Resigning from the Manchester Charter Commission wasn’t a decision I came to lightly. I really struggled with it, but could see no alternative as the integrity of the proceedings had been compromised .
This letter is actually a revision of the original I sent. In that original, I accidentally pasted the commission clerk’s “interpretation” of one of our very important motions that I copied from the meeting minutes of meeting minutes of April 10. 2013. Once I realized that, I sent this revision with the motion actually made.
It’s important to note that I didn’t just rely on the written minutes. I reviewed the video of the meetings (the link is to the meeting on 4/10) to confirm that the clerk’s interpretation wasn’t the actual motion. Frankly, if the motion wasn’t clear, she should have made that known in the meeting and asked that the motion be clarified instead of “interpreting” the action after the fact. (NB: I’m not “blaming” the clerk. I think she did the best she could with a group that was ill managed by the chairman who clearly didn’t know how to run a meeting or care to do so well.)
Why is that important? Because interpretations have unintended consequences.
For example, in one of her “interpretations,” she decided that the commission intended to prevent the aldermen and school board members from obtaining the benefits available to “full time employees.” The failure of the motion to do that notwithstanding, it only actually increased the stipend of the aldermen and school board members without eliminating the benefits, there are now benefits available to part time employees. Moreover, the aldermen could make health benefits available to part time employees and by virtue of the “interpretation,” grant those benefits to themselves again.
Yes, words and process matter. My concern is that the city will find itself vulnerable to a law suit that could overturn the charter because of a faulty process that failed to actually adopt the preliminary report, transmitted changes that the commission didn’t approve and misled commissioners into signing a “Letter of Attestation” affirming that the material transmitted to the state was an accurate representation of it’s work, when it wasn’t.
The efforts of myself and commissioners Infantine and Pappas were scandalized by the majority and ignored by city and state officials who professed they were “helpless” to intervene in matters of “process.” How does one maintain integrity when all around are more interested in covering their anatomy than getting it right so as to limit the city’s vulnerability? Inasmuch as I couldn’t figure out how to do that, disassociation through resignation was the only option. I can’t make a bigger statement than that.
I will discuss this during tomorrow’s show. The letter is pretty clear, though you may need more background to complete the picture. Your comments are welcomed.
To those who supported me in the election, please know I am disappointed that I saw this as the only way to address the unfortunate situation the commission put the city in by its poor and sloppy proceedings. This decision was among the most difficult I’ve made in my public life.
Thank you for all the support you’ve offered both during the campaign and the commission’s proceedings. I am grateful and in your debt.