It should be up to voters to decide
By By Leada Gore, Editor
There are certain topics from which Hartselle just can’t separate:
It’s the last topic that has most recently risen to the top of the list, with the presentation of a petition containing some 788 names calling for a referendum to change the way Hartselle chooses school board members. Petition organizers would like to see the city system’s board elected rather than appointed. They are asking that a referendum on the matter be set.
In order for that to happen, the local Morgan County Legislative Delegation has to set a date for the public to vote. For that to happen, the delegation requires a unanimous request from the city council.
And that’s where the problems arise.
As with last year’s effort to have a property tax referendum set, the council isn’t unanimous in its thoughts about holding a referendum, much less the appointed vs. elected school board issue itself.
Without a unanimous council vote, the referendum won’t happen.
The legislative delegation’s “unanimous only” policy isn’t state law, it’s simply tradition and one that needs to die.
The policy does have some merits. No one wants to see a barrage of requests based on 4-3 splits or one that doesn’t reflect a representation of the community. However, it’s virtually impossible to require a unanimous request on every issue before the public – the ultimate deciders – can have their say.
If Hartselle’s current council, generally a group that’s been able to work together well, can’t unanimously agree, than other less-functioning groups within our county are without hope.
Scheduling a referendum on the school vote issue isn’t tantamount to saying you agree with the proposal. There are multiple sides to that argument, ones that will be fleshed out in the coming months.
The issue here is whether the people can have their say. Assuming the signatures on the petition are accurate – and that’s a major assumption with any petition – 788 people, roughly 25 percent of the people who cast a ballot in the school tax referendum, want to have their say. It’s not the business of the council or the Legislative Delegation to stand in their way.
No matter how you feel about the elected vs. appointed issue, it’s time to cross this one off our list.