A fact in Sunday’s editorial regarding Rumford’s scheduled vote, June 10, regarding a charter change to allow co-management with Mexico must be clarified: we spoke too soon. There won’t be a vote on this charter change June 10.

Rumford, predictably, has discovered a way to derail a rare issue that their current selectmen can agree upon, through a puzzling procedural quandary that seems suspicious.

Here’s what’s happened: On May 1, Rumford’s charter commission called an emergency meeting to draft new language that would allow Rumford and Mexico to share a town manager.

Selectmen on both riverbanks joyously supported the idea.

Now, some two-and-half weeks later, it’s been revealed that – per this same charter – the commission’s vote was illegal, because there isn’t enough time to hold a public hearing. So, the vote cannot occur June 10.

The solution is a special town meeting on the charter change, which guarantees it is debated loudly and tossed into a political frying pan, from which consensus is consumed. In other words, the Rumford status quo.

Which is the problem. Removing the charter change from the June 10 ballot subjects it to minority rule. Rumford is expecting one of its highest local turnouts in a year this June. Co-management is a major issue.

It makes great sense to allow the greatest number of voters possible to decide it.

We also wonder whether this charter amnesia is intentional. Normally, we disregard conspiracy talk, but this scenario has our tinfoil hats buzzing, and black helicopters swooping into our rearview mirrors.

Many in Rumford government know the charter’s every nook and cranny. Ignoring the procedural issues raised by the charter commission’s vote for more than two weeks seems suspiciously out-of-character.

At least one charter-watcher should have raised this procedural issue before the commission’s vote, and saved townspeople the headache of being told they would vote on something June 10, only to later discover they cannot.

But where were they? It strains belief that nobody, for two weeks, realized the charter commission acted errantly. This is believable in most other chartered communities, but not Rumford.

There the charter is known, and flexed, too well.

Either way, this delay is a boneheaded mistake, especially by the town’s solicitor, Tom Carey, who is not only tasked with interpreting the charter and statute, but also suggested charter changes for that May 1 meeting.

Rumford’s government and community all seemingly agree on something positive and progressive: pursuing a co-manager with Mexico is a good idea.

In government, unanimous consent usually makes things easy.

Why in Rumford does it make things harder?


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