It was quite a shock to hear this morning that the petition submitted to override the home rule petition vote of the Fall River City Council would have no effect. The Mayor is looking to change the way fire chiefs are hired in Fall River. Although the council voted to send the measure to Boston, over 7,000 certified voters signed a petition to override the council's actions.
Basically, it's the opinion of Assistant Corporation Counsel John J. Coughlin, and of the Mayor that "... You can’t have a referendum petition against a home rule petition".
Now here's the problem. I agree with the city's position. You can't have a referendum petition against a home rule petition. However, in my opinion, the referendum petition isn't against the home rule petition. It's against the council vote. I admittedly am no lawyer but from reading the wording of the petition and of the section of law the petitioners referenced I don't see this as being against the home rule petition. Again, my legal knowledge consists of a few seasons of Boston Legal but to make sure I'm not spouting absolute crap here, I have reviewed this with a friend with a legal background. The verdict? My friend says my take on this is right on target. No surprise but Bob Camara, a district fire chief who led the petition drive, feels the same way, and backed by the opinion of the law firm Rossman & Rossman this could be headed for litigation.
How does the law firm Rossman & Rossman arrive at one conclusion that seems so clear that even a local blogger can see it, yet the city's legal council arrive at a different conclusion? Could this be some sort of political roadblock? A legal maneuver simply used to buy enough time for the home rule petition to make its way through the legal process in Boston? Considering how this was forcibly maneuvered through our City Council, I can't help but wonder.