HINSDALE -- A majority vote at a special town meeting next week would grant town voters rights to recall elected and appointed officials.

On Feb. 19, voters will mull Article 2, asking whether "any holder of an elective office [in Hinsdale] may be removed" for reasons of "lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties, corruption, malfeasance, or violation of oath."

Approval would mean that 100 registered voters could at any time initiate a recall. To complete the ouster of an elected or appointed official, they'd then require the signatures of 20 percent of the town on an official petition provided by the town clerk.

David Kokindo, a former selectmen, promulgated the cause. His citizen petition asking for recall power, submitted at a recent Hinsdale Select Board meeting, contained more than 300 signatures and triggered the special town meeting.

"We're definitely seeing awful strong support for it," Kokindo said. "It's a nice way to keep a level playing field."

Spurring the initiative was a nasty and prolonged fight over former Hinsdale Police Chief Nancy Daniels, who was fired by the Select Board last month.

Signers of the petition felt Select Board Chairwoman Bonnie Conner and Selectman William Goddard Jr. were unfairly biased toward Daniels.

Both officials maintained that Daniels was unqualified and had failed to complete training required by the Massachusetts Police Training Committee for full-time officers.

Leaving aside the fact that she's likely to be targeted for recall if the article passes, Conner said she considers the measure bad public policy.

"One hundred people can insinuate anything they like and start a recall procedure," Conner said. "No proof required. It negates the electorate."

The system, Conner said, works fine for small towns as it is.

"If you don't like what's going on, vote them out next time around at elections," she said.

If Article 2 passes, state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, will bring it before the Legislature for confirmation. Northfield, another town Mark represents, passed a nearly identical measure several years ago.

According to Conner, Mark agreed with her reasons for opposing the article in a private conversation.

Contrary to the claims reportedly made by some in the town in the lead up to the meeting, an affirmation of Article 2 won't return Daniels to the position of police chief.

Also on agenda at the meeting are 11 other warrant articles, which comprise a number of cash transfers from various town accounts -- most notably a $13,100 transfer from free cash to the Veterans Services-Veterans Aid Account and a $10,000 transfer from free cash to facilitate the replacement of a culvert on Old Dalton Road.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Kittredge School on Maple Street.

To reach Phil Demers:
pdemers@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD