That said, there remain a few questions and inconsistencies in terms of Attorney Ehrhard’s position as it relates to “precedent” and/or past practice. First, he argues that this practice of joint appointments has been ongoing for “60 years”. The fact that no records have been found to substantiate such a claim, nor the reality of his being much too young to have walked this earth for 60 years, as well as the fact that no one who has could state with any level of certainty when this practice began, seems to be of no consequence to his position. This is more an argument of convenience that reads and plays well as a sound-bite, but in truth has no definitive historical timeline that can be adequately accessed. Clearly, even if such were the case it would be of no relevance as the Law always takes precedent over past practice, when in fact a clear law exists as it does in this case. No one - other that is than Mr. Ehrhard – has argued that the law is secondary to a past practice. Others on the TRSC have argued that we should continue past practice and I respect their position, but the issue of the law is quite clear – it must be followed, though Attorney Ehrhard would have otherwise. Or would he?
On 7 December 2010, I received a correspondence from the Sturbridge Republican Town Committee (of which Mr. Ehrhard is the Vice-President) indicating that the annual appointments to the Board of Registrars was not being done consistent with State Law. Per M.G.L. Chapter.51, Section 15 appointments to the Board of Registrars are to be made “…in towns by the selectmen from lists submitted by town committees of the two leading political parties”. Over at least the past 11 and perhaps 20-30 years, the practice had been for the Town Clerk to provide the names and the BOS to appoint based upon same. This became practice as the two local political parties had not been submitting any names, thus our Town Clerks saw the need to provide the names themselves based upon interest expressed to them. The local RTC had just become aware of the law and wanted it - as they should have - enforced. My response was quick and unquestionable as I conveyed that I, as an individual member of the Board, would ensure that we immediately came into compliance with State Law. All other members of the BOS were equally so committed.
Despite 11, and perhaps 20-30 years of annual “precedent”, the Sturbridge Republican Town Committee (RTC) – as they should have – argued for compliance with the law prior to any future appointments being made to the Board of Registrars. The Vice-President of the Sturbridge RTC did not argue – as he does now - that an annual past precedent be honored, but instead supported the argument that immediate compliance with the law must be initiated. Again, I and the other members of the Board of Selectmen – bound by the Charter to “…cause the laws and the orders for the government of the town of Sturbridge to be enforced”, which means as well that we cannot ignore the laws of the Commonwealth, moved immediately to ensure compliance and consistency with State Law.
Equally, on 4 May 2011, when I received correspondence from the Sturbridge RTC that the appointment of Election Officers (poll workers) was not, nor had been consistent with State Law - M.G.L. Chapter 54, Section 12 - for the past 11, or perhaps 20-30 years and that the law must be adhered to, my response was quick and unquestionable. I iterated that I, as an individual member of the Board, would ensure that we immediately came into compliance with State Law as we had no alternative. All other members of the BOS were equally so committed. The local RTC had just become aware of the law and wanted it - as they should have - enforced.
Despite 11, and perhaps 20-30 years of annual “precedent”, the Sturbridge Republican Town Committee (RTC) – as they should have – argued for compliance with the law prior to any future appointments in terms of Election Officers. The Vice-President of the Sturbridge RTC did not argue - as he does now - that an annual past precedent be honored, but instead supported the argument that immediate compliance with the law must be initiated. This is as it should be.
Now however, just a few months later, this very same attorney and member of the TRSC is arguing that State Law should be ignored and that instead, we should honor past practice. One can only speculate as to the purpose of such a convenient approach as it relates to the arguments both for and against “precedent” by this particular individual, but what the rest of cannot do is speculate as to when the laws and agreements we maintain - based upon those laws - should be enforced and adhered to. The answer, very simply and unequivocally is always; we are after all a nation founded on the Rule of Law.
Finally, lest there be any misrepresentation or misunderstanding of what is written here, let me be very clear; I am a Republican and a conservative; as such, I value the law and principles over convenience and personalities. Thus, this is not about the local RTC as they are not affiliated with this issue, it is about how one of its senior members determines when it is convenient for him to respect the rule of law and when he conveniently decides otherwise. Blinded by an extremist ideology as well as intellectual, political, and social intolerance, this individual has time and time again demonstrated intellectual dishonesty and an ever-changing set of principles depending upon the benefit to him and his cause. Secondly, this is not about the other members of the TRSC as I believe most of them to be truly honorable and doing what they believe to be an appropriate course of action for them. To that end, I respect the majority of those members for their conviction on what they may see as principle. I do know without any doubt that for one, and most possibly two members of the Sturbridge block of the TRSC, this is all about personalities, as well as a personal agenda and nothing more. Their behavior - as reflected in a previous post - has certainly proven such to be the case.