Please remember that everything on
this website is unofficial.
NEW APPROVED (BUT HOW LONG WILL IT BE
VALID) CHARTER HERE
Hampton's - Town of Weston Seal - used online for 2003
says "Did someone say 'seal?'" Distinguished invited
guests, new Charter draft is polished and then public - for this and
other things, Co-Chair. Citizen of the Year. And on another note,
the short session brought passage to the bill below and a prompt veto
fromthe Governor...see below.
BUT WAIT...TOWN ATTORNEY AND SELECTMEN REVIEWED IT IN
2012 - NOW BOARD OF SELECTMEN WANTS TO HAVE A DO-OVER
- MAY 2, 2013
POST-MEETING REPORT BY FORUM (PAGE 2 HERE)
REVISION 2011-2012 HAD PASSED 3039-996 - FORUM report. THE ROLE OF MODERATOR AS WELL AS
TOWN ATTTORNEY USURPED AT 2013 ATBM -
TOWN OF WESTON CHARTER LINK
Weston Charter Revision Commission TOWN
WEBSITE SUB-PAGE :
Most recent report;
SINCE CHARTER REVISION PUBLIC HEARING
APRIL 25TH, PROPOSED NEW CHARTER
EFFECTIVE DAY AFTER ELECTION) NEW Draft CHARTER HERE
will the latest Charter Revision
"Committee" approach things? Will
it be like herding cats?
After PH #1, an early September meeting, and next to last Drafting
OF WESTON CHARTER REVISION 2011 - 2012: HOW MANY LAWYERS DOES IT
TAKE TO REVISE THE CHARTER? ANSWER:
THREE (3) - READ OLR REPORT ON
CHARTER REVISION HERE;
NEW Draft CHARTER HERE
- REFERENDUM: The
- OUR STATEMENT TO SELECTMEN AT THEIR PUBLIC HEARING JUNE
!4, 2012 HERE.
- OUR STATEMENT
FOR THE CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING WEDNESDAY APRIL 25,
2012 APPEARS HERE (ONLINE
- MEETING NEWS: "ABOUT TOWN" NOTES ON
REGULAR AND SPECIAL MEETINGS HERE (REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)...
- PUBLIC HEARING
NOTES HERE (REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER).
- WESTON FORUM ARTICLES BY EDITORIAL STAFF HERE AND ON ANOTHER SITE, HERE.
Malloy vetoes the bill permitting limited charter revisions;
no attempt at override, according to report below.
- PROCESS BEGUN AGAIN
Selectmen pick seven (7)
member Committee (4 Democrat, 3 Republican)
for one-year stint; amendment to this action names an ending
date at June 16 Selectmen's meeting - Aug. 1, 2012 now end date (there
had not been a date set previously - a perpetual Charter Revision not
OK YET in State Statutes)!
- CHARTER CHANGED IN
Hearing report from NORWALK HOUR
August 1, 2003 below; other meetings attended on this subject,
- Sections of this page
originate from the
League of Women Voters of Weston website, 2003. Commission established by Board of
March 28, 2003, members appointed April 26.
- IN THE TOWN CLERK'S RECORDS
- Elsewhere...it seems to
budget matters that gain public interest nowadays.
WESTON MASS. HAS AN ELECTION FOR MODERATOR OF TOWN MEETING...THEY BRING
UP THE ISSUE THAT THEIR HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH FOR
MORE THAN 7% TURNOUT OF VOTERS...
by Board of Selectmen June 21st - did the Selectmen themselves ask for
a change in May 17th document, and if so, what was it??? I'm
confused! June 21st minutes not online yet...
ON TO THE SELECTMEN FOR BALLOT
PLACEMENT, ETC. DECISION - IN PUBLIC (i.e. "Yes" or "No" on whole Charter, or separately, on
certain specific items)?
The Charter Revision Commission met Tuesday at Town Hall for the last
time. Their terms of office run until August 1st. They had in
their possession written comments from the Selectmen (which we did not
ask to see).
Members present voted 6-0 to change Referendum to cover all three major
parts of budget (Town, School and Capital). Commission
able to get the seventh vote because access to telephone
hook-up not available as room originally posted for meeting was taken
by C.E.R.T. training session.
Change requested by Selectmen at their meeting after their
Public Hearing. Altho' previous non-meeting conversations might
have indicated an alternative position.
NOTE: This is
actually the way the Charter Revision Commission
had stated Referendum process in the first place, if memory
serves! It was reported at this last meeting that some towns do
not have referenda on the Capital Budget - but they assume that ATBM
makes that decision. No longer would work here since the Charter
Revision Commission established a quorum for action at the ATBM -
possible that no action could be taken (this year, for example, no
quorum would have been present).
14, 2012 PUBLIC
HEARING: CHARTER REVISION
COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDED NEW CHARTER
JUNE 14, 2012
WFFR member reads another WFFR member's
statement. People listen,
especially Charter Revision folks, and former editor-publisher of FORUM
sets things straight, some history...of a previous Charter Revision
proposal (turned down by a previous Board of Selectmen).
How did the Public Hearing go? Were the Selectmen, minus one
who recused himself, listening? About an hour and a half of
familiar points and some new ones.
"About Town" presented results of a special piece
of research on CT towns holding referenda in 2012. Please
click here for our testimony.
It became clear to us that people will be voting without fully
understanding how the Charter has been altered to give more power to
the Board of Selectmen. "Scrubbing clean" the old language is
an insult to those who labored over the 1979 version - who carefully
balanced the powers of Town Meeting and Board of Selectmen, favoring
Town Meeting. This charter proposal does the opposite - the
more than one speaker.
Selectman Dan Gilbert hit the ball out of the park on a few things.
Co-Chair. of the Charter Revision Commission says that the Commission
compromised in order to gain unanimity. That deal? Elected-appointed Town Clerk and Tax
Collector to allow only one reversal...oh really? Dan then
got the answer re: hiring their own counsel - P&Z still has
the right, under State Statute, to hire its own attorney!!! Who
knew? Thanks Dan!!!
How about the Tax Collector? ( Argument for elected Tax
Collector) Home Rule? Whither or wither Town Meeting?
Who need's ATBM?
You can't say Westonites don't do their homework! Awesome
argument re: Tax Collector. And where are we heading regarding
our regional planning process and shouldn't Town Meeting make that
decision? Answer from the First Selectwoman: done by an
ordinance (with a public hearing). Lover of Town Meeting
expandes eloquently on this point. And then counter argument to
get rid of ATBM because "no one attends."
WFFR members open and close this Public Hearing
Reading another's testimony by request (l), WFFR leadership
points out that if nothing else, Town and School leadership has chosen
reasonable budgeting without increases. With Referendum built
into the Charter, this should continue. Our question, which we
did not ask, was...so how are the Schools and the Town managing to do
this without undercutting road maintenance?
"About Town" research project: Hypothesis - "More CT Town Meeting
Towns go to Referendum than not."
We studied the budget process in CT towns this season and
came up with results that prove that the hypotheseis is TRUE. Read
about the research here.
2012: In a
town with more than 16,000 people,
going to Referendum #4 on the School Budget; Referendum
#1, @1100, Referendum #2, @1500, Referendum #3, @1600 voted.
(Weston has 10,000 people, and 370 voted in Referendum 2012)
Seymour OKs town budget, rejects ed plan
Peter Kirby, CT POST
Updated 11:33 p.m., Wednesday, May 30, 2012
SEYMOUR -- Voters narrowly approved the town's 2012-13 municipal budget
but rejected its education budget in a third referendum Wednesday.
There were two questions on the ballot. The first asked if the
$21,160,166 municipal budget should be adopted. The second asked if the
$30,548,026 education budget should be adopted.
The municipal budget was approved in an 844-833 vote. The education
budget was rejected 938-737.
The budget represented a 2.23 percent increase in municipal spending
and a 2.53 percent increase in education spending, figures that the
town finance board reached after voters rejected two higher proposals.
Kurt Miller, Seymour's first selectman, said that he was pleased that
voters had at least passed the town's municipal budget, even as he
recognized how close the vote was.
"I think people were a little hesitant," he said. "It's a tough
economy, but I think people are very interested in seeing that the town
continues to grow, that the town continues to move forward."
Meanwhile, Yashu Putorti, chairman of the town's Board of Education,
said the rejection of the education budget means cuts must be made,
though he said he couldn't determine specifics until after a budget was
The mill rate with the combined $51.7 million budget would have risen
to 32.95 from the current rate of 27.62, though town officials pointed
out that this increase was largely due to the town's recent revaluation.
"The reval has really confused things," said Doug Thomas, the town's
finance director. "It's made it look like there's a lot bigger increase
then there actually is."
According to Seymour officials, revaluation meant that the town would
have been forced to raise the mill rate to 31.95 simply to maintain
current levels of spending. Considering revaluation, they said, the new
budget would have required a tax increase of just under a mill.
A one-mill increase would mean that the owner of a house assessed at
$200,000 would owe $6,590 in taxes, $200 more than the lower rate.
On May 3, the vote was 632-505 against the then-proposed $21.59 million
municipal budget and 732-455 rejecting the then-$30.99 million
education package. The Board of Finance revised their proposal, cutting
more than $533,000.
In the second referendum on May 17, voters rejected the revised
municipal budget 856-710, and rejected the revised education budget
919-644. The Board of Finance cut an additional $346,000 to reach the
budget under consideration Wednesday.
Seymour faced similar difficulties passing a budget last year,
requiring two referendums to pass a municipal budget and three to pass
a budget for the school board.
The date of a fourth referendum will be set Tuesday by the Board of
by Board of Selectmen June 21st - did the Selectmen themselves ask for
a change in May 17th document, and if so, what was it??? I'm
confused! June 21st minutes not online yet...
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION: AGENDA FOR THE TUESDAY AT
8PM IN THE COMMISSION
Item 1 – Consideration of the Comments of the Selectmen on the
Item 2 – Any other business of the Commission.
The compromise made and
THURSDAY MAY 10, 2012 UNANIMOUS VOTE TO APPROVED THIS VERSION: Language on
Tax Collector made similar to Town Clerk - if the people want to switch
then there is room in the Charter to wiggle out of situation - is
this legal??? Does this indicate that there are other
switcheroos that we've missed? We'll have to look into this...
TO REVIEW PUBLIC HEARING
POSSIBLE CHANGES: GOOD NEWS SATURDAY, GONE BY SUNDAY, BACK ON
10th at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - unless it is changed back to
Wednesday...and with a tweak or two, it was!
Such is the fate
of compromise...the gulf widens and deepens, the decision to cut the
baby in half has no good result for anyone (especially the baby).
Weston Charter Revision update: Compromise language off the table
for now - next meeting (the last prior to sending draft to Selectmen)
Charter Revision Commission met Wednesday, Saturday and again on
Sunday at but did not confirm new wording of adjustments and
compromise on major point of contention. All was not agreed
phrase from across-the-pond), so the
final version of the proposed Charter to be voted upon Thursday is not
available as a public document before Thursday's 7:30pm Special Meeting
of the Charter
Revision Commission, at which they will officially raise their hands
and vote, hopefully, unanimously (I believe I heard that Saturday but
the consensus fell apart Sunday) at 7:30pm in
the Town Hall Meeting Room.
sHB5318 as noted below, awaits
the Governor's signature. Town Attorney
comments on Charter.
Weston Charter Revision is not affected by the bill just passed, which
might have limited its actions had it been in force last year!.
PASSED BY BOTH HOUSES YESTERDAY (BY
CONSENT) - GOV. MALLOY VETOES IT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE REVISION OF MUNICIPAL
We've been following this one since February. Read the bill
Now that our hardworking Charter Revision Commission rewrote the whole
thing, it turns out that beginning October 1, 2012, any town can
rewrite parts of their Charter as specified by this new section of state
commission appointed on or after October 1, 2012, may only consider
other items for inclusion in the proposed charter, other
changes to the charter or
home rule ordinance and such other items as it deems desirable or
necessary if authorized by the appointing authority.
Wednesday, May 2,
2012 at 7:30pm, Town Hall
Meeting Room: Review of Public Hearing
Charter Revision Commissioners reported that 26 speakers, 14 of whom
addressed the Town Clerk issue made their point! Our summary of
what else we heard:
Voting on the Charter will be at the Thursday,
May 10 meeting - changes will be made after discussion Saturday at 1pm
in the Town Hall Meeting Room. They discussed these items tonight:
- The Charter Revision Commission met and
discussed the items brought up at Public Hearing and seem to have
agreed that the Town Clerk "appointed" idea is a loser for them, and
they are going about finding a way to keep the Town Clerk elected
(but not the same treatment for Tax Collector).
- They went over the ATBM/Referendum matter and
decided, I think, to stick to what they wrote.
- Then they reacted to separate votes on the
budget for town, school and capital budgets, and decided to make it
only two items to vote on at Referendum by merging the town budget with
capital budget as one vote, and the school budget as another item to
vote on at Referendum.
- They didn't change their quorum requirement
- They deleted their requirement for
action to remove elected officials who missed too many meetings (Town
Attorney showed up a the beginning of the meeting and this was
discussed - otherwise she didn't have a problem) - a
cellphone photo of this discussion attached.
- Regarding access to Town Counsel, a long
discussion (not sure what they decided)
- Library Board wording discussed and OK
2 - PLUS HOUR CHARTER
REVISION PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED -
"ABOUT TOWN'S" STATEMENT HERE
seemed to be a nicely filled Town Hall Meeting Room and maybe two
dozen people spoke. We started it out and then took the job
of microphine handler - racing around to speakers who Co-Chair. Ken
Edgar called from a signup list and at times the Co-Chairs. spoke to
ask for more infromation or explain the purpose of some sections.
There were arguments made for and against changes to the ATBM process:
Who, other than the general public, spoke? The present First
Selectman and a former First Selectman, as well as a former member of
the Board of Selectman. Also two members of the Board of
Finance - one to ask questions about the perceived tightening of the
limits of activity of the Board of Finance (explained by Co. - Chair.
that this was not intended - power kept elsewhere, as is). The
other spoke in favor of doing away with ATBM. A Planning and
Zoning member asked about alternates. Library Board Chair. asked
about submitting wording to refine that Board's description in the new
- ATBM quorum requirement;
- Referendum process (how many, how
it would work, its mechanics, how the Board of Finance would divine
what the outcome of the Referendum was if it resulted in turning down
the budget the first time so that the next Referenum some weeks later
might pass). It was noted by Co.-Chair. that no one spoke about
the expense of Refenda.
