By Christopher Maidment
Citizen Petition articles are likely nothing new to you, being good citizens of New Hampshire, but just in case, a citizen’s petition is when at least 25 citizens (under normal circumstances) gather signatures together and add an amendment to a town warrant. It’s a way of keeping the powers that be in check, a way for the citizens’ “Legislative Body” of each town to change the rules without approval from the Selectboard, Planning board, or Zoning board. 25 signatures and it goes on the ballot for The People to decide.
What you might not know about is a protest petition. Yep, that’s right, like watching a good ole debate in the well of the NH General Court. A protest petition requires 20% of the property owners, by land area, to sign on, and if it successfully garners enough signatures it raises the bar from a simple majority required to pass the original petition to a full two-thirds majority. A pretty good system of checks-and-balances, in most cases. Simply present the protest petition to the Select Board a minimum of 7 days before voting day, and presto, The People of the town will be notified that now you need a 2/3rds majority instead of 50% + 1.
“The People will be notified.”
Right. That part is where things get…. er, mmmm….. sticky, especially in Peterborough.
Yes, Peterborough again, sorry to bore you all. But since we have the benefit of being the only town meeting happening next week (to my knowledge, don’t fact check me) you get to hear all about Our Town, again.
And wouldn’t ya know it, this edition again stars none other than Kate Coons, Chair of the League of Women Vote Stealers – PeterboroughPlus, and proud supporter of New Urbanism, whatever that means.
Skip’s note: New Urbanism, see also “rack’em and stack’em”high-density housing; with small apartments or condos – shared or “co-living spaces.” Applied with an emphasis on public transit, bicycling, walking modes of transportation – all Government decreed, mandated, and supplied. In this case, in a very small rural village in nowhereville of NH. This explains Coon’s very sour look when after the candidate’s night (yes, I still have to post up the videos!) when I said the one new thing I got from the event was that “I had never heard of such a small town talking about New Urbanism and Density.”
Only this time, we don’t have to battle the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript (“MLT”), they’re on our side, I think.
At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, where many attended to discuss our plans for a new DPW shed versus a renovation of the existing one, where even a reporter from the MLT attended to report on the proceedings, nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen. Until everyone left.
That’s when Nicole Macstay, Deputy Town Administrator, presented to the Select Board a protest petition started by Kate Coons and delivered by Ivy Vann (I’ll start writing more about Ivy soon, since she’s further left than even Rosemarie Rung.) The Select Board – to their credit – legitimately looked caught off guard on the streaming video, and none of them have probably seen a protest petition before in their life, since most years no one here gives a hoot and just lets the town administration do what they like. Which is what makes this so interesting.
First, why did Nicole Macstay wait until everyone had left to announce the protest petition? Why then, when the selectboard learned about it, did they seem satisfied with notifying as few people as legally required? To Selectman Miller’s credit, she asked if it legally needed to go into the paper, to which Ms. Macstay said “well, it doesn’t hav[vvvv]e to.” Why then, was the Select Board content with just the bare minimums? Kudos, to the Editorial Board at the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and Ben Conant, who I tumbled with just last week, for asking these same questions. We agree that The People deserve to be as informed as possible regarding Town Elections and what their votes mean.
Back to the underlying issue:
Ivy Vann, chief propagator of drive-thru-less new urbanism (again, what?) has been pushing through zoning changes over the past few years to, I don’t know, Make Peterborough Great Again, or something (heh!). And some people in town didn’t like what changed, so they’re pushing back. Can’t have that! Someone, somewhere, can spend some time tracking down who would stand to benefit financially from all the new urbanism stuff, but I don’t have the time or the willpower — but there are definitely questions that should be asked there, and that deserve answers.
So Ivy Vann and Kate Coons get together to protest The People of Our Town and make them bend the knee and admit defeat. How dare The People challenge the New World Order Liberal Paradise folk.
The only trouble is that their protest petition appears illegitimate. I could get into the wonky RSA stuff and the conversations with the lawyer folk and the Attorney General’s office, but you don’t care that much. Suffice it to say, it’s probably illegal (emphasis on the probably) and a lawsuit is likely, should it end up mattering at all (if the vote falls between 50% +1 and 66.7%) — won’t that be fun!
The back door democracy-in-darkness style of politics in Peterborough WILL end, whether the Old Guard here like it or not. They better take notice.