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Up is Down, Right is Left

Elected versus Appointed officials - which one is easier to "get rid of"?

CLAIM: it is harder to remove an elected official than an appointed one.

To demonstrate that this is completely backwards thinking, two scenarios are are presented:

Scenario 1: An appointed board member sits in meetings on their phone not really paying attention, makes recommendations to limit citizens time to ask questions against procedural rules, and repeatedly says they don't really understand the ordinance during the meetings but they have some thoughts or questions. They make bad recommendations and decisions leading to extremely unhappy residents and potentially lawsuits. The appointed term is for three years, but residents demand the appointing board remove this ineffective member prior to their term being up. According to state law, the board member can be removed due to malfeasance, but town counsel advises it is very hard, almost impossible to do so, it will likely end up in court, and it most likely will be a decision made by someone wearing a black robe (see Deliberative session video clip#1 below). Additionally, the board member is a friend or neighbor of someone on the appointing board. Based on the legal issues and friendships, the appointing board does nothing and furthermore, when the person's term is up, renews it for another three years, since they feel this person is more "experienced" than someone new and they really do not want to upset their friend. Plus nobody will run against them anyway.

Scenario 2: An elected official is serving their second three-year term. Their head gets a little big, thinking they are now a major public figure in town. They start to have an attitude towards residents at meetings, looking down on them with folded arms, making snide remarks, demeaning people when they are not present to defend themselves and generally taking a position of "I know better than you little citizen". In the final year of their term, their rudeness increases and the town residents are extremely frustrated. Two residents announce they are going to run against the board member in the election. Even though they are an incumbent, after receiving 3 votes (their own, their wife's and their daughter's) they are voted out and replaced by a fresh new positive face!

How likely is scenario 1 to happen in Amherst? Please watch the video clip#2 below, when our Board of Selectmen were asked the same question regarding removal of an appointed official.

Bottom Line: It is clearly easier to remove an elected official through the election, than to remove an appointed official. This is just common sense.

Video Clip#1

Video Clip#2

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