Analysis and Rebuttal to Arguments Against Agenda Item 2014-067 Presented By Councilor Ann Canedy
TO: The Barnstable Town Council
RE: Analysis and Rebuttal to Arguments Against Agenda Item 2014-067 Presented By Councilor Ann Canedy
To begin, it must be noted that the following epistle is being presented with the utmost respect for all members of the Barnstable Town Councilin mind. It is NOT intended to be derogatory or disrespectful to any person in any way, shape or form. It is intended as a necessary analysis and rebuttal, that is all.
Please take special note of the following information.
Within the content of her article published in the March 28, 2014 edition of the Barnstable Patriot, Town Council Vice-President Ann Canedy provides several specific reasons why she is clearly not going to support Agenda Item 2014-067 at the April 3rdpublic hearing. Among the her stated reasons are some very specific procedural mechanisms contained in the Barnstable Town Charter which Councilor Canedy claims are more appropriate for the matter currently under consideration.
The Barnstable Patriot, March 28, 2014
“(From your Councilor) – Ann Canedy, Precinct 1” Written By Ann Canedy
The recently published editorial noted above was authored by Town Council Ann Canedy in an effort to present several arguments why she is NOT going to support Agenda Item 2014-067if and when it comes up for a vote at the April 3, 2014 Town Council Public Hearing.
All of Councilor Canedy’s claimed reasons are based upon flawed assumptions, in error, clearly mistaken, and cannot legitimatelybe employed as justification for voting against the particular measure pending before the Barnstable Town Council. Here is why:
To begin, by claiming that“certain procedural threshold considerations need to be resolved” regarding the issue at hand, Councilor Canedy is actually rendering judgment upon the procedures provided by the Barnstable Town Charter which are employed to bring the matter before the Town Council, not the Agenda Item itself. Town Charter criticisms are actually supposed to be the function of an officially chosen and empaneled Charter Review Committee, not used as an unjustified excuse to try and deny the meritorious worth of Agenda Item 2014-067. Moreover, the thresholds she is pointing out are outlined by the requisite provisions of the Barnstable Town Charter itself, which is essentially the equivalent of the Constitution for the Town of Barnstable. The requirements for such “thresholds” are written in black and white within the Charter. A petitioner can only adhere to the Citizen Relieve Mechanisms that the Town Charter provides. A petitioner cannot make up their own rules or procedures which are not allowed by the Town Charter. Councilor Canedy’s claimed reasons would be more appropriate for and argument to a properly empaneled Town Charter Review Committee for making changes to the Barnstable Town Charter rather to attempting to use such desired Charter Changes as downplaying the merits of Agenda Item 2014-067. This is not only logical thinking, but a matter of cursory legal study as well.
Councilor Canedy moves forward in her article by listing the alleged thresholds being employed in her argument against the Agenda Item under consideration (and Group petition signed by approximately 270 registered Town of Barnstable voters):
1.) Within the content of her article, Councilor Canedy states “…I view the question more narrowly. In my mind, certain procedural threshold considerations need to be resolved in determining the “merits” of the Petition.”
Councilor Canedy goes on to say:
“One threshold determination is whether 150 signatures is enough to place a binding policy question on a local ballot. “Binding” means the result of the vote would not be discretionary and would require a request to the Legislature for release from the Cape Cod Commission. The fact that the question is binding suggests that the Petition should have been filed as a Citizen’s Initiative under Section 8-1c, rather than as a Free Petition. A Citizens Initiative requires the signatures of no less than 10 percent of the total number of voters, obviously many more than the 150 signatures which were submitted.”
The aforesaid reason is not justified and without factual foundation because:
Appearing on page 15 of the Barnstable Town Charter, Agenda Item 2014-067 clearly could NOThave been presented or brought forth by a petitioner through employment of the Initiative or Referendum mechanisms of the Town Charter specifically because the relevant content contained within Agenda Item 2014-067 involves “proceedings providing for the submission or referral of a matter to the voters at an election.”Since this is the case, then the aforesaid Agenda Item could only have been brought up for public hearing via the Charter procedure presently being used (by Group Petition), or via direct introduction as a measure by one or more Town Councilors. With these being the unquestionable concrete facts in this matter, then anyone attempting to claim a procedural defect in the manner Agenda Item 2014-067 was brought before the Town Council is simply mistakenand incorrect.
