CHARTER COMMISSION MEETING
One School Street
Sharon, MA 02067
Present: Peg Arguimbau, Allen Garf, Paul Izzo, Abigail Marsters, Andrew Nebenzahl, Suzi Peck, and Paul Pietal
Absent: Sam Liao, Colleen Tuck
Also present during the presentation to the Select Board: Mr. Heitin, Mr. Powell, Mr. Roach (Select Board), Mr. Puritz, Town Administrator, members of the community and a member of the press
Prior to convening the Open Session meeting, the Charter Commission presented the draft Charter to the Select Board (6:30 p.m.). Mr. Nebenzahl, with the assistance of Commission members, presented an overview of the draft Charter. The Commission stressed that the approach toward formulating the Charter was a holistic approach with a view to examining what works and does not work in the Town. No boards/committees were eliminated.
• How the legislative branch of government is currently conducted and the proposed changes included in the draft Charter.
• How Open Town Meeting currently is conducted and the proposed changes to Town Meeting protocol via through the proposed Steering Committee.
• The make-up, functions, authority, and the reasoning for the creation of the Steering Committee and how warrant articles proceed from the Steering Committee to the Town Meeting floor was discussed.
• Town Administrator’s Office - formalization, scope of authority, particularly between the Town Administration, Select Board and town employees.
Following the presentation, The Select Board was asked for their input regarding the draft Charter.
Q&A with the Select Board consisted of queries concerning:
• centralized maintenance of buildings (both school department and town).
• how to disseminate information and educate community on the proposed Charter.
• why is the Charter so detailed and why the language is so legal/technical.
• how would the single point of contact for town/school maintenance of buildings be executed and how would it be funded?
• What other communities have instituted this hybrid form of town government?
• The Steering Committee appears to be the same as a city council form of government.
• What would be the protocol at Town Meeting relative to articles that were either approved by the Steering Committee or sent from the Steering Committee on to Town Meeting for a vote?
• Would the Charter clearly define timelines, guidelines for the Steering Committee?
• Clarification on subpoena powers for town committees/boards.
• Discussion on the recall process and the definition/clarification of “for cause”.
There being no further discussion, the Charter Commission left the Select Board’s meeting at 7:30 with the intent of convening a brief Open Session meeting in the Town Hall’s downstairs meeting room.
Mr. Nebenzhal called the Open Session meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.
Mr. Nebenzahl asked for motions to approve the following Open Session minutes of August 31, 2009 as drafted and submitted.
MOTION: (Izzo/Garf) Moved to approve the Open Session minutes from the August 31, 2009 meeting as drafted and submitted . Vote was eight in the affirmative.
Mr. Izzo stated that there were three pieces of correspondence to come before the Commission:
• An email from Eli Hauser in which he expressed concerns regarding articles being presented to Town Meeting via the Steering Committee and the need for further clarification on the role of the town planner.
• An email from Amir Karger in which he expressed his thoughts on the role of the Steering Committee.
• A letter from Marlene Chused in which she expressed in detail her thoughts on the added responsibilities in the town clerk’s office relative to the implementation of the proposed Charter.
It was suggested that Ms. Chused’s letter in its entirety be posted on the web.
Discuss Implementation of Piggy-Back By-Laws
Mr. Nebenzahl opened the discussion by asking members to consider what piggy-back by-laws, if any, should be included in the proposed Charter. Mr. Curran suggested that members not make any decisions on the by-laws until after the public hearing and the members have a more definitive understanding of the composition of the finalized draft Charter proposal (charter worthy or create a piggy-back by-law i.e. procedures, specific guidelines for town meeting protocol, etc.). If there is a difference, the Charter prevails. It was suggested that the narrative contain specific language. Further discussion on by-laws will be a future agenda item.
Discuss Upcoming Public Hearing
Mr. Nebenzahl asked the members for their thoughts and ideas on how to structure the public hearing, which will be held on September 21st at 7:00 p.m. at the Sharon Community Center. Suggestions ranged from an open mike format to a sign-in sheet for participants to addressing responses article by article, whether there should be time limits for speakers, etc. It was the consensus of the members not to have a formally structured open hearing.
Mr. Nebenzahl asked members to email him with their suggestions on what should be included in the opening statement.
There was a discussion on the participation of two Commission members (A. Nebenzahl and S. Peck) and the topics of discussion on the local cable show hosted by another Commission member, Colleen Tuck.
Mr. Curran was asked the percentage of charters that was passed by voters. Mr. Çurran responded that less than 50% pass. There was a discussion on the procedure to be followed in reaching out to the community at large in an effort to educate citizens on the intent, content and support of the proposed Charter. Mr. Nebenzahl stated that no money would be expended in advocating the adoption of the proposed Charter.
Discuss Post Hearing Schedule
Mr. Nebenzahl reminded everyone that the Public Forum on the proposed Charter would be held on Monday, September 21st at 7:00 p.m. in the Dave Clifton Ballroom at the Sharon Community Center.
There being no further business to come before the Commission at this time, Mr. Nebenzahl asked for a motion to adjourn.
MOTION: (Garf/Peck) Moved to adjourn. Vote was eight in the affirmative.
Open Session was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Submitted on behalf of the Charter Committee by: Helen Campanario, Recording Secretary to the Charter Commission