OP-ED: Watertown Resident Urges Town Council to Support Reversing Citizens United Ruling

Aaron Hatley urges the Town Council to follow other Massachusetts Communities and pass a resolution asking for the campaign finance ruling to be changed.


To my fellow Watertown voters,

On Nov. 6, in Watertown Districts A, B, and C, just under 63 percent of us voted “Yes” on a non-binding ballot question that supported a constitutional amendment to reverse the effects of the infamous 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. On Dec. 11, a group of concerned citizens (including your author) will ask the Watertown Town Council to consider a resolution urging our state and federal representatives to work toward that constitutional amendment to reinstate reasonable limits on outside funding in our elections, and to ensure that the strongest voices on election day are yours, and mine, and our fellow citizens’.
And we need your support.

Seventy-four Massachusetts cities and towns have already passed similar resolutions, including our neighbors in Boston, Newton, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Needham, and Natick. Hundreds of other towns around the country have taken similar steps, and many have also recently passed ballot questions as we did at the beginning of this month. But a Town Council resolution would be far from superfluous at this point; election funding is and will remain an important local issue, and we need to take every available opportunity to make
our voices heard. The Citizens United decision didn’t just apply to national elections. Voters in places like Durham, N.C., and Oklahoma City have already seen secretive and well-funded outside groups working to swing local elections to support favorable zoning decisions or development opportunities. A little bit of outside money can make a big difference on a local scale, and Citizens United created a dangerous opportunity for undisclosed political contributions to have a real impact in our neighborhoods.

Citizens United is a decision that affects all of us, in Watertown and around the country, regardless of our particular views or party affiliations. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates total spending in the 2012 election at an unprecedented $6 billion, including nearly $1 billion spent by outside organizations in support of both Republican and Democratic candidates. But this issue isn’t just bipartisan – it’s nonpartisan. A 2012 Associated Press poll showed that 81 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents, and 85 percent of Democrats want to
limit corporate, union, and outside spending. Protecting the basic ideals of our Republic – that as citizens our voices, and our votes, must be counted, and that your vote will count the same as mine – demands fair and reasonable oversight of the electoral process. That’s what we’ll be arguing for when we place a proposal in front of our neighbors on the Watertown Town Council on Dec. 11. Here, on our own Main Street, in our most direct venue for democracy, we’ll be adding our voices to a growing chorus calling for the preservation of open and transparent elections and for the curtailment of undisclosed and unlimited spending in those elections, through an amendment to the very Constitution that ensures our right to make these demands in the first place. We hope you’ll read more about this issue, that you’ll be in touch with your local, state, and federal representatives, and that you’ll consider coming by the meeting on Dec. 11. Above all, make sure your voice continues to be heard.


Aaron Hatley
Watertown Resident

John DiMascio December 15, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Sorry Bidersfull.... not quite the right analogy or metaphor. There is a significant difference.
John DiMascio December 15, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Moreover, If and when I make a remark that is personal in nature, I put my own name to it. Sonny and other, choose to hide behind screen names. It's one thing to use a screen name to blog. It's another to make personal and often baseless attacks and be a total coward about it.
John DiMascio December 15, 2012 at 07:42 PM
No: Calling someone a twit is a remark about his personality. Speaking about someone's competence or incompetence is talking about his ability to perform his duties as an elected official. Of course given his recent letter to editor whereby he demonstrates his lack of understanding of libel and slander, I'd be worried about what kind of lawyer he'll make. Should he find a way to pass the Bar exam, he may be the first attorney in the Commonwealth to have a client condemned to death for a parking violation!
John DiMascio December 16, 2012 at 01:39 AM
First of all I don't dislike either of them personally. I don't have a clue who Sonny is. I've only seen his posts. Kenny is a likeable kid. As for the rest of your comment, what pray tell are you talking about? If you're referring to Tuesday's meeting, I'm still fighting a bug. I suppose I could have attended as some of my friends suggested and sat with next to the supporters of the resolution. How did they put it? "Germ Warfare!"
John DiMascio December 16, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Ah, I missed the reference. Let's put it this way, the young Law Students exact attendance record is something I was advised to look in to. It is a matter of public record. But you know.... although I trust my sources, I actually shouldn't not have made that remark until I had first hand knowledge. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa! So now you can say legitimately say Pot and Kettle to me. But let me reiterate for the record. I have nothing personal against Councilor Woodland. He's good kid. I've had a couple of conversations with him in the past, fro that I gleaned that he cares about people. But I have some serious policy disagreements with him. From watching various council meetings it's evident to be that he's in over his head. He doesn't have a proper understanding of what the Town Council is elected to do. Admirably, he cares deeply about issues. But these issues don't belong before the Town Council. Not too long ago he was part of an effort to get Council to take up a resolution expressing support for a workers at Beaver Brook Program in Waltham to unionize. Well: 1) The Council shouldn't be getting involved in the labor dispute of a private concern. 2) The dispute involved parties outside of Watertown. Fortunately, only one other councilor wanted to debate the matter, so it never saw the light of day.


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