Dick Bentley: Amherst government debate is about money

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Most of us Amherst residents, especially those who support a council-manager form of government, would acknowledge that this debate over Amherst’s political structure isn’t a civics lesson. The debate is about real estate development and money.

Yet, we understand the charter commission consultants were never asked to do any research or to provide any information on the likely effects of increased money in town government, including increased use of campaign contributions for lawn signs, newspaper advertising, posters, gala “events,” mass mailings, door-to-door solicitations, and further off-the-record “public relations” activities.

Nevertheless, it’s cheaper and easier to try and influence seven people (the majority in a town council of 13) than the 240 members of a Town Meeting. This might explain why developers and Amherst for All dislike the Town Meeting form of government so intensely.

Money will be the major issue, possibly the only issue, in the upcoming debate. If the consultants were asked to explore this issue relative to other communities and various forms of government, then Amherst voters deserve to know what the consultants reported and what recommendations were offered to the problem of big money in a small community.

If they are willing to share this information, Amherst residents will be most grateful.

Dick Bentley