Comments on the Ballot Questions
The Town of Ridgefield has provided a brief explanation of the questions on the 2014 ballot.
The following, written by Doug Kleinmann, provides one Republican's view of the ballot questions, along with supporting rationale.
1. Remove Connecticut constitutional requirements to appear in person at the polling place on election day, and to provide reasons for absentee voting.
NO. Connecticut citizens' voting rights are guaranteed in our constitution. This amendment would allow the legislature to modify those rights with simple majority votes in the General Assembly. Thus, the legislature could exploit this as a blank check that to skew the outcome of future elections, much like the practice of gerrymandering.
2. Amend Town Charter
NO. The language of the question -- "certain technical and administrative changes" -- trivializes 14 changes to be made, but does not define or argue for them. Most egregious is item (n), which reroutes the auditors contract from the Board of Finance to the Board of Selectmen. This change alone can break the balance between the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, and the Board of Education.
3. Change the Town Treasurer (Charter paragraphs 4-1, 4-9, 9-1 and 9-17)
NO. Election by the people has helped, over the last 171 years, to assure that the people hold the reins of accountability for professionalism, job performance, and integrity. Apppointees are often beholden to those who appoint them, so making this position an appointee of the Board of Selectmen removes power from the voters and further concentrates it in the Board of Selectmen.
4. Change the Tax Collector (charter paragraphs 4-1, 4-9, 9-1, and 9-17)
NO. Same argument as above, except that the Tax Collector has been elected for the last 142 years.
5. Add environmental review as a potential hurdle to property acceptance by the Town (charter paragraph 7-3i)
YES. This gives the Board of Selectmen the discretion to impose such a review before another purchase of property.
6. Treat Parks and Recreation as a department of the Town (charter paragraph 5-4)
NO. If the Parks and Recreation department weren't functioning, then this concentration of more power in the Board of Selectmen might be warranted. But it's not broken, so the shift of power is unjustified.
7. Any increases to the capital allocation, including those requested by the Board of Education, must be approved by the Board of Selectmen (charter paragraph 10-2).
YES. This change to the charter potentially protects taxpayers from budget hikes that are not widely supported.
8. Remove the responsibility for the town's annual budget from the Board of Finance and give it to the Board of Selectmen (charter paragraph 10-1)
NO. The Board of Finance is a critical element of the balance of power in the town's government, and this change would damage that balance.
9. Schlumberger property
NO. It's a bad deal for the town. The town would sell more than 12 acres to Sky Dome LLC for (up to) $3.45M, which is a bargain basement price for the most sigificant piece of land left in the center of town. Worse, the town retains the responsibility to do the environmental clean-up and site-preparation before taking any tax receipts from Sky Dome, who retain the right to sell it at any time.