Early this morning former Cohasset town manager Mike Coughlin sent this testimony regarding H3486 – Cohasset’s Amended Town Manager Act – to Representative Sara Peake, who is chairman of the Committee on Municipalities & Regional Government. This Committee is holding a hearing at the State House Tuesday, July 23rd at 10 a.m. in Room 1-A. There are over 25 bills being heard. Cohasset is No. 24 out of 25.
As you are aware as a former Cohasset Town Manager, I am opposed to H 3486 which is set for a hearing before your committee on July 23rd.
One of the principle reasons is because passage of H 3486 runs contrary to the recent February 2013 report of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on Cohasset.
While deferential to local initiatives the DOR Division of Local Services warned about the narrow scope and incremental approach used with respect to H 3486. As the report stated:
While we are mindful of the work of the current Government Study Committee and their efforts to modify the Town Manager Act,
We feel that the town would benefit from a broader look at government structure…
We recommend that local officials begin working toward the adoption of a town charter
The DOR in commenting on the approach used in Cohasset, namely the piecemeal approach, reasoned:
The Choice of a Charter as a vehicle for change reflects a decision to access all of municipal government rather than address individual aspects of management through incremental adjustment
Indeed, H 3486 is primarily focused on one department with the intention to come back to the General Court on what could be a virtual annual basis. As the DOR further reasoned
Charters discourage frequent or frivolous amendments and ensure long term stability
The General Court should fully consider the DOR report in its deliberations and be cognizant that the present act is being legally challenged in three separate venues. The present act has never been tested in court and judicial rulings could affect the legality
of H 3486. In any event, it is rare and perhaps symbolic of the process used in Cohasset that a Town Manager, a police chief and a Public Works Director are all suing the town at the same town. In all due respect- this is not stability.
This leads to the point about local approval. Throughout our history, laws have been passed by a majority which have later been found to be an affront to our democratic principles. Many times a vocal minority has turned to the courts and to the legislature to point illegalities and to advocate for justice. Chief Deluca, Director Brennan and myself are in such a position. Our fight may not be as important as the fight against segregation or to overturn DOMA but the point is the same. Those proclaiming to represent the will of the people many times do not represent the true majority. We hope the committee will recognize that fact as it relates to H 3486.
Michael J Coughlin© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed