Discussions about upcoming warrant arcticles or anything else related to Town Meeting.


Postby sean_czarniecki on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:54 pm

Can't do absentee ballot for Town Meeting since amendments to articles are allowed.
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Postby krauseo on Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:42 pm

Bob Ferrari, if put into practice, your suggestion would be a “crime against humanity”. This is my usual beach garb, so as not to disturb the others trying to enjoy their day:

beachmonk.jpg (10.53 KiB) Viewed 1806 times

PS, that is a monk’s robe, not a burqa, so please spare me any anti-Islamic responses.

On a more serious note, there are a few things I will strive for if I become Moderator, and I hope all of them will improve Town Meeting.

Civility – I will not permit jeering, booing, or shouting down residents who are trying to speak, or insulting people after they’ve spoken. People can disagree with each other and debate enthusiastically without acting like children on a playground. I will have no problem throwing out anyone who is disrespectful to others.

Control – people can speak for five minutes on an issue, which is an eternity. The Gettysburg Address took three minutes to deliver, so anyone at Tewksbury’s Town Meeting ought to be able to make their point in five or less. People will know when they have a minute left, and they will stop after five unless the assembly votes to allow them to continue. People in the audience need to sit and listen during debate, and people at the microphone need to speak slowly and clearly. It’s not easy to get up and speak, and it’s the Moderator’s responsibility to put people at ease so they can speak comfortably and effectively.

Clarity – I think one of the biggest problems people have with Town Meeting is that they often don’t understand what they’re voting on or what their vote means. This is especially true for by-law articles that are chock full of legalese. While the Executive Summaries in the warrant are a start towards explaining each article, the article’s proponent writes the Executive Summary and thus the summary is prejudiced in support of the article. Town officials need to explain the real impact of articles to the voters, and I will expect those groups to provide those explanations before we vote. The Moderator also has a responsibility before calling for a vote to explain what voting Yes or No means, and I will do that as objectively as I can. Finally, residents should help themselves and arrive prepared, so it is vital that people get the warrant before Town Meeting, from the town’s web site, the Town Clerk’s office, or the Library, so they have a basic understanding of the articles when they arrive at the meeting.

Citizenship – I want more people at Town Meeting, but I want people who are more educated about and more involved in the process. I don’t think people understand that there is no place where they have more power and authority than on the floor of an Open Town Meeting. People don’t take advantage of that power and authority, and I think it’s because they don’t know they have it or they don’t know how to use it. That requires education, and I will work with the Town to improve the educational materials and delivery mechanisms (paper, video, web, and in-person) that are available for people to learn about the process and pique their interest. I strongly agree with LittleWillie’s sentiments about the upholding the honor of citizenship at Town Meeting and will ensure that we pay proper tribute to our country, our flag, and those who honor us with their service.

Content – I truly believe that Open Town Meeting is the best form of government for Tewksbury. The people aren’t the problem and the people should not lose their power and authority over the budget, town by-laws, and elected positions. Once people understand what Open Town Meeting gives them, I can’t imagine why they would want to give it up. However, I do think improvements can be made to our Open Town Meeting format. I support the following, and these are the kinds of things I think the SACC should focus on:

1. Moving responsibility for some of the more routine items that now require Town Meeting approval (like Consent Calendar items, street acceptances, and minor budget transfers) to the Town Manager and/or Selectmen, so they have some flexibility in managing normal day-to-day operations. This will make the warrant shorter, eliminate some of the mundane effort of Town Meeting, and focus Town Meeting’s efforts on the more important articles that remain.
2. Investigating rescheduling of the Annual Town Meeting and Spring Special Town Meeting, as I believe condensing the meetings into one weeknight or a Saturday would improve attendance over the current two-night schedule.
3. Reducing the speaker’s time limit from five minutes to three. As is the case now, the assembly could vote to allow any speaker additional time.
4. Eliminating the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund allocations from the budget article, since those allocations are repeated in the later articles that fund the funds and as currently presented they make the budget article confusing and impossible to effectively debate.
5. Eliminating health care and retirement allocations from each department in the budget article, and listing those allocations in the Unclassified section of the budget, for the same reason.

