July 17, 2008

Minor says petition drive has over 3,000 signatures

Press release, just in from city Councilor Craig Minor:

City Councilor Craig Minor announced that the bipartisan petition drive to put the Chief Operating Officer question on the November ballot has hit a significant milestone.
“We had an extremely successful petition drive this past weekend,” said Minor, “and in tallying the results, we have now collected over 3000 signatures.”
After the Bristol City Council voted 5 – 2 in June against a proposal to put the question of hiring a City Manager before the people, Minor and fellow City Councilmember Ken Cockayne organized a petition drive seeking to get the proposal on the ballot anyway. The Charter Revision Commission, formed in 2007, recommended the City change the form of Bristol’s City government to include a professional city manager with the title of Chief Operating Officer (COO) to oversee the day to day operations of the City.
For the drive to be successful, 10% of the City’s registered voters, or approximately 3000 people, needed to sign the petition. Minor and Cockayne and Bristol residents Craig Yarde and Ken Johnson have been spearheading the drive.
Minor stated that the petition drive continues this weekend. Bristol voters interested in signing the petition can do so at the Bristol and Forestville Stop & Shops on Friday from 4 to 8pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 3pm.
“The people of Bristol deserve to have their voices heard.” Ken Johnson said. “We’re excited that our ballot initiative will give people that chance in November.”

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

If they reached their goal of 3000 why are they continuing the petition drive this weekend?

Anonymous said...

Awesome! This goes to show that the tax payers of Bristol truly care about what happens with their goverment! Let's hope the city council understands how people are thinking within the city.

Anonymous said...

to 5:29 Poster:

To insure thaT NO GAMES CAN BE PLAYED AT CITY HALL...the city clerk can through out 1 and the petition fails...sort of an insurance thing.

Anonymous said...

Be careful Craig, don't steal Johnson's thunder!

Anonymous said...

The petition won't pass muster for some eggregious errors (such as but not limited to ) stains .... accusations of impropriety.... smudges .... the union doesn't want it .... got lost in the mail .... was misplaced .... etc ....

Anonymous said...

great, now all of the voters will be able to vote "no" and kill this ridiculous effort of naught.

Anonymous said...

I hope they remove Ward's signature.

Thanks for nothing Mr. Mayor!

Anonymous said...

I'm still on the fence with this issue, but I can't help thnking that it couldn't hurt having someone with a business degree/business background vs. anyone off the street.

Anonymous said...

Minor/Johnson/Cockayne seem "Very Confident" that they'll have more than enough signatures by the Deadline of Friday,July 25th~
I hope it does get on the Ballot and that the Citizen's of Bristol will have a Vote for the COO...let's say the COO Position wins the votes...Have You Thought About:
1)COO Paid by City.
2)COO will need an Assistant... to be Paid by City.
3)COO gets Full Benefits...Paid by City.
4)COO's Assistant gets Full Benefits...Paid by City.
5)COO needs their own Office.
6)COO's Assistant also needs an Office.
7)COO needs Furniture for their Office...Paid by City.
8)COO Assistant also needs Furniture...Paid by City.
9)COO needs A Secretary...Paid by City.
10)COO's Secretary Gets Full Benefits...Paid by City.
11)COO's Assistant needs A Secretary...Paid by the City.
12)COO's Assistant's Secretary Gets Full Benefits...Paid by City.

*Minor/Johnson/Cockayne have some of you convinced that the COO Position(s) will save Our City $$$$$$~I JUST DON'T SEE IT!!!!!

*Paid By City=TAXPAYERS!

Anonymous said...

Don't mess with Art Ward.

Tim Gamache said...

Only if streamlining and reorganizing departments creates/saves the city more revenue than we pay the position(whole package ie. salary,benefits) will a COO prove to be beneficial.I find it a little troubling that some of the proponents of this change are arguing that it would be impossible to document how the position is creating more revenue than it is receiving in salary.If this is true,how do you validate the position?

Anonymous said...

