In last week’s editorial, the Editor of The Groton Herald once again advances his narrative of an omnipotent town manager who runs amok with no guidance or oversight from the Board of Selectmen. He also displays his confusion by referencing a citation, “Section 3-2-3 of the Groton Charter” which in fact is not from the Groton Charter. However despite his play on the semantics of a definition, the fact remains that the TM takes policy direction from the BoS. All of the major initiatives undertaken by the TM that the Editor finds fault with were the result of policy direction by the BoS and not the independent actions of one individual. The continued editorialized ‘news coverage’ by The Herald along with the Editor’s editorials does a disservice to readers by not providing an accurate picture of how our town government works. And this is further exacerbated by sloppy journalism that references citations to unknown documents.
A good resource for townspeople who are interested in forms of town governance in general or the charter process which Groton underwent can be found on the Massachusetts Municipal Associations website. By going to www.mma.org and clicking on the ‘Resources’ tab, one should go to ‘Municipal Government’ and then ‘Forms of Municipal Government/Charters’. Within this section are numerous resources on the charter process as well as a research paper that was prepared by Phoebe Walker for the MMA on the charter process here in Groton. This file also contains the Financial Management Review of Groton that was conducted by the Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services in March, 2014. The process and final product which resulted in our present charter has been frequently referred to as an example of how to undertake adopting a charter and other communities have sought out Groton’s advice. Concord, Norwell and Pepperell have all reached out to Groton to get input in to how to proceed with charter change.
It is important that whatever changes are contemplated for our Charter are based solely in the functional aspects of the document and not undertaken based on the likes or dislikes of a particular individual. The Editor’s strong negative view of the current TM should not be the basis for structural changes to the Charter much in the same way we do not rewrite our Constitution simply because we do not like the President. This will be an important guiding principal for the Charter Review Committee to integrate as they pursue their task.