- Two ends of the spectrum: Education
budget protectors spoke against having any ATBM (too much uncertainty
and bother - just vote - I paraphrase here, and may not be doing
justice to the argument); No quorum for ATBM view and maintaining
"the people's voice" in this small New England community was the other
side of the ATBM argument coin.
What we heard was thanks to the Commission
for their hard work but some difference of opinion regarding Town
Meeting/ATBM/Referendum and NOBODY stood up to say they wanted an
appointed Town Clerk or Tax Collector - in fact, lots of people said
they thought the Town Clerk and the Tax Collector should be elected!!!
HERE IT IS!
WED., APR. 25 7:30PM PUBLIC HEARING, TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM
first reading, preparing for the Public Hearing April 25, 2012 on the
proposed Charter Revisions (please remember this is only About Town's
Our second reading: How will the Annual Town Budget Meeting
function under the proposed Charter? Some things have really,
- Town Meeting loses (we will elaborate more on this shortly);
- Board of Selectmen empowered greatly, when
the small changes of 2003 combine with the newest "improvements" of
this Charter Revision.
- In the text are the directions and next steps to remake
government in Weston even further - this is a manual to step-by-step
achieve those changes. OBSERVATION: This may not be "fair"
to say, but...sitting through every meeting but one of the Charter
Commission, one of their concerns
was duplicating what they considered
an error in the previous Charters. Vestigial parts of 1979
government still hanging
around 30 years later because these items couldn't be removed without
the whole Charter to revision!
- But we ask: several years
into the future, will the next Board of Selectmen use this as a
convenient tool to
get rid of people and activities it doesn't like, and for no other
reason? And with the Special Town Meeting's powers shrinking,
where are the checks and balances against such a rogue Board of
ABOUT TOWN REPORTS:
"WORKING" MEETINGS OF THE CHARTER
REVISION COMMISSION WHERE A QUORUM IS PRESENT
- Forget about it:
No more "taking items off" the agenda either before or after ATBM to
put on a machine under State Statute 7.7. Manadatory Referendum
on operating budgets of Town and Schools plus Capital Budget as a
- Considering that the Board of Finance has been given absolute
power over making cuts after the first (and subsequent)
envisioned Referenda, its terms of office have been decreased to four
(4) years from six (6), to make them closer to the political process -
or more "within reach" of the electorate.
- Lots of pages gone: some thoughts...
- This new Charter envisions Referenda galore, much in the same
way that the old Charter had included complicated verbiage explaining
how to take items off ther ATBM call before or after, to Referendum,
via CGS 7.7.
- Why less verbiage this time? Maybe it is just legal
styles are changing or is it a case of the times under which the
different Charters were being drawn? Prior to 1979, before my
time in Weston, there had been a budget rejected at ATBM; before
the dust settled, it had gone to court. Does the Weston
Historical Society have any information about this? How about the
back issues of the Weston FORUM?
- If you weren't around in the 1970's, and I wasn't here then,
you probably don't "get" any of this. Since then, ATBM has always
been quiet. Better attended before cellphones or social media -
if the order of the ATBM were reversed and put the school budget first,
we'd get better attendance - JMO.
Informal public meetings recorded prior to official Public Hearing on
April 25, 2012 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room:
PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS, SO MEETING SATURDAY MARCH 31, 2012 IN COMMISSION
ROOM - TAPED BUT NOT LIVE VIDEO.
Here on Saturday, March 31st, we've seen a nice summary of what the
Commission feels are
major changes. All of which About Town does not agree wit (some
are OK). FIRST
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SALVO: Two letters from Board of Education
members March 29 complaining that the mandated Referendum makes the
unnecessary (our words here)...did the letter-writers show up and
reconfirm their opinions and suggest alternate language on March
Town TV recorded the meeting for later broadcast and release
Internet. This was a really big meeting for the group -
Town Clerk issue at length and in detail - after they had thought about
the points made at previous meeting Wednesday, March 28 at
No mention specifically of the letters to the editor, but it was noted
that they had been getting telephone calls. Discussion of time
schedule ahead. Our question not asked: Who makes up the
question (s) for
the November ballot?
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION VOTES
TO APPROVE FINAL DRAFT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
DOCUMENT TO BE ON THE TOWN
WEBSITE A.S.A.P. (AS EARLY IN THE WEEK AS POSSIBLE) ANNOUNCEMENT AT
ATBM WEDNESDAY APRIL 4th AT 8PM
The Charter Revision Commission
members present plus one more on speakerphone and another having given
his OK to Co-Chair. already take the step to vote approval of release
of document, their final final draft. The public will have an
estimated three (3) weeks to review the Charter. "Release" means
their subpage on the Town
of Weston website.
It will be interesting to see what develops from here! It is
that the Charter Revision Commission meet before Wednesday April 25 to
coordinated things (perhaps on the Sunday prior - April 22).
"Throwing the baby out with the bathwater" comparison?
Revision Commission gets an earfull in the newspaper from members of
the Board of Education
"Listens" but is not convinced about elect/appointed Town Clerk;
It is ultimately up to the voters in November to make the decision
about proposed changes to the existing Charter.
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
MEETS IN WESTON LIBRARY CONFERENCE ROOM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Clerk Donna Anastasia makes the case for elected Town Clerk. She
also suggested splitting the Town Clerk and Tax Colllector
elected/appointed issue into separate votes in the Revision.
About Town left after 2 hours. No final version of a new Charter
in sight yet - maybe on Saturday, March 31st at 11am in the Town Hall
Our prediction: no one will come to the Public Hearing on April
25, preferring to read the complete complex legal document at their
leisure, using the Selectmen's Public Hearing as the preferred place to
plead their case...
WARNING: The Selectmen can only ask
Commission to make changes, but cannot themselves make those
How much pressure will the two Selectmen who will be participating in
the vote bring to bear on the Charter Revision Commission? Does
Board of Ethics get involved in any way and if so, under what
conditions? Is perhaps the work of the Charter Revision
doomed to suffer the fate
of illustration above, right?
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION'S FINAL
REPORT - BY WHICH WE MEAN THE ENTIRE TEXT OF THE CHARTER BEING
PROPOSED, NOT FINISHED YET
Saturday found one citizen, who had previously spoken, take
advantage of the opportunity to remind the Charter Revision Commission
that all its new ideas are not favored.
At the Sunday morning public meeting the public wasn't
present to chip in their thoughts. When will people turn out in
droves to speak on this vital matter? I think people won't chime
in until the Commission says "Here is our final draft - what do you
Considering that the plan seems to be to produce a document that
includes both the existing Charter as well as the proposed one, how
will people have the time to review this seriously?
As "open" as the "process" has been and however complete the
documentation about what was discussed when and by whom, there still is
not a written draft Charter document for the public to see.
To add some interest, it is noted here, in addition, during discussion
on Sunday, it was revealed that the power to change any wording in the
draft lies with the Charter Revision Commission itself - so the
Selectmen cannot make any changes themselves. The Selectmen can
only accept or reject a draft. Unless the Charter Revision
Commission agrees to make the change, it is possible that the
entire exercise my end up as a wasted effort. Or not.
tweaks and the now 14-page or so executive summary is done!
SATURDAY MORNING DRAFTING SESSION FOR THE NEW O'CHARTER: It was a beautiful St.
Paddy's Day in Weston as the Board of Finance presented its case for
six (6) year terms for Board of Finance members. Photo: One
Finance member at each end of the long table...
PROPOSED SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES IN THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY HERE
- OUR COMMENTS ON
CHANGES...BOARD OF ETHICS, CODE OF ETHICS INCLUDED
Under a Charles Daugherty Mural, Charter Revision gave
"thumbs up" - (l); Televised informal "public hearings" to be in
Town Hall Meeting Room on Town TV (r).
FINAL DRAFT TO COME OF THE @100+ PAGE
CHARTER DOCUMENT (plus items to be removed or relocated in red) - EXEC.
SUMMARY ONLY (FOR NOW)
No member of the
has seen the whole, new , proposed Charter yet. It, the document
the new language and indications of where and how changes were made (in
red, we think), will be let out from under wraps after the informal
"public hearings." This "public hearing-like" group of four
(4) sessions is to be televised on Channel 79. If you want to
come and say a few words, the Charter Revision Commission will be there
to receive them in the Town Hall Meeting Room.
THE SCHEDULE OF INFORMAL PUBLIC HEARINGS:
- March 25 Sun
- March 28,
- March 31,
- Then, as required
by State Statute, a PUBLIC HEARING will be April 25, Wednesday,
assume at 7:30pm.
After the public
weighs in, the Commission has set
aside May 2 & 10 for
adjustments (if necessary) and then delivering the final document to
the Selectmen, who have up to 45 days
to consider the Charter Revision Commission's proposed changes...
Major changes we noted, based upon
reading only the Executive Summary this weekend (for the first time),
- Minimum attendance requirement at ATBM for changes to be made
- Still in the Draft is appointed Town Clerk and
Tax Collector (both positions are presently elected)
- Introduces role for
Board and Code of Ethics (only conflict of interest provisions of State
law are in the Charter now),
- Lengthened Budget Process
(including mandatory Referendum
on Town and School operating budgets and bottom line of Capital budget as
approved by ATBM (which requires lengthening the Budget Process
timetable to the first week in May as the last date for voting on
approval of the budget for the next fiscal year [instead of April 22]).
- Reduces the terms
for the Board of Finance to
four (4) years from six (6) years.
BOARD OF FINANCE
should Weston's Board of Finance seek to stand before the voters more
frequently? Because everybody else does? My view: I'm for
these elected officials from politics as much as possible - maybe
change the number of members to an even number (8) might do the
Consider the vital role that the Board of Finance is going to play in
the new Budget Process scheme of things, with a Referendum and referral
back to that Board (without a stop at Annual Town Budget Meeting a
second time - WE THINK)...if other changes from the present Budget
Process are made.
feeling expressed was that every one of the 4 major Boards and
Commissions (Selectmen, Finance, Education and Planning & Zoning -
not the Police Commission [note that no former Police Commissioners
were on Charter Revision]). Changes to the Finance Board's term
(from 6 to 4)
begin the earliest time possible without interfering with those already
holding office today.
Despite the Board of Finance explanations why a six year term is
necessary, the Charter
Revision Commissioners didn't change their mind and left it as a four
term. Two members of the Charter Revision Commission had served
on the Board of Finance more than twenty years ago.
TOWN CLERK AND TAX COLLECTOR
Proposed to no longer be an elected position. This same principle
(i.e. current occupant of the office serve our his
or her term) applied to the Charter Revision Commission's
recommendation to have appointed Town Clerk and Tax Collector (instead
of elected - just re-elected in 2011).
It was felt by those on Charter Revision who are or have been members
of the Board of Selectmen, 2-year terms work. (That way the
electors, if they have "buyers remorse" can remove Selectmen more
frequently.) Three members of Charter Revision are or were
members of the Board of Selectmen.
BOARD OF ETHICS
Until we see the final language of the Executive Summary, not to
mention the entire Proposed Charter itself, we will not know what
any the Board of Ethics will have. A former Chair. of that Board
sits on Charter Revision. Plus the fact that, including him,
there are three members of
the Commission who are members of the League of Women
Voters. That organization studied and took a position on the need
for a Board of Ethics to enforce a Code of Ethics. The League's
positions taken after study recommended,
among other things, that no member of a
Town Committee sit on the Board
of Ethics.(mid to late
League study inspired the Town of Weston to have a Board of Ethics
Minor corrections were proposed by Charter Revision Commission
members, either in writing or
reported by telephone; some had been incorporated already. Now
corrected, the Town of Weston website contains all relevant documents
produced by the Charter Revision "Committee" or Commission (the former
was the official title given to this group by the Board of Selectmen's
action - by State Statute, it should be called "Commission."
MARCH 14, 2012
DRAFTING MEETING PUTS FINISHING TOUCHES ON 13 PAGE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -
ONCE EDITS COMPLETE, IT WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC - THIS
SHOULD HAPPEN ON SATURDAY AT 1PM MEETING MARCH 17TH.
DRAFTING SESSION LEADER MARCH
14, 2012 COMES CLOSE TO...THE FINISH LINE:
Charter Revision Commission adapted language from Brookfield to address
ethics in the new Weston Charter draft. How is the Charter
Revision Commission like IDITAROD #40?
WOMAN POWER: One has three of eleven at the top and the other two
of seven - both long-distance activities are winners!!!
REVISION WEEKENDERS (Saturday Mar.
10 and Sunday Mar. 11, 2012) - DRAFTING SESSIONS WE ATTENDED
Proposed series of meetings coming up: Working sessions Wednesday
March 14 (7:30pm) and Saturday March 17 at 1pm - to prepare document
publication in the FORUM and elsewhere by March 22.
TELEVISED MEETINGS INSTEAD OF PUBLIC HEARING: March 24 Sat. 1pm,
March 25 Sun 11am, March 28, Wednesday, 7:30pm, March 31, Saturday at
Then, required PUBLIC HEARING will be April 25, Wednesday, we
assume at 7:30pm; after public weighs in, May 2 & 10 for
adjustments if necessary and to the Selectmen, who have up to 45 days
to consider the Charter Revision Commission's proposed changes...
The new Charter proposal is supposed to be on the ballot in Novermber,
so there are other deadlines to be met once the Board of Selectmen,
with one member recused, decides on what to recommend to the town.
Minutes approved from last meeting - which we missed
but apparently was quite significant re: Board of Finance
On another less basic level, the intricacies of rewording the
Charter to make government more open to the people hits a snag, as the
Charter Revision Commission is concerned that no one knows what
they are up to, and that they need public exposure! Before they
accused of orchestrating a coups d'etat*.
This would be unfortunate, because they have met in public and all but
drafting sessions were televised and on Vineo on the Town website.
And with the recommendations
about Referendum, giving more power to the
Board of Selectmen over Town Meeting, taking away voting for Town Clerk
and Tax Collector, substituting appointments by the Selectmen, and
proposals to dis-empower (be careful how you pronounce that) the Town
Committees in favor of the Board of
Selectmen...such as getting to fill vacancies on both Elected and
Appointed Committees by themselves, we think they need to get some
buy-in from the public...
