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Selectmen: Citizens United Article Should be a Petition

The Board of Selectmen got a sneak peek at a draft warrant for the upcoming Town Meeting last night.

The warrant for the upcoming Town Meeting may feature some interesting articles, according to a preliminary draft reviewed by the Board of Selectmen at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The board convened in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room at the Town Hall to hear a number of matters, one of which was a preview of the Town Meeting warrant, and judging from the reaction of the board, the most controversial item—a nonbinding resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling that allows unlimited spending by corporations, unions and other groups in elections—will not be receiving sponsorship by the Board of Selectmen.

“I think it should be a petition,” said Selectman James Bonazoli, referring to the process to get items not sponsored by an official town body onto the Town Meeting Warrant. 

The resolution, Article 17 in the draft warrant, was introduced by the Reading 99 Percent, and will, in all likelihood, still make it to the big show, as only 10 signatures are required to make the warrant.

The landmark Citizens United decision in 2010 by the Supreme Court stated that corporations and unions should not be limited in the amount they can donate to political causes because those donations are protected under the First Amendment.

Also on the proposed warrant is Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner’s plan to shrink the size of Town Meeting, due to waning participation in recent years.

This year, because of redistricting, all Town Meeting members were required to stand for reelection. Of the 192 current seats, only 134 residents pulled election papers, meaning over 30 percent of Town Meeting seats have no one running for them.

For a look at the complete draft warrant, please see the attached PDF files.

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