LETTER: Legislation 'a proposal - not a forgone conclusion'

Published 2/12/18 - Newburyport Daily News
To the editor:

I am saddened that City Councilor at-large Bruce Vogel has sponsored legislation (Order #11) that would neuter the power of the City Council by requiring that virtually all legislation be run through the mayor, by way of the mayor’s staff, before it is filed.

Separation of powers, a basic civics concept, is vital to the operation of government and the ability for ideas to flow freely. It’s so vital that it’s codified in our local constitution (city charter). It’s unfathomable that anyone would support a proposal that would require senators and representatives to run their proposed legislation through the president before filing. While the proponent may argue that nothing more is required than an acknowledgment, gaming the rules to hinder or prevent ideas from being filed is unacceptable and muzzles the voice of the people. Let’s leave the circus of Washington, D.C., in Washington by rejecting assaults on the most basic tenets of our democracy.

When a piece of legislation is filed, it’s a proposal — not a forgone conclusion. Proposals are publicly deliberated and, if deemed worthy, sent to committee by vote for further deliberation where public meetings are held and all can have a say, impacts assessed, ideas exchanged, and ultimately votes/vetoes taken. It’s a process that should be public, transparent, honest and welcoming to all.

Sharif I. Zeid
Ward 1 City Councilor
Newburyport