* = definition something like -
overthrow of government usually by a small group of the existing state
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION REALLY LIKES
THE COMMISSION ROOM - HOPED TO
DOING WEEKEND SESSION FEB. 11 (1PM) AND FEB. 12 (11:30AM) THERE -
TO CANCEL SATURDAY FOR PERSONAL REASONS; MET SUNDAY (WE DID NOT
Feb. 1 was the first, Feb. 8 the second, and there will be two on the
weekend, Feb. 11 & 12. "About Town" has attended the Feb. 1
& 8 meetings and intends to be there at the rest, as well. We
follow along using the 1979 Charter and figure out where they are by
following discussion. On Feb. 8 one member was on speakerphone
and another could not attend. There is still a difference
re: Town Clerk and Tax Collector (elected v. appointed) and
there very well may end up being a minority report when this goes to
the Board of Selectmen -- unless the Charter Revision Commission
changes its mind at their Public Hearing on the draft.
Feb. 4th Speak Up
At Speak Up 2012, Co-Chairs. explained how they have proceeded, and
what they are planning re: procedure.
NEXT DRAFTING MEETINGS: IN TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM UNLESS NOTED
Feb.8 Wednesday at 7:30pm, Commission Room
Feb. 11 Saturday at 1pm
Feb. 12 Sunday at 11:30am
Feb. 15 Wednesday at 7:30pm
Feb. 29 Wednesday at 7:30pm
Tentative Public Hearing March 21, a Wednesday (to be televised)
Drafting session number
one, Feb. 1, 2012, Town Hall Meeting Room, 7:30-9:30pm
With all of the members of the Charter Revision
Commission present, the draft created after the content of all previous
meetings and the excellent minutes taken of discussions, authored by
the Co-Chairs. was reviewed through Town Meeting and Board of Selectmen
chapters. NOTE: We listened to the discussion and related
it to the 1979 Charter (we are familiar with the changes made in 2003),
so altho' we did not see the draft, we are nevertheless pleased to
report that there are no changes of significance so far that we heard.
- First discussion was "Should there be a
preamble?" Most felt the answer to that was "no."
- Next came the question of the the effective
date of the new charter - should it be immediately upon passage on
- Relationship between the Charter and the Town
- Availability of the Town Code - it should be
made available on the Town website and other places beginning with the
Town Clerk's Office.
- The question of Selectman/Selectwoman names -
in the definitions section in the rear of the document.
(We think it will be) New ARTICLE 1 - drop a lot of the legalese
Get rid of some of the comas describing who runs the Town Meeting so
that the Home Rule status with all its special language is still there
- and does not punt to C.G.S.
Same for New ARTICLE 2
Town Meeting and ATBM now split in two sections nowhere near each other
- this new version will try to read better. Then they went over
the details of the Town Meeting, petitions, Roberts Rules, "When Action
By the Town Meeting Is Required.
GENERAL DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN - they decided "If it Ain't
Broke, Don't Fix It."
At this point, the Commission was losing focus, so they stopped for the
AGENDA, SPECIAL MEETING
TUESDAY, JAN. 17, 2012, 7:30PM, TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM.
Five of seven members present to finish
off Article 8 and some other outlying issues. "About Town" thinks
that someone will have to do a really good job of explaining the "new"
Charter to the public. T
The Charter Revision Commission is
finished with open, televised meetings. The expense was
considered excessive to continue during the "drafting" phase. I
would think that there is nothing to prevent anyone from coming with a
tape recorder or a video camera.
Beginning in February they
will be meeting on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, editing a first
draft of a new version of the Charter that the Co-Chairs. have already
put together. The working draft will not
be available to those who attend the meetings.These will be posted
meetings, but didn't have the specific dates and times yet. Also,
meetings will probably be somewhere in Town Hall, but they don't know
where yet. Since they are all planning to all be there, there
have to be public notice given.
Ken Edgar Chaired the meeting and said
he wanted to finish the drafting and I think inform the public about
what was in it before school was out for the summer. He also is
looking for a ballot "yes" "no" on the whole thing, I think. The
question of whether or not the budget could be raised during the
process if the process had a referendum mandated was brought up and
this determination was left to the drafting activities in
A QUORUM OF COWS: How many
potential residents of Weston would it
take to make a quorum at ATBM if this number were represented by a
percentage? This is a trick question.
MEETING A SPECIAL ON TUESDAY, JAN.
17. 2012 - CLOSE TO FINISHING A TOTALLY NEW FIRST DRAFT - HOW WILL THIS
WORK WITH VOTING ON IT IN NOVEMBER?
HAPPY NEW YEAR and another
Charter Revision Commission
Meeting on Jan. 4, 2012: AGENDA
We stayed untill @9pm, but there still was
more to go on Article 8. They worked back from a date the first
week in May for ATBM, then discussed how the Referendum would play out
- decided that the Board of Finance would have to be written into the
process if the Referendum voted down the ATBM numbers for School and
Town operating budgets. Role of Panel of Moderators discussed re:
deciding on "substantial amount" definition for reduction. We
watched the second hour or so and in italics
are the notes from the later part of the meeting.
of other dates in Article 8 seemed to be
going in the direction of not changing things - so the Budget Process
will be extended even longer! AFTER
WATCHING LAST HOUR OF MEETING...Present Charter says "By
3rd the Board of Education submits a preliminary budget to the
to make that the end of February. How will this work with the
recent penchant of the Board of Selectmen to make recommendations for
cuts to Board of Ed budget to the Board of Finance?
- Wilton ballot with indication of why people
voted no thought a good idea.
- Also limit on the number of referenda to just
votes, as does Wilton.
- And considered: the percentage of voters
at ATBM discussed to make a "quorum."
favored: No public hearing required by Board of Finance
before they pick the numbers to go to a second Referendum - is this not
taking more power from the people?
- By the end of January the new Charter will be
drafted...and by the way, during this, a Presidential Election year, we
will have 90% of voters showing up and being asked to vote on the new
Charter which may or may not be an improvement on what we have as
"rules of the road" in Weston government. If there is all new wording/rewrite, how
will people be able to figure out what's what?
Board should be treated as the Board of Ed regarding its manipulation
of its own budget - suggestged by the Library Board Chair.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21,
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION, TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM, 7:30PM
Conceptual discussion of the annual budget process.
But first a review with Chair. of the Building Board of Appeals (shown
above, left) about what they do and why they are in the
because CT Statutes requires a B.B.A.!
The Commission discussed the
following questions regarding the budget: NOTE: there will be another more
specific discussion after the new year.
When should the Annual Town
Meeting (“ATBM”) be held? In early May, everyone
agreed. "About Town" not so sure that
this will not create even more voter ennui if the earlier part of the
schedule says the same...
the ATBM be allowed to increase or decrease the proposed budget? Increase,
NO (no other town does this, or at least the 4 being used as models),
a quorum be required in order for the ATBM to act? Yes.
Percentages discussed, with an eye to finding around 130 or so electors
as the right number.
any vote on increasing or decreasing the budget at the
ATBM be conducted by
secret ballot? Yes. Two Panel of
Moderators members on the Charter Revision
Commission suggested ways to do this, but it is difficult to keep
things moving along if every item on the "town" side gets voted
The main point that everyone agreed to was that the "vote" in public to
have a vote in private is
really a "proxy" or functions as one;
perhaps 50% plus one is not the correct proportion - since all those
who do not stand (my observation over the years) for this vote should
probably be among those who WANT the secret ballot!
the budget then go to a referendum for approval? Everyone
except maybe one thinks so.
Should the referendum be
mandatory or by petition only? Not discussed yet to my
satisfaction - considering that this complicates some of the "concepts"
What happens if the budget is not
approved? Ah! Yes. The question that
will have to be worked out in detail re: the cost to the town of
holding referenda related to the timing of the fiscal year.
of previous meeting approved with changes.
PRESENTATION OF CHARTERS SINCE 1967
explained at December 7, 2011 meeting. Click above to Budget Process FY'13, perhaps
the last under present Charter...
Co-Chair. shows his version of a
power point. Weston is a "home rule" town with
a Charter (which has been amended and rewritten a few times).
Televised and online on demand (some meetings of the Commission are
uploaded now - look for Dec. 7 eventually and watch on your computer).
OR...Fully explained and will be in pdf form on the Town Website
soon. To look more like Ridgefield than some other charters
reviewed - we think.
Autumn leaves can be a very melancholy background
to what happens in plain sight.
ON THE AGENDA:
Or, what is the "agenda" of the Charter Revision Commission, anyway?
Historic District Commission
Chair. questioned by Charter Revision Commission, and wins the day
by pointing out that her Commission operates under direct
responsibility to State Law (regarding number of members, for
example). Library Board Chair. gets the message that the Charter
Revision Commission might recommend making it an elected board instead
of an appointed one - or change the number of members, or...and the
Registrars of Voters give details on
manditory voting procedures after ATBM.
Then discussion turned to changes in the remaining articles of the
Charter and public input. A member of the public asked if the
Town Clerk and Tax Collector changes the Commission took a straw vote
on changing to non-elected staff positions from elected ones could have
its own public discussion session. His recommendation was
misunderstood, as the Commission Co-Chair.assured him that there would
be a public hearing as designated in the Statutes (to be held by the
Board of Selectmen at the end of the process). Or was this a
NEXT MEETING: To be held at Weston Library at 7:30pm with perhaps
a sub-committee meeting first at 7pm (or were they going to have an
executive session - about WHAT?)
2011 over, the situation on the Charter Revision Commission has changed
Three of four were elected to office, and in the time between
its June creation and now 5 months later, the balance carefully
designed into State Statute is gone.
November 2, 2011 meeting, a preliminary vote was
the subject of whether the Town Clerk and the Tax Collector be elected
or appointed. The vote was 4 in favor of elected, two opposed and
one, who previously indicated that he was in favor, commented that he
had gotten many phone calls explaining why his vote was wrong.
His Co-Chair. stated that the vote was still 5-2 and there was no
The question of a seven-member Police Commission has yet to be
consdiered finally for recommendations to the Board of Selectmen.
The elections of Nov. 8 now have produced the following changes in
status of members of the Charter Revision Commission, 5 months into
their two-year terms (according to State Statute):
Dennis Tracey is now a Selectman; Ken Edgar is now a member of
the P&Z; Nina Daniel is now a member of the Board of
Education. Which makes the seven-member Charter Revision
Commission a majority of elected office holders (Dick Bochinski is on
the Board of Education).
October 19, 2011: TOWN CLERK AND TAX COLLECTOR
WELL AS POLICE COMMISSION CHAIR AND VICE-CHAIR COME IN ON REVISED
AGENDA FOR COMMENT
Town Clerk and Tax Collector
explain their duties and responsibilities, and Commission notes later
that of their 4 same Charter towns, Town Clerk is elected in 2, Tax
Collector in one. Police Commissioners react to suggestion that
their Commission have fewer than the seven members it has now.
Charter Revision Commission gets through its Chapters planned for
review, and About Town wonders a what point there will be a draft of a
new Charter...it seems as if no major changes planned yet...
2011: ACTUAL CHARTER
REVISION DISCUSSIONS BEGIN!
This well run meeting began with more testimony. This latest from
Town Attorney Pat Sullivan...who answered specific questions and
generally thought the Charter of 1979 works well - she is available to
discuss anything the Commission would like to discuss in the future.
which the Charter Revision Commission got to work reviewing Articles
two and three ("Town Meeting" and "Board of Selectmen"). It was
determined that Annual Town Budget Meeting should be separate
discussion and Referendum should be considered. It was also
discussed that specificity of some recommendations by P&Z at an
earlier meeting were not needed in the Charter. It was decided to
have a definitions section (we think that is what happened).
Sept. 24 Special Meeting
"IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX
converse "IF IT IS BROKE, FIX
IT" - Woody Bliss hands out
"CHEER FLIP SIGNS" (not pictured) with the same message.
The Charter Revision Commission interviews continued in a special
Saturday morning-afternoon session...with Selectman
David Muller (l) first up Saturday...after his presentation, it should
be no surprise that George Guidera was elected six (6) times!
Woody Bliss, who was elected four times to the same post stepped to the
mic to give his take on town government and the Charter. From the
point of view of both Board of Finance on which he served previously,
as well as his business experience and recent long service as First
Town Administrator Tom Landry and former First Selectman George Guidera
(1987-1999) spoke. David
Muller had gone first and submitted
written testimony as did Woody Bliss, going last,
who gave us a copy, which we
uploaded here. Meeting lasted three and one-half hours.
Four towns' Charters will be basic reference, altho' any others may be
referenced, too (the four - Brookfield, Canton, Ridgefield and
Oct. 5 Wednesday, Weston Town Attorney invited - after her testimony,
work will begin in earnest. Former First Selectman Hal Shupack
provided the minutes of all 1979 Charter Revision Commission minutes to
Ken Edgar and it is noted that that Commission me every week for a year.
24th at 11am, Commission hears
from Town Administrator Landry, Selectman Muller and former First
Selectmen Guidera and Bliss.
Very thorough and
First Selectman at Charter Revision Commission.
Back and forth fencing on some issues brings a smile to First Selectman
Weinstein's face in an otherwise serious discussion. Serious
divergence between opinion of Board of Education Chair. Schaefer on
for the Town Meeting. Issues
of appointed Town Clerk and appointed Tax Collector v. elected,
Board of Education elections ("no safe seats") come up.
Q. and A.
from previous Saturday, with Board of Education Chair. and First
Selectman: Guests asked
to address specific questions circulated in advance of appearance.
After grilling the
above named officials, Charter Revision Commission does Article One
(first shot at this piece of boiler plate). First Selectman put
her responses in writing. Short version: System works as
is (part-time First Selectman and Town Administrator - good for
continuity) but budget process needed work (maybe budgets should be
permitted to be increased?) plus clean up of old out of date
items in 1979 Charter.
Stephan Grozinger, Chair., P&Z, testifies.
Special Meeting 9-17-11
The Town of Weston Charter Revision Commission,
off its first meeting and two Public Hearings, called a Special Meeting
(ran from 11am to 1:45pm) on Saturday, September 17, 2011.
agenda were presentations in response to previously distributed
questions for Planning and Zoning, Selectman (minority) and Board of
Finance Chair. Planning and Zoning Chair. Grozinger distributed
OPM (or is it OLR)
report on various ways CT was considering altering the boundaries,
powers and responsibilities of regional planning organizations. Planning
& Zoning on regional planning and zoning exemption
issues; Selectman Dan Gilbert expresses strongest feeling that
Weston needs volunteer government and the desire to do public
service; Chair. Mike O'Brien, Board
of Finance responded to questions from the Commission. Don
Saltzman, P&Z speaks.
