Special Town Meeting – Monday, October 4th

by beth on July 1, 2021

Post image for Special Town Meeting – Monday, October 4th

Above: Town Meeting voters will again be able to watch presentations before voting this fall. (image cropped from 2019 SAM video)

The date for a fall Special Town Meeting has been set for October 4th. The meeting will open on a Monday evening rather than a Saturday afternoon.

Selectman Marty Healey raised the question of whether they should schedule for a Saturday to “respect” Town Meeting’s 2018 vote to open Annual Town Meetings on a Saturday. Chair Lisa Braccio and Town Clerk Jim Hegarty both opined that timing of fall sports changes the dynamic.

Braccio noted that youth and high school soccer would make Saturdays difficult for some parents. Hegarty pointed out that the date change was proposed for Annual Town Meeting to encourage parents of young children to attend. A Saturday in March was selected as between sports seasons. That doesn’t apply for an October meeting.

The Board had already honed in on the last week of September or first week of October as the ideal window for a meeting.

Selectmen wanted to choose a date after residents who vacation out of town for the summer settle back into routines. (They also need enough time for some Articles to be ready to present to voters.)

The other end of the window is based on a fiscal concern. The fall is when the Town’s Assessor sets the new tax rate. Town Administrator reminded that the tax classification hearing is normally held in October. Meanwhile, the Warrant is likely to contain Articles that impact the budget for the current fiscal year.

The meeting will (at long last) convene in the Trottier Middle School auditorium. That allows for business to be conducted after dusk. (It also means presentations can be made on the big screen for the first time since spring 2019.) The start is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Selectmen anticipate it to be wrapped up in one night.

Moderator Paul Cimino provided a different rationale than Braccio and Hegarty for scheduling on a weeknight. He stated that Special Town Meeting is different in nature than Annual Town Meeting. ATM has regular items each year, while STM has a particular set of decisions that may not attract as many people. He opined that since the meetings aren’t equivalent, selectmen shouldn’t be concerned about equivalent scheduling.

As for the particular decisions this fall. . . At this point the Article most likely to attract attention to the fall meeting is an effort to adopt a new zoning bylaw for the Downtown Business Village.

As of last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, it was clear that at least one of the issues complicating selectmen’s efforts to bring a final version to voters was still unresolved. (Stay tuned for a future post on that topic.)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl Guyer July 2, 2021 at 10:50 AM

Here is an observation not intended to be a critical of the present efforts to schedule a Town Meeting. The Town Meeting is an iconic event of American democracy. Every registered voter in the town has an opportunity to directly effect the governance to the Town. Every meeting is a civics lesson. What could be more fundamental or to many, what could be more boring ? Well in the well-heeled suburbs of Massachusetts, that answer is youth sports or at least it seems to be. That is Ok, no real harm done, but wouldn’t it be a living civics lesson if the scheduling of town activities were made around the important business of good governance. Now to be fair to all the effort that is put into organizing and scheduling the recreational activities that take place, the dates for Town Meeting would have to be scheduled in advance which I believe is not the case now. I am sure there are practical reasons for the present scheduling process, but having everything stop for operation of our democracy would be a good civics class for all, young and old. Things are fine here in Southborough, but this is an interesting juxtaposition of priorities.

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2 Matthew July 2, 2021 at 4:24 PM

I feel a familiar twinge when the Moderator downplays the public’s participation in this meeting. Quick to take the position that the fewer people in attendance then the faster business can get done. Forgetting that this is the business of the people and all efforts should be made to maximize the attendance.

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3 EXACTLY!!! July 3, 2021 at 12:21 PM

So why can’t the BOS leave it ALONE – and KEEP THE SATURDAY meeting date?!?

The WHOLE IDEA is to allow MORE PEOPLE to attend!!!

Which is MORE IMPORTANT? A soccer game or the BUSINESS OF THE TOWN YOU LIVE IN?

WAKE UP people of Southborough!!!

POOR DECISION BOS!!!

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4 Tom July 5, 2021 at 8:23 AM

Matthew, your message is spot on and should ring the alarm bell for all voters. In the opinion of many voters, the moderator is viewed as manipulative and pulling his own (and others) political agenda. Look at the last few town meetings for many examples. This past meeting he (with his attorney pals) were hoping to slide right through fundamental changes to advisory committee that in effect is a usurping of checks and balances away from the voters and a consolidation power. In violation of current bylaw, the moderator has not filled the vacant seats. After complaints of not being able to find the “right” people at the last meeting, a prominent, well-respected and successful business head volunteered to fill one of the seats. Guess what happened? Zero response. Crickets.
So instead of welcoming the diversity that the current nine seats has always brought (and worked well before this moderator came along), a well qualified volunteer was never afforded even a response. This is the problem and fault of us, the citizenry. The town clearly needs a new moderator.

Now the main point: watch out for all the articles that were rejected in one form or another reappear in some jacked up form, using new propaganda. This includes anything that wasn’t “ready” for the last meeting, like the EDC pro developer scheme for downtown, designed to enrich developers and leave the taxpayers paying the infrastructure and operating cost bills. Hold your noses and hang on to your wallets.

Beth, can you please provide a direct link to articles on the last town meeting so there is continuity on meeting topics and all can follow along? Everyone needs to review the last town meeting articles especially. Thanks

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5 Tim Martel July 7, 2021 at 12:40 PM

Your choices:

1. Stand up at Town Meeting and state your case.
2. Pull nomination papers and run for office.
3. Anonymously post cheap rhetoric on a blog.

You’ve chosen option 3. Do you really suppose anyone outside your echo chamber views your statements with any sort of respect?

Maybe stop attacking those who volunteer their time to serve the town without any recompense whatsoever. Maybe stop seeing conspiracies everywhere you look. Maybe write something constructive for once.

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6 Matthew July 8, 2021 at 12:23 PM

Tim,
Attention is respect and so I welcome you to my echo chamber!
And many more people read this blog than comment on its threads or even run for office. This is an acceptable form of communication and of sharing ideas. You yourself have shared many that were not as popular as you thought.
In this thread we are expressing dissatisfaction with the dismissive attitude towards voters by the town moderator, one that you seem to share with your obvious dismissive attitude towards this blog and this thread.
Thanks!
Matthew

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7 southsider July 7, 2021 at 11:14 AM

Were the past outdoor TM’s that much different than those prior? It seemed to me that the same people were doing most of the talking, the articles that passed muster with Advisory and BOS were mostly passed, and the crowd size seemed very similar. The only thing being outdoors seemed ( to me ) to accomplish was an added layer of complexity and doubt in its scheduling because of weather concern and a less comfortable crowd because of the sunshine and heat..
Town Meetings get more attention when there’s something significant and controversial being put to a vote… otherwise, business as usual attracts the smaller crowd size.

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