Welcome to the small time. In the third attempt in the last 40 years to change their form of governance, and by less than a 1 percent margin, Framingham voters decided they’d rather be the state’s 14th-largest city than the country’s biggest town.
The vote, if it is upheld in an expected recount, is the result of a two-year effort by proponents to convince residents to trade in the increasingly unwieldy, but distinctly New England, town meeting set-up in exchange for a city council and strong mayor to whip the soon-to-be city into place. If the count is confirmed, there will be an election in November to choose the folks who will run the new city.
Framingham, which held the distinction of being the largest community in the country with a town meeting form of government, had clung to the tradition twice before, rejecting charter changes in 1978 and again in 1997. Of course, being the biggest municipality in the country with a town meeting form of government didn’t come with a lot of competition since only about 1 percent of the communities in the United States have that form, according to the National League of Cities.
The argument in Framingham’s previous jousts with change, as it was this time around, was whether to put the power of the people into the hands of a concentrated few, especially with a mayor who would wield singular appointment and managerial power. The voters, especially newer residents, opted for streamlined governance and the question will now be who, among the proponents, will step forward to take advantage of the switch.
The vote also holds questions for the Bay State’s remaining bulked-up towns. Brookline now holds the distinction of being the biggest town in Massachusetts, with about 60,000 residents, but there’s been no concerted efforts at charter change, just the occasional “hey, what if…?”
But the spotlight will turn to Plymouth, where voters have rejected several attempts in recent years to make America’s Hometown America’s Home City. While Framingham has steadily grown over the years and been among the largest communities in the state for decades, Plymouth’s population boom has happened in a burst, growing from just over 18,000 in 1970 to nearly 60,000 today with commercial and residential development still popping up on the miles of open and unused space in the state’s biggest community by land area. Backers of a change to either a council or mayor say the quaintness has long left the building and the town needs the certainty of focused leaders.
The trend to governance change has accelerated in recent years as technology and growth have spurred town officials and residents to rethink the structure to best serve the community needs. Consolidating decision-making and appointment power in the hands of professionals has been gaining ground over the traditional volunteer and civic duty approach to making a town work.
From 1942 to 1992, the number of municipalities in Massachusetts with the town form of government stayed static at 312 out of 351 communities, according to the federal Census Bureau. But the trend started to gradually shift to where there are now 298 towns versus 53 city forms of government, not including Framingham.
For some, though, it’s an identity crisis. There are 14 communities in Massachusetts with a city form of government but they were granted permission by the state to be referred to as “the town of…,” as in “The city known as the Town of Barnstable.” Some things are hard to let go.
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, makes the case for the millionaire’s tax. He says the state is no longer rolling in dough and blames an ineffective, regressive tax structure. (CommonWealth)
Gov. Charlie Baker is refiling a bill that stalled last session making assault and battery on a police officer a felony in cases where it causes serious bodily harm. (Boston Herald)
Attorney General Maura Healey reached a settlement with Boston-based Copley Advertising in which company agrees preemptively not to use cellphone location data to target women near abortion clinics with anti-abortion messages. (Boston Globe)
Medical marijuana shops are having trouble getting local approval because of the uncertainty around regulation of recreational marijuana sales and whether the medical pot shops could morph into full-fledged outlets. (Boston Globe)
James Aloisi says an op-ed attack on former House speaker Sal DiMasi was irresponsible. (CommonWealth)
A Rhode Island consultant who was awarded a $50,000 contract to oversee Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s branding and marketing initiative for the city helped write the request for proposals in which he was the winning bidder over three other firms. (Herald News)
Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson rips Police Commissioner William Evans at a Roxbury hearing on violence, saying he was “revictimizing” victims by recently declaring that the father of a 6-year-old shot on Sunday night in the neighborhood was the intended target. (Boston Herald) Evans was not backing down, though, repeating in an interview Tuesday night the department’s belief the boy’s father was the target. (Boston Herald)
A lawsuit claiming Springfield undervalues leases for cell phone towers moves ahead. (MassLive)
A former East Bridgewater selectman questioned his one-time colleagues on their social media practices after he says he was personally attacked by the current chairman in a Facebook post over his opposition to a private school that was approved by the Planning Board at the end of his street. (The Enterprise)
A Southborough selectman, saying he could not longer deal with the “factional crusade of assumption” by residents who questioned his ethics in dealing with a controversial Planning Board member, resigned from the Board of Selectmen Monday. (MetroWest Daily News)
A chemical weapon attack in Syria killed at least 50 people and as many as 100, including children, in a rebel-held area. (U.S. News & World Report) Though the government of President Bashar al-Assad denied involvement, President Trump issued a strongly worded condemnation of the attack and the Syrian leader but also blamed former President Barack Obama’s policies, even though Obama sought regime change and Trump has said he had no intent to oust al-Assad. (New York Times)
Four states (but not Massachusetts) ask the federal government to leave existing marijuana regulation in place. (Governing)
Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group says the problem for Republicans trying to repeal Obamacare is that many Republicans love Obamacare. (CommonWealth) Tracking poll data from Kaiser Health indicates two-thirds of respondents want Congress to figure out a way to make Obamacare work.
State Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman, an early and vocal supporter of Donald Trump in the state, has started an exploratory committee and is expected Wednesday to announce his challenge to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (Associated Press)
Boston mayoral candidate Tito Jackson, who has made the drug addiction problem a major issue in his campaign, worked years ago as a pharmaceutical industry sales rep and promoted a long-acting opioid to physicians and pharmacies. (Boston Globe)
Framingham-based office supply superstore Staples, which has struggled in recent years, could be ripe for a sale to private equity investors. (Boston Globe)
The NFL and Amazon reach a deal for streaming Thursday night games, leaving Twitter out in the cold. (Recode)
A Norfolk County jury has awarded a Quincy jeweler $34,500 for “emotional distress” after finding the employee of a competitor, who is also the son of the owner, posted a false negative review on the social media site Yelp. (Patriot Ledger)
The Worcester teachers union gets the green light to test schools for PCBs. (Telegram & Gazette)
Matt Patton of Fair Shot says Massachusetts needs debt-free college education. (CommonWealth)
The trustees of the Massachusetts Medical Society ask the group’s doctor members to embrace safe injection areas for drug users. (WBUR)
Federal officials approved the $2.3 billion cost estimate for the MBTA Green Line Extension to Somerville and Medford, and state officials have come up with an extra $64 million to plug the final spending gap. (CommonWealth)
Residents of the Wollaston section of Quincy welcome the idea of the MBTA overhauling the nearly 50-year-old Red Line station in their neighborhood but are upset the agency plans to close the station for 20 months starting in the fall to perform the work. (Patriot Ledger)
Observers spotted two right whale calves in Cape Cod Bay as the migration season hits its peak, giving hope to scientists that the decline in birth rates among the endangered species is beginning to reverse. (Cape Cod Times)
The rain over the past couple days has caused the Taunton River in Middleboro to rapidly rise, triggering the evacuation of some residents where flood waters measured 30 inches deep on streets that were only accessible by boat. (The Enterprise)
Stephen Dodge of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council says natural gas shouldn’t be the boogie man. (CommonWealth)
The Supreme Judicial Court hears a case on state law enforcement officials holding immigrants for the federal government. (State House News)
State Police pull over a car in Springfield for a crosswalk violation and find 2,000 bags of heroin. (MassLive)
A Middlesex Superior Court judge rejected a motion by Hopkinton officials to dismiss parts of a suit against the town in an action filed by the parents of an 11-year-old girl. The suit claims the couple’s daughter was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a science teacher whose “creepy” behavior had been reported by other alleged victims but ignored by school administrators. (MetroWest Daily News)
Jose Martinez, a former Lawrence District Court officer, is acquitted of raping a prisoner. (Eagle-Tribune)
Calls for Fox News to fire Bill O’Reilly after more reports of sexual harassment surfaced have increased and the number of advertisers who have pulled out of The O’Reilly Factor sponsorship has risen to 11. (New York Times)