"About Town" testified on matters pertaining to 1983-1990 experience as
a member of P&Z re: Town Exemption as it related to 3rd
House proposal; as well as service on the first Tower Committee,
actions taken as they related to having such use only on Town property
(i.e. Tower One at Town Hall, proposal for Tower Two at Transfer
All members present
THE EXCELLENT CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
MET WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2011 AT 7:30PM IN THE TOWN HALL
MEETING ROOM - AGENDA
(from the Town website)
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" was how Co-Chair. Ken Edgar opened
the meeting. The next 90 minutes were all about defining whether
something is "broke" or outdated.
What happened? "About Town" called out of order and told not to
speak during the meeting. This is correct procedure. So we
and asked three questions at the end of the meeting, based upon what we
heard. They were:
fact, this matter of "the public right to know" and contribute its
thoughts is perhaps something that should be discussed in revising the
Charter - does the public remain only as observers unless there is a
formal public hearing?
- During the meeting, it was mentioned and discussed that
they had already received comments in writing from the Town
Administrator. "About Town" asked if these comments were not
information and thus should be made available to the press and the
public. Answer: not all members of the Commission had read
Administrator's comments, so when they do, then it will be public.
- Considering that the Commission had decided to go though
the Charter section by section, when they get to the part about Annual
Town Budget Meeting and the budget process, should not the Commission
hold a separate Public Hearing on this? Answer: they will
- During the meeting, some members asked that interviews
with present and former office holders be undertaken on Saturdays in
September and October. "About Town" reminded the Commission that
Saturday October 15 in the afternoon and Saturday October 22 in the
morning are dates for LWV of Weston debates. No comment from the
Commission to this.
Another discussion at the meeting concerned the fact that now that the
regular meetings are being televised,
should special meetings, held to hear from town employees and/or office
televised as well? We think not in this case - so long as they
are posted 24 hours in advance with the Town Clerk.
SECOND PUBLIC HEARING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 AT 7:30PM IN THE TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM
IN THE DARK: CL&P graphic of power outages @Friday
just recently gotten power back, (map above from Friday, Sept. 2)
members of the Charter Revision Commission held the second Public
Hearing the next Wednesday, Sept. 7, after Labor Day weekend.
There had not been a print edition of the FORUM in advance (because the
newspaper's printing plant was without power) to remind
the public of this second and perhaps last opportunity to get in the
record at a public hearing. "About Town" attended this hour-long
event, broadcast on Channel 79. Six (6) different members of the
public either testified or submitted comments in writing, which were
read into the record.
The plan is for
the Charter Revision Commission to interview present and past office
holders (not Public Hearings) at open meetings on Sept. 17th at 11am (P&Z and
Finance), Sept. 21st at 7:30pm
(Bd of Ed, Selectmen, Tom Landry), and Sept. 24th at 11am (previous
REPORT ON FIRST OF TWO (2) PUBLIC HEARINGS...
First Public Hearing
sees 10 people making comments plus two in writing
read into the record. On Ch. 79
Dick Troxell leads off with
First Public Hearing gets turnout of thoughtful
proposing larger and some smaller changes, but good will shown by all.
More than one spoke in favor of Town Meeting, some questioned need for
increased pay for First Selectman or lengthened term - and some took
the opposite position.
Letters read into the record by Dennis Tracey, Co-Chair. Second
Public Hearing September 7, 2011 (Wednesday); it will be the
intent of the Committee to allow participation (questions?) from the
audience at future meetings (first and third Wednesday of the month)
even tho' they are not formal Public Hearings. Those citizens who
spoke or responded by letter were:
1. Dick Troxell - suggested going to non-partisan
local government (as in his former home of Walpoll, Mass.
2. Helen DeKeijzer - suggested "ombudsman" position
to work out difference between local Boards and Commissions.
3. "About Town" wanted to know if all meetings would
be on Town TV (and asks to keep Town Meeting in some form).
4. Dana Levin - agrees with "About Town."
5. Don Saltzman - speaks at length about present
Charter strengths and weaknesses, effectiveness of Town Administrator,
impact on town volunteers since unionization of staff. Favors 2
year term for First Selectman.
6. Harvey Bellin - submits comments in writing as
well as making plea for Referendum as part of changes to Charter.
7. Barbara Reynolds - favors full time First
8. Stephan Grozinger - "Ombudsman" comment found
9. Laura Smits - lays outs costs for Referenda - and
discussion leads into need for not using State Statute as much as
previous Charters did.
10. Amy Sanborn - sums up what she has heard, makes
points re: efficiencies of smaller government (I think this was her
point agreeing with others)
11. & 12. Pat Heifetz sent a letter as did Martha
Diamond - which were read into the record.
TUESDAY, JULY 19,
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 AT 7:30PM, LOCATION MOST LIKELY TOWN HALL
ROOM - THEY ARE TO BE TELEVISED AND RECORDED WITH PUBLIC NOTICES.
What are some of the questions raised
since last time there was Charter Revision in 2003?
That time the changes were to increase the time for ATBM and start 30
minutes earlier and end 30 minutes later as well as requiring a higher
number of signatures in order to Petition for a Special Town Meeting
(from 50 to 5% [several hundred]).
Here is a link to what the
Revision Commission heard during its Public Hearings as suggestions.
SOME IDEAS CIRCULATING IN 2011:
Mandate a budget Referendum - perhaps if the increase is above zero?
Referendum on budget in secret ballot automatically.
Why don't we call the top job "First Selectperson?"
Length of term for First Selectman - increase to 4 years?
Why can't the budget be increased during
the budget process?
How about a mandated secret ballot on the
How do you get more people to participate in Town Meetings?
Since the Charter is open for broader
changes to its structure, here are some ideas that might come up...
Why do we need a Charter at all?
Why not go to a Representative Town
Meeting, like Westport (or
How about a Council-Manager form of government?
If we have a full time First Selectmen, then why do we need a Town
Administrator and a Finance Director as well?
How can Town Meeting exercise some control over the Board of Education
FORUM ARTICLE ON
CHARTER REVISION IN STATUTES
THOUGHT: WHY THE CHARTER REVISION COMMITTEE MIGHT
EXPAND TO 15...OR NOT! AT LEAST NOW THEY ARE CALLING THEMSELVE
"COMMISSION" AS WE THOUGHT THEY WERE CALLED ALL ALONG. IF THOSE MEMBERS ALREADY APPOINTED
TO THE CHARTER REVISION COMMITTEE
GET ELECTED IN NOVEMBER, THEN ALL THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN HAS TO DO IS
ENLARGE THE COMMITTEE SO THAT NO MORE THAN ONE-THIRD HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE
IN THE MUNICIPALITY.
CT GENERAL STATUTES ON CHARTER REVISION
Sec. 7-187. Definitions.
Sec. 7-188. Initiation of action for adoption, amendment or repeal of
charter or home rule ordinance.
Sec. 7-189. Form of petition.
Sec. 7-190. Commission: Appointment, membership, duties, report,
Sec. 7-191. Charters, charter amendments and home rule ordinance
amendments: Hearings; draft and final report; public notice;
referendum; effective date; filing of copies with Secretary of the
State; file maintained by State Library.
Sec. 7-191a. Adoption of home rule ordinance.
Sec. 7-192. Existing provisions not affected. Amendments to charters.
Amendment or revision of home rule ordinance. Supersedence of certain
special acts by municipal ordinance. Termination of certain parking
authorities and boards of health.
Sec. 7-192a. New tax not authorized by general statutes prohibited.
Provisions affecting elections and electors not to be adopted.
Sec. 7-193. Required provisions. Organization of government.
Sec. 7-194. Powers.
Sec. 7-195. Consolidation of governments.
Sec. 7-196. Form of petition.
Sec. 7-197. Consolidation commission.
Sec. 7-198. Duties of commission.
Sec. 7-199. Referendum.
Sec. 7-200. Consolidation of school districts. Charter revisions in
Sec. 7-201. Receipt of funds.
Sec. 7-190. Commission: Appointment, membership, duties, report,
termination. (a) Within thirty days after such action has been
initiated by vote of the appointing authority or by certification of a
petition, the appointing authority shall
by resolution appoint a commission consisting of not fewer than
five nor more than fifteen electors, not more than one-third of whom may hold
any other public office in the municipality and not more than a
bare majority of whom shall be members of any one political party,
which commission shall proceed forthwith to draft a charter, or
amendments to the existing charter, or amendments to the home rule
ordinance, as the case may be.
(b) The appointing authority shall direct the commission to consider
those recommendations included in the petition and may make other
recommendations to the commission. The commission may also consider
other items for inclusion in the proposed charter, other changes to the
charter or home rule ordinance and such other items as it deems
desirable or necessary. The commission shall in its reports comment on
each recommendation which it has been directed to consider, if any, and
on such other changes or items. The appointing authority shall specify
by resolution when the commission shall submit its draft report, which
shall be not later than sixteen months from the date of its appointment.
(c) The commission shall terminate upon acceptance or rejection of its
final report by the appointing authority.
(1957, P.A. 465, S. 4; 1959, P.A. 678, S. 4; 1967, P.A. 76; P.A.
75-179; P.A. 81-451, S. 4, 10; P.A. 83-188, S. 2; P.A. 85-253, S. 4,
History: 1959 act added home rule ordinance provisions; 1967 act made
minor change in wording; P.A. 75-179 distinguished between charter
commissions and charter revision or home rule ordinance commissions re
report deadlines; P.A. 81-451 divided section into subsecs., clarified
language of existing provisions, required consideration of
recommendations in petition and recommendations of appointing
authority, changed deadline for report from 18 to 16 months from date
of appointment and added Subsec. (c) re termination of commission,
effective October 1, 1982; P.A. 83-188 made minor change in wording of
Subsec. (b), requiring submission of draft report rather than of final
report; P.A. 85-253 replaced the words "revision of" with the words
"amendments to" and made certain technical changes.
Cited. 150 C. 27. Cited. 184 C. 30. Cited. 188 C. 276. Interpretation
of statute not unconstitutional. Id. Cited. 193 C. 1. Cited. 196 C.
623. Cited. 234 C. 513.
Weston's Charter Revision
Commission: Final report is complete
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:06
The Weston Charter Revision Commission unanimously approved its final
report on Tuesday, July 10, and sent it — along with the completely
revamped version of the town charter it is proposing — to the Board of
Selectman on Thursday, July 12.
"I think I can speak for all of our commission members when I say that
we were honored to have been chosen for this important task, that we
have enjoyed each other's company for the last year or so and that we
have appreciated this opportunity to serve the town," said Ken Edgar,
co-chairman of the Charter Commission, in an email to the selectmen.
Under state law, the Board of Selectmen — minus Selectman Dennis Tracey
— has until Friday, July 27, to approve or reject the commission's
final report. Mr. Tracey is recusing himself from the board's
discussions and decision on the charter proposal because he served as
the commission's co-chairman with Mr. Edgar.
The regular Board of Selectmen's meeting scheduled for tonight was
canceled, but a special meeting will likely be set between now and July
Upon acceptance or rejection of the final report, the commission will
automatically dissolve. Other members, who were appointed by the Board
of Selectmen in June 2011, include Woody Bliss, Richard Bochinski, Nina
Daniel, Arne de Keijzer and Susan Moch.
"I'm amazed at how smoothly, how professionally, and how well the
commission members worked together," said First Selectman Gayle
Weinstein. "We chose the members very carefully. They were chosen for
their diversity of thought. We wanted to make sure the entire community
was well represented. To be able to get those [with such] diverse
viewpoints to work together so collegially — I just think they did an
Mr. Edgar said he, too, was impressed with the manner in which the
commission was able to function.
"If you look at the composition of our commission, it's easy to say it
crosses a lot of political and other interests in town. But we were
able to agree unanimously on basically everything, and that's
extraordinary... That's not to say people didn't compromise ... but
it's one of accomplishments I'm most proud of," Mr. Edgar said.
The charter revision process has been nothing if not exhaustive. The
commission met 36 times over the past year, conducting interviews and
public hearings, collecting comments and suggestions, and discussing
and revising the entire charter, section by section and article by
In the end, the commission created three separate documents: the
proposed new charter; a word-by-word comparison of the old charter and
the proposed new one; and a report on the changes, which details the
reasons behind the substantive changes being recommended.
An initial report was presented to the Board of Selectmen in June.
First Selectman Weinstein and Selectman David Muller had only one
change they wanted the commission to make.
In the commission's initial proposal, it recommended changing the
charter to require the annual budget go to a referendum after the
Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM), but at the machine vote, the new
charter would have voters vote for the school budget and a combined
town operating and capital budget.
Ms. Weinstein and Mr. Muller agreed that they do not want to see the
capital and town operating budgets voted on as one item.
Instead, they wanted to see three items on the referendum ballot: the
town operating budget, the school operating budget, and the capital
budget, which includes both town and school projects.
The commission agreed to the selectmen's request. Mr. Edgar told the
selectmen when he submitted the commission's final report, "we adopted
your suggestion that the town operating budget and the capital budget
be approved separately in the annual town budget referendum, and
amended the proposed charter accordingly," he said.
Mr. Edgar said while the question of whether to keep the town clerk and
the tax collector as elected positions or change them to appointed ones
probably took up the most time, he believes the most important change
the commission is proposing is to the town's budget approval process.
"We all knew going in it needed to be revisited, and I think and hope
our suggestions are very sound," Mr. Edgar said.
Presentation to voters
If the Board of Selectmen accepts the commission's report — and Ms.
Weinstein said earlier this week she expects it will — the selectmen
then need to decide how to present the proposed changes to the voters
on the Nov. 6 ballot. She expects that decision will be difficult.
Mr. Edgar said while he has "nothing to do" with how the charter is
presented to voters, his personal opinion is that it should be an all
or nothing vote — accept the proposed new charter or reject it and keep
the current one in place.
The final proposal is not limited to changes in language — although
there is some of that — or rearranging of existing elements of the
charter — although there is some of that, too. Mr. Edgar said he
believes what the commission is proposing is an integrated system of
government, and therefore it should be voted on as such.
It would be difficult to separate out each piece of the charter, he
said, because the many elements the commission agreed upon work
together "to produce a coherent integrated system." With few
exceptions, "each part is related to another part," he said.
"I believe we ought to vote on the system of government we've proposed,
and if you don't like it, then someone has to put together another
system of government," Mr. Edgar said.
The commission's final report and the proposed new charter is available
for review at town hall and also in the town website, westonct.gov.
