LIVE BLOG: Southborough Town Meeting – Day 1

As luck would have it, I have Internet access here at Trottier for Day 1 of Southborough’s Annual Town Meeting, so I’m going to give live blogging a shot. I’ll keep updating as long as the Internet holds out, so check back for the latest.

Refresh your browser to get the most recent updates. Newest at the top.

11:45 pm: I lost my Internet access there at the end, but Town Meeting approved changes to the Salary Administration Plan (Article 6) as well as funding for the Assabet building repair project (Article 7) before adjourning at 11:25 pm.

The fun continues tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 7:30 pm at Trottier. See you then.

10:55 pm: After a standing-count vote, the motion to reconsider Article 4 failed with 98 in favor and 108 opposed. Town manager legislation is dead for now.

Article 5 was indefinitely postponed, so we’re on to Article 6, changes to the Salary Administration Plan.

10:48 pm: An Advisory Committee member just threw Town Meeting a curve ball by making a motion to reconsider the vote on Article 4. He said he wants voters to be able to consider a 5-person Board of Selectmen. Reconsidering an article requires a 2/3 vote.

10:40 pm: The motion to postpone Article 4 (town manager legislation) has passed by a vote of 112 to 101. Moving on to Article 5 as a number of residents file out of the auditorium.

10:35 pm: Vote on the motion to indefinitely postpone Article 4 is too close to call (requires majority vote), so a standing count is being conducted.

10:24 pm: Leo Bartolini has made a motion to indefinitely postpone Article 4. There was a clamor to second the motion. If voters approve the motion, that’s it, there would be no further motions, including any to split the article. The Board of Selectmen and Advisory Committee both oppose the motion to postpone.

10:00 pm: Still talking Article 4. The line at the microphones is getting deep. Still no motions to postpone, divide, or otherwise.

9:35 pm: Discussion from the floor on Article 4 has mostly centered on concerns about loss of control – to the proposed town manager and to the state legislature. Applause both for and against change. No significant motions from the floor have been made…yet.

9:06 pm: Selectman John Rooney is presenting “a year in the life of a selectman.” Making the point that selectmen are so overburdened by administrative minutia that they don’t have time to think long-term. “You want your selectmen dealing with issues other than tree stumps, and tree hearings, and transfer station violation hearings, and the cost of soap and paper towels…We need to do more for the community.”

8:27 pm: Articles 2 and 3 approved without discussion. We’re on to what I anticipate will be a lengthy discussion on Article 4, the proposed Town Manager legislation.

7:55 pm: We’re doing Article 1, reports from various town committees. Zoning Advisory Committee announced they will be holding public hearings on proposed zoning bylaw changes starting in May/June leading up to a vote at a Special Town Meeting in the fall.

Joe Laning is giving a report from the Drafting Committee for Town Manager Legislation. No questions allowed until Article 4 comes up.

Congrats to Carol Willoughby who was the recipient of this year’s Doc Stone award for service in the area of public health.

7:34 pm: We’re underway. Coombs is going over rules and regulations. Town Meeting is dedicated this year to Richard Upjohn and Richard Curran, who both passed away earlier this year.

7:16 pm: Town Moderator David Coombs just announced we have a quorum, so things should be kicking off in just a few moments.

7:03 pm: Crowd is filing into the auditorium, but it’s a pretty light turnout so far. Waiting for things to get underway.

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Alex Neihaus
11 years ago

It’s 9:20pm here at Town Meeting — and we’re into the meat of Article 4. And what’s on display is pretty clear: the old guard is going to attempt to bury the most important positive change in many years in the way Southborough works under a mountain of special interests: “we’re elected, so we should spend money directly.” “Our board has always hired the administrator.”

I came to Town Meeting tonight fully expecting that the cries of “loss of control” would carry the day. It’s a shock it started so virulently.

11 years ago
Reply to  Alex Neihaus

Dissapointed in the result!!! Especially did not like the favoritism displayed. Some people got up to speak three times (at great length each time) on the same article. I thought it was stated that wouldn’t be allowed. I feel like there was an effort to suck up as much time as they could and then kill it!! Not impressed with former selectman, chiefs and some committee members.

11 years ago
Reply to  JoJaMa

People cannot speak more than once if another person who has not spoken yet wants to speak. As long as everyone who wants to speak has been given a turn, a resident can speak as often as they wish.

Michael Bakshi
11 years ago

Thanks for the live-blog Susan!

11 years ago

Given that the TM spent an hour and a half discussing one article and them postponing it, can you understand why turn out for these meetings is so low?

carrie alpert
11 years ago

i was unable to make it last night and followed the live blogging and so appreciative for it (thank you thank you thank you Susan!) what i am also so disappointed in is the time wastage and with technology the meeting could be live streamed (Occupy Wall Street is live streamed on Twitter) and every household could have a password– really it is not that complicated surely one of the kids from ARHS or Assabet could hook it up–we could all use our water bill account # for our password in order to vote.
discussing an article to the point that everyone forgets what you are even talking about and then voting it down makes everyone not want to go to TM and weary of the process

Neil Rossen
11 years ago

Agree with some posters. The meeting takes forever but that’s democracy at large. Meanwhile it is sad that the Town Manager proposal was again put on hold. Guess we’ll stay in the past for yet a while. And yes, some people were permitted to hog the floor for far too long and had less to add than the time they were given.

Tim Martel
11 years ago

The legislation is not dead, merely postponed.

Pushing change without consideration for broader consequences is always destructive in the long-term. There was vast support for the content of the legislation, but the means of ratification meant a serious transfer of power from Southborouth Town Meeting to the State Legislature. Its unfortunate that some who attended last night failed to hear this message, and now cast stones at those who took the time to communicate it.

The current legislation draft will be split, with about 80% of it in Bylaw format, and will come back in October with the “fatal flaw” removed from the conversation.

Neil Rossen
11 years ago

I agree Tim. Just find the delay a little frustrating.

11 years ago


Thank you for doing this live blog during the meeting. I was unable to attend and would’ve loved to have watched a live stream of the meeting on the internet, a live feed on local cable access or even listen to audio. But given that those were not viable options, following your live blog was extremely helpful.

Sboro mom of 2
11 years ago

I second Meredith’s thanks – I can’t attend and the live blog is so helpful!

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