If this passes, and I'm okay with it being on the ballot, I think over time we will look back and realize what a huge mistake this is. I hate the feeling that once you hire a COO/Manager/Whaterver You Wanna Call It we will be more or less stuck with this person for better or worse. That's because this person will have an employment contract with the City. Yes there can be termination clauses, etc. but I challenge anyone to find one such contract where the City or Town didn't pay something to get rid of a person they didn't want. Any attorney will tell you that. The person always sues and the City will settle it or fight it. Either way, it will cost money so even if you win, you lose.

On the other hand, it's easy to get rid of an elected official every two years. Look, people were pissed off with Couture and the mall so they tossed him quick and easy. And, as other posters have pointed out, the "Office" of the COO will need stuff and at least one staffer. Just watch. Let's keep control of our government and elect (or not) our leaders. Let's not be beholden to more contract employees.

Anonymous said...

There are about a dozen people at the Board of Education who make over $100,000 a year, and you are griping about hiring a professional city manager for roughly the same amount? What's wrong with this picture?

Hey, I got an idea: instead of hiring an experienced professional with a PhD to be the superintendent of schools, how about we replace him (at the same salary) with the most popular phys ed teacher? That makes a lot of sense, right?

Anonymous said...

Amen 9:05!

Anonymous said...

The issue I have with this idea of a COO is putting it in the charter. If this idea fails after a short period of time, or if it is determined to be too costly to the taxpayers, we are stuck with the position (and who ever is in the position) until at least the next charter revision and next election. I am having a difficult time trying to understand why we cannot simply create this position through the city council and personnel office like most other positions in city hall. I think most people would agree that the Mayor does need more assistants. This is not the issue. Why does it have to be locked in as a charter change? I think given the economic times, to be experimenting with a very costly position, and having it locked in the charter, is bad policy. Does anyone else feel this way? I do not necessarily disagree with the idea or concept, but I cannot in good faith vote for it as a charter change. I would like to entertain an intelligent discussion on this matter with bloggers.

Anonymous said...


You make a lot of sense (uncommon these days).
But, the politicians are hiding behind the Charter, hoping the people approve something that still is unclear, but "letting them have their say" sounds good.

Additional dollar costs are high, including many unbknowns such as relocation expenses etc.

Management will be unsettled as the proposed change does not seem to address potential conflicts.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

"I simply refuse to belive that there should be someone with that much power, who I have to obey, who can't be removed on polling day."

English MP Tony Benn

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with having a Mayoral Term Assistant, Aide or a Political Term Intern who can Stay Only as long as the Current Mayor is in Office.
1)It would help the Mayor for his term(s)in Office.
2)It would be a Great Learning Experience(Life Experience) for this Assistant and for the Citizen's of Bristol.
3)It would be Much Cheaper for the Taxpayers.
4)If the COO didn't work out for whatever reason we would literally be stuck with them...(as the 11:04 Poster mentioned)
5)COO+=Locked in Charter Change.
6) Mayoral Term Assistant=NOT LOCKED in Charter Change.
What Makes More Sense??????

Anonymous said...

I think that when the details become known, the populace, while possibly supporting a change, will not support this half baked approach.

The details might surprise some people.

Anonymous said...

If you know these nefarious "details", why don't you share them with everyone? Oh, that's right, because you don't...you're just stirring the pot with rumor and baseless innuendo. Which union to you belong to (and I do mean "belong!)?

chris wilson said...

Regardless of the details both sides of this issue are positioning themselves as if their position is a Panacea. It is not! I happen to be in Rhode Island this week and am following with amusement a local community trying to rid itself of its town manager!

The people esposing this change have some valid arguments but I do not believe they have made their case sufficiently to warrant such a change at this point. I will acknowledge that our current process does not necesarily attract candidates with the skill set to administer a 200 million budget along with the management issues. I am not sure necessarily such a candidate is out there as a city manager.

Government and companies for that matter require a certain ethos to be successful. If any of you have read Jim Collins "Good to Great" He talks at length about getting people of the bus all working for a common goal and purpose and rid yourself of those not working toward such common good. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately government doesn't have that option. We all must be realistic as to what this change can mean. I think some have set the expectations much too high. We still have the same people on the bus. We must, to be successful find a way to work for the common good without always trying to extract some political or vested gain.

whether we have a town manager or strong mayor will be meaningless unless we change our attitudes, culture, civility and ability to sacrifice for the the greater good!

Anonymous said...


You make some very interesting points and analogies. I am the poster from July 18, 11:04 AM. Unfortunately, there needs to be more "deep thinkers" in our elective circles of influence. I think alot of people get upset with other individuals simply because they do not agree with them or have a different perspective on the issue. This often times leads to a knee jerk reaction to "show them" and champion things that just shouldn't be. I, like so many others in this community, just want the negatives and positives with proposals to be equally discussed and debated so we can make "informed and educated decisions" when called upon to do so. I have never been a jump on the band wagon type of person especially when the results could be upsetting government as we know it. Incidently, this proposal is not a simple personnel change like adding a truck driver to the Public Works Dept. This change could potentially change Democracy in this city forever. I think there are far reaching effects with this COO proposal that are not being discussed, maybe for obvious reasons. I am curious why the issues in New London and Rhode Island with regards to town managers are not being discussed more frequently.

Anonymous said...

"This change could potentially change Democracy in this city forever."

Oh, I think you're being overly dramatic. According to the final report from the Charter Revision Commission, the COO will be responsible for ten things: (1) supervise department heads; (2) consult with "officers of the city"; (3) talk to and make suggestions to the Mayor and City Council on his own ideas; (4) talk to and make suggestions to the Mayor and City Council on their ideas; (5) provide "strategic planning and coordination" to the department heads; (6) "develop and implement the city budget in conjunction with the comptroller and the Board of Finance" and propose new initiatives to provide more efficient service; (7) develop a citizen complaint program; (8) "Aid the mayor and council in recruiting" people for appointed boards; (9) attend a lot of meetings; (10) other duties as assigned by the mayor and council.

And he can be removed at any time by a 2/3 vote of the council.

Anonymous said...

Chris Wilson is right in his assessment.

If this blog is any indication of the sentiment of Bristol's voting base (which unfortunately it seems to be) we will never be successful in moving our city forward. Too many people just seem to enjoy waiting for a train wreck in our city's efforts to move forward. The saddest part is that many people are actually out there pulling the pins out of the ties to accelerate the process.

Bristol will not improve unless a lot more people change their attitudes and recognize what our city can be. Staying with the current mayor form or changing to a city manager or COO won't make a difference if the people don't support it.

There appears to be far more concern about winning a political battle than realizing any real changes to our city's future.

The petty Democrat versus Republican battles keeps most reasonably-minded people away altogether because they recognize that national party platforms have little value in local government, and they are not interested in wasting their valuable time for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Wnenever a process change or a new idea is proposed, I first look at who is proposing the idea and what the motivation is behind the idea. If you look closely at the timeline of any proposed change one can usually discover the motivation behind the change. This, in my opinion, is the timeline of the COO proposal: 1) Art Ward is elected Mayor much to the dismay of Republicans and a few Democrats who thought Ellen Zoppo was the better choice (remember the primary) 2) A recently empaneled charter revision committee, whose members are direct appointees by the council, is on a mission to change government by proposing the COO change (at the request of certain council and charter members who are upset that Art Ward is Mayor, namely individuals who supported Ellen Zoppo) 3) Craig Minor and Ken Cockayne form an unlikely alliance, after a dead in the water council vote against the COO position, pushing a city wide referendum because Art Ward was elected Mayor. Numerous individuals in various cicles have discussed the possibilities of choices to fill this new position if created with Ellen Zoppo's name coming up on the short list. Don't forget that Ellen was very friendly to Bill Stortz and Republicans while she was in office. In closing, I believe that the proposal of a COO is a direct result of certain individuals who are unhappy that Art Ward having won the election fair and square. This proposal by certain members of the charter revision committee, who I will not name, were appointed by certain councilmen to derail the Art Ward election and to unsurp the power of his office and to take away his power as Mayor. In football this is called an "end around" play. Does anyone else think that this proposal might be personally directed against Art Ward and was hatched simply out of frustration because Art actually won the election? I hate the thought of people being mislead that this proposal is really about a better way of government.

