Watertown Town Council Passes on Taking Stand on Reversing Citizens United Ruling
Councilors will send a letter outlining town voters' support of the non-binding ballot measure asking for the Supreme Courts decision in the political finance question to be overturned.
The Town Council will not take a stand on a citizen’s petition to asking the board to support a movement asking Congress to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, but they will send a letter outlining the town’s support of the non-binding ballot measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
A group of residents collected 188 signatures and got the resolution on Tuesday’s Town Council agenda.
Bevin Croft, who spoke for the group who put the resolution on the agenda, noted that 63 percent of the town’s voters in Districts A, B and C supported the ballot measure asking the town’s state and federal elected officials to take steps to reverse the court decision that gives corporations and unions the same political speech rights as citizens.
The ballot measure did not appear on ballots in District D, on the Westside of Watertown.
State Rep. Jonathan Hecht said he supports reversing the decision because it would help legislators like himself.
“The Supreme Court decision overturned 100 years of settled law that corporations are not the same as a person when it comes to political speech,” Hecht said.
To serve constituents, Hecht said, legislators have to be able to show they are acting in the best interest of residents, not the groups donating large amounts of money.
Not everyone at the meeting believed the issue was an appropriate one for the Town Council to take up. Russ Arico said he wanted the Council to focus on issues that directly affect Watertown, or else he fears the council will be inundated with resolutions from all kinds of groups.
“Do not vote on it. Do not discuss it. Let it die,” Arico said. “Let us preserve this beautiful place we call Watertown and leave non-Watertown issues at the door.”
The Council did not discuss the resolution, but Town Council President Mark Sideris suggested they write a letter to send to Watertown’s elected state and federal officials outlining how the town voted on the ballot measure. Councilors unanimously supported writing the letter.
The move satisfied both groups at the meeting.
John Mosca, who also opposed the council discussing the resolution, said he thought the move was appropriate.
“It is reasonable,” Mosca said. “It doesn’t take up too much time and I think the vote (in the Nov. 6 election) told the story.”
Dave Weintraub, one of the organizers of the petition to get the resolution on the Council agenda, also felt satisfied.
“It was very efficient,” Weintraub said. “They gave everybody a chance to be heard, and the resolution received a respectful hearing.”