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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Connecting dots

Just under three weeks until Town Meeting.  I am looking forward to it for a great many reasons. Town Meeting is always interesting.

You never know what will pop up. You never know who will pop up. As oft or not, you see time spent on issues you never would have thunk ...

We should see a bunch of new faces at Town Meeting.  Whether the bunch is big enough to make people happy remains to be seen.

There are several interesting dilemmas from a personal perspective.

Take the fin com article for example.  First, the size reduction is not a bad thing.  I have always said my max. number for an committee would be seven.  I think if you take a trip in the way back machine you can find a post or two on that.  I know I have said the same at more than a meeting or two.

The method of appointment isn't a big thing for me either. It is clear the present method isn't working. Indeed the historical look back  will note some precincts having gaps in membership for long periods, and will also show some precincts going a number of years without a chair due to a lack of quorum at the precinct meetings.

What I do have a problem with is the elimination of the geographical diversity requirement.  There is a reason Town Meeting members are elected from the differing precincts instead of at large, and that same reasoning applies here.

Would a moderator factor that in when making appointments?  I believe our present moderator would. Since reality is our present moderator will not be there forever, I am not willing however to rely on the belief that there is no need to have a requirement because it will be something one should considered.

So what is the proper solution here?  Maybe someone finds a way to amend the thing to get votes so something passes. Maybe some feel it should just be voted up or down as is.

Is the reconfiguration of fin com a matter that needs to be addressed?  I would say yes.  I would also say yes to a need to try and address town meeting attendance.

I would question however how either of these two matters are concerns that needed to be addressed as priorities or out of any sense of urgency.

What is being proposed for fin com is probably that 90% good we have heard about however what is not good about it is enough to not do it as written.  If you think 90% is good enough, just try and think through what the 10% bad can result in. Just look at how bumpy the TA path just got.

As to the town meeting thingy, again some good stuff in it.  Miss three meetings during your term and you are out. Who can really argue with that one.  If you run and don't attend, well you shouldn't be there.

The quorum thing is another matter.  You want a 50% quorum because that is the norm then fine, fight for it.  I could actually buy into the argument no decision should be made by less than a 50% quorum.  I could, but I won't. Town's with open town meetings do business with numbers less than our average attendance.

The minute you deviate from the 50% then you are now talking about an individual preference and desire, not any standard norm or number that is going to generate attendance. Not any number that is going to be any better really than another for the "decisions that shouldn't be made by so few" argument. The cynic just might say that any deviation after the proposal is just an amendment to get something so your passes.

As to term limits, well if there is a need only you can answer that for yourself.  If you answer yes, than you have to assess whether that also, with everything else going on in town is a priority or an urgent need, or was even on the radar.

As for me, uncontested races and no candidates races tend to help negate the concept a bit.  Making it easier for people to run has an appeal, except people who decide to run simply because it is an empty seat isn't a concept I want to see on a regular basis.

Quite frankly neither is opening up vacancies to make it easier for people to get elected who run and run again and don't quite seem able to convince the voters that they should be elected.

There are other reasons against it, just as there are other reasons for it.  This one, even with the let the voters decide concept that will be argued, is a no for me.

The right to claim "let the voters decide" as an argument disappeared last year when you didn't want them to decide the TA article. If town meeting possessed the wisdom of deciding how the voters will be governed, I think it is wise enough to be trusted with term limits.

The real irony of all that is going on is we are ending up with more special legislation and proposals for special legislation and by-law changes to fix problems that aren't in any urgent need of fixing in the first place, if there is a need at all; and, we are doing so using the same methods that we have been hearing are in part caused by our disjointed special legislation and by-laws.

Each one of these things should be addressed, if at all, within the development of a comprehensive charter review. The priority and urgency we did in fact hear about at last year's STM. What we are getting is an attempt to try and do a connect the dot picture without the inconvenience of connecting all the dots. 

Speaking of trying to connect dots ...

The STM to be held within the annual involves several Rogers/Oxford buildings issues. The two entities which submitted proposals for the buildings appeared before the selectmen last night (one proposal from one for Oxford, one proposal from one for Rogers).

The benefit of the bargain folks is what everything boils down to.

No the benefit does not have to be in actual dollars, but it has to be something real. It has to be based on more than a vision and a promise.  

We can have a desire to preserve our past, but we have an obligation to ensure our future.    

Sell one or both of the buildings for a buck, but dot your i's and cross your t's to insure the town gets what you are saying you are going to give it.  

You and I have all heard promises made.  Some are fulfilled. Others have become empty words.

What amazes me is the fact that if in the minds of some waiting two years to see something happen in the north end of town is too long, why is waiting even longer for something to happen in the center acceptable?

Anyway, while there will be several articles dealing with these buildings, the sale of either of them to any entity, if not passed over, isn't likely to be one that gets a positive vote.

Speaking of votes ....

The tally sheet for the town election is online. You can see it by clicking this link.

There were 1530 ballots cast. The turnout, based on 10,667 registered voters if I have the number correct was 14.3%.  Not anything to crow about, but better than the surrounding communities, except for Rochester I believe. There they had a three person race of the high office.

As noted previously, we should all lament the turnout, but the margins of victory speak volumes.

This one is in the books.  Whether there is an attempt to put it back on the ballot next year remains to be seen.  Truthfully, the only way I see this question passing based on the same proposal, is if the BPW somehow manages to shoot itself in the foot. That possibility however is why I am not predicting that this proposal is completely dead.

On the humorous side, I have been reading a few things of late that have caused me to have a chuckle or two.  You would think that when someone was involved in putting something together they might have an idea about just how loosey goosey they managed to create something.  Just a suggestion, and perhaps a bit overbearing at that, but maybe you should read the actual text of something before you write about it.

Moving one ...

Been hearing a lot of rumors as of late about the future.  The only sure fact about the future, the only thing any one of us can count on folks, is it is yet to happen.  If prognostication was an exact science, it would not be called prognostication.

Over the next week or two we may put those prognostication skills to the test.  Might be entertaining to most of you.  

Anyway ...

The magic number is down to 20.  Been a bit of time since the countdown was checked.  For some that may still be way to long.  I would tend to agree with you.

Taking a different road ...

Let us travel down that road paved with good intentions.  We all hopefully walk it.  We all hate to think there is any motivation other than good intentions in ourselves and in others, about proposals, suggestions, ideas.

Getting to the intended destination traveling down that road takes more than stating where you want to go.

It involves knowing the terrain you have to travel, what you will need to navigate through that terrain, and more often than not definitely requires you to convince a whole lot of people that you have chosen not only the right path to your intend destination but the best place for that journey to conclude for them too.

Too much terrain in one segment I think, but I have been working in this one over several days.

So ... enough for today.

Be safe.