ATM update: Town issues safety & logistics info

by beth on June 11, 2020

With Annual Town Meeting coming up on Saturday, the Town has released more information on how the meeting will be safely conducted.

It includes the aspiration of keeping the meeting to under two hours this year. It also points out the somewhat favorable forecast* for the outdoor event.

The meeting is open to any residents that registered as Southborough voters by March 7th. (According to Town Clerk Jim Hegarty, the deadline is based on the Warrant posted for the March 28th meeting. Laws enabling the meeting to be postponed didn’t allow for extending the registration deadline.)

Below is the notice:

Town Meeting Logistics & Safety Highlights

This year our Annual Town Meeting will be held at 1:00pm on Saturday, June 13, 2020.  It is very likely this will be an historically brief Town Meeting.  Town Meetings often take two nights, with a total of 8 hours or more, but this year, because the Moderator and Board of Selectmen are working to defer all but critical business, it is very likely that Town Meeting may take less than 2 hours.

In addition to following guidance from our local Board of Health, we’ve gone to great lengths to insure that this will be a safe event.  First and foremost, like many Towns in the Commonwealth have already done, the Meeting will be held OUTDOORS.  The current extended forecast is for partly cloudy and 74 degrees.  A few other notes:

Seating

  • 200 chairs will be set up.
  • There will be a minimum of 7 feet of spacing between chairs and 10 feet spacing between rows.
  • The corridors between sections of chairs will be one way and 14 feet wide.

BYO chairs/umbrellas

  • Feel free to bring your own “camp“ chair.
  • If you’d like to sit on the grass or on a blanket, we’ll have plenty of space for that too.
  • You can bring an umbrella, but you’ll need to sit on the side and not block anyone’s view.

Masks

    • Masks are required for entry, but you can remove it once you are in your chair.
    • Please wear your mask whenever you are not in your chair.
    • We will provide a mask to anyone who forgets one.

Microphones

  • There will be high-gain microphones in the corridors for the public to address the Hall.
  • Because these microphones are remotely adjusted to insure the speaker’s voice can be heard, there will be a 3-foot fence surrounding each microphone to ensure that no one actually touches it.
  • Nevertheless, if any need arises our media vendor will be ready to sanitize microphones.

Comfort/hand sanitizers

  • We’ll have free bottled water for everyone.
  • Although we expect a short Meeting, there will still be 5 port-a-lets available, which will be cleaned every half hour using an electrostatic cleaner.
  • We’ll offer hand sanitizer to everyone as they check-in, and thereafter as you like. You are encouraged to bring your own as well.

Parking

  • There is plenty of parking in front of the Neary School.
  • There will be handicapped parking close to the entrance as well.

A few additional details. . .

ATM 2020 at Trottier-and-Neary-CampusAs those of you who have been following ATM should know, the meeting is scheduled to take place on the athletic fields on the Neary and Trottier school campus. (You can enter by the shared driveways for 53 Parkerville Rd/49 Parkerville Rd.) Clearly, the Town isn’t expecting overflow parking to be needed, but it is available up the hill at Trottier.

I’ve been sharing information on the Warrant and Articles that the Town expects to handle or postpone. The most recent post on that is here. But look for more between now and the meeting, plus other related ATM coverage here. (I hope to share news on the updated budget situation later this morning.)

You can find the Town’s official Town Meeting page here.

*Since no rain is in the forecast, presumably the above invitation to Bring Your Own camp chair and umbrella is if you feel that you’ll be too hot in the sun. As of this morning, the National Weather Service predicts some cloud coverage, but not more than 50%. The humidity forecast is also in a 40-50% range with almost no breeze.

Updated (6/11/20 9:51 am): I inserted the March 7th voter registration deadline. I also confirmed that check-in will not include scanning licenses this year, though machines will still be used.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matthew June 13, 2020 at 1:10 PM

Do are of Health requires your phone number in the event of an outbreak. They already know everyone who is present, just another lazy excuse to collect personal information. Funny how they don’t verify the number you give.
Next year I’ll probably have to “friend” the selectmen on facebook if I want to speak.

My identity has been verified without ID so unless you put it in writing in advance you have no right to require my phone number.

