What happened to SUNSHINE in our local government? 

The Newton League of Women Voters recently issued a complaint to the city government concerning the apparent lack of transparency and deliberation in the decision making process involved with changing electeds pay structure, including not addressing problems brought to them by the Blue Ribbon Commission.

When we talk about process, we mean how our city government goes about making decisions.

Thank you to the NLWV for publicly making a strong statement about decision-making processes being used within our city government. It is greatly appreciated as it pertains not only to changing the pay structure for elected officials but also to many other decisions made by both the legislative and executive branches of our city government.

What seemed most important to the committee during its discussion was the time frame … 

The rushing of varied, city changing, wide-ranging decisions, such as this one, including making them over the summer – when a large number of interested Newtonites are not in Newton – has been an evolving problem for the last few years.

However, it appears that the rush to vote in time for the City Council to see a pay raise in January outweighs the need for transparency and deliberation.

Lack of proper deliberation and transparency on many issues facing our city has become the norm. Without a paper of record or Newton assigned editor or reporter, only those issues, in which either residents are informed early through other sources and are actively seeking answers from the city or large numbers of city councilors have differing ideas on an issue before them, are deliberated as they should be with public participation. Even then, many decisions are made on the inside regardless of problems pointed out by city paid studies, city contracted consultants, various appointed commissions, and by resident input. These include, but are not limited to, such varied things as zoning changes, Washington Street, labor negotiations, outsourcing, parking and its pay structure, the arbitrary overnight parking ban, the size of the city council and now the pay structure of the mayor, city councilors and school committee members. 

City elections are meant to be non-issue related and non-partisan. Local elected officials are expected to work with other electeds, residents of the city and city employees to come to conclusions about a vote. These statements are no longer true. Candidates are asked to run and elected either because of how they will vote on one or just a few issues, how progressive they appear and their activism on certain issues. 

Looking more and more like how our national partisan government operates and identity politics. 

Thoughts? Solutions?

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