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Challenging process

Charter hearings sparse, but pointed

October 20, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Perhaps reflective of the early stage of its year-long process, the Charter Review Committee's first public hearing Tuesday drew only a handful of people, all of them regular speakers at town government meetings.

The most vociferous of them was Michael Murray. As in the past, he raised objections to the current process for choosing Town Council citizen subcommittee members, arguing that the council doesn't follow its own rules.

"I'm not in this personally. I'm in it to make the system better," he said afterward, referring to the fact his quest was sparked by his own unsuccessful attempt to join the Education and Human Services subcommittee a few months ago. His goal, he said, is to have everyone fill out the same form and get reviewed the same way for all committees, rather than having some people selected because the councilors know them well.

From the podium, Murray cited a unanimous Town Council vote in March 2007 to amend its rules so that citizen members would be appointed by the council chairman with approval of the whole council. In practice since then, however, those citizens have been selected by the subcommittees themselves — a practice that predates the 2007 change — regardless of who was chairman, he observed.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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