TELL US: Should the Town Council Take Up Citizens Petitions During Their Meetings?
A group recently petitioned to have an item on the agenda asking the Town Council to support reversing the Citizens United ruling.
This week, a group of residents hoping to have the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision reversed petitioned to have the Town Council support the idea, and got the item on the agenda by collecting 150 signatures from Watertown voters.
Not everyone liked the idea of having an issue like that placed on the agenda of the town’s highest board.
Town Council President Mark Sideris noted that the group of residents followed the Town Charter to get the petition on the agenda. They collected 188 signatures, more than the minimum required, to have it on the agenda.
“In my time sitting on the council, which has been a number of years, no group has ever petitioned to put something on the agenda,” Sideris said. “I applaud the people for doing their due diligence to read the charter and follow the process.”
Bob MacDonald, of Edenfield Avenue, said he fears citizens’ petitions could take over the council’s agenda.
“If every time a national issue comes up a resolution comes to the council it could take up all the council’s time discussing the petitions,” MacDonald said.
The Citizens United ruling does not just affect national politics, argued Bevin Croft, one of those who organized the petition. She noted that the ruling allows unlimited political contributions by corporations and unions in local elections, along with state and federal races.
In the end, the council did not discuss the petition, but voted to send a letter outlining the town’s support of the non-binding ballot measure calling for the reversal of the Citizens United ruling.
“The charter says we have to put it on the agenda, but we don’t have to take any action,” Sideris said.
What do you think? Do you think it is appropriate to have citizens petition to have items placed on the Town Council’s agenda? Tell us in the comment section below.