We, The People

September 26, 2020

On September 21, 2020 the Town of Essex Selectboard met in regular session to continue its discussion on the Proposed Merger Charter. Most noteworthy was the discussion on adoption of ordinances IF the Village and Town merger is approved by voters.

As you may have already read or heard, the Village has warned a Merger vote for November 03. However, the Town Selectboard is still working on merger issues and is not planning to warn a vote until March 2021.

What impact might this have, you ask?

 

The vote by Village residents has no impact whatsoever until there is a Town vote. The analogy is as if a groom shows up at the church for his wedding but the bride doesn’t show. The wedding of the two cannot take place until the bride shows up. We will see if that happens in March 2021.

The follow on discussion pertained to procedures for the merged Selectboard to follow for ordinance changes.

 

Currently the Town has an ordinance adoption procedure in its charter that requires two public hearings which allows residents to have face to face interaction with the Selectboard on important issues.

On the other hand, the Village charter defaults to what the State Statutes specify in 24 V.S.A. § 1972 which requires no public hearing - just publishing the ordinance. If you disapprove of the ordinance you have to petition for 5% of registered voters within 44 days in order to force a special meeting and vote. No face to face interaction between Village Trustees and voters.

The Village has proposed going with State Law on ordinance adoption and at this meeting the Selectboard acquiesced to follow suit with the Trustees.

 

There was considerable debate amongst Selectboard members. A few sided with residents' ability to bring their concerns before the Selectboard, and a few were more concerned in how this process would affect the Selectboard in their decision making process.

 

In the latter case, they were more concerned about how it would affect them rather than how it would affect you, the resident and taxpayer. Selectboard member Patrick Murray lamented how he had to listen to residents at multiple firearms ordinance meetings.

If the above procedure remains in the proposed merger charter and is then pass by voters of the Village and Town, the residents of Essex will lose the ability to publicly express their concerns before the Selectboard.

Emails and phone calls are not nearly as effective as a multitude assembled to voice their concern.

This is nothing more than government attempting to take control of your life because they think they know better than you do. You are expected to sit down, shut up and pay your taxes. If the procedures are not specified in the Merger Charter the Selectboard is under no compulsion to follow anything but State law.

As of now you still have a voice and in March you will have a choice. Make it known before it’s too late.

In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, he said “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

What happened to We the People?

Brad Kennison