More Concerns about “The Map”

Jeanne Mayell–Wellesley Townsman, March 10, 2016

“Gullible people, including me, believed the map, but it’s now been exposed as make-believe, if not intentionally misleading.”

The Town Government Study Committee (TGSC) has centered their case for why Wellesley needs to go to a town manager form of government on a map that is highly misleading.  The map, which is still on the TGSC website as well as the yesforwellesley website shows Wellesley’s executive director government as a lone island in a sea of town manager/administrator governments. How can this be correct when an executive director is just another name for a town administrator? Our own executive director categorized Wellesley as having a town administrator government in the Mass Municipal Managers’ 2010 Study on Structural Changes in Local Government (Map 11) of that report, which is viewable online. Their map, which is likely the source of the TGSC’s map shows Wellesley’s current form of government is comparable to many towns in our region.

This is no small detail since the TGSC began their many presentations to Town Meeting, Advisory, the Board of Selectmen, and the public by flashing their erroneous map as evidence that Wellesley is an outlier among similarly-sized towns, that our form of government is outdated and hasn’t kept up with the complexities of town affairs, while other towns have kept up.

Gullible people, including me, believed the map, but it’s now been exposed as make-believe, if not intentionally misleading.

As Dr. Marcia Simonson of the Harvard School of Pubic Health, an expert in municipal governments, pointed out in her commentary last week, Wellesley is not an outlier. Our current form of government is in the middle range of the towns around us, in terms of how power and responsibility is distributed among citizens, town meeting members, boards, and an administrator.  If we accept the town manager model that is up for referendum on March 15th, we will be on the more extreme end of town governments in terms of having centralized power invested in a single person.

It is time to vote no to a town manager, lest we go down a path based on erroneous assumptions that will be difficult to undo.

Jeanne Mayell, M.P.H., Ed.M

27 Seaver Street

Town Meeting Member