SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

I want to thank Mr. Crawford for giving me the opportunity to readdress
the issue of a majority of the Selectmen ignoring the wishes of the Legislative Branch [Town Meeting] with
respect to Market Street signage and more recently repeated by denying the Town Meeting’s
request for a comparative budget presentation. In response to Mr. Crawford’s March 19
letter, I would reoffer the following lettertotheeditor
which I wrote in May of 2014 along with some further comments. While my opinion applied to the Market Street signage issue, the philosophy applies equally to the disregard of Town Meeting’s wishes concerning Art. 23.
“THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH VS THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF LYNNFIELD
GOVERNMENT In my opinion, with its recent myopic 2 to 1 vote on naming a paper street “Market Street” the
Board of Selectmen made a very serious error – not so much on the direct issue of the Street
naming/signage but, more importantly, on the big picture issue of equal respect/balance
between the Executive [Board of Selectmen] and Legislative [Town Meeting] branches of our
local government. The Selectmen started the process by asking Town Meeting to vote on the
Market Street issue and the Town Meeting voted it down. If the Selectmen have found a
better solution, given the Town Meeting no vote, and in the absence of any evidence of
urgency, the issue should go again before Town Meeting. No one knows exactly why the
Town Meeting voted as it did and, therefore, out of courtesy if nothing else, but more
importantly to protect the fabric of our check and balance system of government, the issue
could/should have been approved by the Selectmen subject to ratification by Town Meeting in
October. That way the outcome would be certain, the will of the people would have been
preserved whatever the final outcome, and the perception that the Board of Selectmen can
unilaterally overrule Town Meeting would not exist. The action of the Selectmen diminishes
Town Meeting and discourages citizens from attending. Why should they if their votes don’t
count anyway? I think it is a sad day for Lynnfield with detrimental longterm
ramifications that perhaps only the ballot box can mend.” [end of May 2014 lettertoeditor]
Re: Article 23 Comparative Budget Our Town Charter provides the following at Section 774:
“The Board of Selectmen shall be responsible for presenting both the operating budget and the capital improvements program to the first session of the Town Meeting”. Contrary to what Mr. Crawford claims, it does not
say the Selectmen shall present “a” budget to Town Meeting. However, irrespective of
whether one wants to nitpick over the meaning of “a” vs “the”, more importantly, Charter
Section 141 states “The powers of the town under this charter shall be construed liberally in
favor of the town , and the specific mention of particular powers in the charter shall not be
construed as limiting in any measure the general powers of the town as stated in this
chapter.” Further, there does not appear to be any Charter prohibition against a budget
proposal incorporating multiple alternatives suggesting the Selectmen have discretion as to
the format of the budget. One would think, as representatives of the people, that the
Selectmen would choose to interpret the Charter liberally in the broadest sense as instructed
by Section 141 and and embrace the wishes of the Town rather than trying to find a narrow
way to justify disregarding the Town Meeting’s advisory vote. There is precedent for dual
budgets in Lynnfield. When past politically independent Finance Committees have disagreed
with the Selectmen’s budget they have presented an alternate of their own for Town Meeting
consideration. Mr. Crawford’s comment about the disastrous effects [“…extremely detrimental…requiring
many layoffs and reductions in services…”] of a budget in the absence of a 2 1/2% increase
when in fact Lynnfield enjoyed an additional $2 Million+ increase in revenue due to Market
Street new growth a number far in excess of the $821K, 2 1/2% increase seems
ludicrous and disingenuous unless he does not fully understand our Town finances.
It is also interesting to note that Mr. Crawford conferred with his Beacon Hill friend Secretary
of State Galvin about this matter. Beyond the fact that it is not clear that the Secretary of
State, as archivist for Charter records, has any authority to interpret Town Charters that’s
usually up to the Courts Mr.Galvin is a person that the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and
Patriot Ledger labelled as hostile to transparency and openness with regards to Public Record
Requests in their recent “Sunshine” series of Articles. If true, is it any surprise Mr. Galvin
would continue the practice of preventing access to expanded public interest information in
the form of comparative financial budgets? Furthermore, as a complete outsider, does Mr.
Galvin’s interloping concurrence that “…only a single budget should be presented at Town
Meeting…”, have any place, meaning or weight in our local Lynnfield dialogue? Do we really
want Beacon Hill opinions influencing our local affairs?
All this disrespectful diminishment of Town Meeting by the Selectmen has to stop. We need a
new look and modus operandi in our local government. We do not need more Beacon Hill
influences in Lynnfield Secretary Galvin’s attempt is more than enough. I urge you to change
and improve our governmental landscape by voting with me to elect Katy Shea Selectman on
April 13, 2015.
David Miller

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