Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Councilor Peloquin Makes By-Law Revisions Available To Public

A shout out to Town Councilor Amelia Peloquin.

Those who watched last night’s Town Council Meeting will remember that the Council voted to postpone the second reading of the proposed changes to the Town By-Laws that were recommended by the By-Law Review Committee.

During the discussion on this subject it was pointed out that a December 2nd memo from the Town Attorney had recommended that the marked up version of the old By-Laws with proposed revisions be made widely available as a means of avoiding the Charter-mandated requirement to read the entirety of such changes at each meeting. 

A number of councilors expressed dismay that this memo was not made available to them until they received their packets for last night’s meeting.

That fact constituted a major reason why they voted to postpone a vote on the second reading until the next meeting scheduled for January 27th.

In the course of the discussion the meeting was interrupted by a call from the Town Clerk that the document was available in the Clerk’s Office and on the town website.

Having addressed this matter a number of times and having monitored the town website for the availability of this document, I was surprise by this information. I went again to the town website and all that I could find was the transmittal letter that accompanied the report of the 2006 By-Law Review Committee.

I brought this to Councilor Peloquin’s attention (as several others apparently did) and much to her credit she immediately followed up on the matter.

At 11:30 this morning I received from her a copy of the document in question. I have made it available on Google Docs.

I must apologize for the limitations of this mechanism. While the highlighted additions and changes are clearly marked, for some reason those portions of the old By-Laws that have been redacted and marked in red only appear on Google Docs in shaded form.

Nevertheless, I hope that this is at least a step forward in informing the public of matters that could prove to have a significant impact on their lives as Southbridge residents. 

And, once again, kudos to Councilor Peloquin for her diligence in championing the cause of transparency in local government.


  1. I want to comment also on Councilor Nikolla’s self-serving comments at last night’s meeting.

    She remarked on the failure of any “interested citizens” to attend her General Government subcommittee meetings where the By-Law changes were discussed.

    Throughout her tenure the councilor has done her very best to keep a tight rein on the availability of information to the public.

    How could “interested citizens” be expected to attend meetings to discuss intelligently pending changes about which they were uninformed?

    Contrast the conduct of the By-Law Review Committee with the conduct of the Charter Review Committee chaired by former Councilor Laurent McDonald (and of which I was a member).

    The latter provided a detailed schedule of the matters of each subject that was to be considered at each meeting on the town website. It held multiple televised meetings providing an additional opportunity for citizen input. It published a detailed summary of its proposed revisions on the town website.

    None of these precedents were honored by the By-Law Review Committee.

    As I’ve written previously, this was all in keeping with Councilor Nikolla’s penchant for excluding the public from any meaningful role in policy-making, as evidenced by the way the Charter Review Committee’s recommendations were handled under her chairmanship. Her contempt for the “pigs and barnyard animals” of Southbridge extends far beyond issues of trash disposal.

  2. Happy Birthday Amelia! Great job!

    1. I second that. good work Amelia ! We need more councillors like you.

  3. So, the Town Clerk called into the meeting to say that the report was on the town website, but it wasn't?

    1. According to the message that was delivered to the council, that is correct.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Ken. I'm so glad that I was able to help you out, but I don't see as what I did for you as being all that special. Helping people get information about what the Council is doing is something that's deeply important to me, and it's something that I see as central to the job of being a citizen legislator. Nobody should be making important policy decisions in a vacuum. I'm disappointed that it took as long as it did for you to get access to the information you were looking for. It should have been more readily available before the first reading.

    I am hoping that as time goes on we can do a better job across the organization in terms of being more transparent, as well as more responsive.

    In the meantime, if anyone ever has any concern about anything relating to council business and needs help with access to anything that's a matter of public record, please get in touch with me and I will be more than happy to help out.


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