Gerry Weiss: Amherst charter would end checks and balances

Thursday, January 11, 2018
Charter would end checks and balances

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported last month on Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz’s veto of a new ordinance approved by the City Council, regarding the use of surveillance cameras in downtown Northampton.

The mayor also proposed some revisions that he feels will make the ordinance better. The City Council has the choice of overriding the mayor or adopting his revisions.

This kind of back and forth in the policy process — checks and balances — is the gold standard for democratic policy-making in this country, nationally and locally.

If Amherst voters on March 27 approve the proposed new charter, with a city council but no mayor or other executive with veto authority, and no Town Meeting, Amherst government will have lost this ability of different branches of government to balance and check each other in the policy process.

Gerry Weiss


The writer is a member of the Charter Commission and a former Select Board member.