Saturday, May 24, 2008

Overturning the City Council Vote

A full week has gone by since the special meeting of the Fall River City Council. As I'm sure you all know by now, the council passed a motion to change the Fire Chief from a Civil Service position to a contract position. Whether or not this change has merit has become secondary. What is now the issue is just how the council went about passing this to send up to Beacon Hill.

When this first came up for a vote on Tuesday May 13th, it did so after hours of debate and hours of public input. The vast majority spoke out against this change. Still this would have passed if not for a procedural objection by Councilor Steve Camara. The City Council President responded to this by setting up a special meeting for that Friday the 16th. Only a 48 hour notification law prevented him from doing it any sooner. In scheduling the meeting President Joe Camara chose a time that was an inconvenience to some and a burden to others. He chose a venue, a special meeting, that would not allow for public input. In his effort to rush this through there wasn't even any effort made to accommodate Councilor Steve Camara who would be unable to attend because of a death in his family.

The City Council may have followed the letter of the law but they did not follow the spirit of democracy. When confronted with voices who objected they ignored them. When Councilor Camara's procedural objection gave them time to reconsider they plunged ahead.

If the outcome of the Fire Chief means nothing to you, the process should. Too often we complain about the actions of those who represent us in government but do nothing about it. Here is your chance to do something about it.

On Thursday a petition drive was launched to overturn the vote of the City Council. For this to succeed 12% of the voters of this city must sign. This means that over 6,000 signatures are needed. Time is ticking away. The petition must be submitted in 20 days from the council vote, which means there are just 12 days left. If you support this effort you must be involved. Copies of the petition can be found on the Fall River Community blog. I urge you to visit that blog to find out about organized efforts that are being made to collect signatures, and to distribute and collect petitions.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." - Thomas Jefferson

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