We'll be there, and will not bring a
video camera. We trust them. Feb. 1 at 7:30pm in Town Hall
Charter Revision Commission begins drafting, stops televising
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Friday, 27 January 2012 00:00
The Charter Revision Commission has finished reviewing the town charter
in its entirety and is moving on to the "drafting" phase.
Ken Edgar, co-chairman of the commission, said the group has "worked
its way through" the 34-page document and has gotten a good sense of
how the members feel about a lot of issues.
"I certainly anticipate there will be issues that may be revisited, but
it's time for us to move to the drafting phase," Mr. Edgar said.
The town charter is the final word on how Westonites govern themselves,
tax themselves, and, in some cases, conduct themselves. For the
past five months, an appointed seven-member commission has been
reviewing the charter, discussing what it says and what it doesn't, and
touching on what works and what doesn't.
As the commission begins to draft a new and improved charter — many of
the changes they will suggest are simply a matter of language and
improving clarity, Mr. Edgar said — its meetings will no longer be
televised on public access, which means they won't be available for
viewing on the town's website, either.
The main reason for that decision, Mr. Edgar said with a laugh, is the
meetings "are going to be pretty boring."
The public is still invited and encouraged to attend, he added. But the
commission members are going to be looking at and discussing draft
documents that won't be distributed to the general public because they
are just working drafts. The commission will quadruple its
regularly scheduled meetings from twice a month to twice a week — on
Wednesdays and Saturdays — through February. Those meeting times and
places will be posted. Mr. Edgar said he anticipates wrapping up by
A draft of recommendations is due to the Board of Selectmen for review
no later than Aug. 1, but Mr. Edgar said he thinks a draft report will
be completed before then. Once it is, a public hearing will be held and
there will be an extended period when public comment will be accepted
on any proposed changes.
Final recommendations will go to the Board of Selectmen for approval,
and then ultimately to the voters — likely at the same time as the Nov.
8 presidential election, which historically has a very high turnout in
Mr. Edgar said the commission has not yet decided whether voters will
be asked to approve the revised charter in its entirety or if there
will be individual questions on the ballot.
Charter Revision Commission: Working out how to work
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 11:22
[From left, Charter Commission members Richard Bochinski, Susan Moch,
Co-Chairman Dennis Tracey, Co-Chairman Ken Edgar, Woody Bliss, Arne de
Keijzer, and Nina Daniel at their Aug. 17 meeting. —Margaret Wirtenberg
From left, Charter Commission members Richard Bochinski, Susan Moch,
Co-Chairman Dennis Tracey, Co-Chairman Ken Edgar, Woody Bliss, Arne de
Keijzer, and Nina Daniel at their Aug. 17 meeting. —Margaret Wirtenberg
At its meeting last week, on Wednesday, Aug. 17, the seven people
appointed to review and revise the town charter focused on how,
exactly, they are going to conduct business moving forward.
One of the first things the group did was to change its name from the
Charter Revision Committee to the Charter Revision Commission in order
to conform with state references to such bodies formed by
Even though the Board of Selectmen officially formed a “Charter
Revision Committee,” members did not see a need to get permission to
change the name. They agreed to change any references to a “committee”
in previous meeting minutes.
Co-chairman of the commission Ken Edgar then led the other members
through discussions on both general and specific ways in which the
group should proceed in its review of the charter.
Mr. Edgar said while the commission should look at the entire charter,
“my basic philosophy is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ meaning, if
in fact something is working well, it’s not necessarily a good idea to
revisit it and try to make it better.”
The challenge for the commission, Mr. Edgar said, is first to determine
what parts of the charter are “broken,” and then come up with ways to
He said he will be looking for several things:
If something is out of compliance with current law
If parts of the charter are not being administered
in a way that’s consistent with the its terms
If something is “antiquated, ambiguous, or
If someone has a “demonstrably better” idea or way
of doing something
Commission member Arne de Keijzer added the commission should “pay
attention to clarity” in the charter, and member Nina Daniel said the
commission should also look for “what’s missing form the charter.”
Given the choice of reviewing the charter either “thematically” or
article by article, Mr. Edgar recommended the latter. The sense of the
meeting was this would be a much easier and more logical approach.
By proceeding one article at a time, Mr. Edgar said the commission can:
look at specific language in each section, making sure it is plain and
understandable to all; then look at whether it’s being “administered
the way it reads;” look at ways in which other towns deal with a
particular issue; garner public input on each section; and “finally,
consider what items we might like to amend.”
Other topics the commission discussed included the following.
The commission ultimately decided it will televise its regular meetings
and public hearing on Cablevision’s town TV station. Mr. Edgar said it
seemed like “a no brainer,” since the commission wants public
participation and it would be a good way to get information to more
Commission member Richard Bochinski suggested that if the commission
were to interview town officials and employees, some might feel more
comfortable if the proceedings were not televised.
The commission decided, however, all of its meetings are public, and
therefore those who speak before the commission will be doing so
Whom to interview and how
Commissioners spent a good deal of time discussing whom they might want
to get information from, and what the best way to do that might be.
Ideas ranged from interviewing people at regular commission meetings,
interviewing them at special meetings, asking people to submit thoughts
and ideas in writing, asking board and commission chairmen to submit
comments or come before the commission, asking all relevant board and
commission members for comments, and sending invitations to people to
attend scheduled public hearings.
In the end, the commission decided on a combination of some of those
Mr. Edgar said he and Co-chairman Dennis Tracey will draft a letter
inviting former and current members of the boards of selectmen,
education, and finance to either come to a public hearing scheduled for
Wednesday, Sept. 7, or to submit written comments to the commission.
The group then wants to interview separately the finance and school
board chairmen, current and former selectmen, the town attorneys, the
town manager, tax collector, town clerk, and the registrars of voters.
The commission decided to set up, if possible, at least two special
meetings for the interviews, rather than doing them during its regular
bi-monthly Wednesday night meetings.
Several members of the commission were assigned specific tasks.
Mr. Edgar suggested he, Mr. Tracey, and Susan Moch — all attorneys — be
in charge of coming up with the draft language for any re-writes of the
charter as a way of ensuring things are legally correct.
Mr. de Keijzer joked, “clarity and straightforward legalese are not
necessarily the same thing.”
Ms. Daniel and Mr. de Keijzer were asked to be a “subcommittee” of
sorts that will look into other town charters. They are both members of
the League of Women Voters, which already has been doing its own
research into other town charters and how others deal with charter
revision. Mr. Edgar said as co-chairman, he will be an “ex officio”
member of this subcommittee.
The question of public comment was addressed.
Ms. Daniel suggested holding public comments until the end of each
meeting to allow the commission to do its business more efficiently.
Commissioner Woody Bliss, a former first selectman, suggested instead
allowing public comment after each agenda item has been discussed so
comments could be weighed as issues are being considered.
All agreed that would be the best way to go forward, as long as
comments were kept germane to the discussion at hand. It was noted that
written comments submitted to the commission before its meetings should
always be encouraged.
The commission’s next meeting is a public hearing, scheduled for 7:30
p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the town hall meeting room.
The public is invited to share any thoughts on any portion of the
charter at this time.
charter revision: Selectmen choose committee
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 11:22
Seven people have been chosen to review Weston’s town charter and to
make recommendations regarding possible amendments to it.
On Thursday, June 2, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to
appoint the following people to the Charter Revision Committee: Woody
Bliss (Republican), Dick Bochinski (Democrat), Nina Daniel (R), Ken
Edgar (D), Dennis Tracey III (R), Arne de Keijzer (D), and Susan Moch
By law, the committee must have minor party representation. The
selectmen said they were hoping they would be able to appoint at least
one unaffiliated member to the committee, but none came forward.
In addition, a maximum of two members may hold elected office. While
several candidates serve on appointed committees, only Mr. Bochinski, a
member of the school board, holds elected office.
The Charter Revision Committee members have terms that expire in one
year, on June 30, 2012. The selectmen have said if possible, they would
like recommendations before the next budget vote in April 2012.
By law, the Board of Selectmen may not limit the scope of what can be
done or offer the committee any parameters when it comes to examining
the charter — the committee must decide which parts it wants to examine.
The mission with which the committee was tasked is to review the
existing charter, get input from elected officials, the public, and the
town administrator, and to draft any recommended amendments to the
Even though the selectmen may not tell the committee exactly what to
look at, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she intends to offer
suggestions regarding topics she thinks it should consider, and she
expects the other selectmen — as well as other members of the public —
will likely do the same.
Ms. Weinstein said there are two types of issues she believes the
committee should deal with.
The first are housekeeping issues, such as how the charter is organized
and how certain things are worded. Many parts are outdated, she said,
and some of the language may be simplified or cleaned up to increase
“The harder part” of the committee’s job, Ms. Weinstein said, is going
to be to review the larger concepts and procedures spelled out in the
charter and look at what may amount to major revisions. For example,
the committee may address whether the Board of Selectmen should have
more members and/or longer terms, or it may weigh the concept of a
referendum vs. an Annual Town Budget Meeting to vote on the budget.
That will take far longer to vet, Ms. Weinstein noted.
“It all needs to be looked at and discussed,” she said, “but we put
together a great committee. I’m very confident in the work they can do.”
The selectmen agreed it was very difficult to narrow the field from the
10 candidates who were interviewed (two additional candidates, Hal
Shupack and Amy Sanborn, withdrew their names from consideration before
the second round of interviews was conducted).
“I’m so excited by the talent that applied,” Ms. Weinstein said.
Selectman David Muller said he was impressed with the wide range of
views, opinions, and expertise the candidates brought with them. He
said he hopes those who were not chosen will still contribute to the
Selectmen Dan Gilbert called those who stepped up to apply “very
engaged and extraordinary people.”
Ms. Weinstein said since all of the candidates were so well qualified,
she tried to look at the overall composition of the committee.
Ms. Weinstein began by recommending Ken Edgar, a Democrat, and Dennis
Tracey, a Republican.
Mr. Edgar has a strong legal background and has worked on revising the
DTC’s bylaws. “He is truly impressive,” she said.
Mr. Tracey, also an attorney, has worked with the town before as
chairman of the appointed legal review committee, and he has been
instrumental in negotiating with the town and the Nature Conservancy on
a separation agreement for the Lachat property. “He’s done a fantastic
job,” she said.
Dr. Gilbert recommended Republican Woody Bliss and Democrat Arne de
Keijzer. Mr. Bliss is a former first selectman, and Mr. de Keijzer is
chairman of the town’s Board of Ethics.
Selectman Muller said Republican Nina Daniel “deserves strong
consideration... She is a very thoughtful member of the community who
brings forth issues that are [important but] not political in nature.”
Mr. Muller also advocated for Democrats Dick Bochinski and Susan Moch
as the final two, “even though the other three [candidates] are
eminently qualified as well,” he said.
Mr. Muller praised Mr. Bochinski, who has worked on teacher
negotiations as a member of the school board, as a “tough negotiator”
who is able to bring people to the table and build consensus.
Ms. Moch, a town moderator, has a wry sense of humor and her “attention
to the clock” and ability to work to a schedule will make her a
valuable addition to the committee, Mr. Muller said.
Dr. Gilbert said he plans to reach out to the other candidates to make
sure they know their input is still important, even though they were
not chosen to be on the committee.
Joking with one of the candidates at the meeting, P&Z member Don
Saltzman, who said he plans to stay involved and stay vocal, Mr. Muller
said, “Frankly Don, I’m not sure the committee is going to know you’re
not a member.”
Ms. Weinstein said earlier this week that all the members chosen for
the Charter Revision Committee have been notified and have received
initial packets of information, which include charters and changes to
charters from other towns.
“I want them to take the opportunity to explore what others have done,”
She said she is working with Ken Edgar and Dennis Tracey on some
“ground rules” for the first meeting and is recommending — although the
committee is free to decide for itself — that they be named co-chairmen.
The committee is expected to call its first meeting within the next
CHARTER REVISION APPOINTED (June 2, 2011) BY
Seven (7) members for one year;
Ken Edgar (2011-running for
Planning and Zoning), Dennis Tracey (2011-running for
Daniel (2011-running for the Board of Education), Dick Bochinski (not running, but already a member
of the Board of Education), Susan Moch, (2011-running for the
Charter Review 2011-2012
underway: chronological comments by "About Town."
- First meeting
of Charter Revision Committee or is it
for Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 1pm in the Commission Room at Town Hall -
not televised. Will there be Co-Chairs? Hopefully, the
brief minutes of this meeting will be
available in 48 hours time showing what votes were taken and who was
present. If longer, that is a violation of State Statute, we
believe. Full minutes must be on file within a week. It
our understanding that research materials have been distributed to the
Committee members - is there a set on file in the Town Clerk's Office
in case a member of the public would like to know what other Charters
the Committee is directed to review?
- A telephone call to the Town Clerk's Office Friday, June
confirms that Draft minutes had been filed. Always a good thing
to have the Charter Revision folks complying with F.O.I. We hope
to get to
Town Hall later in the day to get a copy...and look into what else what was on file.
- The Draft minutes reveal that action was taken to elect
Co-Chairs Ken Edgar and Dennis Tracy, who took minutes and submitted
them within the statutory deadlines.
- Regular meetings of the Charter Revision Committee will
begin in August: at 7:30pm on Wednesdays (first and third of the
month), location T.B.A.
- Great first Public Hearing. Co-Chairs. and other
members taking notes. We asked if Committee publicly noticed
meetings would be televised; answer was "no" so we offered to
video them for online viewing.
- August 17, 2011 meeting prior to second Public Hearing
Sept. 7, sees "About Town" called out of order by the Co. Chair. which
leads to discussion of when and if public comment at meetings NOT
public hearings should be allowed.
First Charter 1967, Revision of 1975 (begun then) and 1979; Revision
in 2003 on Petition
IN TOWN CLERK'S
NEW CHARTER REVISION COMMITTEE MINUTES, THE OLD CHARTERS, SOME INFO ON 1976:
TO PRESENT CHARTER ONLINE HERE.
FIRST CHARTER CAME AFTER THIS QUESTION WAS ANSWERED...
DATES TO BE AWARE OF FROM TOWN CLERK
Town Seal prior to Blake
Revision Commission of 2003: three lawyers on board!
We think we remember correctly: No one holding office when
appointed or during the course of deliberations (only March until May)
held office in Weston. Left to right: One was a former
First Selectman (of Fairfield), another Weston Board of Education
service background, Chair. had management expertise, lawyer (who served
as Town Chairman of a Policial Party and ran for State Representative
later), lawyer now on the Board of Ethics).
Review 2003 (we
there for this one!)
C T I O N S :
As approved at a Special Board of Selectmens' Meeting Tuesday,
September 16, 2003 at 8am in Town Hall Meeting Room...revisions made by
Secretary of the State's Office for clarity.
C H A R T E R R E V I S I O N
Q U E S T I O N S :
Shall the Charter of the Town of Weston, Section 2.2 Annual and Special
Meetings, be amended to change the Annual Town Budget Meeting starting
time to 8:00pm and the ending time to 11:30pm.
Shall the Charter of the Town of Weston, Secion 2.7 Petition for a
Special Town Meeting for Enactment of Ordinances or Other Action, be
amended to change the required personal signatures to not less than 5%
of qualified voters.
Shall the Charter of the Town of Weston, Section 2.7 Petition for a
Special Town Meeting for Enactment of Ordinances or Other Action, be
amended to give the board of Selectmen the discretion to reject a
petition that is materially the same as a matter that previously has
been voted upon by referendum.
T H E S E A R E T H E C H A N G E
S S E N T T O S T A T E O
F C O N N E C T I C U T F O R N O V
. 4 t h B A L L O T :
T H I S I S T H E R E P O R
T S U B M I T T E D B Y T H
E C H A R T E R R E V I S I O
N C O M M I S S I O N :
The Board of Selectmen sent along changes to the State as per vote at
meeting of August 21, 2003 as recommended by Charter Revision
Previously...after the Board of Selectmen voted (item added to the
August 7, 2003 regular meeting agenda), the Charter Revision
recommendations on 2.2 and 2.7 go to the State of Connecticut...
Weston LWV statement (originally made for the Charter Revision
Commission's Public Hearing) placed in the record of the Board of
Selectmen's PUBLIC HEARING.
Board of Selectmen's Proposed Charter Revision PUBLIC HEARING,
Thursday. August 7, 2003 at 7pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - took ten
P U B L I C H E A R I N G - C H A R T E R R E V
I S I O N R E S C H E D U L E D
Now JULY 31st (instead of July 24th), 2003, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting
Weston Charter Revision Commission Proposes the following changes (text
* Section 2.2 - Increase time for Annual Budget
Meeting by one hour
* Section 2.7 - Raise minimum number of petitioners
to call for enactment of an ordinance or ather action from 50 persons
to 5% of qualified voters
* Section 2.7 - Give Board of Selectmen discretion
to reject petition for special Town Meeting to vote on the petition if
the object is materially the same as a matter that had been previously
voted on by referendum.
On June 26, 2003, the following changes were approved:
(Change starting time of town meetings [we assume this refers to
"Annual Town Budget Meeting" - which is Section 2.2] to 8P.M. and
ending time to 11:30PM.)
Except as provided in Section 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6 of this Charter, not
less than five percent of qualified voters may at any time petition
over their personal signatures for the enactment of any proposed lawful
ordinance or other action by filing such petition including the
complete text of such ordinance, or proposed other action with the Town
The Board of Selectmen shall call a special Town Meeting, to be held
not less than ten nor more thirty days from the date of such filing,
unless prior to such meeting such ordinance shall have been enacted or
such action taken by the Board of Selectmen. Provided, however, that if
the proposed ordinance or other action which is the object of the
petition is materially the same as a matter that previously has been
voted upon by referendum, than the Board of Selectmen, in their
discretion, may reject such petition and not call a special Town
and on the jump page...
IN CHARTER REVISION PROCESS BY "About Town":
Read left to right (below) for text
of sections up for revising. NOTE: Article Seven to be
to reflect new Boards and Commissions as well as renaming, if such has
occurred since 1979. Copies of the Weston Town Charter 1979 are
at the Town Clerk's Office. HIGHLIGHTS OF MEETINGS RELATED TO
- Board of Selectmen vote creates Charter
March 28, 2003;
- Appointments made by Board of Selectmen
April 26, 2003, 5 member Commission;
- First meeting May 8, 2003 - sets date
for PUBLIC HEARING (S);
- Public Hearings May 29, 2003 at 3pm
and 8pm; (in summary) those who spoke liked Town Meeting form of
government but had some suggestions - 4 year terms for Tax Collector
Selectmen, "secret ballot" and continued town meeting to Referendum on
another day (like Wilton), others did not want to get rid of public's
to be heard (easily).
- SUBSEQUENT MEETINGS: now virtually held
weekly at 7:30pm Thursdays in the Commission Room at Town Hall until
when their work will be completed (and sent to the Town Clerk for
on the November 4 Ballot) prior to more PUBLIC HEARING (S) and review
the Board of Selectmen (and their PUBLIC HEARING [S])...
- At Thursday, June 19, 2003 Commission
meeting, former Selectmen and First Selectman speak, Chair. of DTC and
RTC--everyone wants to keep 2 year term, Town Meeting; minor
notions list added to...NEXT MEETING next Thursday, June 26, 2003, at
- JUNE 26 meeting brings split vote, 3
(r)-2 (d) to wrap up work with changes to 2.2 and 2.7: changes to
1979 wording (courtesy of Weston LWV WEBsite) as unanimously approved
- JULY 31, 2003 (Thursday) at 7:30pm,
Town Hall Meeting Room - PUBLIC HEARING on recommended changes (changed
from July 24).
- Old wording here...
Town to vote
on charter changes
By JENNIFER CONNIC, Staff Writer,
Sunday August 10, 2003 Norwalk HOUR on-line:
WESTON -- Residents will have the
opportunity to vote on changes to the town charter during the November
election. The Board of Selectmen approved the Charter Revision
recommendations during a meeting Thursday night, but questions for the
ballot still need to be finalized.
The proposed changes to the town
charter include increasing the number of petitioners necessary to call
for a town meeting from 50 residents to 5 percent of the town's
the Board of Selectmen
would have the discretion to decide if a special town meeting was
to vote on the petition if the item is the same as a matter that had
been voted on by referendum. Another proposed change in the
would move the Annual Town Meeting to 8 p.m. rather than 8:30 p.m. and
close the meeting no later than 11:30 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.
Selectman Woody Bliss said
residents continued to express concern about the 5 percent figure
of a definite number during the board's public hearing, but he hopes a
future charter revision study would address the matter. "We are
the charter more consistent by having the number at 5 percent," he
He said having the number at 5 percent also allows the number of
to grow as the town's population grows.
you have a set number and your
population grows over time, that number won't be growing," he
The town attorney will now review the recommendations to form questions
for the selectmen to approve, Bliss said. He said he hopes the
are ready for approval by the next Board of Selectmen
on Aug. 21. The November vote on the changes, however, will not
the final charter revision, Bliss said.
second Charter Revision Commission
will be formed in November, he said, to review further recommendation
the current commission and additional issues. The additional
for further study include the term length for the selectmen and
a town clerk and tax collector rather than elected them.
said he hopes the second review would be completed in time for the 2004
regular election because he would not want to hold a special election.
SECTIONS OF THE
CHARTER BEING DISCUSSED (SO
Charter Revision in CT going on at the same time as Weston's...and
other communities have some of our new language!
- CT General Assembly news
- Oxford not doing it - Tax
- Westport not doing it,
but article on how RTM system works...
- Groton has an RTM, plus a
Town Council and with all that, now
needs Referendum before November 6 (Election Day).
- has a required percentage on school budget votes to raise school
budget, according to this report
- we saved this from out Montville page for other reasons - they did
Charter Revision in 2009
- uses the ordinance method to try to make change
Charter revision vote
Nanci G. Hutson, CT POST
Updated 10:40 p.m., Thursday, November 8, 2012
BROOKFIELD -- The nine questions about charter revision on Tuesday's
ballot here seemed to pit the town's current citizen government against
professional management overseen by citizen leaders.
Voters decisively opted against making major changes in the town
This result was hailed by Republican Town Committee leaders, who had
unanimously opposed hiring a town manager and expanding the Board of
Selectman from three to five members.
The defeated changes were derided by the Charter Revision Committee, a
mix of Republicans and Democrats who worked to create them.
Republican Town Committee Chairman Marty Flynn said he believes town
residents do not want to relinquish their ability to elect the person
who runs their town every two years, nor do they wish to expand town
Flynn said based on the numbers -- more than 5,000 votes against seven
of the nine questions, including hiring a town manager -- Republicans,
Democrats and unaffiliated voters were against the changes.
"I think people are happy with the system the way it is," Flynn said.
Republican leader Matt Grimes said he hopes the resounding vote against
hiring a town manager signals the end of the issue. The votes
against the majority of the proposed revisions "exceeded our
expectations," he said.
First Selectman Bill Davidson, who is unaffiliated but twice led the
Democratic ticket, was in favor of having a town manager. He said
he takes some blame for not narrowing the field of questions to allow
more scrutiny of that idea. Davidson added that the people have
spoken, and he and his fellow elected officials must respect their
Charter Revision Commission Chairman Larry Miller declined comment,
except to say, "I'm done with it."
The politics surrounding the issues, he added, proved to be "nasty."
Commission member Joni Park, a former Democratic selectman and
Democratic Party chairman, said she thinks the town is the loser in
"The first two questions were important for the growth of Brookfield
and, unlike statements made, (a town manager) does not take power away
from the people or elected officials," Park said.
"A town manager in my mind has continuity to understand the inner
workings of government, the budget and the way the town should run, and
has information to share... (but) the Board of Selectman always makes
the final decision," she said.
"We (Charter Revision Commission members) thought we gave the community
our best, but people are fearful of change, and they're not ready to
take a look at what that means."
IT WENT DOWN TO DEFEAT ON Nov. 6.
Charter panel proposes greater mayoral powers
Tim Loh, CT POST
Updated 08:16 p.m., Saturday, May 19, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- The Charter Review Commission on Friday submitted its
first draft of recommended changes to the city's constitutional
document, recommending full mayoral control over the Board of
Education, 10-year term limits for various commissioners, a fleshed-out
removal process for elected and appointed officials and better City
Council oversight of the budget.
The 133-page document will come before a public hearing Wednesday at
6:30 p.m. at City Council Chambers. The following night, the commission
will send its final draft to the City Council, which can either approve
the recommendations outright or send back portions of it to
commissioners for reworking.
Ultimately, the council-endorsed proposed changes will appear on
November's ballot for public vote.
Under the draft released Friday, the mayor would begin appointing
school board members, four of them, in December 2013. The mayor would
appoint the remaining five members in December 2015.
Appointees would have to clear two hurdles: First, they would have to
pass a newly formed Board of Qualifications, consisting of five
mayor-picked members, and then the City Council.
Both the school board and qualifications board would be subject to
minority-party representation, as well as standards set for diversity
and general "attributes" -- such as knowledge of current issues and
best practices in urban education, or the ability to exercise a
leadership and governance role, the proposed charter states.
Cathleen Simpson, the commission chairwoman, said Friday evening that
the two sets of mayoral picks should stave off the potential misuse of
"The mayor is responsible now for the Board of Education and for the
way the board is run and is responsible for picking qualified people
that represent diverse qualifications," she said, adding that any
qualifications board that approved unsatisfactory school board members
would look foolish. "If the mayor doesn't (pick qualified people), he
takes the risk of not being re-elected."
The proposed charter expands the mayor's power under emergency
situations, too. Currently, upon declaration of an emergency, the mayor
is allowed to spend up to $100,000 of city funds. The draft proposal
raises that amount to 1 percent of the city's annual tax levy, an
increase of at least 20-fold.
The proposed charter also establishes a framework for removing elected
or appointed officials who act out of compliance with city standards,
such as if they commit a felony or violate the city's conflict of
interest policy (as determined by the ethics commission). The current
charter provides that power but never explains how it should take place.
Across the board, any commissioner or board member who's served for 10
consecutive years would now be prohibited from getting reappointed to
But the proposed charter lifts the current 10-year cap on the police
and fire chiefs' tenure, effective after the two current chiefs leave
The proposal requires the City Council to conduct quarterly budget
hearings, at a minimum, with city officials to stay better apprised of
finances around the calendar. Each spring, it would expand the
council's time frame for scrutinizing the mayor's proposed budgets: The
mayor would be required to submit a budget proposal by April 1, and the
council would have until the middle of May to recommend cuts.
Attorney Steven Mednick, who's worked closely with the commissioners
and drafted their proposed changes, said they also tried lumping
everything in the current charter that resembled an ordinance into
Chapter 12. A future revision commission, he said, should begin with
that chapter when considering what to change in the constitutional
"That sounds boring, but it's innovative," he said. "It allowed us to
focus on structural stuff."
He added: "This commission has been outstanding. We've met over 30
times since January and already had two or three public hearings.
They've met as much since January as many commissions (I've worked
with) met in 16 months."
PASSES THIS BILL, WHICH MAKES POSSIBLE PARTIAL CHARTER REVISION -
GOV. MALLOY VETOES IT (AGAIN)
to Charter Revision statute
No plans to override Malloy's vetoes
Article published Jul 25, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Democratic leaders of Connecticut's General
Assembly say they won't try to override any
of fellow Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's six vetoes.
The legislature is scheduled to convene its annual veto session on
Democratic leaders are particularly concerned with Malloy's veto of a
bill that imposed new requirements for individual and small group
health insurance companies regarding rate increases, such as expanding
the amount of time before a new rate can take effect.
Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams said lawmakers are working
with Malloy to find a way to expand public involvement in the rate
approval process for health insurance.
Some Republican lawmakers say they're disappointed the legislature will
not try to override Malloy's veto of a proposed tax credit program to
encourage development around Oxford Airport.
Simsbury Residents To Discuss Proposed
The Hartford Courant
By HILLARY FEDERICO, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:49 PM EDT, April 24, 2012
SIMSBURY —Residents next month will discuss whether to amend the town
charter to allow the town's first selectman to appoint a personnel
director and change the term lengths of some boards and commissions.
Those recommendations are among six major changes proposed Monday night
by the charter revision commission, which presented its conclusions
after a series of public meetings and discussions.
If approved by the board of selectmen, the proposed changes may appear
on the ballot in November. A public hearing on the proposed changes is
scheduled for May 14.
Changes to the town charter, which is revised every five years, last
went to residents for a vote in November 2006. Proposed changes that
year included an amendment requiring advance notice for capital
improvement projects and alterations to some town boards and
Among the items up for consideration up this year is whether the town's
design review board – an advisory board that works with the planning
and zoning commissions – should be recognized as a permanent group.
