The statement below was read on behalf of LWVN at Wednesday’s Newton Charter Commission Public Hearing:
The League of Women Voters of Newton (LWVN) would like to express deep thanks to each and every member of the Newton Charter Commission for their tireless dedication. It took years to collect the signatures needed to review the city charter, yet in 16 months, the Charter Commission managed to research, evaluate, discuss, debate and decide on recommended improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of our city government. This was indeed an enormous task, both in terms of scope and importance, that required an untold number of hours.
Our observers witnessed thorough discussions on points major and minor. We heard discussion on the general structure of government, as well on the finer points of using “may” or “will.” Decisions were revisited more than once when comments from voters led the Charter Commission to re-open discussion. LWVN believes that the varied comments from the public were treated respectfully and seriously, and that a wide set of viewpoints have been represented and considered.
We also believe that the process was open and transparent. The Charter Commission made ample time for public comment, encouraged emails to the commission, and communicated regularly to an email list that was open to all. Members of the Charter Commission responded on blogs, met with people individually, and visited local groups when invited. It is difficult to imagine how much more the group could have done to respond and reach out to the community.
LWVN is still in the process of evaluating the proposed recommendations in light of our own 2010 charter study and expect to vote whether or not to support the proposal in the coming month. Nevertheless, we encourage everyone to recognize the hard work and commitment these nine Newton residents have shown to our community. Now it is our turn to review the recommendations with the same thoughtfulness and respect that the Charter Commission showed us.