Anonymous said...

11:24 PM "and he can be removed at any time by a 2/3 vote by council"

You may be able to remove the individual (although with labor laws I don't think it is quite that simple), however, you cannot remove the position if it is in the charter without another charter revision. This idea should not be in the charter. It is unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

"In closing, I believe that the proposal of a COO is a direct result of certain individuals who are unhappy that Art Ward having won the election fair and square. This proposal by certain members of the charter revision committee, who I will not name, were appointed by certain councilmen to derail the Art Ward election and to unsurp the power of his office and to take away his power as Mayor."

You conspiracy-theorists keep ignoring the fact that the Charter Revision Commission was composed of seven democrats and republicans, and they unanimously endorsed the COO concept. It has nothing to do with Art Ward.

Anonymous said...

The decision to have a Charter Revision Commission was implemeneted way before: the democrat nominee was selected, and before Stortz chose not to run.

The thrust was to look at the feasibility of a City Manager in the true sense of the word, and the timing of the committee selection was to provide for a full year of implementation prior to the 2009 election cycle.

What has resulted is a watered down approach with significant lack of clarity, and one that leaves TOO many organizational decisions in the hands of the council, this one and subsequent ones.

Ironically Art would benefit if this passes and he is reelected.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing just gives more control to the council: Minor, Cockayne etc.

Tim Gamache said...

Too many unanswered questions,too "open ended."A "yea" vote from me would require a great deal more clarity.

Odin said...

Tim: Are your questions hypothetical scenarios? Or are they questions with answers that can be found in the Final Report of the Charter Revision Commission?

Tim Gamache said...

Odin:Both,I guess.Will COO have authority to dismiss?Will he/she share that authority with Mayor/Council?Will COO only have authority to reprimand,fine or suspend?Will the position require staff(most likely)?What will the total package(salary and benefits for COO and his or her staff be?Will COO be subordinate to the Mayor?Will the voters have any means to dismiss the COO if he or she should prove to be ineffectual?
Some or all of these questions need to be answered BEFORE the question of wether or not Bristol should adapt this change appears on the ballot in Nov. in the form of a referendum.
Once again let me state I am still troubled by proponents of the change stating it would be impossible to document wether or not the COO position is generating more revenue than it is receiving in salary and benefits(to include any staff).

Anonymous said...

Will the COO COO get a car?

Will the COO COO be the highest paid city (not education) employee, higher than Klocko, Divinere, Pose?

Will the COO COO have an office, a staff of at least one?

Will the COO COO get relocation expenses if necessary?

These are just a few of the conscerns that exist: there are many more.

Will there be a public forum at which the public can get their questions answered?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the 9:00AM,1:50PM and 4:18 Posters~

As I had mentioned in one of the earlier Blogs about this Petition(signatures) and the Deadline that Minor/Johnson/Cockayne and others that they would make up ANY EXCUSE to Blame City Hall (Art Ward etc.) for their Half __s way of getting the signatures (not witnessed). It's YOUR Fault~NOT City Hall!

You're STILL BURNING about Art Ward Winning Fair and Square as Our Mayor ~ when you pull the Shenanigan's you're pulling...You're gonna get Burned Again~When are you going to Learn and Let Go of Your Resentment?

Are you making up this Poor Excuse because Craig Minor changed his mind again???????

Anonymous said...

"It has nothing to do with Art Ward"

Ya, right...and if you believe that, I've got a bridge I want to sell you.