Letter: Correction Needed for 28 Year Old Oversight in County Charter

from County Commissioner Ron Beaty

Letter to the Editor

Editor: 

Barnstable County Government has experienced a myriad of challenges and problems over the years to which many can attest. 

Today, I am going to briefly spotlight a problem which has apparently existed for about 28 years as a result of inattention or neglect by County officials, but should be easily remedied...one would think.

On file at the State House Library are the various Massachusetts Laws and Statutes such as “Chapter 163 of the Acts of 1988” (a/k/a The Barnstable County Home Rule Charter) 

http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/actsResolves/1988/1988Acts0163.pdf 

As indicated by the above-noted citation,  the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter is also legally known as “Chapter 163 of the Acts of 1988.”

A copy of the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter is available online at the following website: 

https://www.barnstablecounty.org/regional-government/assembly-of-delegates/home-rule-charter/

The aforementioned online County Charter is what is routinely used by most people to study and review its respective provisions.

Section 25 of the Cape Cod Commission Act is also available online at the following website: 

http://www.capecodcommission.org/index.php?id=15 

It reads as follows: 

“SECTION 25. Section 7-4 of Article 7 of chapter 163 of the acts of 1988 is hereby amended by striking out, in line 6, the word "or,", - and by inserting after the word "obligation", in line 7, the words :- or, (6) any ordinance adopted pursuant to the Cape Cod Commission Act unless otherwise specified; provided, however, that any ordinance resulting in the reorganization, consolidation, abolition, merger, division or alteration of the terms of office, the manner of selection, number of members or prescription of the functions, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Cape Cod Commission shall be subject to the citizen referendum provisions of section 7-3; and provided, further, that any such action ultimately approved by the assembly of delegates or by the Barnstable county voters shall be reported to the senate and house clerks of the general court and be transmitted by them to the joint committee on local affairs.”   

As on can clearly see by the content provided, Section 25 of the Cape Cod Commission Act essentially amended several key provisions of Article 7 of the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter (Chapter 163 of the Acts of 1988).

The problem is that when one goes and checks Article 7 of the County Charter, which is posted on the Cape Cod Regional Government website, these important Amendments as outlined above within Section 25 of the Cape Cod Commission Act appear never to have been included...as required by law. 

For 28 years, they do not appear to have been placed into the County Home Rule Charter! 

What is wrong with this picture? 

Several weeks ago, after discovering this serious flaw in what is essentially the Constitution of Barnstable County Government, I notified the relevant County officials about the matter, and respectfully requested the “oversight,” the 28 year old oversight, be evaluated and immediately corrected. 

To date, nothing whatsoever has occurred. A significant portion of the County Charter is still not there...hence, to the public’s detriment, the Charter continues to be deficient! 

Can you imagine if a portion of our United States Constitution or our Massachusetts Constitution was missing due to similar such oversight or neglect?

The public is asked to please contact the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates via email at: [email protected] or by phone at: 508-375-6761 and ask that they immediately correct their mistake forthwith, especially now that they have been appropriately informed about it. 

Thank you.

RONALD BEATY, Vice-Chairman 

Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners 


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