Thursday, May 3, 2012

Massachusetts: Judge hears arguments on Bridgewater recall

Excellent article here by Rebecca Hyman on the legal arguments surrounding the Bridgewater Town Council recall. A couple of key points:

As I mentioned earlier, the two Councilors facing the recall are claiming that the law was written before the Town Council existed and includes the defunct Board of Selectmen. Their argument is that the recall was not included in the new charter. The other major arguments is similar to one we saw played out in Jasper, Texas -- the recall allows signatures from everyone in the town to count, even though the officials are elected on a district-based system. Once again, this seems to be a case of not considering the recall when adopting new rules.

Judge Cosgrove seemed to take a big statement in favor of the councilors first argument, noting:
 “It does strike me that a recall election is a fairly significant aspect of the whole governing scheme involving great expense to the town, expenditure of effort on the part of town officials and disruption of the normal electoral process,” Cosgrove told Costello
“It seems like a pretty significant omission when you’re adopting a new charter to simply leave it out without any reference to it and then say it just carries over from the prior form of government,” Cosgrove said.

As to the second point:

Most glaringly, he said, the recall law states in “clear and unambiguous language” that recall petitions must be signed by 10 percent of registered voters of the town. Adams did not have the authority to re-interpret that to mean 10 percent of the voters in a district, Pignone said.

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