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2 beth June 13, 2020 at 5:42 PM

If you have such strong objections, did you ask them if you were required to and not allowed to vote otherwise?

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3 Matthew June 13, 2020 at 6:19 PM

I was told it was mandatory.

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4 beth June 13, 2020 at 6:46 PM

I personally gave benefit of the doubt that they wanted for contact tracing in case the phone number on file is out of date. But if you feel that it was improper to require it, you could pose a query to the Secretary of State’s office.

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5 southsider June 13, 2020 at 11:22 PM

Altho I wasn’t necessarily pleased with many of the time-wasting discussions, kudos to Jim Hegarty and his crew for pulling this off without a hitch. Thanks also to Mother Nature as well who kept things milder than they could have been considering the time of year. The occasional cloud was much appreciated.

Frankly, I felt a little bad for those department heads who had to deal with multiple budget cycles and the gauntlets that both the Town Manager and Advisory must force them thru only to be asked the same questions again at TM. I know it’s everyone’s right to ask but to keep challenging such small, already-vetted amounts in account after account took a lot of time as we all baked in the sunshine. Most of the answers have been readily available to anyone who cared to spend a bit of time on research.

In the end, the only budget item that got changed was one that simply pays the utility bills for the town bulldings. Both an engineering firm and our town operations manager had created the plan, run it by Mark Purple, Advisory and the Selectmen multiple times only to then have TM arbitrarily slash it. When all is said and done, the spend will be whatever it will be and neither budget number will be correct. 30 minutes of unnecessary debate… maybe some sunburns could have been avoided…..

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6 Tom June 14, 2020 at 6:39 AM

Report this to the Secretary of State’s office. This town has engaged in practices that does not comply with state law. For example, scanning licenses. And they make it look mandatory. However many towns do not this. Upon calling the state, one will learn that this is in fact not required. Also, “signing in” on a clipboard at various meetings. Some of the good-ole-boys were infamous for this. Upon calling the state, one will learn that they have never heard of this. It has the chilling effect of “taking inventory” of those who bother to attend meetings, sizing up possible opposing comment and stifling public comment, exactly what is wanted. Just call the state and report the individuals involved in writing.

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7 Matthew June 15, 2020 at 12:48 PM

Secretary of States office said to talk to Town Clerk. If I didn’t like what the Clerk says then I can call back but there isn’t much they can do.
Called Town Clerks Office and left a message with Katie telling her that since no ID was required then the mandatory collection of phone numbers was excessive and invasive. She only indicated that she would pass along my comment.
Her only comment although it was not given as an explanation, was that “since they were using a very young volunteer force that they wanted to be able to expedite the communication with higher risk groups in the event of a suspected case.”

So does this mean that not everyone was asked?

There is no reasonable need for my number that would “expedite” the communication with the attendees any faster than the processes already in place to communicate with town residents. It provided convenience for the Board of Health and was not so important that to be without my phone number would have made any efforts to communicate even slightly cumbersome.

An would they have only contacted the attendees?
Certainly the whole town population would have be notified at the same time if there are any suspected cases

I know it would have been nice of me not to make an issue of this but it would also have been nice if the word “mandatory” was not part of their language and exclusion from town meeting their only solution.

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8 Tom June 15, 2020 at 1:51 PM

It is not mandatory. And it’s possibly illegal.
Certainly making it appear mandatory could be fraudulent and effectively comprise illicit gain of information, e.g stealing information. Was it required information by law? How is the information used? How is it stored? Who has access to it? It certainly seems worth making inquiries about civil rights, privacy, and other possible violations. This certainly seems overreaching, especially given the exact points you have raised. If ill-gotten booty, whomever took this information needs to delete it immediately and remedy the situation. Regardless, document the matter, report this by letter to the state and cc the BOS. This isn’t about being nice or not nice. This is about possible voter rights violations and illegal overreaching. Thank you for being a good citizen and helping all citizens understand these important rights questions.

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9 southsider June 15, 2020 at 2:04 PM

I didn’t think providing a phone number was mandatory for admittance. I did think wearing a mask until seated was mandatory and I was quite ok with that.
If you were concerned about giving out your phone number, it would have been pretty simple to just write down a different set of numbers; clearly there was no verification going on… collecting contact info for any Contact Tracing activities seemed common sense to me.

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