In May of 2009, the League launched a study of Newton’s charter. The last formal charter study was in 1966, so another review was overdue. While many individuals in Newton have strong opinions about the structure of its government, a guiding principle of the study was to avoid starting with conclusions.
The study undertook to review the branches of government, the electoral process, and the key resources of the city (financial, human, and land resources), whether presently governed by the charter or not, and to compare our city to other models. The next step was to consider whether our city is served by our current model, or whether a change is recommended. We looked beyond just changes to the charter and examined various ways to improve the operation of our city government.
We have concluded that the League could benefit by adding support positions in the Government section of our Local Program. These support positions would prepare the League for meaningful action in several ways, such as
- Lobbying a charter commission, to the extent that one is elected (which could happen without League support)
- Lobbying for certain changes to the charter via home rule petition
- Supporting or opposing an ordinance related to a League position
- Supporting or introducing a change in the administrative code
Few, if any, of the changes recommended by the study were without dissenting opinions.
– from the Introduction to the final report of Charter Study.
- Project Overview: Notes for the January 13 Topic Meeting (Rhanna Kidwell)
- How to do a Local League Study
- Tips for Taking Consensus (LWV US)
- LWVUS President Wilson Consensus Remarks
- Charter Study Template (LWVN’s Charter Study Committee)
- Bibliography. Links to a variety of useful articles and websites
- Articles – full text:
- Several Options Exist for Changing Local Government Structures, by Marilyn Contreas, from the MMA’s Municipal Advocate, Vol. 22, Issue 2
- What is Home Rule? City and Town, Vol. 22, No. 7, Nov. 2009
- A Time for Change El Paso Adopts the Council-Manager Form, National Civic Review, Fall 2005
- Dispelling the Myth of Home Rule: Local Power in Greater Boston, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, Cambridge, MA
From Marilyn Contreas, senior program and policy analyst at the Department of Housing and Community Development
- MA City charters available online
- Charter Summaries of Home Rule Charter Cities
- City Council Composition Summary
Prior Newton Charter Study and Commission
- Interview with Florence Rubin, by John Stewart, May 2007
- 1965 LWVN Draft Resolution
- 1966 BOA Legislative Committee Report
- 1967 LWVN Charter Study Report
- 1970 Charter Commission Final Report
Other Communities’ Charter Study Process
Electoral Process Subcommittee
- Draft of fact findings. Comparison of Newton’s electoral process to Model City Charter and selected comparable communities, Dec. 2009
Education Subcommittee Resources
- Education Laws and Regulations
- MASC (MA Assoc of School Committees)
Legislative Committee Resources
- January 1971: Efficiency Committee Report (effort to reduce “time spent in Board meetings”)
- September 1987: Recommendation on Reorganization of the Offices of City Clerk and Clerk of the Board of Aldermen, Ald. Susan Basham.
- September, 1995: Historical Compendium, City of Newton Legislative Branch, 1874 – 1995, compiled by Robert Capeless.
- February 2005: Blue Ribbon Commission on Compensation of Elected Officials in Newton
- Feburary 2006: Proposal to reduce size of Board of Aldermen:
- January 2007: Survey conducted by Ken Parker for Long Range Planning Committee re: Board of Aldermen