"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Chichester NH Appointed vs. Elected Road Agent Experience.

Last March, Chichester NH Voters  re-elected their Road Agent Jim Plunkett to another three year term at the polls, where he garnered more than 500 votes (80% of those cast). At Town meeting a few days later, a warrant article placed by the BoS asking to appoint rather than elect the Road Agent was decisively defeated 148-43. The situation in Chichester was decidedly different from ours in Moultonboro. For example, our Road Agent's term does not expire until 2018. We aren't facing the odd situation that occurred in Chichester, where a Road Agent was elected by 500+ voters, but 191 voters at Town Meeting could have overruled the will of the voters at the ballot box. Would the BoS have appointed the winner of the election as Road Agent if the warrant article were successful?  Thankfully we are not in that situation.
This article hits on the history of how this came about in Chichester and this one on the voting. The arguments pro and con are both valid. The biggest concerns seems to be electing a Road Agent purely on popularity rather than qualifications and accountability.
Whatever voters here decide to do on this issue, the debate is healthy to have as it is always a good idea to challenge the status quo.

6 comments:

Joseph Cormier said...

"Months after an incident in which the Chichester selectmen vaguely accused their road agent of wrongdoing, the board is sponsoring a warrant article that asks voters to give them the authority to appoint a road agent."

"To be elected, you really don’t need any experience. If you’re a really popular person in town, you could get elected as road agent,” DeBold said."

Talk about "the kettle calling the pot black" (calm down PC police)!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:The_pot_calling_the_kettle_black

The same statement is true for the Select Board!

Maybe "term limits" should be on a warrant article?
How about a warrant article for "impeachment".

"... elected by 500+ voters, but 191 voters at Town Meeting could have overruled the will of the voters at the ballot box."

Reminds me of SB-2 rejection. The local town mafia, at town meeting, negates a larger ballot vote that would occur under SB-2, for all warrant articles, not the statutorily few questions allowed, presently, on the ballot.

"Let's do lunch" at town meeting! They're serving lemming food!

"DeBold said he expects the road agent appointment article and another article to institute a municipal budget committee to generate a lot of discussion at the 10 a.m. March 14 meeting at the Grange Hall.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said."

MoBo Grange Hall would be a great place for debate. Maybe the floor would give way (just kidding).

An Official Budget Committee, instead of the present Advisory Budget Committee, would be another fun debate! It would take some power away from the BoS. That ain't going to happen. After all, the BoS are elected .. you know ... elected. By the way, the BoS wouldn't appoint the Official Budget Committee, initially, the town moderator does ... surprise!

At least elections, have more voters at the ballot box, than at town meeting.

Totally agree with blogger on this one. "Whatever voters here decide to do on this issue, the debate is healthy to have as it is always a good idea to challenge the status quo."

However, if Scott is "gone" come Jan. 11th, and the statute states the BoS "shall" appoint an interim Road Agent (doesn't state when) and March 8 is "town meeting" ballot voting day, with March 12, presumably, "town meeting", town meeting gathering at MA (phew) ... the real question is ... how the BoS is going to play till then!

The BoS are putting the article on the warrant. What if they didn't?

I never even mentioned the DPW Director job title! Maybe a petition will show-up to terminate the DPW position, and create multiple lower grade job titles. Then again, I believe under the "Prudential Affairs" doctrine the BoS can re-align town employee jobs/titles without town meeting approval.

PS: I haven't heard mentioned "special town meeting" being called. Even a 50 (not 25) registered voter petition, can legally mandate the BoS to call a "special town meeting" Don't include any money issues, that would negate the petition, and/or require Superior Court approval.

Now, that could be some more fun, during the summer months, when the snow-birds are back. Gee ... they'd be able to vote!

The above is opinion, only, not legal advice. Only an attorney can legally give legal advice. I'm only certified as a paralegal. My degrees are in business, e.g. MBA.

Maybe, today, degrees and 2 dollars, should get you a coffee at Dunkies ... deduct senior discount!

Happy New Year ... it could be fun!


Pop Star said...

Don't we elect ALL of our elected officials (Road Agent to President) based on a certain amount of popularity over experience and qualifications? I can think of a number of examples including the lack of qualifications of the present White House tenant and a number of people trying to occupy that same office.
One of the main arguments against SB2 was that "the ignorant would be voting". With several weeks between the discussion of the warrant and the voting to educate each voter instead of the auction like activity at Town Meeting, that was a false accusation at best.
Any better reason we should give up THE VOTE?

Good Citizne said...

I agree with Joe.
The original posting is tainted.
Me thinks that the town citizens can absolutely ELECT the most qualified person.
When with the BOS stop this needless activity?
When, good citizens, when?

Anonymous said...

If at town meeting the legislative body decides to go the route of electing rather than appointing a Road Agent will there be more than one qualified (resident) candidate to choose from?

Anonymous said...

When you elect a road agent, you are limited to town residents who are willing to run for the position. When you appoint a road agent your options are increased exponentially. This is not 1962. It is time to appoint the road agent and get away from the good old boy mentality.

Joseph Cormier said...

" Anonymous said...

When you elect a road agent, you are limited to town residents who are willing to run for the position. When you appoint a road agent your options are increased exponentially. This is not 1962. It is time to appoint the road agent and get away from the good old boy mentality.

January 8, 2016 at 11:21 PM"

" ... limited to town residents ..." you mean like the BoS?
You may have a point, there!

How about the Town Clerk? How about the Tax Collector. Is the Town Moderator from MoBo?" The Planning Board and Zoning Board ought to be appointed, as well, right! That'll really settle any "agendas".

"When you appoint a road agent your options are increased exponentially. "
Please provide the Illuminati source for this statement. The statement is probably correct, if it is meant to put the position, solely, in hands of the BoS.

The Road Agent statute is one of very few that allows the appointment, rather than the election of a public official. PS: appointing can fulfill a lot of town favors.

Why can't the "anointed"... ooops ... "appointed" convince the voters of why they are qualified? Oh ya ... BoS is not ignorant like the rest of us. Competition is bad, right! Only one ran for office ... electorate must be satisfied ... or could care less.

"This is not 1962." No it's not ... 1084 maybe!

"... get away from the good old boy mentality." You're kidding right!

That's an argument for both electing and/or appointing! Appointing only puts the matter in fewer hands.

Why is all the emphasis on the road agent, and not on the DPW Director, the town employees, and those who are being paid, to get the work done? The BoS "supervise" the Road Agent, no matter if elected or appointed. Again, one of the few times a statute provides for this.

Some laws may be useful after all. Oh ya ... maybe the legislature should be appointed. Kim Jong-un could do a great job with appointments ... maybe he already has!