Four Out Of Five Bylaw/Charter Review Committee Members Resign

By: William F. Galvin

Gavel.

HARWICH — Four of the five members of the town’s bylaw/charter review committee resigned this week, leaving one member, Tina Games, remaining.

Reasons for the resignations varied.

“It’s time to do other things, it’s time to do other things,” Sandra Hall, the committee chair and chair of the town’s initial charter commission, said on Friday of her resignation.

Hall said she told the members of the committee in their last meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24 that she was going to resign. Town Clerk Anita Doucette, Carol Thayer and Deborah Sementa also resigned.

“There are things I’d like to get out that I can’t get out as a sitting member of the committee,” Hall told The Chronicle. “I’d like to speak a little more freely on the charter on my Facebook page.”

Hall administers the Harwich Old Timers Facebook page, which often espouses political opinions. Hall said she believes she can accomplish more working through her Facebook page.

“I’m not happy with the way things are going with the board of selectmen. We need to revisit the whole charter compliance issue,” Hall said. She also said there are no chances of getting changes through with this board and she believes her chances of making changes are better as a private citizen.

Hall has served on the committee for five years. She was also a candidate to serve as the selectmen’s representative to the community preservation committee. She was recommended for the position by the board’s interview subcommittee, consisting of Selectmen Michael MacAskill and Donald Howell, but in a 3-2 voted the board rejected the appointment.

Hall, who previously served as a selectman, said it may even be time to establish another charter commission, an elected group that would be charged with rewriting the town’s constitution and defining the operation of town government.

When asked if she thinks there is a need to change the selectmen and town meeting form of government, Hall responded, “I’ve always felt it doesn’t matter what the construct is, it’s the people in the seats. I don’t know if it would change that dynamic.”

The role of the bylaw/charter committee is to review town bylaws and submit proposed revisions to town meeting at least every five years, and to review the charter and submit proposed revision to the board of selectmen. The committee is also charged with reviewing articles proposing changes to the bylaws and charter and making recommendations to town meeting.

“This probably was one of the only all girl-committees the town has ever had, and it was a good working group,” Hall said.

Doucette said next year she will be charged with overseeing the 2020 federal and state censuses and state and federal elections, and it would be difficult to continue serving and devote the time required. Doucette has served on the committee since 2005.

In her letter of resignation, Sementa said other commitments and family obligations “have become too great for me to be able to fulfill the requirements of my position on the committee and I feel it best for me to make room for someone with the time and energy to devote to the job.”

Thayer could not be reached for comment.

The four resignations were dated Sept. 25 and were effective immediately.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Games, the group's last remaining member, said on Monday.

Selectmen on Monday night were scheduled to hear the annual report of the bylaw/charter committee. The board agreed to put off the agenda item. The board did not discuss the resignations.