Highlights from Joint Committee on Elections Laws, Bill H04471

Rough notes from today's three to five hearing on Beacon Hill.

Rought notes from the discussion…….

Tom Conroy presents that we will hear two sides of the issues.

Panel asks for elected officials who want to speak.


Selectmen Obrien, speaking as a citizen, not as a selectmen, requests that this be sent back to town meeting for study. Why? Born out of a special town meeting from a citizen of Framingham. The posting for town meeting was only 17 days.  The short posting prevented town citizens from deliberating.

The debate was only 75 minutes with only two people presenting. Out of 20 spekers in total, only 18 spoke to amendments.  The main motion itself only received 5 minutes of discussion. The moderator failed to allow for sufficient discussion.  The last time we looked to change our charter we had multiple committees and discussion. Larry leaves a copy of the town meeting minutes and his prepared remarks.

Other elected officials asked to speak. Haarde up,


I was not planning on speaking. Topic has been researched, debated and studied in Subdury since the 1950s. It was brought up 2.5 years and the town said it needed to study. Nothing happened. Citizens in town of Sudbury lost patience and took action.  

Measure was voted, overwhelming vote, 700 members, at town meeting, in 1994 we had 350 people. Two amendments, one to study and one to townwide debate defeated.  It has been studied.

Next – they ask three people in favor, three opposed

Mike Troiano, For.  Dan Depompei, For

Stan Kaplan, opposed

Art Gutch Opposed


Request made on five prior occasions. 135 of other towns have gone from 3 to 5.  None have gone back.  Current selectmen and insiders oppose the change as it will dilute their power. In 2010, they said idea not fully vetted. Grass roots measure to put up an article at town meeting in September.  At the meeting, the measure passed overwhelmingly.  Today , we find the same thing we found since 2010. The same old argument “What is the rush?”  We were paralyzed in the spring based on the recusal of our chairmen.

This is a long way from seminal change. Town has 92 departments and committees.  We have asked people on these committees when the last time their selectmen showed up, they didn’t know. We have a  problem in our town. A concentration in two few for too long, the need for fresh perspective. What we really want is more representation.

The very foundation of town meeting argument is the one which builds the most support is theoretically the best one for the town. Yet here we are today, once again trying to get this blocked.


Poor behavior after town meeting in May that coalesced and brought this group. Many of us believe this change is not as important as it was years ago.

The change does not change structure, does not create conflict, it does not change the manner in which anyone is appointed. It does not change general provisions. Some residents question impact on by-laws. Our by-laws are independent. There is no conflict. I request you approve this. If however, there is doubt, then ask for a change, but if you do this, make the change immediate.


I do not yet know a 3 member BOS or 5 member BOS is right. I simply don’t have all the facts, nor do I have the recommendations from a non-partisan group.  135 adoptions to the charter, 34D, the legislature. Changing the town’s charter should be a deliberative process.  In 1994, we changed the process to a cooperative.   So why now should Sudbury voters be compelled to change our charter at a town meeting when only 6% of town voters were present when nearly x thousand residents were not present. I am not objecting to the number of selectmen, I am objecting to the process.  House rule xxx is nothing but a legal loophole. This should be brought before an annual town meeting for all to decide. I ask for the committee to refer back to the town for a nine member board.


I am usually an observer in town politics. My wife Lisa Gutch would have liked to be here, but could not. Not only is there is an issue with the voters, but also the volunteers in our town.  We have had a period of time in Sudbury with a period of divisiveness. But even with this, everyone says it is a great town. How did it happen? We have a number of folks running the town and they have been doing a great job.

The reason is that it gets people to vote.  This doesn’t happen at a special town meeting. Government is not perfect.  In Sudbury more an agenda of replacement over substance. Have any of you ever seen a town charter change at a special election? 

Thrusting this bill through a crack in the process. A select few were lured by friends to vote at a town meeting. We need to have a deliberative discussion.  The second thing I noticed at town meeting, it almost came across to me as though it were a flash voter mob.  Many people attended town meeting just to make one vote. For someone who has been involved in town meeting, it was because friends told them to go.

In wrapping this up, please make a deliberative decision.


I wanted to hear Mr. Obrien before I speak. This thing is broken. The blue ribbon panels. I grew up in Hudson.  Tells a humorous story about Celucci. There was transparency.

We have two selectmen working against the interest of one.  LS school committee, you can’t get elected without approval by Lincoln board. These panels that Mr. Kaplan talks about will be stacked. When there was murder at the high school, we never learned what happened form that panel.  I am tired of kicking the can down the road.


40 year resident.  Concept of chapter 43B Mr. Kaplan.  Mr. Abrams goes into discussion about 1994 chapter 43B similar to what we heard at town meeting,  We normally have about 300 people at town meeting.  We had 700 people.  With regards to town meeting, it was very clear to the moderator after both amendments failed, that it was time to vote.


32 year resident of town Sudbury. Serve on council on aging. Will of people at town meeting. Amazing how many things pass at town meeting, but fail at town election. People vote in our town, 85% at more recent election.

The special taxing on aging, passed unanimously at town meeting, then the committee sent it back to the town for study and town wide vote.


Concerned citizen of Sudbury. Beautiful town, excellent. Going 3 – 5 is a major change to town government.  This is an informal session. As you can see today. A little background, there is a group in town interested in lowered taxes without regard to little else. Three years ago, they won a seat. They have also challenged incumbent selectmen and they lost both elections. Frustrated by not getting elected, they put the article before you.  People can be on a board and make it difficult. They used a facebook page, got all their friends.  What is the rush. 


I was at the table, so no notes. But Siobhan and Pat had great things to say.

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Sudburytoo November 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I am getting tired of Gutch and Gutch pretending to be the spokespersons for all things Sudbury. " A select few were lured" Art and Lisa, the hall was packed. It was not a few and the vote was overwhelming. Go back to being Larry's campaign manager. He is going to need one.
kyle mccarthy November 28, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Bryan S November 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Make your voice heard today on 3 to 5 with our state representatives regardless of what side of the issue you are on. My letter and email addresses for the committee members can be found here: http://sudburyvision.ning.com/profiles/blogs/make-your-voice-heard-on-3-to-5-selectmen-today
Rob F November 29, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I know that I, personally, disagree with people who see all taxes as evil and want to lower taxes regardless of what it costs the town in terms of the services and quality of life it offers. I believe that this is what Ms. Offner is talking about. However, I cannot stress enough that I DO NOT KNOW THIS FOR CERTAIN. I can only assume things based on what she (and her husband) have written. I will not present my thoughts or opinions about them as fact.
Rob F November 29, 2012 at 02:50 AM
To respond to Karoles' first question: the reason no-one is talking about Mr. Haarde is that he did his job as a member of the BOS - he spoke in favor of the measure passed by the legitimate legislative body of the town. When a member of the BOS speaks, it is not realistic to expect him to be able to express one opinion as a member and another as a private citizen. Perhaps in an ideal world, Mr. O'Brien could speak against the measure while supporting it as Chairman O'Brien, but this is not an ideal world, and his opposition carries the weight of his Chairmanship whether he is speaking as Mr. or Chairman. Therefore it was his duty to speak either in favor of the measure or not at all. Mr. Haarde spoke in favor of the measure, as a member of the BOS should.


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