Alderman Zwirko proposed,in a BOA sub-committee meeting on 9/22, an order to form a committee to review the existing city charter and recommend any changes to it and that this activity should occur at least every 10 years. The order was unanimously accepted, without recommendation to the next meeting of the full Board.
Great news! They have my full support for two changes: (1) removing the Mayor from participation in and having voting privileges on the school committee, and (2) that the Mayor's position not require that he/she have to give up any outside business interests.
The first change recommended is certainly needed to remove the political element into the discussion on education budgets and policy deliberations. We have all seen over the past 10 years how this conflict of interest has negatively affected the outcomes of the school decision-making body. The city budget deliberations need to be separate from the school budget deliberations and this cannot be done with the Mayor playing such an active role in both these bodies. This separation must be clearly re-established again in our charter.
The second change recommended will have the effect of allowing more potential candidates to run for Mayor. The current requirement limiting a Mayor's outside business interests only provides an unjust as well as an arbitrary and capricious restriction on the office. Melrose has had a long history going back to 1900 of Mayors who have had outside business interests yet served the city honorably and with distinction.
I completely agree, however, with the majority of the review committee being appointed by the Mayor, you can't seriously expect either of these two changes have a prayer of being made. This is a setup. Remember where Zwirko's wife works.
It is most definitely a problem that the Mayor gets to select 5 of the 9 members to the charter committee. I am sure he will select those who owe allegiance to him already and/or someone who stands to gain something for catering to the Mayor's desired outcome. It is stunning that the mayor was able to finagle a charter provision that actually restricts residents from running for office purely based on whether they have ownership in a local or family business, law practice or other sole proprietorship. The founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew what had become of their democracy they fought and died for right here in the cradle of democracy, where in the dawn of this nation, virtually all elective positions were held by local business men. They were deeply concerned about preventing exactly what has happened here in Melrose: A ruling class, or in this case, career politicians gaining undue influence and becoming rulers for life. Why should any resident be restricted from running for office? Our Nation was built on the premise of anyone being able to run for office and of course, everyone should have a vote.