The Framingham Charter Commission at its meeting on Monday, May 2, voted 6- 3 not to consider looking at Town Meeting forms of government as its starts to invite communities in to speak before the Commission on what works and what does not work.
The minority vote was Jason Smith, Adam Blumer, and Teri Banerjee.
Commission Chair Valerie Mulvey noted that eight of the nine Commissioners went on record to support a city form of government before they were elected on March 29. The lone Commissioner who supported a Town Meeting form of government was Banerjee.
“We told the public we would research everything,” said Smith at the Monday night meeting. “If we don’t do that, we have done an injustice.”
“I believe from my heart, we are studying an alternative form of government,” said Commissioner Dennis Cardiff. “That alternative form of government is not a Town Meeting form of government. ”
Cardiff said the only alternative form of government is one of the six forms of city government.
“I like the city form of government. I have made that very clear,” said Blumer.
“But I am not going to close the door on looking at what we can learn from town government,” added Blumer.
“I think Town Meeting has had its ample opportunity over the entire time in history to fix iteself and has chosen not to,” said Cardiff.
“We told the public we would open all doors,” said Smith.
Banerjee made a motion to invite Plymouth or Brookline in to the Commission, to discuss its Town Meeting form of government.
Audience member Linda Dunbrack suggested if Plymouth was being considered, that maybe the Commission could invite someone from its Charter Commission, as that Commission debated a mayor form, but eventually stayed with a Town Meeting form.
Commissioner John Stefanini noted that Plymouth’s Town Meeting has a minimum quorum of two-thirds,which would be tough for Framingham to meet currently.
Framingham presently elects 12 Town Meeting members for each of 18 Precincts. Framingham’s quorum is 80 members.
“Regardless of our individual preferences,” Blumer said the Commission should consider looking at one town form of government.
“Our Town Meeting is inefficient, and not working,” said Stefanini.
“I ran for this Commission based on the idea that town meeting does not work,” said Commissioner Janet Leombruno.
“I need to advocate for some form of Town Meeting,” said Banerjee.
“I like the Franklin model,” said Commissioner George King, who added Town Meeting has outlived its efficiency in Framingham.
King said given the Commission’s tight schedule, he agreed it was best to look at alternative forms of government.
“I know it looks like we are going to go forward with a City form of government,” but Banerjee said she was worried if voters reject the city charter, the town is “back to square one” as the Commission did not look at other Town options.
“There may be efficiencies or tricks” we can learn from a Town Meeting form of government,” said Blumer who said he pledged to be “open-minded” as a Commissioner.
The Commission is looking at inviting mayors or councilors from Marlborough, Waltham, Lowell, Braintree, Newton, Franklin and Weymouth.