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Bringing Stoneham into the 21st Century

There has been a lot discussion on the article to slightly change the town meeting process to allow for more citizen participation.  Unfortunately most the discussions have been about my motives and not on the merits of the article.  My motive is clear, to eliminate a burden placed on the people of Stoneham by the present procedures.  This burden disenfranchises our senior citizens and young families with children.  Let’s examine the facts;

 

The New Hampshire experience

In 1995 towns in NH were given the opportunity to choose a two session process for conducting their town meetings. Since then 65 towns have voted to accept the process and no town voted to repeal that decision.  More striking, 80% of the NH towns with a population of over 6000 are operating under this system.  Local citizen participation in the process increased on average by 40% in these towns. 

What does this proposed change do? 

This article does not change the ability for any citizen to go to town meeting and discuss proposed articles and to offer and vote on amendments.  The only change is that the final vote, will not be limited to the voters present, but will be private vote by any voter and be taken at the town hall for one week period starting one week after the close of the deliberative session.

The present process manipulates the vote in two ways.  (1)  The public vote where citizens are scrutinized by friends and supporters of articles which may prevent them from voting the way they want to.  (2) The numbering of articles.  The Selectman place the controversial articles at the end of the warrant so many of the voters will have gone home and they need fewer votes to pass an article.  At last years town meeting the Trash Fee Slush fund was placed at the end of the warrant and voted on by 49 voters and only won by four.  Under this plan all articles will be voted on by all voters, and I am sure this article would not have passed.

 

In conclusion,  Harvard economist Edward L Glaeser, in an Op-Ed article in the Boston Globe, argued that to require today’s time strapped citizens to endure lengthy meetings is a time tax to discourage participation, the same as the poll tax was during segregation. Mr. Glaeser concluded his article by saying; “We should be proud of our local government and the town meeting should continue. But we should bring it into the 21st century and make it easier for busy town residents to vote” That is what this article does and I urge all citizens to attend this year’s town meeting and tear down this burden.


Paul Rotondi April 19, 2014 at 11:18 PM
Ok Frank in simple terms: I get up and make a motion: Frank gets up and offer an amendment. There is a discussion on the amendment. Then Citizen A gets up to move the question. The Moderator calls for a vote. There is a voice vote and the moderator says the amendment passed. We now have an amended motion. That amended motion get on the ballot to be voted on by any registered voter a week latter at the town clerk counter in the Town Hall. enjoy your wine
Frank Pignone April 19, 2014 at 11:35 PM
Just what I wanted you to write.. Perfect. Now, IF we have the courage, and the lack of 'fear' or intimidation to 'discuss', pros, cons, in the 'open'... then what is the 'difference' then in continuing on and vote for the Main Motion. ?..... You just mentioned yourself..that there would be a 'Discussion', and then a 'Voice Vote'... right out in the Open.. So Paul : the whole town now wants to know...Why are you doing this ?..... " Citizen A'....gets .........'UP'.. to make a Motion.. Then Citizen A through Z.. gets to 'VOICE' VOTE.... .So that having been 'done'....Why in the World can't we just 'Finish' the Main Motion. ? I look forward to hearing your and others who support you on this Paul. If I hear and understand anything within your mind on this which benefits our Town; I'm for it. But as of right now as I've aided you in bringing to fruition a 'Vivid Example' of how these 'Amendments' are done ; I just don't see any 'power' in the purpose. Thank you for your efforts as you put so much time of your life on behalf of your community as has your whole family. Blessings to you all for a Fine Easter Season Paul.
Paul Rotondi April 20, 2014 at 06:58 AM
Frank: That is the point, the change gives more people the opportunity to vote on the final motion. In NH the number of people who participated in the vote on the final motion established by the Deliberative stage increased by an average of 40%. The point is to increase community participation and make it easier for them to vote. It takes the decision power away from a few and gives it to many. It allows for people who attend the meeting to vote on all motions, even if they had to leave the meeting earlier to get back to baby sitters. If gives both parents the opportunity to vote, if one has to stay home and watch the children. It gives seniors the opportunity to vote if they can't drive at night. This is about opportunity and making it easier to take part in your government.
Frank Pignone April 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Good Morning Paul and a Happy Easter to the whole Rotondi Family. I wish to thank you for your prompt and thorough responses to my questions and concerns in these matters. I know you have put a lot of thought and care into your goal and I certainly shall be attentive to your presentation to see if you have anything new than we have discussed. Have a great day with your family and hopefully with a few of those cute Grandchildren in there with you...
Paul Rotondi April 20, 2014 at 11:09 AM
Good Morning Frank: Thank you for your kind wishes and I Betsy and my wishes to you and your family for Happy Easter.

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