Sean C. is right – most people who don’t go probably just don’t want to. However, I think a lot more people would go if they knew what it’s all about, they didn’t think they were wasting their time, and they thought they could effectively participate in a civilized discussion about important issues. I hope to remedy some of those concerns.
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Postby swamper on Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:04 am

Well said, Keith....I can already see you have some good ideas percolating! :wink: Another thing that could use improvement would be stricter control by the officers at the doors over the coming and going of people in and out of the auditorium during votes as well as standing within the gym!
That being said I am looking forward to seeing you at the helm of Town Mtg. come May!
I have no doubt our community will be all the better for your re-involvement. Good luck! :D
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Postby Little Willie on Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:19 am

An article for those who think "THEIR VOTE WON"T MAKE A DIFFERENCE"

Kindergarten, fire station fail at Pelham ballot box
By John Collins,
Updated: 03/09/2011 06:40:49 AM EST

PELHAM -- Voters yesterday narrowly defeated a $3.7 million fire station, and overwhelmingly rejected a $3.8 million kindergarten.

The two most expensive ballot items, each listed as "Article 2" on the town and school ballots, respectively, were bonding articles that required a 60 percent majority to pass.

The fire station was defeated with 1,505 in favor and 1,107 against, a 58 percent majority that fell 62 votes short of the required 60 percent.

The proposed kindergarten and preschool lost more decisively, with 1,487 in favor and 1,500 opposed.

Selectman Hal Lynde voiced the frustration that was clearly etched on the faces of Fire Chief James Midgley and several other selectmen and town officials after the vote count on the new fire-station article was announced.

"It is frustrating, and I don't think people realize what impact this will have on the town," said Lynde. "If we let this go on, and do not build a new fire station in this town, the existing station will become increasingly less functional and people will be put at risk because of reduced response times."

School Board Chairman Rob Hardy said he was surprised the kindergarten and preschool fared so poorly, considering the voter-education effort he and other school officials put forth. Supporters promoted the project as a long-term solution to the town's kindergarten requirements, one that came with $1.1 million in state aid.

"It lost outright, and I was surprised by



that," Hardy said. "We saw it as a long-term (kindergarten) solution, in the 20- to 30-year range, and now there is nothing we can build before the state subsidy on the portable classroom buildings expires (next fall)."
Depending on what the School Board decides, the town will likely have to lease the existing portable kindergarten/preschool classrooms, building on the elementary school grounds for the 2011-2012 school year, Hardy said, "but it's very cost-prohibitive to do that over time."

Hardy said he was also disappointed by the overwhelming defeat of School Warrant Article 7A, asking voters to approve $81,000 in salary and benefits to hire a full-time Pelham School District athletic director. The article lost, 672 to 1,931.

Both Hardy and Police Chief Joseph Roark were celebrating passage of Town Warrant Article 9, to spend $39,815 on hiring and equipping a new school resource officer starting July 1. The article passed by 36 votes, 1,320 to 1,284.

"It means the students will get to see that police officer day to day, and get to him or her," said Hardy. "I think it's a tremendous advantage for the kids of Pelham."

Roark said a number of qualified officers have expressed interest in filling the position, and a final candidate will be chosen at a later date.

"I was very excited by this voting result," Roark said last night. "This will really help the kids of Pelham, and allows us to reach an important segment of our town population that we haven't been able to fully service to for several years."

Besides displaying the ongoing power of the silent "no" voters in Pelham, yesterday's election also provided another lesson in the power of a single vote.

The voting result on School Warrant Article 7B, proposing that the district hire an in-house school psychologist rather than contract the service out, was a tie, with 1,304 votes in favor and 1,304 against.

School Board member Andy Ducharme said the board would discuss whether to ask for a recount on the school-psychologist article at tonight's meeting.

Also decided by a single vote was School Warrant Article 9, asking whether the district would pay $30,824 to cover nursing services for the 101 Pelham children who attend the private Saint Patrick School: The article passed, 1,312 to 1,311.

Also passing in a close vote, residents approved by 30 votes, 1,335 to 1,305, the school district's contract agreement with the Pelham teachers' union, which will bring a collective salaries' increase of $66,247 in 2011-2012, and additional $256,555 in 2012-2013.

Hardy said the CBA's approval is a "morale-builder" for the teachers.

Also of note, voters overwhelmingly passed Town Article 17, calling for more restrictive safety rules to be imposed on blasting companies working for developers, 2,083 in favor, 492 against.

Voters decisively rejected all three articles that School Board member Linda Mahoney had placed on the school ballot by petition, asking to build a new parking lot, heating and air conditioning unit, and sprinkler system at the high school.

Read more: ... z1G6VhOTqm
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Postby melli_fera on Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:20 am

WOW! Mr. Rauseo, your well thought out ideas fly in the face of what I've experienced at Town Meeting, and it's refreshing. Good luck to you. :)
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Postby bigdaddy on Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:22 am


If your able to enact half the things you outline in your post, we will be so far ahead of the game compared to how the town meetings have been held in the past.

Looking forward to the next meeting!
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Postby grandmasboys on Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:57 pm

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