Letter to the Editor: Worth its weight 



To the Editor: 

The Warrant Committee has come to the town’s rescue again. On Aug. 26, the general government subcommittee of the Warrant Committee discovered a serious legal flaw in Article 3 of the nine proposed charter amendments that had gone undetected by the Charter Commission, the Town Council and the town’s attorney. Article 3, ostensibly limited to the non-controversial topic of electronic voting on some items at the annual Town Meeting would also have stripped citizens of Bar Harbor of their “exclusive power and responsibility” at Town Meetings to act on ordinances “pertaining to the Town’s Land Use Ordinance” under current Charter Section C-6-B(3).  

When the Subcommittee presented its findings to the full Warrant Committee on Monday, Aug31, former charter commission chairman Michael Gurtler expressed his surprise and recommended to the full Warrant Committee that it recommend that voters reject Article 3 because of this serious legal error. The following night, Sept. 1, the Town Council moved the offending language from Article 3 to Article 4. However, the council failed to change the wording of question 4 to fully inform the voters that Article 4 would strip them of the “exclusive power and responsibility” to amend the Land Use Ordinance. No one at the council thanked the Warrant Committee for its careful vigilance. 

History continues to repeat itself in the Warrant Committee doing its job of careful review. This happened on March 17, 2014, when the Warrant Committee discovered multiple legal errors in the Land Use Ordinance (LUO) re-write that were also quite serious. Consulting town attorney Dennison was so concerned about drafting errors that neither she, nor the Planning Board, nor the Town Council, had caught that she recommended the LUO re-write be withdrawn from the June 2014 ballot and refunded $5,000 of her legal fees to the town. 

The Warrant Committee is worth its weight in gold. As we voters consider charter amendments 2, 4, 7 and 8, which downsize the Warrant Committee and drastically diminish its responsibilities, we should reflect on how valuable this committee has been.
Art Greif
Bar Harbor 

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