pseudonymed anonymous posters are trying to paint Amelia as in the same light as the incumbunts. Any thinking person who has observed her this past year knows that she's far from them. Nice try. Typical Southbridge dirty politics, but nice try. I'm only saddened that it's coming from those on our side.

    Amelia's answers,like Shaun's, were honest and well thought out. It only strengthens my support for her.

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    1. What answers? Her reply is almost as long as Shaun's, but she answered only one question while he answered all of them.

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    2. Your response is interesting. What do you mean by "our side"?

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  5. If you know them why not out them? I would guess that you have no clue is the answer. Typical dirty insinuations by "your side".

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  6. I like Amelia. I've seen her work this past year and she's a refreshing change from the toxic pool of usual suspects...both democrat and republican. From what i've seen this past year some nastyu behavior those that oppose her always come at her with chauvanistic tone. Not people I want running my town. SHe's maintained her professionalism when people were just name calling. If Dennis would grow up maybe he's actually have a chance. SPinalli and Clemence are just horrible. Vote for the top three Amelia, Shaun and either Dennis or Steve but noone vote for the current counceliors. They're dangerous to the town.

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  7. At least Dennis stands for something and says what he thinks. I agree that Spinelli and Clemence are dreadful, but I don't understand what Miss Peloquin stands for. You tell Dennis he should grow up but to his credit, if you actually knew him, you would see him as fair, intelligent and very involved in town, having served twice on subcommittees (even though I didn't like the Town Chairman hand picking them for one of them). If you are equally fair you would stop seeing through those cloudy glasses and at least admit that as nice as she is the one that needs growing up, not him. She needs to state in short paragraphs what she is for and against. I don't have the time to click her links to then read into what she thinks. I think Mr. Moriarity is a very nice young man but he seems unwilling to pass judgment on anyone but I can't understand how anyone running, regardless of who they may be, can have an opinion on people and decisions? As I said, sweet, but a little too much Leave it to Beaver meets Eddie Haskell. In the end it is important to get rid of Councilors Spinelli and Clemence, I agree. My knitting group feels the same, and they think that too many people are playing nice to get elected. It's like a bun with no meat inside.

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    1. As regards the comment about Steve "hand-picking" (and I assume you're referring to the charter review committee)if you look at the town charter that is what it requires the chairman of the council to do.

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    2. Sarah, you're a member of a local knitting group that talks about local politics?! I would LOVE to join you sometime.

      (Seriously. Knitting and municipal government are two of my favorite things.)

      Email me at Amelia@ElectAmelia.com, or call 774-318-9665. I promise I wouldn't show up strictly in campaign mode; I have a sweater sleeve that needs frogging anyhow, and I could use the moral support.

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    3. We have a local knitting group of ten retired moms. We talk about everything, but politics is our most enjoyable one. We don't want to speak to anyone though since it's a private group that gets together every week and we have fun our own way and that isn't inviting anybody into the group that hasn't been with us for the last ten years. I asked the members and they were not willing to meet with you. I think that the primary reason is that you're not a member of our group and they see that as a political move. Although we would like to wish you well we know who we're voting for and Dennis and Steve have been kind to us (no they don't knit). But one thing they don't do is try to lobby us, they just have become loyal friends who when we ask THEM questions they answer them. Mr. Raciel has been especially harsh on both of them in favor of you and Mr. Moriarity and we're not happy with that. We'll be voting for Lazo, Martinek and Miss Heid. If you want to join us AFTER the election we'd consider that but please don't try to play to us. We're all retired and enjoy our lives the way they are without politicians trying to find access to us to get our votes. We are steadfast in our support of those above.

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    4. Ten retired moms? Together 10 years? All active voters in local Southbridge elections, and all voting for the same three candidates, two of which are virtually unknown in the town?

      I smell fiction.

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    5. As if you could smell anything while you're waist deep in the BS your candidate is peddling.

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    6. Anyone notice how all of Dennis's supporters always have fake stories? It's been his mo since his bloogging days. Dennis this good copy bad cop thing is back firing on you and you're beginning to look like you don't have a handle on things. You need to just focus on your own issuse.

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  8. After reading Erin Quinney’s letter in today’s Southbridge News I wonder where Peloquin stands on the comments made by her mentor Scott Lazo about catering to the free lunch crowd.

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  9. Mentor? Please give it a rest. Just because someone has a sign or bumper sticker supporting someone that doesn't make them a mentor. As I see it all four of the candidates that have answered on this blog have their own personalities and have done their best to explain their angle. All four would be a big improvement over the two incumbents who have proven to be divisive and enjoy fining people for BS and raising our rates to pay for an expensive and incompetent town hall. Get rid of tax, fine and waste Spinelli and Clemence and lets get this town back on the right track.

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    1. That’s just evading the question. Scott is going around telling people that he is helping run her campaign – even that he set up her appearance at the Centros Las Americas luncheon at the community center. So it’s only fair to ask to what extent she shares his views as well as his interests and affiliations. The costs and obligations of opportunism are a difficult burden to escape.

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    2. My god you people are really trying to dig things up because you have nothing and she's a strong candidate.

      Scott belongs to the Democratic party and is helping a fellow Democratic candidate. Good for him. Others are conspicuously absent. Scott should be commended for his loyalty. From this somehow you're all trying to paint a policy picture of Amelia? Amelia (and Shaun) appear to be gaining support from across a wide spectrum of people BECAUSE they stand on their own. It's doing them good to break away from the status quo.

      Amelia is an individual. Just like Shaun is. He also hasn't taken your bait. One minute your'e all trying to paint her as a Clemence or Regis, the next as a Lazo. Really, your strategy is so transparent, yet has no cohesiveness, that it's laughable.

      Shaun and Amelia just need to keep pushing forward and not take this toxic bait to ensure that Clemence and Spinelli are booted off. I wish the other 2 viable candidates luck.

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  10. Well said by Raciel. Shaun and Amelia are the two candidates that are the least connected to the current powers that be. New people with new ideas and both of them care about this community. They also both have a positive outlook and that sure is refreshing.

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    1. Well said? Shaun and Amelia may be two new candidates but they are gutless when it comes to taking positions. Nothing but fluff from these two. A positive outlook from you is a immature outlook for most voters. Denise Clemence had a positive outlook and where the hell has that gotten us? Lazo, Spinelli and Martinek. That's the only way to go unless you want to elect immature kids with an odd group of followers that say nothing as well. Go Steve, Larry and Dennis!

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    2. There you go dennis you're on the ticket with spinelli! Maybe I should do more research on him. Some of the things I remember him writing about were too right wing for me so I'll have to do more research if he's anything like SPinelli.

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    3. Gutless? Try mature. Dennis has show to be too emotional and flies off the handle. we have enough of histeria on the council. we need grown ups.

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  11. Speaking of things that don't pass the smell test: compulsive O'Zoner D.M. has stopped commenting on the site, but his curiously loyal (and heretofore unseen) friends John, Cathy and Sarah are suddenly all over the place.

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    1. I use a pseudonym because of my job. But I speak for myself.

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  12. How about what I want to know? I would like to know why my chair of my Democratic committee is not supporting our only Democrat candidate? I've heard that he's helping Lazo and Martinek? A Republican and ex-Republican! I hope this isn't true. He should publicly support the democrat to show it's not true or I'm not going to support him anymore.

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  13. You've "heard"? Stop making it up. You've heard nothing because your whisper campaign is BS. Sour apples as usual.

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