The majority of the Charter Commision believes that Framingham's present government, dating back approximately 300 years, is ineffective and inadequate. Because of the size and diversity of our population, Framingham is already like a city. Our local governing institutions should reflect what we are, not what we were a long time ago.
Unlike Framingham's three previous Charter Commissions, we believe that substantial changes are in order for both our executive and legislative bodies.
The changes outlined below are based not just on our public hearings and thirty Commission meetings
since our election on April 2, 1996.
Our majority views are also based on approximately 100 years of collective experience
representing Framingham in different elective offices.
Two of us have served as Selectmen.
All of us have experienced the frustration of working with patchwork change,
too many fiefdoms, and too little accountability to the voters and taxpayers.
We recommend the election of a Mayor to be the chief executive officer of the City of Framingham, with full responsibility for management of public services, including public safety, but at the same time subject to the review and balancing judgement of the proposed legislative body called the City Council.
It is important for the Mayor to have a four-year term. A shorter term would make it very difficult for the mayor to put together an administrative team and focus on the longer term good of the community. We eliminate the present office of Town Manager as presently constituted, and leave to the Mayor and Council the decision whether and how this position is useful to municipal administration. We retain the recently established position of Chief Financial Officer, with minor modifications to the new city government.
Full responsibility and accountability to the voters are equally important.
Our present structure of Town Manager and five-member Board of Selectmen present ambiguities
about who is responsible for what.
Committees multiply and authority becomes more diffused.
As Harry Truman would say, we badly need and office where the buck stops.
The proposed legislative body includes eleven members, all elected together for concurrent two-year terms. Three would be elected at large and eight would be elected from seperate districts. As an interim provisions until the year 2003, we propose that our existing precincts be combined into two large districts, with four councilors elected from each district.
The first city election for Mayor and Council would take place in November 1997,
preceded by a preliminary election in September.
The City Council would then appoint the City Clerk and continue to meet regularly on a year round basis.
The Council will be readily available for citizen petitions and will be involved in the oversight of
municipal administration and finance, much more so than our present town meeting.
No longer will matters be postponed until the uncertain moment of our next town meeting.
Voters will have a much better idea of who their representatives are and how they voted.
The result will be better acountability, easier access to decisionmakers, and a truer input from the public.
We are recommending that the seven-member School Committee continue to be elected as it has been,
with some modification.
We recommend staggered four-year terms, with four elected in 1999 and three elected in the next election
Continuity is therefore more assured than if the entire body was up for election every two years.
We also recommend that the Mayor serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of the School Committee.
The school budget would be submitted to the Mayor and Chief Financial Officer, (CFO), before being
voted upon by the Council.
Offices which are to be elected under the Charter are the office of Mayor, members of the City Council, members of the School Committee, Library Board, and Edgell Grove Cemetary Trustees.
The change which we propose for the Library Board is that the term of office be expanded to four years with the same staggered elections as for the School Committee, and that the menbership be phased down from the present number of twelve to seven.
All department heads and other city boards, including members of the Planning Board, will be appointed by the Mayor subject to the review and approval by the Council.
In conclusion, the majority of the Charter Commission proposes a government which is centralized,
yet much more accountable to the voters than we now have.
Our critics will speak of the risk of change.
We speak of opportunity.
We hope that the Framingham voters say "YES" on April 8, 1997.
|Denis E. Black||John F. DelPrete
|Thomas P. Tierney||Anthony M. Colonna
|Dennis W. Cardiff||Edward L. Burke