Editor's Note: Yarmouth resident Joe Glynn asked that his letter to Barnstable County officials concerning the restructuring of Barnstable County Regional Government be shared with our readers. It is reproduced below verbatim:
Dear Madame Speaker, Delegates ,
Chairman Cakounas- County Commissioners
Thank you for allowing me to speak at your public hearing. I am glad you postponed the vote so as to get more information. I look forward to more dialogue for the Citizens of Barnstable County.
I wish that some of the assembly members would have asked me some questions they submitted later in response to the ordinance discussion, although it is not typical for them to do so.
One key position, that took on various forms was the breakdown of boundaries and subsequently the constituency being represented.
My view of the expansion not only expands public representatives /representation but involvement of all those throughout the County. The more the merrier literally.
So to throw the baby out with the bath water and not come to a basic consensus is self defeating when progress is on your doorstep.
Rebuttal to Objections
One of the approaches to answer to Mr Killion of Sandwich's rebuttal, is that I recommended both at large AND regional commissioners so those willing to running at large would understand the task, but the Townspeople would have someone from their area, on the New Board of Commissioners / Managers. Commissioner Cakounas seems to want just to run regionally and that would be his choice as it a "daunting" task. At large Candidates would have to run Capewide but many have. There are more offices than what he testified. The register of probate and deeds run Capewide not just the Sheeiff. Our Governors Councilor represents 4 Senate Districts and 44 Towns on the South Coast. Of course Candidates represent larger Districts and some smaller positions have larger areas with the islands. So State Senate and Reps have the burden so that argument is a red herring. My point is that the more interest like Governor, Congressman and US Senators that represent us but get more attention and coverage it is because of understanding the structure and have an idea of what they should be doing.
Vetting Candidates , understanding, interest, and coverage run hand and hand!
If there is no standard, vetting, or interest there is no coverage. There is coverage of planning boards, ZBAs, School Boards, and possibly dog catcher but nothing on County government because of ignorance and apathy. No knows and no one cares! That is why I recommend comprehensive expansion and review.
Three Branches of County Government
I further recommended a Senate that would served alongside assembly adding to the legislative branch. What seemed to get lost was that more involvement is better. The bottom line is the people would vote Cape wide on the issue.
As stated but still missing in rebuttals was that the more understanding of the General structure, the more the vetting process is established. Simply when people understand and participate in the election process it is understood. The more the media and public will be involved.
Commissioners and Delegates should be reluctant to nit pick and fashion a general resolution to put as a referendum before the people of the county.
Eliminate Health Care and Reduce Stipend
My proposal would be to reduce the stipend for the Commissioners and eliminate the health insurance for all, while current members could be grandfathered. The legislative branch should be offered $100 per meeting that could be directed to any County entity.
Vote Yes or No, improve with Charter Review
These specifics would not be on the ballot and a full charter review could come after.
My proposal would ask the public to vote yes or no for a new three branch form of government comprising Town Representatives, Regional Senators , and Regional Commissioners but a more general question of change/restructure without even these specifics and a recall provision be included but would not need specific recall criteria.
For the people, by the people
This would add representation not preclude it. The different regional bodies could be comprised differently thereafter, and the delegates could choose.
Again , it seems the objections are tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Simply put a general question to the people in favor of restructure and let them decide and then proceed within the law.
No Gerrymanding , power/personal politics
Gerrymandering and personal political decisions should not play into the process and is exactly the reason restructure and current dysfunction makes the public demand the drastic changes in the first place.
There are several options but not limited to the following:
By State Rep Districts . This would require evaluation of population/voter breakdown.
The fact one of the State Reps is against for some reason should not be a criteria or consideration but equity should and is a legal consideration.
By geographical regional 5 Town grouping.
Lines fairly drawn by town lines which makes Gerrymanding impossible.
Two and three town grouping
The fact the bigger towns will benefit is mutually exclusive. If you keep a town in tact or you split the population and more importantly voter turnout will dictate victors. That is not unfair that is reality. Smaller towns can drive higher percentage voter turnout but designing a system to punish most populous towns disenfranchises townspeople and is patently unfair.
One could design a scenerio that has medium towns all together or small towns all together regardless of geography. This like others would defeat the regional approach.
My proposal with 5 contiguous regional districts of Upper , Lower, and Mid Cape and then 5 Senators comprised of 3 Towns along with 15 Town Reps/Delegates as Legislative body and County Managers made up of 3 at large and 3 regional would have a perfect mix of small and overall representation. This would be groupings of Countywide Reps, 3 town and 5 town Senate and County Manager representation . (Those could be different also to off set other configurations.
Recall Provisions Imperative
Recall provisions for all offices after one year. DelegatesTown Reps done in off years at town elections and other done at biennial elections. Signatures 250 for all for recall as challenging candidates would still need to seek signatures as would recalled candidate. The challenger would only fulfill the remaining time. This would be highly unlikely for two year seats but should be availed for public confidence and accountability.
There are many scenarios that I have researched but again I urge the assembly to think of the best interest of the people of the county and not petty politics.
Any positive step an improvement over dysfunction
As I explained any step is a good one but the more comprehensive the better. Symbolic rebranding can have an equally positive effect so as I mentioned public confusion over semantic perception like Assembly (a simple gathering of people) Delegates-( Political Party Delegates ) and Commissioners (County Commision -a daily occurrence by people who understand the structure mis-speaking never mind general public also other Commisions and Commissioners like Human Rights Commission , Housing Authority Commissioners , MWRA Commission) . This is County Government and not a Commission and public should not be more confused.
Ignorance and apathy-I don't know or care
Public confusion , ignorance and apathy are a direct result of all of these issues and drive both percieved and actual success. I emplore all delegates to strive for general consensus and place a general question to the citizens of Barnstable County . Infighting and nitpicking will add more dissatisfaction and disappointment driving the public away instead of involved participation to solve the County's regional issues.
Frankly, the alternative in many people's eyes perceiving the dysfunction is total elimination of Barnstable County government. If you can not cooperate on simple structure or recognize that it is broken or can not get beyond individual motives and political agenda then the publics frustration is valid.
Please keep me updated on future hearings and please disseminate this to all County Officials as a constituent but also as a Communication from public officials. As an elected official representing Yarmouth as a Board COMMISSIONER on the Yarmouth Housing Authority my personal opinion is pertinent given the many regional and county housing issues that apply to resources that County potentially impacts the towns and the authorities.