According to charter commission review board Chairman Bob Heagney, the
changes give the zoning commission the authority to appoint a design
review board consisting of six regular members and up to four
alternates, and determine the necessary qualifications.
"We believe it should be a permanent board recognized by the charter,"
John Carroll, a member of the design review board, urged the board of
selectmen to endorse a permanent design panel. He said the board is
integral to the process of land acquisition and construction of new
"You have before you two versions of how the design review board should
be in the future," he said Monday. "This [proposed] document was not
done off the top of somebody's head."
Another proposal calls for the elimination of constables, a largely
"Simsbury has never appointed a constable [in recent memory]," said
First Selectwoman Mary Glassman.
Though the proposed change would eliminate language in the charter
pertaining to the hiring of a constable, Heagney said it would not
impede the first selectman's ability to appoint a constable if he or
she chooses to do so. Rather, he said, it gives the town the
opportunity to appoint someone to the position after 30 days from the
day the first selectman is appointed.
Another proposed change would allow the first selectman to appoint
another town official to the position of personnel director. Currently,
the personnel director's duties are assumed by the first selectman.
Other changes include extending the period between charter revisions
from five to seven years; allowing the town to appropriate up to 50
percent of the town's undesignated fund balance for the current fiscal
year in the event of an emergency; and altering the powers of town
officials at town meetings.
Passero: Mayor oversteps
his authority on budget
New London DAY
By MICHAEL PASSERO
Article published Jun 5, 2012
The myriad emotions expressed by folks following this
year's City Council budget deliberations is nothing short of amazing.
Bewilderment, confusion and incredulity seem the most prevalent. My
guess is that the community's emotions mirror the torment of city
councilors as they very publicly wrestled through the process for weeks.
For councilors, the principal emotion has been frustration.
Unfortunately, the frustration boiled over into anger during the
council's attempt to finalize the appropriation ordinance for its third
reading May 29.
The budget process is governed by the City Charter. The first step
requires the administration to deliver a proposed budget to the council
and Board of Finance containing an estimate of expenditures and
revenues for each city department.
The process was crippled at the outset this year when the
administration irresponsibly delivered a proposed budget that
supposedly required an unrealistic 20 percent increase in property
taxes. I say "supposedly" because so much of the information later
turned out to be so inaccurate that the dramatic announcement of a
budget requiring a 20 percent tax increase proved to be more theater
Nonetheless, the council immediately took on the ambitious goal of
whittling the surreal tax increase down to a palatable 2 percent. The
biggest challenges during the budget cutting process were the
administration's apparent inability or unwillingness to provide
accurate estimates of expenses and revenues and its constant
manipulation of the numbers given to council throughout the process.
It was like playing a game of football when the goal post is moved
farther out every time one's team gets within field goal range.
Despite the administration's refusal to recognize the charter's
mandates and unrelenting frustration of the council's role, on April 30
the council finalized and passed the first reading of the budget. In
the process, the council abandoned the goal of limiting the tax
increase to 2 percent, swallowed hard, and passed a budget with an 8
percent tax increase in a compromise intended to save jobs and services.
Unfortunately, the council's apparent success at adopting a budget
proved as ephemeral as the administration's numbers.
Three weeks after the first reading of the budget, two weeks after the
public hearing on that budget and more than a week after the Finance
Board's approval of the budget, the administration made a dramatic
announcement that the budget passed by council would require draconian
cuts in personnel.
Even worse, the administration decided to decimate the public safety
departments with layoffs and spare the multiple administrative
positions that had been newly created since the current administration
The surprise announcement at the 11th hour understandably shook the
community's confidence in our government. Mistrust now reigns.
Once again, the council was not consulted before the administration's
unilateral action. Once again, the administration's explanation seemed
disingenuous. Once again, mistaken information provided by the finance
department and built into the first reading of the budget was the root
Characteristically, during a news conference following the third and
final reading of the budget, the administration accused the council of
The real problem appears to be a mayor who has either no respect for or
no understanding of the charter and who refuses to recognize the
authority and role of the council.
The council is the check to a mayor with a pattern of impulsiveness and
recklessness. His latest threat, to effectively dismantle the emergency
response system July 1, is so irresponsible that it would be laughable,
except that now people's lives are at risk.
I have a lifelong commitment and love for my city. I have served in
many civic roles throughout the years and I have had the honor to serve
as a firefighter for 28 years.
As blessed as my life has been in this city, the highest honor of all
has been to be entrusted with a seat on the council.
Every action I take on the council is motivated solely by a desire to
honor the people's trust, to honor the oath I took, and to do what is
right for my city. In this, my only master is my conscience.
There is no challenge that this great city cannot overcome and we will
certainly overcome the challenges we face now.
Michael Passero is the president of
the New London City Council.
FORMER MAYOR OF NEW LONDON (under the old Charter)
Then Sec'y of the State Bysiewicz swears in Hon. Wade Hyslop
NOTE: In November
2011, New London Charter Revision created a popularly elected position
of Mayor Previously, the elected Council chose from among its
the appointed "Mayor"
of the city)
Hyslop: 'I will not be intimidated' on firing
maintains his silence on Mayo decision before NAACP, firefighters
By Kathleen Edgecomb Day Staff Writer
Article published Apr 17, 2012
New London - A defiant Wade Hyslop rebuffed people who demanded Monday
night that the city councilor explain why he supported the firing of
the city's first black firefighter in more than 30 years...
While there was also a call for the New London City Council to
investigate Finizio's decision, council President Michael Passero, who
is a firefighter, said the City Charter precludes it from doing so.
Reading from Section 40 of the charter, Passero said the council cannot
dictate or interfere with the hiring or firing of any city
employee. Full story,
including one about the 2011 charter revision, here.
Oxford owed more than $10 million in back taxes
Anne Amato, CT POST
Updated 12:13 a.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2012
OXFORD -- Who owes back taxes and who doesn't is a task that may take
years to unravel in this town that is trying to balance books left by
former Tax Collector Karen Guillet, who is currently facing larceny and
Town officials said Tuesday that there are more than 40 pages of names
on its delinquent taxpayer list and an amount of more than $10 million
First Selectman George Temple, who requested the list, said
unacceptable business practices over at least the past 15 years had
left the town with the huge gap of $10,288,423 owed in back taxes. But
the number of those showing up as having taxes past due isn't totally
accurate, according to Tax Collector Cayenne Spremullo.
Spremullo took over the office in November and has been trying to
balance the books left by Guillet who is accused of misappropriating
more than $670,000 from town coffers.
Temple said while some of that amount is money actually owed, some of
it is the result of clerical errors and poor accounting and other
Temple said the amounts can "only be explained by past dishonesty."
"It's a disgrace for whatever reason the account was allowed to go into
arrears -- for poor business practices, bad accounting or for
stealing," Temple said. "It's definitely a mess."
Spremullo said the purpose of the list was to alert people that they
might be showing up as delinquent on the list.
She said they are going through each account to find the valid
"We look for red flags," she said.
Unraveling the mess is going to take a long time, she said. A big issue
is having people on the delinquent list prove they paid their taxes.
But Spremullo acknowledged that most people don't keep receipts going
The list goes back 15 years, the amount of time the office can collect
any past due bills, Spremullo said.
Temple said he wanted to make it perfectly clear that none of the
problems with the accounting in the tax collector's office has to do
with the Spremullo or her staff.
"Quite the contrary, they are doing everything they can to straighten
out this outrageous situation," he said.
Guillet resigned her job in June 2010. A three-member committee
appointed by then-First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers found that
$671,768 appeared to have been taken by Guillet between July 2003 and
Guillet was arrested last November and her case is pending in Milford
Temple said that, while Spremullo will be implementing an aggressive
collection program to bring the town up to date, it doesn't mean the
town will "embark on a heartless rampage against people who may be
victims of the economy."
Temple said he plans to meet with Spremullo on a monthly basis to
examine the delinquent accounts and "monitor our progress."
He said he has full confidence in Spremullo and her staff to take the
necessary steps to restore confidence in the tax collector's office and
in the town.
Angela Carella: Revise
the Charter, revamp the city
Published 10:33 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 2012
Stamford residents have their work cut out for them when they hit the
polls in November.
They will select candidates to represent them in their city, state and
federal governments. They will choose the nation's next president. They
will vote yes or no on a bunch of questions such as:
Should Stamford residents be limited to serving on one elected board at
Should constables serve four years instead of two?
Should Stamford set up a commission dedicated to historic preservation?
Should Stamford have a Citizen's Bill of Rights?
Should Stamford create a single fire department instead of the six it
Voters' responses to such questions will change Stamford's governing
document, the city Charter, which must be revised at least every 10
The volunteers on the Charter Revision Commission have spent the year
reviewing the document for errors, conflicts with state law, practices
that no longer work and rules that need clarification. They considered
changes that could make city government run smoother.
The members of the commission recommended more than 70 revisions, big
and small, to the Board of Representatives' Charter Revision Committee,
which has voted to accept or reject them.
Before the committee turns over its recommendations to the full Board
of Representatives -- which decides which questions go on the ballot --
you the voter will have a chance to weigh in.
You are invited to a public hearing slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday in
legislative chambers on the fourth floor of the Stamford Government
Center, 888 Washington Blvd.
The members of the Charter Revision Commission, which met five or six
dozen times, want to hear what you have to say. Co-chairmen Jay Sandak
and Vincent Freccia, Stamford natives and attorneys, said few things
are more important for Stamford.
Candidates come and go but the Charter lives on, they said.
"The Charter is the Constitution for Stamford," Freccia said. "We often
get asked to explain the relationship between the Charter and city
ordinances. Ordinances are laws made by the Board of Representatives.
The Charter takes priority over everything in the city."
Tuesday's public hearing is a good place to start understanding what
choices you will be asked to make in November, Sandak said.
"The Charter is the framework of our city government. This is the
opportunity for people to express their opinions about how it works or
doesn't work," Sandak said. "Amending it is a very democratic process.
By state law, there cannot be one change to the Charter that the
electorate doesn't vote on."
Representatives on the Charter Revision Committee will consider points
raised by residents during the hearing and submit them along with their
own thoughts back to the Charter Revision Commission.
"They can approve our recommendations, reject them, or send items back
to us and ask us to tinker with them," Sandak said.
The commission, for example, recommended reducing the size of the Board
of Representatives. Now there are two representatives for each of the
20 districts, for a total of 40 board members. The commission wants to
make it one representative for each district, for a total of 20 board
But last week three members of the board's Charter Revision Committee
voted for the idea, three voted against it and one abstained.
"A tie is a failure, at least in committee," Freccia said. "It's still
up to the full board."
If you feel strongly about the size of the board -- Stamford has one of
the largest representative boards in the country among cities with
similar populations -- speak up at Tuesday's public hearing. You may
sway the thinking of committee members.
After the public hearing and a final report from the commission, the
committee will report to the full Board of Representatives, which then
chooses the items to put before voters in November.
"The Board of Representatives is the gatekeeper for what goes on the
ballot," Sandak said. "In theory, they can reject everything we
recommended and decide not to put anything on the ballot. Or they can
put all of our recommendations on the ballot."
Most agree that the biggest item you're likely to decide at the polls
concerns Stamford's convoluted, controversial fire service, made up of
one career department and five volunteer companies.
The commission recommends that the Charter be changed to create a
single fire department with one chief who would have jurisdiction over
all fire services. The chief would have two paid assistants, one to
oversee career firefighters and one to oversee volunteers.
"What we proposed for the Charter is a framework, not a plan," Sandak
said. "It will be up to the decision-makers, if this is adopted, to
take the framework and design a plan that works within it."
Another important recommended change to the Charter would resolve a
conflict of responsibilities between the city and the Water Pollution
Control Authority, which operates the sewage treatment plant. For years
the plant has been plagued with foul odors, spillages into Long Island
Sound, questionable equipment installations, management failures and
financial problems, all while sewer fees skyrocketed.
"The question of who's in charge has created a lot of uncertainty,"
Sandak said. "Our hope is that some of the management issues that have
haunted us for the last few years will get clarified."
The commission also wants to establish in the Charter that Stamford
always have an internal auditor to check the finances of city
departments, and a Citizens Service Center. Such functions are too
important to fall to the budget ax, as the internal auditor already
has, Freccia and Sandak said.
You rejuvenate the city when you redo the Charter, they said.
"Process changes. Attitudes change. State and federal laws change,"
Freccia said. "There will always be a need for Charter revision."
One of Stamford's strengths is that "it doesn't remain static," Sandak
"As demographics have changed, as economics have changed, as the
workforce has changed, city government has reinvented itself. I think
it's really healthy," he said. "It's a renewal. It keeps the city on
the cutting edge. But it only works with informed voters."
Commission to overhaul Stamford
Charter revision could alter many
facets of city government
Kate King, Staff Writer, Stamford ADVOATE
Published 09:30 p.m., Saturday, December 17, 2011
STAMFORD -- Stamford has embarked on its 17th Charter revision, an
in-depth review of the city's core document that gives officials and
voters a once-in-a-decade opportunity to change the way municipal
The Board of Representatives appointed a commission comprising 15
volunteers to oversee the review, which will tackle a plethora of
issues including several stemming from recent controversies at the
Government Center. The process, which will end at the polls in a voter
referendum, could potentially affect Stamford's fire department
organization, legal representation for city officials and government
oversight of environmental contamination in North Stamford.
"The decennial review of the Charter is of utmost importance to the
citizens of Stamford because the Charter forms the framework for how
government works," Charter Revision Commission Co-Chair Jay Sandak
said. "As times change, new issues arise. It's a living document. In
many, many ways it has a direct effect on whoever lives within the
The commission, which includes six Republicans, seven Democrats and two
unaffiliated voters, is on a deadline crunch. Stamford law allows 16
months for the Charter review, but city officials are hoping to include
the proposed changes on the 2012 ballot, which is a presidential
election and likely to attract higher voter turnout than the 2013
Commission members have already received more than 100 suggestions for
Charter changes from members of the Board of Representatives, Board of
Finance, Mayor Michael Pavia's administration and the public. The
commission has splintered into three committees and is in the process
of whittling down the list, Sandak said.
"The Charter itself is important," Sandak said. "And the process of
reviewing its provisions is very important to the community."
The upcoming revision may get to the root of several controversial
debates. The topic likely to spark the most heated discussions will
inevitably involve any proposed changes to Stamford's fire services.
