Archived Opinion

Poll improper, but results will be revealed

To the Editor:

Last week I announced that I would be conducting an online poll seeking input about public sentiment surrounding the proposed Super Wal-Mart project.  Many community members responded, and I would like to give them my sincere thanks for their time and thoughtfulness.

This past Friday, the Town of Franklin’s attorney informed me that polls like the one I conducted are not allowed before hearings like the one to be held by the Board of Aldermen on Aug. 2. That hearing is a “special use permit” hearing and by state law has to be “quasi-judicial,” meaning that the board of aldermen can only make their decision based on information put before it during the hearing and cannot seek public input beforehand. Because I did seek input, the town attorney has asked me to recuse myself from the Aug. 2 hearing and not participate.

I do not agree with this feature of our state law nor was I aware of it. I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience and take full blame for not being aware of this situation.

Elected officials represent the public, both the majority and the minority’s opinions to make sure everyone’s ideas and thoughts are considered. I particularly try to take in the minority’s opinion.

I will abide by the town attorney’s request. The last thing I want to do is cause any legal difficulties for the town. Therefore, I will not participate in the Aug. 2 hearing, and I will keep the poll results to myself until after that hearing. I want to stress, however, that I can and will share the poll results after the Aug. 2 hearing.

The town attorney confirmed to me that the poll and its results are proper for any other board activities that are not “quasi-judicial.”  While I will not be participating in the hearing, I would remind the public that it is a public hearing, and anyone can come and give evidence on the question of the special use permit.

Thanks again to those of you who responded to the poll.

Bob Scott

Alderman, Town of Franklin

 

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