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Charter Commission Study Question Likely to Pass

With absentee ballots, poll question has 98 vote advantage.

Judging from the latest numbers, Springfield's Charter Commission will probably be convening next year. 

The five-member commission is charged with studying Springfield's needs and recommending a form of government for it to adopt. The question of whether such a commission was necessary was put to Springfield voters on the 2012 ballot. 

While the initial tally of votes provided by the Union County Clerk's office indicated voters didn't want the commission, it has a near-100 vote lead after absentee votes were counted. According to numbers provided by the Springfield Township Clerk's Office, 2311 Springfield voters favor the Committee's formation and 2147 oppose it. 

The vote is not final, . Nonetheless, several notable election observers have remarked that the vote is likely to pass. 

The formation of the Charter Commission was supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. The Democrats have charged Republican Mayor Ziad Shehady with engineering the commission to change our form of government to a directly elected mayor and creating a full-time job with executive powers for himself. In debates and other public comments, Republicans have stressed that as the Commission is composed of residents, it is a way for the people to decide their own form of government. 

In addition to voting for or against the commission, Springfield residents also voted for prospective members. The votes, including absentee ballots, are as follows:

  • Jim Bonacorda             865
  • Denise Devone            1,081
  • Hugh Keffer                1,072
  • Cunningham               1,036
  • Geri Bujnowski            922
  • David Mitchell             846
BART FRAENKEL November 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Adam, can you please clarify what the charter study commission members will do; how the process works; and the anticipated time frame before the public is informed of any decision?
Bob Groder November 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I am curious how the study will be conducted & I also want to say I hope it is done without ANY political influence. The article pretty much sums this up as one of the current mayors ideas. Before I pass judgement on how I feel I want to see what the study brings out. I want to be 100% informed UNLIKE the board of health issue which was done mostly in secrecy especially after last nights vote was taken to remove westfield & enter into a contract negotiation with the town of madison & NO public comment was allowed until AFTER the vote which isnt what I pay taxes for. I want my government be it in Springfield, Trenton or Washington to be accountible to the taxpayers. This didnt take place at the wednesday night vote at the BOH meeting. I was quite upset at how the board of health was constructed to begin with as the public spoke out against the reformation of it but it was done anyway. I also was opposed at this deal being made without much public input. I also was told by some that we were lied to in that if we let westfield continue past November 30 it would be for 1 year. There was no automatic renewal. Too much that goes on in Springfield has political overtones & im getting sick of that taking place. If this commitee is setup just to appease our current mayor then im totally against it. If however it will be run in a NON political format WITH NO INTERFERENCE FROM ANYONE from the TC there is nothing wrong with a study after 50 years or so since the last one.
Adam Bulger (Editor) November 15, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Bart. You know how people say "good question" when they don't know the answer to something? Well, you're asking some very good questions. I am not sure if any of this has been officially set, particularly with regards to time frame and announcing results (after all, the commission hasn't yet formed) but in any event, I will look into it for a follow-up article.
Anonymous89 November 15, 2012 at 06:05 PM
It appears that there's already been political interference by changing the negative vote to a passing one. Luckily for the politicians, Hurricane Sandy happened - opening the doors even wider for voting fraud and corruption. I was one of those naive residents who thought this was actually up to us but I see now that it's much bigger and was a done deal before it was placed on the ballot.
Bob Groder November 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Anonymous89 you are so right unfortunately. If you attended the BOH meeting last night not a single person was allowed to comment on the vote to remove Westfield and then enter into a negotiation with the Madison health dept. Instead yes the public got to speak out BUT ONLY AFTER the vote was taken. In other words this was a done deal before the meeting started and the public all of us taxpayers had no say whatsoever. This charter study is Ziad's doing as he wants to become a full time mayor something Springfield doesnt need for a town of our size. We dont need a full time mayor who can continue to run meetings without allowing public input. At least if the democrats are in control people will be allowed to speak and hopefully convince them to do whats good for the people of Springfield. By monday November 19 we should know the full results of the election and the direction the town is heading in 2013.
BART FRAENKEL November 16, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Bob, the BOH is a whole separate issue. And while it doesn't surprise me, nor should it surprise anyone that a decision was made before the public was allowed to speak, hopefully the majority party in 2013 will address this issue and reinstate an independent BOH that is not controlled by the governing body. As for the charter study, it appears that some of the people elected to serve on the commission have expressed strong opinions about what needs to be done, both pro and con, and that isn't something that will serve the community in terms of impartiality. It was my belief that the people were tasked with gathering information and making a presentation and not to attempt to push forth their personal agendas. Hopefully something good will come out of it one way or another.
