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Inconsistency in town charter needs revision


Over the course of this past year, there have been several incidences that have challenged the ethical credibility of our town government. While looking for answers, I have come across an inconsistency in our town charter that, if corrected, may help to restore some level of confidence in the process of governance of our town.

The charter specifies certain requirements for applicants for appointment to committees that are significant to the operation of the town. As an example, the requirements for the finance committee contain a clause that precludes members of political central committees, in other words town or state committees, from being appointed to a position on the board.

Further review of the charter reveals that there is no such restriction placed on applicants for Planning, Zoning or Licensing boards. This is particularly disturbing when you consider that the Finance Board is simply an advisory agency that has no direct control over the affairs of the town, whereas the other three boards I referenced are quasi-judicial in nature, and have direct impact on the affairs of the town and its citizens without oversight or control of the council.

I have brought this to the attention of the council with the intent of seeing a Charter Revision Commission seated to review and recommend the necessary changes to be included in a referendum at the next general election.

In consideration of the distractions they have been facing recently, I had chosen to hold fire on further discussion. As it seems there has been some movement on several fronts, I will be bringing this forward for presentation to the council in the near future, and hope that they will take appropriate action to seat a Charter Revision Commission in time to get this matter before the voters.

If necessary, the charter provides a tool for the citizens of the town to directly request revision by way of a petition containing signatures of 400 registered voters.

I have confidence that this council will recognize the importance of this change, and am further confident that a petition won’t be necessary.

Jack Armstrong

Westerly



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