Daims v. Town of BrattleboroAnnotate this Case
Prior to a March 3, 2015 town meeting, plaintiffs submitted three separate petitions to amend the Brattleboro town charter. Among other things, the petitions sought to: (1) allow residents sixteen and older to vote at town meetings; (2) allow voters to seek a referendum on articles authorizing the Town to spend more than $2 million; (3) limit the terms of town meeting representatives;1 (4) hold the elections of town representatives and town officials in November rather than March; (5) require employers within the Town to provide two hours paid leave for employees to vote at town meetings; and (6) have the town grand juror enforce the minimum wage and function as a district attorney for the Town. An "information sheet" was prepared by the selectboard, then emailed to town meeting representatives, the media, selectboard members, town staff, and a few other persons who requested it. Among other things, the information sheet stated that: (1) setting term limits would be “anti-democratic” in that it would “ban Brattleboro residents from [t]own meeting[s] because they had attended six years in a row”; (2) moving elections from March to November “would damage the link between . . . important parts of government and leave Brattleboro out of step with the rest of Vermont”; (3) requiring employers to provide paid leave for employees to attend town meetings “would mandate Brattleboro employers to pay employees to attend town meetings in other towns and states” and would impact “Brattleboro residents [who] already face very steep property taxes”; (4) giving powers to the town grand juror, which “is essentially obsolete in this modern era,” is unnecessary “because enforcement of laws and ordinances is handled by other elected officials and clear structures”; and (5) “setting separate rules for voter review of budget items over $2 million is confusing and arbitrary.” On March 3, 2015, town voters defeated the three petitions. Plaintiffs appealed a superior court order granting the Town summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that the town selectboard unlawfully interfered (by way of the information sheet) with an election on their petitions to amend the town charter. Finding no reversible error in the superior court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed.