Courier News gets on board Courier defends wards in Hillsborough, change in general!

Courier News gets on board

Courier defends wards in Hillsborough, change in general!

Everyone is holding that lying township committee’s feet to the fire about this issue—including the Courier News.

In their Sunday editorial, link here, they come out and tell it like it is:

Hillsborough right to keep forging ahead

One thing about the question of Hillsborough’s governance: It simply won’t end.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

Of course, it’s a good thing. That was the promise the voters relied on, if they voted “no”. It would have been a heck of a thing, if the crooked committee had pulled the ordinance the next day!

Last week, voters rejected a change in government that would have replaced the five-member committee with a seven-member council and a directly elected mayor, and that would have divided the township into four wards.

Next year, voters will have the chance to approve a charter study commission to study all possible forms of government.

This is a chance they should embrace.

It depends on what the Commission is made up of. If it’s three George Fenwick’s, as Ostergren says, “it’s dead on arrival”.

If it’s actually a group of talented people who are going to study all the options, then maybe it has a chance. But they were better off approving Q3, and then making any necessary changes in 2010.

On Wednesday, the day after the election, the Township Committee approved an ordinance to put a referendum that would authorize such a study on next year’s general election ballot.

We supported Tuesday’s referendum, but now that the potential for a charter study referendum has risen in its place, the conditions are ripe for a better outcome. Reflection and discussion can precede any changes to the structure of the township’s ruling body.

Does anyone honestly believe this? Reflection and discussion, and compromise, are going to yield something like a Mayor-Council, seven member NONPARTISAN at-large Council. If the Republicans hijack the process, you will instead see Bridgewater’s government: Mayor-Council, five member PARTISAN at-large.

The Township Committee never wanted Tuesday’s question on the ballot in the first place, and critics say the committee’s proposed charter study commission referendum of 2004 was nothing more than a ploy to pre-empt the citizen group’s efforts.

Funny, how the Township Committee only acted, when it appeared the citizens’ group would be successful.

In any event, the lawsuits, appeals and dueling referenda that brought us to Tuesday’s election are now in the past. The Township Committee made the right move by taking another crack at the charter study.

Rather than letting one proposed government make it all the way to the ballot before undergoing a thorough public analysis, we’ve always supported a charter study as the ideal solution. An in-depth study of all the options just makes sense.

Good luck getting the in-depth study! What you will get instead, is a process that will be so bad, it will make all those lawsuits Committee created and appealed look like a day in the park.

And “all the options” includes wards. Though the prospect of wards might have been the downfall of Tuesday’s referendum, a thorough study should include systems with and without wards.

I doubt it was the downfall. I think the real downfall was interference from powerful Republicans outside the township, who didn’t want any changes. They can probably keep this up for six or seven years. That’s why Agenda Item #1 has to be, getting rid of that outside influence. They’ve already shown the damage they can cause to a small community.

If approved, the earliest a new government could be in place would be January, 2009, the latest of any of the scenarios examined before. Though a quicker transition would have been preferable — the township is already too big to be governed effectively by a five-member committee — we commend the committee’s swift action to offer the township a chance at a charter study.

And though we once declared that that ship had sailed, it appears the currents have brought it back into port. And the people of Hillsborough should get on board this time.

So 2009 at the earliest. But you know, the first attempt at Charter Study will be a partisan disaster. So maybe sometime in the 2010’s, you will finally see a change. Many people in Hillsborough are just plain stupid. Not everyone. And maybe not even a majority.

But many are.

Good luck!