Pavia has proposed consolidating four of the city's five volunteer-run
fire departments into a new organization called the Stamford Volunteer
Fire Department, which would share resources and newly-hired paid
firefighters. Unionized firefighters strongly oppose the mayor's plan,
and instead support bringing all the city's fire services -- paid and
volunteer -- under the purview of one paid fire chief. Pavia has said
the union's plan is not possible under the current Charter.
It is not the Charter Revision Commission's responsibility to
reorganize Stamford's fire services, said city Rep. John Mallozzi,
D-12, who headed the Board of Representatives committee that appointed
the commission. The commission could, however, recommend eliminating or
changing the fire service districts and boundaries outlined in
Stamford's Charter, thereby giving city officials more flexibility to
reorganize the fire department.
"It is not for the commission to come up with a plan," said Mallozzi.
"I'd rather see the commission allow the mayor and the Board of
Representatives to negotiate a solution. To eliminate the roadblocks
that prohibit a more comprehensive solution."
Another topic the Charter Review Commission will tackle involves
governmental oversight of environmental contamination in North
Stamford. Friday marks the three-year anniversary of the release of an
Environmental Protection Agency report that revealed PCBs and pesticide
pollution in the soil at Scofieldtown Park. The report sparked further
investigations, which uncovered contamination at the Bartlett Arboretum
and in residential drinking water.
Former Mayor Dannel P. Malloy, who is now governor, rushed to install
city water mains to several North Stamford homes after the polluted
water was discovered. Malloy then created a seven-member panel, dubbed
the Scofield Town Area Remediation Task Force, to oversee Stamford's
Mayor Michael Pavia disbanded the task force in November 2010 over
protests from representatives from the neighborhood group North
Stamford Concerned Citizens for the Environment. Shortly after, Board
of Representatives President Randy Skigen formed a special committee
charged with overseeing the city's environmental remediation efforts
and the development of a city-subsidized water testing program.
City representatives have asked the Charter Review Commission to
clarify which government entity -- the Office of Public Safety, Health
and Welfare, the Health Commission or the Office of Operations -- has
oversight of North Stamford environmental contamination issues. Jay
Crutcher, a NSCCE spokesman, said he hopes all three departments will
work together with the Environmental Protection Board to address
environmental and public health concerns.
"The NSCCE believes that oversight of environmental contamination and
remediation is extremely important," Crutcher said in an email. "(All
departments) should all be responsible for working together to address
issues of environmental contamination and public health -- they each
have specific expertise that can play a critical role."
The Charter Revision Commission will also review the roles and
responsibilities of the Board of Finance and Board of Ethics, which
were at the epicenter of several bitter and divisive debates over the
past two years. City representatives have suggested the commission
consider eliminating the Board of Finance altogether and transferring
its financial oversight responsibilities to the Board of
Representatives' Fiscal Committee.
In the event the Board of Finance remains intact, city representatives
have also recommended the commission consider increasing the number of
board members, narrowing the board's scope to "strictly financial
matters" and lowering the voting approval threshold for contingency
Recent investigations by the Board of Ethics also inspired several
recommendations for Charter review. The Commission may tackle the
question of legal representation for elected and appointed officials, a
controversial debate which is still ongoing.
Director of Legal Affairs Michael Larobina has issued contradictory
decisions on whether elected officials facing civil lawsuits or ethics
complaints should be represented by the city. Larobina's department
reimbursed former finance board member Bob Kolenberg $30,000 for legal
expenses after an ethics complaint against him was dropped, but city
Rep. Sal Gabriele, R-16, who saw an ethics grievance against him
withdrawn this summer, is still seeking compensation from the city for
nearly $200,000 in legal fees.
Other suggestions submitted to the Charter Revision Commission for
- Budget: Require the mayor to hold a public hearing before submitting
his budget to the elected boards for approval and empower the Board of
Finance and Board of Representatives with the ability to add -- not
just slash -- budgetary spending.
- Ethics: Add a provision requiring recusal of any elected or appointed
official on any board or commission from voting on items related to the
Board of Ethics if he or she is involved in an ethics investigation,
permit the Board of Representatives to provide funds for ethics
investigations, allow the ethics board to accept anonymous complaints
or file its own complaints, require ethics training for city officials
and employees, mandate a whistleblower hotline.
- Administration: Reevaluate keeping the Director of Public Safety job
as a cabinet position and consider requiring background qualifications,
consider making the Director of Legal Affairs -- currently a part time
position -- full time, consider requiring the Director of
Administration to report to the Board of Representatives Fiscal
- Board of Education: Change the number of candidates for Board of
Education elections from six to four, allow the education board to
prioritize and direct the spending of authorized capital funds, change
timeline of budget process to allow for September hiring needs, empower
the mayor as a voting member of the board.
- Boards and Commissions: Limit elected officials to serving on one
elective board at a time, increase length of terms for city constables
from two to four years, implement term limits, require background
qualifications for members appointed to boards and commissions.
- Water Pollution Control Authority: Outline the relationship between
the WPCA and city and clarify to whom the WPCA Executive Director
The Charter Revision Commission will hold a public hearing before
submitting a draft report of its review to the Board of
Representatives, said co-chair Vincent Freccia. The Board of
Representatives will hold public hearings on the commission's draft
before voting to accept or reject the final report.
Stamford residents will have the final say on any alterations to the
city Charter at the ballot box next November. Proposed changes must be
approved by a majority vote.
During the last Charter revision in 2004, voters approved six out of 10
proposed changes. A suggestion for changing the terms for the Town
Clerk from two to four years passed, but a similar term length
extension for city constables failed by about 1,000 votes. The 2004
Charter revision also created the city's "rainy day" fund and the Parks
and Recreation Superintendent position.
Eight open seats up for grabs on Westport RTM this fall
Paul Schott, email@example.com
Updated 09:48 a.m., Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Westport Representative Town Meeting will have open seats in seven
of its nine districts in the November municipal election, after eight
incumbents declined to seek re-election, according to filings with the
Town Clerk's Office.
Those not seeking new two-year terms on the 36-member legislative body
are: Judy Starr and Liz Milwe, District 1; Linda Bruce, District 2; Bob
Galan, District 3; Gene Seidman, District 4; Barbara Levy, District 5;
Michael Rea, District 8, and Kevin Green, District 9. Rea, the chairman
of the RTM's Finance Committee, is a Republican nominee for the Board
of Finance this fall.
Rea has served six terms, Starr has served five terms, Seidman has
served three terms, while Milwe, Bruce, Galan, Levy and Green have each
served two terms.
In 2009, four RTM members did not seek re-election. But this year's
turnover is more representative of long-term trends, according to Town
Clerk Patty Strauss.
"Over the last eight years, it's anywhere from a quarter to a third of
the RTM members who do not seek re-election," she said. "2009 was not
normal; 2011 is back to being in the average again."
The four highest vote-getters in each of the nine districts are elected
to the RTM. In 2009, four districts had more than four candidates.
The five longest-tenured RTM members will each run for re-election.
Bill Meyer, District 3, and Stephen Rubin, District 7, have both served
eight terms. Dick Lowenstein, District 5, Jack Klinge, District 7, and
Lois Schine, District 8, have each served since 1997.
"We've got a lot of seniority in this group, but there's always room
for new members," Strauss added. "New members bring new ideas to the
Several former RTM members have gone on to other elected positions.
Current state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and his predecessor, Joe Mioli,
both served in legislative body, while First Selectman Gordon Joseloff
was the RTM moderator for 10 years. Other past RTM members include
Board of Finance Chairwoman Helen Garten and Selectman Charlie
The RTM is a nonpartisan legislative body with four representatives
from each of the nine districts. Members have a range of legislative
responsibilities, which include voting on every appropriations request
of more than $20,000 and approving ordinances and the town's budget.
During the last year, the RTM has debated and voted on several major
town issues. Last November, members voted to reject new contracts for
the town's fire and municipal employee unions. The legislative body has
also reviewed two appeals of P&Z decisions. Members voted last
December to uphold a pair of zoning text amendments for affordable
housing, but struck down new residential building coverage regulations
This fall, the RTM is set to review a tentative agreement with the
firefighter union, which was announced last week bJoseloff. The RTM
will also likely vote this fall on a proposal from Joseloff for
Westport to join a regional government body called the Council of
Residents interested in running for the RTM must obtain the signatures
of 25 voters registered in their RTM districts and file that petition
in the Town Clerk's Office by Sept. 13. This year's election for the
RTM and other town boards will take place Nov. 8.
For more information about the RTM election and running for town
office, call Town Clerk Patty Strauss at 203-341-1110.
Public Hearing Set On
Proposed Charter Revisions
Would Have Town
The Hartford Courant
By KAT J. MCALPINE, firstname.lastname@example.org,
July 17, 2011|
CROMWELL — Residents will have a chance to comment at a public hearing
on proposed charter revisions that would change the town's form of
government from a board of selectmen to a town council and town manager.
Committee Chairman Vincent Faienza said he wanted to make it clear
these changes are not the same as those proposed in 2003, when a town
council and town manager style of government failed at referendum.
"That charter failed because it took away a lot of the people's power,"
Faienza said. "We want the people to still have a say in who their
elected officials are."The public hearing will be held Tuesday, July
19. The charter commission hopes to put the changes on the ballot in
November's municipal election.
The revisions replace the board of selectmen with six town council
members and a mayor, who will run for office separately from the
council members. The revisions also add a town manager, who will hold
the position of chief executive officer in town, will report to the
town council, and will be hired by an independent search firm. Although
the town manager will have the power to remove or hire department
heads, although any decisions must be approved by a majority of the
The charter committee explored the option of adding two members to the
town council and eliminating the board of finance, but opted to keep
the council to seven members, including the mayor, and keep the board
of finance in place.
Faienza said in June that he felt that keeping the board of finance
provided an extra measure of "checks and balances."
One likely topic of discussion at Tuesday's public hearing will be
whether to keep the police commission. Police Chief Anthony Salvatore,
who suggested abolishing the commission and allowing the chief to
report to the manager for approval of hirings and terminations, said he
will address the committee on Tuesday.
The committee initially agreed with Salvatore's suggestion, but later
rescinded its decision based on the recommendation of Town Attorney
Jack Bradley. The proposed charter now states that the police
commission will remain intact. Salvatore had said that
eliminating the police commission would streamline the hiring and
termination process. Now, he must seek approval for personnel
assignments at board of selectmen meetings, which are held once a month.
"The police commission's main function is to hire or terminate [police
personnel] based upon the chief of police's recommendation," Salvatore
Tuesday's public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 224 of town hall.
How another form of government
works in CT
Steps taken toward referendum in Groton
decide on borrowing $2.7M for water facilities
By Chuck Potter, The Day
Published 07/06/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 07/06/2011 12:07 AM
Groton - It took the three meetings Tuesday, but ultimately, the Town
Council moved closer to a September referendum so voters can consider
borrowing $2.7 million to upgrade the town's water pollution control
As much as a third of the money could be returned to the town by a
grant from the state Department of Energy & Environmental
Protection's Clean Water Fund. The balance would be covered by 2
percent, 20-year loans.
Tuesday, as part of a 23-step fast-track process, the council recessed
its regular meeting, held a mandatory public hearing and then a
Committee of the Whole meeting to address comments from the public
hearing. Because there were no comments, the committee meeting was
promptly adjourned after explanations by Public Works Director Gary
Schneider, outlining the use of the funds.
Schneider said the money would be used for three projects, including
upgrading a pump station that moves treated wastewater from the
treatment plant to the Thames River.
He said the old pumps have been in place for 26 years, and if one
failed, allowing wastewater to contaminate unauthorized estuaries, the
town would face fines of $25,000 per pump, per incident. The state
funds would also be used to maintain and repair compacting machinery
that saves the town about $750,000 per year in disposal fees.
At the conclusion of the committee meeting, the mayor reconvened the
Town Council meeting. During that meeting, the council formally adopted
the ordinance calling for the referendum and referred the ordinance to
the Representative Town Meeting, which is expected to take up the
matter next week.
The council's work must be completed by Aug. 12 to allow a referendum
Sept. 13. It would be the town's fourth special election of the year.
The matter was intended to be on the November ballot, but expedience
became necessary when officials were told that the money, thought to
have been secured last fall, was in jeopardy.
State officials told town officials that waiting until November might
put the Groton request in peril because there would be more competition
at that point.
2011 - attempt to raise the school budget
Pomfret votes to keep selectmen elections the same
By ALISON SHEA, Norwich Bulletin
Posted Dec 31, 2010 @ 12:10 AM
Pomfret, Conn. —
The voting process will remain the same after voters resoundingly
rejected a measure to change the way selectmen are elected.
The proposal, which failed by a vote of 60-27, would have asked
selectmen to write a new ordinance to change town voting procedure to
allow three votes, rather than two, for the three-member Board of
Residents supported the existing method, where they cast one vote for a
candidate for first selectman, then a second for one of the candidates
for selectman. The top three vote-getters join the Board of Selectmen,
and the winner for first selectman becomes the town’s chief executive.
With each of the major parties putting up only two candidates — one for
first selectman and another for selectman — minority representation is
A petition filed Dec. 13 by resident Ford Fay and 19 others sought to
change the system to permit voting for all three candidates. Fay told
the crowd Thursday that it was their basic democratic right to vote for
all three if three were to be elected.
“It’s about democracy, where people have a full voice in the election
of their officers,” he said. “Without the full vote, we have a limited
Residents John Lewerenz and Nicholas Gardner echoed the sentiments of
many in their reasons for opposing the measure.
“I don’t see a reason to change,” Gardner said. “The way they’re
elected now seems to work.”
Much of the discussion about what such a change could do was
hypothetical Thursday, because no ordinance was before voters. The vote
was whether to ask selectmen to write an ordinance permitting the
The vagaries were part of the problem for selectmen, who said the lack
of a timeline or specifications for the ordinance they would be writing
could leave petitioners dissatisfied.
By Megan Bard
Published on 11/10/2008
Montville - Fourteen months after beginning its work, the town's
Charter Revision Commission has completed its review of the document
that governs how the town operates.
On Friday, commission Chairman Richard Wilson submitted to Town Clerk
Lisa Terry a proposal that includes 14 of 23 revisions originally
The Town Council could receive the recommendations at its meeting
tonight. If, over the coming months, the council approves all or some
of the revisions, voters will have the ultimate say. A vote on the
proposed changes could be held in November 2009...full story here.
AN EARLIER MONTVILLE STORY HERE