additional commentary by Timothy Horrigan
(member of the House Petitions & Redress Committee)
This petition was inspired by a bit of a controversy over the City of Rochester's proposed re-zoning plan. A committee met for almost a decade without (in most cases) keeping minutes. The result of their work proved to be highly unpopular, and Rochester Reps. Cliff Newton & Susan DeLemus collected over 300 signatures from angry citizens. Remedy #III is more drastic than it appears: the petitioners are asking that the Mayor and other officials be summarily removed from office (on the grounds that they have violated their oaths of office.) Remedy #II would have been drastic if the bill in question (HB 1223-FN) had in fact been passed into law: the officials could have been fined up to $2500 and (even more importantly) would have been personally liable for attorney's fees. (The bill did pass the House Judiciary Committee by a 12-0 vote, and it is scheduled for a March 7th or 8th vote by the full House. However, it has several more hurdles to jump after the House vote.)
The ranking Democrat on the Petitions & Redress Committee, Sandra Balomenos Keans, is also one of the city councilors who voted unanimously against the rezoning plan. The ruckus is not over the demise of the plan so much as it is over how to go about drawing up a new one to take its place.
Rep. Newton has described the rejected plan as "the fruit of a poisonous tree." He wants it to be abandoned altogether: others are OK with using the rejected plan as the basis for a future plan.
PETITION FOR REDRESS OF GRIEVANCE
TO: The Honorable House of Representatives
FROM: Petitioner Representative Clifford Newton, Strafford 1
DATE: January 27, 2012
SUBJECT: Grievance of Randall Bowen, Shona Bowen, Jerry DeLemus, Robert Gates, Thomas Kaczynski, Jr., and 308 additional petitioners, all of Rochester, New Hampshire.
Your Petitioner Representative Newton on behalf of Randall Bowen, Shona Bowen, Jerry DeLemus, Robert Gates, Thomas Kaczynski, Jr. and 308 additional petitioners, all of Rochester, New Hampshire, hereinafter presents the following summary of their grievance and invokes the constitutional authority and duty of the Honorable House of Representatives pursuant to Articles 31 and 32 to bring about redress:
Grievance involving the Comprehensive Rezoning Committee appointed by various mayors of the city of Rochester for failing to keep records from 2002 to the present as required by Part 1, Article 8 . of the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, and against Thomas J. Jean, mayor of the city of Rochester; the Rochester city council; and the Rochester planning board and its chairman Lionel Sylvain, for acquiescing in the violations of law committed by the Comprehensive Rezoning Committee.
Wherefore, your Petitioner prays that the House of Representatives consider this proposed remedy:
Order the mayor, the city council, and the planning board of the city of Rochester to vacate the Comprehensive Rezoning Committee proposal, including maps developed as a result of the long-term illegal actions of the Committee and begin anew any comprehensive rezoning with proper records.
Request the Redress of Grievances Committee to review and support HB 1223-FN of the 2012 legislative session relative to remedies under the right-to-know law.
Order the implementation of the penalties under RSA 92:2 against any officials determined by the committee to have knowingly participated in the violation of the law.
Introduce a bill requiring that any zoning actions taken by a city or town using illegally created documents shall be null and void.
Respectfully submitted by Petitioner Representative Newton on Behalf of Randall Bowen, Shona Bowen, Jerry DeLemus, Robert Gates, Thomas Kaczynski, Jr., and 308 additional petitioners, all of Rochester, New Hampshire.
Co-petitioner: Representative Susan DeLemus, Strafford 1
Other 2012 Petitions:
Official Petitions & Redress committee page (not much to see here)
Rep. Kevin Avard's "Speak Up!" videos