Greetings East Enders and Community-at-Large:
Forty years have come and gone since the Town Election on May 5, 1980 to vote on the ballot question to approve the Council-Manager form of government for the City Known as the Town of Watertown. Should the management of Watertown’s affairs continue as written in the Watertown Home Rule Charter (Charter)? Do we have transparency and accountability to the electorate? Do we need minor or major changes; or none at all?
(See the Charter here : https://ecode360.com/36825791)
According to Article 8, Section 8-1 of the Charter; the Town Council shall provide for a review of the Charter, in every year ending in a zero/ten years. On Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 6:00 P.M., via remote access, the Charter Review Committee will discuss the pros and cons, and vote on the current Council-Manager, versus Mayor-Council forms of government.
At a Town Election, held in May, 1979, the nine persons, whose names appear below, were elected to serve as a Charter Commission to “frame a charter” for the Town of Watertown.
Louis P. Andrews, Chairman; Brian A. McDonald, Vice-Chairman; Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney, Clerk; John S. Airasian, Robert H. Ford; Richard E. Mastrangelo; Joseph O’Reilly, Jr.; Pasquale Scalfani and Clyde L. Younger
In 1980, the vote of the Charter Commission was not unanimous in support of the new Charter.
The only consensus was a need to replace the Representative Town Meeting form of government. Two of the nine members, Richard E. Mastrangelo and Joseph O’Reilly, Jr. wrote the minority reports and declined to sign the Final Report.
Mr. Mastrangelo wrote: “The proposed Charter puts the power of government in a full-time appointed executive who will himself appoint most of the vital town officials – in many instances without even requiring ratification of those appointments by the legislative body, the new Town Council.”
Mr. O’Reilly wrote: “The council usurps the voters rights in electing its executive and sets itself up as both a legislative and executive body. My greatest fear is that a professional in the management of cities will also be an authority in the management of part time councils. Such a professional could have a term of office lasting longer than the people of Watertown might wish.”
The concurring reports, written by Robert M. Ford and Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney expressed desires for more checks and balances with accountability to the electorate. The collective opinions were not united.
Mr. Ford wrote: “No member of the Charter Commission is totally happy with our Final offering. But this is the process that eventually leads to improvement.”
Mrs. Devaney wrote: “It is difficult to concur with a Charter that I do not fully endorse; however, the Charter is indeed a step toward a progressive Watertown.”
Take the initiative to participate in the process. Has the Charter served us well for forty years? Although not perfect; the accomplishments are evident. Thank you.
Angeline Maria B. Kounelis
District A, East End, Town Councilor