UPDATED: Framingham City Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto of Community Preservation Ordinance

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Editor’s note: This report was updated several times on March 9, and last updated on March 13.

FRAMINGHAM – The City Council in a 10-1 voted to override Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s veto of the Council’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) ordinance.

The lone vote against the override was District 9 City Councilor Tracey Bryant.

This was the third time the Council had voted to override a veto by Mayor Spicer. This was the third veto of the Mayor since she took office in 2018.

Spicer, appearing at the Council meeting despite it not being on her public schedule, told Councilors she was 100% in favor of the Community Preservation Act, approved by voters in November 2020.

Mayor Spicer, who does not normally attend City Council meetings, told the Council she would “sign this particular order tomorrow if one sentence gets changed in the ordinance.”

The Mayor wanted the power to appoint four at-large members to the new Community Preservation Committee.

The Council’s ordinance approved unanimously in February, gave the Council the authority to appoint the four at-large members.

The City Solicitor Chris Petrini said the Mayor has the power per state law to appoint all multi-member boards.

If the Spicer administration wanted to challenge the ordinance the executive branch would need to file action in Superior Court.

The ordinance went into effective on Tuesday night, and was filed with the City Clerk officially on Friday, March 12.

Editor’s Note: A previous report noted the Administration could appeal the City Council’s decision to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office but that is only allowable with towns and not cities.

Under the ordinance, the Community Preservation Committee would include one member each from the Planning Board, Parks & Recreation Commission, Historical Commission, Conservation Commission and the Framingham Housing Authority. The Mayor appoints those multi-member boards & commissions.

District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini said in reviewing the Mayor’s appointments to those boards & commissions, he discovered 9 of the 29 appointees come from just one District.

“Only 5 are from the 01702 zip code and none are from Districts 8 or 9,” said Stefanini, who chairs the City Council’s rules & ordinances subcommittee

Besides the wording of the ordinance, some Councilors also raised concerns that the veto came after the 10-day deadline.

The Charter gives the Mayor has 10 days to sign an ordinance or veto it.

The City Council unanimously passed the CPA ordinance on Feb. 2

City Clerk Lisa Ferguson signed it February 4.

The ordinance was hand-delivered to the Mayor’s office February 5.

But on February 12, the Mayor’s office said it misplaced the ordinance and requested a new copy.

“On Thursday, February 18, 2021 it came to my attention that there were some questions regarding the process.  As of Thursday, the City Clerk assumed the matter had become effective because it had been more than 10 days with no Mayoral action.  This is the outcome as per the charter, if no action is taken,” wrote Council George P. King Jr. to the City Council last month.

The Mayor officially vetoed the CPA ordinance on Feb. 19.

Petrini told the Council that the Mayor never officially received the ordinance until February 12.

King in a memo to the full Council last month wrote “However, the Mayor’s office claims it did not receive the “official” version of the order until a week later on Friday, February 12th.  This is where the confusion starts.  It became apparent through review of the process, that our former executive assistant had a practice of bringing orders to the Mayor for their review for language approval before they were “officially” submitted.  This is improper as the executive branch should not be approving or altering the language of legislative orders.  This practice was not known or endorsed by me, nor Dennis Giombetti as the previous chair.”

“When this particular order was presented on Friday, February 5, 2021 it may have been assumed by the Mayor’s office they were in the ‘unofficial’ phase.  However, there appears to be little doubt the order was delivered on or about the 5th, because there is an email on Monday, February 8th from our Executive Assistant to the Mayor’s Executive Assistant asking about the order and whether the language was approved,” wrote King to the full City Council, in an email on February 20.. “Obviously by the existence of that email, the order was indeed there on Monday, February 8th, and most likely the Friday before on February 5th.  However, even if the order was delivered the morning of the 8th, it was clearly there.  Given that best case scenario timing, the tenth day was Thursday, February 18th.   That is the latest the tenth day could be.  In the more plausible scenario that the order was there on the 5th, the tenth day was Monday, February 15th.  In either of these scenarios the order became law, according to the charter by inaction of the Mayor, before her veto was notified on February 19.”

City Council Chair King, in an email to the full City Council on Feb. 20 wrote that ” the opinion of the City Solicitor was requested on Thursday, February 18th, and he responded on the morning of the 19. He had a lengthy review, and I can forward the email separately, but his basic position is that there is no solid evidence of the order being there until February 12th, which is the day the Mayor’s office asked for an another copy.  He is relying on a stamped copy as the point of proof, as opposed to the email of the 8th or the Clerk’s attestation as to when the order was there.  The Solicitor’s opinion that the veto was timely, was followed four hours later by the veto itself on February 19.”

editor

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