Monday, April 29, 2013

Sandwich Town Meeting has controversial articles in the warrant

I invite everyone to weigh in on any of the 26 articles comprising our 2013 Sandwich Annual Town Meeting warrant--meeting to take place at the high school on Monday, May 6th--and the one article on Tuesday night's Special Town Meeting warrant, a debt exclusion request for the proposed public safety building and fire substation.

What's likely to consume most of our time are the following articles:

Article 14 - Recommended Town Charter Revisions - For my take on this, click here. Other than changing the town clerk to an appointed position, I don't have much to offer on this article. Some people are a little worked up about the library trustee changes.

Article 19 - Medical Marijuana Moratorium - Short of having a sampling table in the hallway which would lead to a very relaxed conversation on this article, it's likely we'll have some rather lively debate and heated moments on this one. The town manager will explain at length how this doesn't mean forever.

The following are petition articles signed by at least ten voters:

Article 20 - Local Option Meals Tax Program - This went down last year, but like Whack-A-Mole, it's back again. It's only a cup of coffee a month, they'll say. Death by a thousand cuts (or in this case, a thousand cups of coffee). Here's my recycled take on this article.

Article 21 - Separate & Privatize DPW Divisions - Somebody got dissed at the dump and is now proposing that the DPW be carved up into four pieces and each piece farmed out to the lowest bidder.

Article 22 - Impose Marina Waiting List Fee - If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.--Ronald Reagan / If it moves too slowly, throw a $25 fee on it.--Citizens Petition

Article 23 - Beach Parking Receipts to Renourishment Fund - This would set aside 20% of the beach parking and sticker receipts for projects at our salt water beaches, including dune renourishment.

Article 24 - Campaign Financing at Federal Level - Approval of this article would show our support for overturning the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision, aka "Corporations are people, too."--Mitt Romney

Article 25 - Close Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station - This article intends to gather momentum in the effort to close the nuclear plant in Plymouth. The debate could be interesting.

The following is the article slated for Tuesday night's Special Town Meeting:

Article 1 - Debt Exclusion for Joint Public Safety Building - Here's the grandaddy of all of the town meeting articles. $30 million to build the new public safety building and fire substation. See my post on this article here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why Dan Winslow is our best bet for winning the U.S. senate seat

See Dan's TV ad here. Literally, my proximity to Dan Winslow in the State House of Representatives (I sit in one row up and directly behind him) has given me a unique perspective on this fellow. We kid that, because the only electrical outlet around us is right behind Dan's chair, his job is to keep my iGadgets plugged in and charged.
It's a funny line, but being able to tap Dan on the shoulder to ask about some complicated maneuver in the proceedings or background on an issue before us is extremely helpful to me and others around us. Dan has worked as a judge, as chief counsel to Governor Mitt Romney, and now in the legislative branch. His depth of knowledge humbles me, and that's no easy task.
Do we want to win or just make a point?
I was ecstatic when Scott Brown won the senate seat along with many of you. Scott was there at the right time, handled a few key points--like "with all due respect, it's not the Kennedy seat"--extremely well and benefited from Coakley's string of gaffs and miscues. A great time was had by all.
Fast forward to November 2012 and the energy was noticeably absent from his race. By that time, Scott had taken a couple of votes that disappointed conservative Republicans; the one closest to the election being his vote against interstate authorization for concealed carry permit holders. In a microcosm of what happened to Mitt Romney, too many Republicans sat at home, refusing to vote for a candidate who didn't line up with them 100% on all of the issues.
This again is going to be a time when we can insist on a complete DNA match before casting our votes, or we can look at the bigger picture of whether we'd be better off as a state having a Republican senator.
Let's take the Pro-Life / Pro-Choice debate as an example. Who in this race says they are pro-life? Sullivan, Gomez and Lynch. Who has promised to work to reverse Roe v Wade? No one. What practical difference is there between the candidates on this issue? None.

Dan Winslow supports a woman's right to choose and has proposed legislation to make adoption less onerous and less expensive with the hope that this alternative will be a realistic choice for women who cannot be mothers.

Mike Sullivan's website reads: "I will promote policies to simplify the process of adoption, recognizing that there are many loving families who are eager to adopt a child only to find the process excessively complex and expensive."

Is there a difference here? Yes. Dan Winslow has actually filed legislation to make this happen.

What about gay marriage? None of the five support the Defense of Marriage Act.

What about transgender rights? Let me be unequivocal about this issue. The transgender bill that the legislature passed in November 2010 did not have anything in it relative to the use of bathrooms. The "Bathroom Bill" portion of this legislation was removed by an agreement which was brokered by Dan Winslow and several Democrats who saw the potential problems that the original language could create. I fume when I hear one of my friends declare that Dan Winslow voted for the Bathroom Bill. Now you know why.

Why Dan Winslow can win in June
Although, as I've pointed out, that there are few, if any, practical differences between the candidates on social issues, the perceived differences will work against Sullivan or Gomez in the June 25th general election. Dan Winslow will be able to focus on the big issues of jobs, the economy, national security, etc., free from getting entangled in a social issues debate that is simply unwinnable in Massachusetts.

Dan Winslow versus Markey or Lynch in a debate would be highly entertaining. From personal experience, I can tell you that Dan is quick on his feet, inspiring, energetic, and will leave people scratching their heads wondering why the Democrat was so unprepared.

Dan Winslow has shown time and again that he can generate ideas that people from both sides of the aisle can embrace. When Republicans talk about repealing ObamaCare, Democrats and middle-of-the-roaders shut down and stop listening. When Dan talks about Excel & Exempt, a proposal in which states that comply with a minimum standard relative to universal health insurance would be exempted from ObamaCare, now all of a sudden there's an idea that has appeal to both parties.

Dan is always looking for common ground upon which compromise can be reached. This is what we need in Washington, D.C. Enough of the foxholing. Enough of the division. Enough of the partisan politics.

Where have all the statesmen gone?

We have one in our midst. He is Dan Winslow.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Town clerk should remain elected position

I see one compelling and overriding reason for keeping the office of town clerk an elected position. The reason for this has nothing to do with the current office holder; it has nothing to do with how many towns' charters call for elected versus appointed town clerks; it has nothing to do anyone's particular viewpoint on this issue other than my own.

Elections should be managed by people not under the control of the elected.

This is how we handle our statewide elections, which are managed by the secretary of the commonwealth. Our state constitution, ratified in 1780 recognizes that the top elections officer should not report to the governor. On a federal level, elections are also managed state-by-state rather than by a centralized, presidentially-appointed elections authority.

We should not vary from this fundamental separation of power at the local level. An appointed town clerk would report to the town manager, who takes direction from the elected board of selectmen. This is a conflict of interest.

Arguments about the electing an incompetent person to the office of town clerk are insulting to the electorate. Arguments about how many other towns have appointed clerks make use of "lemming logic."

Give us credit. We the people who have the responsibility for choosing our town clerk can handle this responsibility.

I ask that someone rise up and offer an amendment to the charter adoption article to delete this change from an elected to an appointed town clerk. I appreciate the work of the charter committee, but this wresting of power from the electorate and awarding it to the town manager is bad policy.

See the May 2013 town meeting warrant, which includes the proposed charter by clicking here.