Vote for Tom Wrynn for Planning Board

The not-in-my-backyard approach to managing growth is at odds with the rigors of the job of Planning Board and inimical to Wrentham’s long term financial health.

Mostly the Planning Board functions like a judge.  Its primary job is to gather information about residential and commercial development projects, insure that they are executed in accordance with all the applicable laws and regulations, and balance the interests of property owners, abutters, and the community as a whole.

There are clearly spelled out guidelines for how decisions are made that leave considerably less room for discretion than is commonly believed. Doing the job properly requires members to strive for impartiality in their decisions.  Members must do their homework.  They have to work with staff and the town’s engineering firm. They have to work with applicants’ representatives. They must render fair and ethical decisions based on the information presented at the hearings and the laws that govern the process.

The key words on which to focus are balance, objectivity, and ethical.  A long list of killed projects, many of which had they succeeded would have helped us avoid our current financial straights, is not a good resume item for a prospective member.  Campaign rhetoric that demonstrates a willingness put aside the town’s best interest if someone’s backyard is threatened should be a warning to voters.

Why is it that our nearest neighbor, Foxboro, has a budget surplus and just certified some $6,000,000 in free cash and we are facing an override and severe cuts in service?

Once upon a time Wrentham and Foxboro were both rural towns with real estate on Route 1. It’s not hard to connect the dots between the say-no-to-everything mentality that has stifled smart growth in Wrentham for the last ten years.  There is a direct connection between our $1.5m budget short fall and the not-in-my-backyard approach to growth.

Tom Wrynn is committed to maintaining our rural character, to fair and impartial decisions, and to growth that contributes to our long term financial needs.

Vote for Tom Wrynn for Planning Board

Cable 8 Petition: Distraction or Real Issue?

Perhaps folks are wondering why I signed the petition?  As a passionate advocate of democracy, free speech, and transparency in government, I have a standing policy to sign all Citizen’s Petitions and Campaign Nomination papers, irrespective of the merits or whether I support a particular candidate.

Wrentham is governed by direct democracy.  Everyone’s voice counts. Everyone who desires it should have the opportunity to stand before the voters.

It has been argued by the show’s producers, hosts and supporters that the petition was an attempt to infringe on the “First Amendment.”

Not at all. To suggest that this petition is an infringement on anyone’s First Amendment rights is an ironic argument, to say the least. The accusation is a cynical attempt in its own right to quash speech deemed undesirable by the accusers.

Keeping it off of Town Meeting floor deprives the community, which pays for the Cable 8 facilities, of the opportunity to discuss whether a particular show benefits the community.

Worst of all. this argument attacks individuals and distracts the public from the underlying questions:

  • How DO we speak about the issues facing our community?
  • How do we sepak about the people who volunteer their time to govern our town?
  • Are the facts presented on locally produced TV shows vetted for the truth?
  • If not, is that okay?
  • Are the stories produced according to standard journalistic practices? Should they be?
  • Does the community benefit from the show?
  • And if not, what can we as a community do about it?

Some have suggested that filing the petition is tantamount to infringing on the producers’ and hosts’ rights to free speech. On the contrary, the petition invites freedom of speech by asking for an open dialog at Town Meeting.

Finally, some have asked if people should  be alarmed to see both current board members and people running for office on the petition?

Absolutely not.  Signing the petition and inviting discussion demonstrates the signatories’ commitment to open and honest debate. All public officials and candidates should be held to this standard. Regrettably, not all reach it.

Those screaming the loudest have the most to gain from maintaining the status quo in Town Hall.  By talking about “free speech” and attacking individuals, they avoid focusing on the real issues facing our community:

  • We are broke, why?.
  • The incumbents are not saying what will be cut, why?
  • Should we vote on an Override?
  • There’s no plan to create revenue, why?
  • What does this crisis say about how the town is managed?
  • Would the town be better served by new leadership?

Citizen’s Petitions and Selectmen

In a recent letter to the editor Board of Health Chairman Mr. Nadkarni wrote,

“The Wrentham selectmen did not vote to not put Billian’s second petition on the warrant. After a lengthy discussion of whether or not the selectmen should act as “gatekeepers” on petitions whose content was illegal according to town counsel, they voted to put a “hold” on the article pending more discussions with town counsel.”

When will he and my colleagues on the Board finally attain the rule?  The selectmen have no authority to act as “gatekeepers” for Citizen’s Petitions.

We went through this same thing last year when the board erroneously removed a lawfully executed and Town Clerk certified petition from the Recreation community that sought to place the funds from the sale of the excess loam and gravel at the Rice Complex into the Recreation Department budget.

Last year the board could plausibly claim ignorance on the issue of Citizen’s Petitions. But then we paid Town Attorney George Hall our hard earned tax dollars for his opinion.  His May 29, 2008 response was, “If the petition is valid, it is my view that the article cannot be removed from the warrant.”

My colleagues on the board have known this since last May, yet they once again exercised “gatekeeper” authority by voting on each of the Citizen’s Petitions proffered for this year’s Annual Town Meeting.

The backstory about that last year’s petition is worth remembering now.  It was no secret that my colleagues preferred the money from the “dirt pile” sale go to the general fund.  That was a reasonable position, one which Town Meeting should have had the opportunity to consider.

However, the actions taken to thwart it were not.  First a member of the board made allegations about the validity of the signatures. Then a police investigation followed.  The matter was referred to the District Attorney’s office.  It was determined that no crime was committed.  Reputations were injured.   Out of fear, the petitioner asked that it be withdrawn.  A vote to remove the petition followed.

The end result was that the money went into the general fund.  And Town Meeting was deprived of the opportunity to vote on the matter.  Sound familiar?

Much has been made of “free speech” lately.  And indeed that is one of the founding principles of our great nation. But what about that  other pillar of democracy and civil society, the rule of law?

Citizen’s Petitions are the bedrock of our form of government.  They are guaranteed by Massachusetts law for the purpose of giving community members the opportunity to have input in local affairs.

When public officials knowingly and unlawfully overstep their authority they deprive us of our most basic democratic rights. What do YOU think about that?  The local election is the one place where you cannot be ignored.  Vote on April 6, 2009.