To The Daily Sun,
The Ashland deliberative session on Feb. 3 will be of historic significance due to its consideration of a petitioned warrant article for a Community Rights Based Ordinance (CRBO). Ashland’s deliberation on this Community Rights Based Ordinance is part of a larger Civil Rights movement to acknowledge and provide for the right to local community self-government. In brief, a community affected by governing decisions has the right to make those decisions. The Municipal and County Government Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives is discussing Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 19 (CACR 19), which would provide for local community self-government. However, since rights are natural, it might be more suitable to say that adoption of CACR 19 would codify this right. Additionally, there have been 11 towns which have adopted similar Community Rights Based Ordinances.
The immediate political significance of this proposed Community Rights Based Ordinance is that it will be the first time the people of Ashland will be implicitly asked: Do the people of Ashland want Northern Pass?, and it may be the last opportunity for the people of Ashland to directly say ‘NO!’. However, the greater significance is that the people of Ashland will be asked: "Do you believe local community self-government is your right?" Ashland’s response to this question will likely have a meaningful impact on the legislative discussion, which could further or delay this significant change in the way we govern.
As the Ashland deliberative session approaches, it is noteworthy that there will be efforts to stop the Community Rights Based Ordinance from being considered as it was intended, as legally binding and enforceable. These efforts will likely call upon legal advice to declare the CRBO as "advisory only," in effect pre-empting the community’s inalienable right to peacefully “reform the old” government (NH Constitution, Article 10) through a legally binding and enforceable CRBO. Ultimately, efforts to deem this ordinance "advisory only" at the deliberative session will be motivated by a fear and anticipation that the Community Rights Based Ordinance will pass if voted on by the people as petitioned. This fear is based on the concern of an anticipated unfavorable judicial decision declaring the CRBO illegal and unenforceable, however, I trust that an “...impartial interpretation of the laws...” (NH Constitution, Article 35) will ultimately uphold the right to local community self-governance.
Those who attempt to make the Community Rights Based Ordinance "advisory only" will argue that it is much more proper to give an advisory vote, and then to wait for the Legislature to act on CACR-19. However, every inalienable right gives an inalienable power to act. For example, you have the inalienable right to speak, and therefore the inalienable power to speak; no one gives you the power to speak, it is natural. Likewise, the community has the inalienable right to self-government, and therefore has the inalienable power to affirm this right of self-governance by the self-governing act of adopting a Community Rights Based Ordinance. To wait for the Legislature to give us the permission to self-govern would be antithetical to the assertion that the right to do so is inalienable.
- Written by Edward Engler
- Category: Letters
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