LETTER: Resident Petition Asks Town to Hire Outside Group to Help with Charter Review

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Charlie Breitrose

Watertown's City Hall.

Watertown’s Town Hall.

Dear Watertown Citizens,

This year, our city will have the opportunity to review how our government works and make constructive changes to our Town Charter, a chance that comes only once every 10 years. As a city in Massachusetts (we are legally “the city of the town of Watertown”), we have two basic choices of government: mayor/council or town manager/council. Within those two forms, however, there are many ways to set the governing details. Whether we want it to or not, Watertown will become a very different town in the next 10 years. Do we want more control over how this happens?

Watertown has experienced rapid growth over the last 10 years, which has laid bare some serious problems in our governing model. While we understand and welcome smart growth, many long-time residents are frustrated with the lack of long-term planning, transparency and follow-through. There is a dearth of expertise; we need dedicated professionals who bring relevant experience and creative solutions to today’s problems.

We believe that the town needs outside expertise to do the Charter Review, so that the Council AND the public understands all our options. While we greatly appreciate the time and service that our Town Councilors give, still none of our them have the expertise to lead the charter review in the exploratory direction it needs to go. The Collins Institute at UMass specializes in helping cities and towns around Massachusetts rethink their charters. They are knowledgable about all the charters in Massachusetts and we need them. We have the money to cover this expense; we can’t afford not to get help.

By signing this petition, you will be on record for supporting:

  • a comprehensive, thoughtful and thorough review of the town charter in 2020
  • the hiring of a knowledgable third party entity, like the Collins Institute at UMass, to help with this process
  • changes to our form of government if they are shown to be the best way forward for Watertown

Please sign at http://tiny.cc/WatertownCharter

Thank you,

Marcia Ciro
Rena Baskin
Sarah Ryan

4 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Petition Asks Town to Hire Outside Group to Help with Charter Review

  1. The Collins group sounds good, but there must be other groups as well.
    How will one be chosen?
    What’s the criteria?
    How will they be vetted to determine experience, bias, cost, etc.?
    Obviously- a committee will need to be set up to do it.

    • The Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at U. Mass was established by our own state government to help our governments work better. It is dedicated to improving efficiency, effectiveness, governance, and accountability at all levels of government, with a particular focus on local and state governments. The Center’s aim is to enable public entities to provide high-quality services to the people they serve on a sustainable basis, and is there to explain options that are easily overlooked or misunderstood. Their goal is to help us improve efficiency, effectiveness, governance & accountability. I took this information from their website. Google them to learn more. Seems to me there is no other entity that could be more qualified than this one, set up by and for our own state.

  2. I think Black Lives Matter should do the review so it can determine whether Watertown is living up to its obligations to its Black residents.

  3. Marcia, Rena and Sarah are absolutely correct. Our present form of government has, in recent years, shown many weaknesses, particularly in the realm of accountability. A thorough and vigorous charter review charged with finding the best structure to help Watertown meet the tough challenges ahead is essential. Now is not the time for a rubber stamp.

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