Section 8-4 Measures Not Subject to Initiative and Referendum
“Measures which include the following subject matter shall not be subject to initiative and referendum procedures: (a) revenue loan orders; (b) appropriations for the payment of debt or debt service; (c) internal operational procedures of the town council and the school committee; (d) emergency measures; (e) the town budget as a whole or the school committee budget as a whole; (f) appropriation of funds to implement a collective bargaining agreement; (g) procedures relating to election, appointment, removal, discharge or any other personnel action; and (h) proceedings providing for the submission or referral of a matter to the voters at an election.”
2.) As her claimed second threshold in determining non-support for the Agenda Item under consideration, Councilor Canedy states:
“A second consideration would be whether the Petition can be placed on a local ballot. Because the Cape Cod Commission was created by an Act of the Legislature, I believe that the Petition would have to be placed on a Statewide ballot. Similarly I don’t believe that the decision can be Barnstable’s alone. Just as the Commission was created by a countywide vote and each Town was bound, whether or not the Town so voted individually, I don’t believe any one town can elect to withdraw without the Commission itself being abolished.”
Comparisons to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission have been drawn by the lead petitioner, but such comparisons are ill placed. The Cape Cod Commission and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission were created by two different Acts and are not amenable to comparison.”
This claim alone is based upon a false premise and offers no criteria whatsoever upon which it was based, other than an unreasonable hope that nobody will look further into the details of it, and see that it simply is not true.
Additionally, this entire claim and reason is little more than a biased personal opinion without any factual basis whatsoever, In fact, Councilor Canedy does NOT point to any actual concrete evidence in this alleged second justification to deny the merit of Agenda Item 2014-067. This is because there does not exist any such factual evidence upon to base her assumptions and suppositions (which is what they are, not actual evidentiary determinations).
With regard to the mention of certain elements of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (the land use and regulatory agency for that geographical location) as being incomparable to the Cape Cod Commission, well once again Councilor Canedy makes her claims without any evidence or factual content whatsoever. As can be readily assessed by any reasonable person, her claims at this juncture are also without foundation. In fact, the two regulatory authorities have far more in common than not in common. If the Council Vice President had taken to time to review and study about the structure and operations of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, then she would Know that.
Councilor Canedy continues on by making mention of the Regional Policy Plan coming up for review during the Fall of this year as basis for a more appropriate mechanism for making changes to the Cape Cod Commission. Once again, this claim has no weight because the Regional Policy Plan almost entirely pertains to land use planning and regulatory guidelines and parameters upon which decisions by the Cape Cod Commission must fall within. It is NOT a legal mechanism which allows for critical structural changes to the Cape Cod Commission, or amendment of the Cape Cod Commission Act itself. This would take a lengthy procedure via the legislative process conducted at the State House in process (like what is proposed by Agenda Item 2014-067). There are not legitimate short cuts here.
Councilor Canedy further makes mention of several matters which truly have no bearing upon whether or not Agenda Item 2014-067 has merit, like the job performance of various Cape Cod Commission officials as well as her personal involvement in several past Cape Cod Commission initiatives. This only provides further evidence of a predetermined and biased outlook regarding the matter under consideration, even before a public hearing on it has taken place.
Finally, when all is said and done, the reasons and claims that Town Council Vice President presents against Agenda Item 2014-067 are without clear concrete evidence or logical foundation. In fact, in the end her decision in this particular instance is arbitrary and capricious. In a court of law, this would be clear grounds appeal. However, even though the process on April 3rd is going to be public hearing before the Barnstable Town Council, and not necessarily a hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction, it would be entirely fitting if similar honorable criteria were used in rendering final judgment upon the merits of Agenda Item 2014-067 by the respective honorable members of our Barnstable Town Council.
After a reviewing and giving due consideration to the above-noted facts and information, it is readily seen that the reasons provided by Town Council Vice-President Ann Canedy are simply erroneous, Furthermore, since the claimed reasons were in fact in error, then Agenda Item 2014-067 can be affirmatively voted upon to have “merit” by any Town Councilor who feels that it deserves to treated as such. The voters of Barnstable need to be treated with respect, and their democratic discretion and judgment at the ballot box also needs to be equally treated with the same respect by all parties concerned. Voting that the Agenda Item 2014-067 does have “merit” will express that sacred respect to Town of Barnstable voters, taxpayers and residents.