Scituate Home Rule petition list growing

Scituate Home Rule petition list growing

Last November, I made a promise to myself to begin to really pay attention to what was happening in Scituate because I was quite certain that my reality was about to shift in unexpected ways. Since making that promise, I have attended more town meetings than I would have thought possible. I have repeatedly spoken about the importance of public trust and the need to enfranchise the citizens of Scituate.

In May, when the Town Council asked for volunteers to consider a charter for Scituate (the only town in Rhode Island which does not have one), I submitted my name. I wasn’t chosen, but that turned out to be a gift because I quickly learned that the Council had already decided on a Legislative Charter. This decision denies the citizens of Scituate their right to a Home Rule Charter as outlined in Article XIII of the state Constitution. Section 1 of Article XIII tells us that it is the intention of this Article “to grant and confirm to the people of every city and town is this state the right to self government in all local matters.”

Thirty-six cities and towns in R.I. have a Home Rule Charter. Why isn’t this being done in Scituate? The only answer I have received is that a Home Rule charter “is not the task given by the Town Council.” I have also been told that it is a question of time. Certain members of the council want this done as quickly as possible. Home Rule requires a petition signed by 15 percent of the voters to put the charter question on a ballot so that people can have a choice of the kind of charter they want. I offered to take on the task of organizing a non-partisan group to the gather necessary signatures, pointing out to the Council that a Home Rule charter “of the people, by the people and for the people” could go a long way toward restoring some unity and vision to this town. Council members Mahoney, Payette and Amaral disagreed; Mr. Mahoney, indeed, denied my request to be on the council agenda in September and told me that I would “never be on the agenda.” However, Article XIII of the R.I. Constitution gives me the right to do this, so the Home Rule Charter petition did not die there!

Since mid-September, Mary Manning Morse and a small group of very determined Scituate residents have come forth to work with me so that a Home Rule Charter can become a reality for Scituate … and, best of all, the citizens of Scituate are responding enthusiastically to our efforts!

With thanks to the voters who have signed, I appeal to those who have not to please visit scituatehomerule.wordpress.com or contact me at scituatehomerule@gmail.com or 474-3848 to learn more about a Home Rule Charter and how you can give Scituate the gift of your signature this holiday season!

Ruth Strach

Scituate