Don’t let Scituate Council undercut Charter effort

Don’t let Scituate Council undercut Charter effort

Process matters. That short, simple statement is at the heart of the Home Rule Charter ballot being placed before the voters in Scituate on June 28. Process matters because the process one chooses to achieve a task reflects one’s core values. A Scituate town charter will be a document of historical significance. The process to create the charter will reveal the values of the Scituate community. Is Scituate a town that values their independence and the democratic process or is Scituate a town that is willing to acquiesce their right to self-government to a town council leadership that values power and control?

The Home Rule process to draft a charter is clearly outlined in Article XIII of the Rhode Island State Constitution and is a right extended to all voters in Rhode Island. Thirty-six cities and towns have embraced this right and followed the Home Rule process to create their charters.

The Home Rule process prioritizes the participation of the people of the city/town and celebrates good, old-fashioned democracy where all voters are authentically offered a voice in the process. In the Home Rule process the people’s voice is heard through the petition, the ballot question, the election of the commission, and the final vote on the completed document. To vote “Yes” on June 28 will support the Home Rule process.

The leadership of the Scituate Town Council determined that they wanted to control the process of creating a charter. So, the Town Council defined their own process to pursue a charter for the town. I guess the process in our state constitution was not good enough for them. And it does seem a conflict of interest that the town charter which will address the powers of the Town Council should be controlled in its development by the Town Council.

So, how has the Scituate Town Council controlled the process of drafting a charter? The Town Council themselves determined the need for a charter and passed a resolution on the matter last June. The Town Council chose a group of seven residents to draft the document rather than giving the residents the opportunity to elect a commission as directed in the Home Rule process. The Town Council now wants to rewrite the charter document submitted to them by their own chosen committee and in fact has called that document “radical.” To vote “No” on June 28 is to surrender your constitutional right to self-government and support the Town Council’s control.

On June 28, please join the 1,715 Scituate voters who started the Home Rule process by signing the petition and vote Yes to advance the Home Rule process by creating a commission of nine elected Scituate residents. Make this historic charter a true expression of the core values of the people of Scituate. To read Article XIII in its entirety and learn more please visit sciutatehomerule.wordpress.com .

Mary E. Manning-Morse

Scituate

Manning-Morse, of Hope, is co-initiator of the Home Rule Petition.