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Written by Al Norman   
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
The letter below was sent to the Greenfield Town Council. According to the Town Council Secretary, the President has referred it to the Chairs Committee, and from there it will go to another committee, etc. This means that consideration by the Town Council of giving the voters of Greenfield a chance to elect an At Large Councilor in November, instead of someone chosen by 11 people for a term that runs until June, 2009, will not be taken up until the June Town Council meeting at the earliest. The General Court, which is likely to adjourn for the summer in early July, would have little opportunity to give Greenfield approval to put this seat on the November ballot already scheduled. After three weeks, there has been no reply to this letter, a copy of which was emailed to The Recorder, which dropped this subject quicker than you can say “cronyism.”

Al Norman
21 Grinnell St., Greenfield, MA 01301

April 8, 2008

Mark Maloney
President, Greenfield Town Council
Town Hall
Greenfield, MA 01301

Dear President Maloney,

I am writing to request that the Greenfield Town Council petition the General Court as soon as possible for approval to include an At-Large Town Council seat in the November, 2008 statewide election.

The clear intent of Section 2-11 of the Town Charter was to encourage the expeditious filling of any vacancy on the Town Council. Any vacancy occurring within 90 days of an election was supposed to be left vacant, and filled at the next Annual Town Election. The framers of the Charter apparently did not realize that state law has its own timetable for the gathering and filing of nomination papers. A community that allows preliminary elections, as Greenfield does, has an even longer timetable for collecting signatures.

Section 2-11 of the Charter is thus defective, and needs to be rewritten. But there can be no quarrel about its intent: vacancies---whether within 90 days of the next election or not---are to be filled at the “next Annual Town Election.” Until section 2-11 is cured, it goes against the intent of the Charter to allow anyone to fill a 15 month appointed seat.

My request for a November election for the At Large seat left vacant by the resignation of Mark Odato, has nothing to do with the person appointed to fill that seat. It has everything to do with allowing the voters of Greenfield to have their election for all vacancies, and in a timely manner.

I therefore request that you petition the General Court for special legislation to add this At Large seat to the November, 2008 voter’s ballot. There is plenty of time now to make this request, and it will uphold the right of voters to be represented by people they elect. There should be no added cost to this request, since an election is already scheduled for November.

I am prepared to help you lobby for this legislation in Boston, and I am prepared to be the first person to sign Mr. Jack Mason’s nomination papers if he chooses to run this fall.

I would not have had to make this request if Section 2-11 were not flawed. But as written, it denies voters a timely election process. Let the voters of Greenfield choose their representatives on the Council.


Al Norman

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