To the Honorable Members of the Watertown Town Council:
It has come to my attention that a group of citizens, encouraged by District D Councilor Kenneth Woodland, has chosen to use a charter provision in order to force the Council to take partisan action on a measure regarding the Citizen’s United Supreme Court Case.
There is no need to discuss the merits of the underlying issue. The merits of the proposal aren’t the issue; nor should the Council discuss them.
It is certainly the right of citizens to petition their government. However, our Constitution gave us a Republic based on Federalism. The essential premise behind Federalism is that there are clearly defined roles and authorities granted to the various levels of government.
Campaign finance is the purview of the Federal Government and State Legislatures. With respect to amending the Constitution, there are two options. Two thirds of the State Legislatures may call for a Constitutional Convention. Historically however, the Congress has initiated amendments. In this case, Amendments require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of Congress. In both cases, whether it be a Constitutional Convention or an amendment initiated in Congress, after passage it must be ratified by 3/4 of the State Legislatures.
Please note that in neither scenario does the process include municipal government bodies. The fact is not one of you were elected to officially involve yourselves (as a body) in matters which rightly and solely belong before the Congress of the United States of America and or State Legislatures. With all due respect, it is above your pay grade.
The proponents of this measure need to take it before the proper body. They can either request that the Massachusetts State Legislature initiate the process of calling for Constitutional Convention, or they can petition members of House of Representatives and the United State Senate to initiate the amendment process. Bringing this measure before the Town Council is an outrageous waste of time. Moreover, this is an unwarranted attempt to use the Council, whose sole business is those matters that directly relate to municipal affairs, to promote their agenda.
The entire Town of Watertown had a chance to vote on this matter. On Nov. 6, 2012, a question containing virtually the same language appeared on every single ballot, in every single district, and every single precinct. It passed overwhelmingly! Hence, there is no legitimate reason to bring this before the Council. It is both redundant and a waste of time.
Finally passage of this resolution sets a dangerous precedent. It gives license and encourages others to use the Council as a platform to promote their particular agenda. There are a plethora of resolutions that the Council could be forced to deliberate with public hearings. This body could be overwhelmed and rendered dysfunctional dealing with such issues at every other meeting. The merits of reinstating the Glass Steagall provision of the 1933 Banking Act, building The Keystone Pipeline, funding the manned exploration of Mars, and the list goes on. You were not elected to debate or settle these matters. You were elected to address matters directly concerning the municipal governance of Watertown.
Vice Chair/ Communications Director
Watertown Republican Town Committee