It's a simple, adopt a municipal charter. Good-bye one man one vote. Enter the Hackarama.
Case in point: Manchester and the attempt by CITIZENS to put a spending cap in the Manchester Charter with the enabling legislation provided to them in the RSA's. No matter what you do, if you are a taxpayer, the odds are stacked against you from day one.
I met with Karl Beisel this week about the spending cap there. Karl is one of the concerned taxpayers attempting the change.
Now a stumbling block appears. He is working on his appeal from a decision signed by the Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, and Assistant AG, “Bud” Fitch that the petitioned charter amendment is legally flawed. Those of us trying to stop voter fraud in NH are well aware of what these two can do to avoid the clear meaning of state statutes. So here comes the same-old-same-old about the “concerns” they have about the petitioned tax cap language. Check this nonsense out.
Under state law these two and possibly the DRA get to review any proposed charter amendments for legality. That in itself should be a clear warning the game is one-sided beyond the fact that this is not done UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY GOTTEN ALL THE SIGNATURES YOU NEED!
Nope, you can not draft a charter amendment and have it checked by this crowd before the process starts, you get invested before you get the shaft. The problem is it looks like this time Karl and his gang have a pretty tight legal document. You be the judge as I explain.
The state law is RSA 49-B that enables a municipality to adopt or amend a charter. Some highlights:
“49-B:5 Charter Amendments, Procedure. – ....
II. On the written petition of a number of voters equal to AT LEAST 20% of the number of votes cast in a municipality at the last regular municipal election, but in no case less than 10 voters, the municipal officers shall, by order, provide that proposed amendments to the municipal charter be placed on a ballot in accordance with the procedures set out below.”
So Karl and the boys did this. They got AT LEAST 20% of the names as per the law. So far so good, we are all still speaking English.
Then comes Gardner and Fitch to review the petitioned spending cap for the specific wording needed to meet state law and “shazaam!” a problem crops up as usual.
It seems, according to Gardner and Fitch, that the 11 members of the 14 member Board of Manchester Alderman required in the proposed spending cap for any override is more that the law allows!!!! Gardner and Fitch state in their opinion that the law requires 2/3rds and that would be 10, not eleven, aldermen to override, so too bad Karl and the 5000 taxpayers who signed the petition, better luck next year.
So let's review Gardner and Fitch's “logic” with state law they quote.
In that regard they point out the problem with raising money through bonds in RSA 33:9 if the spending cap passed with the 11 instead of 10 aldermen having to meet the 2/3 RDS super majority. RSA 33:9 says in part:
33:9 City Bonds. – The issue of bonds or tax anticipation notes by a city shall be authorized by a resolution of the city councils, passed by AT LEAST 2/3 of all the members of each branch thereof.
If the petitioned spending cap requires 11 aldermen isn't that AT LEAST 2/3 RDS?
Then Fitch and Gardner point out the supposed problem with RSA 45:9 which reads in part:.
45:9 Mayor Presiding; Veto. – He shall preside in the board of aldermen and in convention of city councils, and shall be ex-officio chairman of the board of overseers of the public welfare. He shall have a negative upon the action of the aldermen in laying out highways, and in all other matters; but shall have no vote except in case of an equal division; and no vote can be passed or appointment made by the board of aldermen over his veto unless by a vote of 2/3, AT LEAST, of all the aldermen elected.
Once again, isn't 11 AT LEAST 2/3 RDS if 10 is?
And if AT LEAST means exactly isn't the whole petition illegal because they got more signatures than they needed in the first place?
So much for citizen participation in NH.
Coalition of NH Taxpayers