Resident responds to `Randolph councilor ousted from position' article
Click here for original article in the Randolph Journal-Sun, Nov. 22, 2020
To The Editor:
Your recent article, "Council president ousted from position," omitted the most important aspect of Burgess' resignation: the people of Randolph submitted a petition calling for Burgess' resignation. While hundreds of petitioners, including myself, are happy with the Randolph Town Council's results, we're unhappy that Burgess suppressed our petition for months.
Our petition, entitled "Resolution on Town Council Presidentís Decorum," called for Burgess to resign because of his pattern of bullying the public and his fellow Councilors. Our petition was duly submitted under Town Charter section 7.6, which requires a vote within 90 days. It's online at www.jessegordon.com/petition/
We'll withdraw our petition now that the Town Council has held the vote, and Burgess is no longer President. But Burgess' actions in suppressing the petition, if left unaddressed, have implications for the future of Constitutional rights in Randolph.
Burgess claims that he would have resigned "if you had asked for my resignation at a regular meeting." That's exactly what we tried to do with our petition -- but when I brought the petition to the Town Council, Burgess disallowed me from asking for his resignation. He claimed that I couldn't speak because the petition process had to be followed -- but the Town Charter doesn't bar petitioners from speaking! In fact, the Constitution's First Amendment is all about the right to petition and the right to speak -- especially when speaking critically about people in power. Burgess illegally barred me from speaking twice: once before the petition was submitted, and once afterwards.
I suggested publicly that Burgess recuse himself from any decision-making on our petition, since the petition addressed his actions. That would include deciding who should speak, and presiding over any vote.
Burgess' actions at the emergency meeting - which took over an hour to decide whether there should be a meeting at all - indicate the risks to a functioning town government when the President unilaterally decides who may speak and who may not.
We need to change the Town Council rules to require that the President recuse himself from presiding over criticism of the President. At the emergency meeting, Vice President Egan eventually conducted the meeting - appropriately and effectively - after Burgess walked out. That should be required when the President is criticized: the Vice President should conduct the discussion and any votes.
|Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368|
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