To the Editor:
I urge Bar Harbor voters to vote No on the combined Article 2 (Charter Commission Creation) and 2A (Election of Charter Commission Members) because of legal problems.
Our town charter does not permit election of town officials in November or at any time other than at the Annual Town Meeting on the second Tuesday in June.
The Town Charter specifies in Section C-6 that “The Annual Town Meeting shall have exclusive power and responsibility to elect all necessary Town officers and committees”, and it also specifies in Section C-5 that, “All articles in the warrant with respect to the election of officials … and all articles required by law to be on the printed ballot shall be acted upon on the second Tuesday in June.”
Another problem is that the work of a charter commission cannot be limited or directed by anyone. Yet the preamble to Article 2 lists specific tasks, stating that “…it is agreed that the process include, but not be limited to, consideration of electronic voting at town meeting, streamlining the budget process, and the purpose, function, and structure of the Warrant Committee.” Directive language of this kind is not pursuant to state law and should not be on the ballot.
A third problem is that the warrant committee’s vote count to recommend rejection of Article 2 is wrong in the warrant and on the ballot. Both say that, ”The 22 member Warrant Committee recommends rejection by a vote of 8 to 4 with 1 abstention”. The Warrant Committee actually recommended rejection of Article 2 by a vote of 9 to 3 with 1 abstention.
In addition to all of this, there is a more basic question. Is a charter commission needed? Do we really want to change our form of government? Do we actually need to establish an entirely new municipal charter? Do we even need a charter commission at this time?
Many charter changes, such as electronic voting or streamlining the budget, can be placed on the ballot using the simpler charter amendment process.
Only major revisions or changes that affect our form of government, such as changing the number of town councilors from 7 to 5, eliminating town meeting, or changing the purpose, function and structure of the warrant committee, would require a charter commission.
I see no need to revise our form of government, no need to rewrite our charter or establish a new municipal charter. I see no need to create a charter commission at this time.
For all of the above reasons, the errors and the legal problems with the charter commission articles, the fact that we can amend the charter without creating a charter commission and the absence of any known desire or need to change our form of government, I will vote No on Article 2 (Charter Commission Creation) and I urge others to vote No on this question as well.