Bob Groder November 16, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Well said Bart. I know the BOH is a separate issue but since they make everything political currently without regard for public input I make sure i try to educate the public on anything to do with the 2012 town council not giving the public input. I agree and hope 2013 the negativity at TC meetings does away and people are allowed to speak without fear of being talked down to.
Shane Ronan November 16, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I am curious why people think the town would be better off with an "Independent" Board of Health? Or why the town is at higher risk for food borne illness because we switch from one Regional Department of Health to another. Both Departments of Health conduct the SAME inspections using the SAME criteria, set out by the State. The current BoH is made up of ALL members of the TC, plus four independent members of the public, two primaries and two alternates. Both of the current primaries are medical doctors as is one of the alternates, the last alternate (myself) is an EMT. How many medical professionals were on the former independent BoH? What OBJECTIVE criteria do you think should have been used to make the decision on which regional Department of Health to continue using? Continuing to use Westfield simply because they've been around a while is not a good enough answer, nor a good enough reason to pay higher fees.
Shane Ronan November 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
As for the town not needing a full time mayor, based on our size. If we don't need a full time mayor, why do we need a full time township administrator? Right now the township administrator "runs" the day to day operations of the town, but is not elected. Wouldn't you rather elect a full time mayor to hold this position?
Bob Groder November 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
We dont need a full time anything in this town of this size so i do agree with you to some extent shane. as for needing a full time mayor the commission and then the voters will ultimately decide whats best. I agree times do change but the more full time postions you add to any town the more you add to the taxes we all pay. I believe in doing things as efficiently as possible. We dont need to pay anyone full time lifetime benefits that usually comes with the job when the town is running ok. We arent the size of a newark or other larger sized towns who do need those full time majors. We are a dinky town in union county who doesnt need more government. as it is we have too much government in both trenton and DC and nothing gets done easily due to party politics. Less is better to me in all forms of government. To take a perfect example in america today hostess foods is shutting down their operation due to the costs being too much but the higher ups and ceo's etc will take home millions while the regular worker loses their job. In any corporation or town government if you have too many chiefs who earn benefits but not enough indians you end up adding to the cost of running a company or town. there isnt much of a difference between how a corporation or town is run.
Bob Groder November 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Shane it is a fact that several towns which rich huber brought up at wednesdays BOH meeting couldnt wait to get away from Madison due to them not being happy with their service. Dont ask me the towns names as i didnt take notes but Rich Huber has that info and I was surprised to hear that so many towns who use Madison couldnt wait to opt out of their contract with them.You get what you pay for so if you Madison is cheaper im sure they are offering less service and they dont have a full time health inspector like we had with Helen. I was happy when I know a person like Helen was being tough on the restaurants in town as it meant she had springfields residents interests at heart. I had an incident happy at a place in town just 3 days ago and i called helen and within 24 hrs she called me back the the problem was taken care of. also why did this current BOH refuse to put in an opt out clause for madison? whats the harm? They didnt hesitate to put in an opt out clause with westfield who we work well with for many years but with a totally unknown commidty such as Madison to not even be willing to put in an escape clause was done for political reasons and isnt looking out for springfield residents interests 1st.
Bob Groder November 16, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Shane I want a total new BOH come 2013 with mostly professional health care people. For example Dr. Bialary to me from being at 3 BOH meetings is a totally neutral qualfied non partisin dr to be on the board. no offense but some of the appointed people were put on by the republicans as the whole deal was done without much input from the public. In fact had you been at the meeting on wednesday i think you would be appaled that the vote was taken about Westfield & Madison without a single person being allowed to speak until after the fact. Thats not why I pay all of these taxes for. I want the new board come 2013 to be based on all NON POLITICAL parties. I dont want decisions based on politics which this current BOH was done with. I know that it was done because the republican mayor had an issue with Dr. Shah. I dont want the democrats behaving the same way should they reform the BOH in 2013. I WANT NO POLITICS dictating how the BOH is to be run moving forward. I know im living in a dream world unfortunately but that to me is how an independent BOH should be run. Noone with connections to a political party should be involved.
Shane Ronan November 17, 2012 at 01:59 AM
LogicaSeeker said it all.
Bob Groder November 17, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Logic seeker: I type very quickly as im working at the same time. I try to spell correctly as much as I can but when one is in a hurry misspellings will happen. sorry about that.
Bob Groder November 17, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I said my peace on this issue. Its done and over with. Time to move on to other issues as im sure more things will need to be addressed in 2013. Lets hope for a smooth transition once the election results are final sometime next week. Have a good weekend everyone.
Jim Bonacorda November 18, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Hi Bart - my letter to the Editor (http://springfield.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-from-a-prospective-charter-commissioner-03c067ab) explains what a Charter Study Commission does, and my position if I am chosen to be a member. Hope this answers your question.

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