"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Purest Form of Democracy?

There were a good number of young people today at our annual Town meeting and I am saddened to say that their lesson in civics and how Town meeting is conducted was not very positive. Our one day of democracy was hijacked by a coordinated group of citizens who did not want any discussion of Article 2 to occur. Mr. Cormier calling the question in the midst of the BoS  giving their opinions on the article as requested by a previous speaker was nothing to be proud of. Our younger attendees, some of whom will someday participate in these meetings as elected officials, did not see true democracy in action. What they witnessed was quite the opposite.
As someone told me during the lunch break, " he hijacked the meeting."
There are quite a few people that are unhappy with how this occurred and the group who perpetrated it. Many did come to Town meeting with the intent to speak their mind and listen to both sides of the argument, but the opponents who organized this, did not want them to speak.  Judging by the massive misinformation campaign in letters and emails, they clearly did not have the courage to put out their " facts" for a fair debate. Instead, they took a much less honorable way, which was to win at any cost.
In this case, the cost was the democratic process, with vibrant, open and honest debate. The real losers in this case are the citizens who came with that expectation and left feeling cheated and needing a shower to wash away the funk left behind.
In our effort to settle the issue, what this group did today was just the opposite. It is not at all settled in many minds and once again, we cannot come together as a community to cleanly resolve the issue.

What will happen next? I had hoped for reconsideration ( and with the understanding that it would not occur until at least seven days had passed) because it was not a fair discussion. There was no discussion in fact . The audience was stacked and the motion to call the question (not seconded by anyone by the way) came while others, some of the BoS, were waiting to speak. Per the moderators rules they should have been  be allowed to speak. In addition, also per the Moderators rules, "...the Moderator shall have the right to refuse to recognize a motion to “Call the Question”, if, in the Moderator’s opinion, the voters have not yet had an adequate opportunity to discuss an issue. "

What then is the remedy? The BoS could in fact call a special meeting. The article  or similar could be on the warrant again next year. It could be petitioned. The bottom line, it was not a clean ending and the debate in all likelihood will continue.

To those that attended and came with the same expectations as I did, I apologize as one of your Selectmen , that you were not able to make your case, hear both sides of the arguments and then decide on how you would vote.


Janet Cramer said...

Democracy is absolutely important. Democracy should mean that everyone has the right to vote. To be democratic, taxpayers who want to participate must have the opportunity to have their say. It seems that your point is that people did not have the opportunity to participate today. However, even if they had, it would not have been democratic. Either SB2 or holding meetings when a majority of residents can participate will make a democratic town meeting. The current system ensures that the majority of taxpayers have no say.....so at base the process is not democratic. It seems like a process designed to disenfranchise a portion of the population, which will never be seen as appropriate.

Al Hume said...

The Town voters voted 40 % for and 60% against Article 2 at todays Town Meeting.The residents that wanted this Gym Complex needed 67% for the article to have it pass.The voters for the second time at a Town Meeting and many other surveys have said NO!
The Town Moderator is in charge of the meeting,if the selectmen wanted to speak ,they should have asked him for that right.I have never seen the selectmen lost for words,so I can only assume it was not important at that time.
The popular vote did not think that their was a need for the complex,the end

Jim Morrison said...

Mr. Blogger, As I recorded the vote at Town Meeting --- 348 NO 220 YES. I do not believe that any amount of discussion would have changed enough votes to alter the outcome. Personally I was not any part of a conspiracy AND furthermore DO NOT believe there was a conspiracy. The townspeople have spoken!!!! I was taught to lose gracefully. I love Moultonborough.

Penny Morrison said...

Article 2 vote - NO 348 Yes 220. I was not part of any conspiracy! It is very wrong and unprofessional of you to accuse Mr. Cormier. Where is your proof. You talked this subject to death maybe people had just heard enough. The majority do not want this project.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

I can see that some recent commenters that were at Town meeting completely missed the point. You side stepped the democratic process on the basis that the end justifies the means. If the shoe were on the other foot you would be screaming loudly about how this is typical town politics. Town meeting is for citizens to gather to debate, discuss and decide. That did not happen and it is wrong.
Many people were quite upset that they prepared to speak, but were completely shut out of the process. The truth was not present today, instead, backroom politics by those that have been vocally opposed to such things, writing letters and emails full of misinformation and paying for an advertisement that at least three of the commenters, the Morrisons and Al Hume contributed to. Bby the way do you care to disclose who " anonymous" contributor was?
As to "unprofessional", I didn't accuse Mr. Cormier of anything. I merely reported what he actually did, which was effectively prevent debate.
Funny you didn't use the same argument " the people have spoken" in regard to SB2.
I stand by every word of my post. And yes, I too love Moultonboro despite this sad sequence of events and I was also taught to lose gracefully, but I also taught to play fairly.

Michael Brooker said...

The democratic process was in full flower today, a record number of citizens came to Town Meeting and made their voices heard.

I wanted to have my say, I couldn't. But I don't think discussion would have changed the outcome, citizens came knowing how they would vote, the matter was very thouroly discussed among people, both in public venues and privately among friends.

I think your contention of conspiracy is without merit. Town offices were closed today, library and dump too, those are usually solid for projects like this. At the same time those in the private sector have to work at TM time, employers need them to show up.

The people have spoken, it is best to listen to them.

The Voice of Reason said...

Before I say anything I would like to say that I agree with every statement Mr. Blogger has made. After watching the way events unfolded today at town meeting I am disgraced to be a Moultonborough citizen. I have to laugh when I see Penny Morrison say "you talked this subject to death maybe people had just heard enough." Are you referring to all the informative sessions the selectman had as an effort to inform the voters. If the selectman did not "talk the subject to death" then they would be accused of trying to hide information from the voters.

Although Mr. Blogger did not accuse Joe Cormier of anything I will. The reason why voters at today's meeting, whether they were for or against the article, did not get to hear discussion was a direct result of his motion. There is no need for proof, people saw it with their own eyes at the meeting.

As for the comments about Mr. Blogger being "unprofessional", it's his blog, he can say whatever he wants, if you have a problem with that then don't log on.

Christopher Shipp said...

Paul, I feel that your account of what happened today is 100% accurate. I agree with your sentiments completely. I have never been more discouraged in the democratic process. The townspeople have NOT spoken. The fact is they were never given the opportunity to speak. The part I find most frustrating is that the process was hijacked by people who claim to be proponents of "open and honest" government. Apparently their ideals only matter when their own selfish interests are being served. The fact that you allowed these hypocrites to leave comments on this post is a testament to the quality of your character. Conversely, the content of their comments is a testament to the lack of theirs. "Mr. Blogger," you are completely correct, and you have my full support. Regretfully, Chris Shipp

Bud Heinrich said...

I attended today's meeting, where the electorate spoke, by ballot, and made their wishes known, 348 against, and 220 in favor. During the confusion AFTER we all found out the article failed, Selectman Bartlett asked for a straw poll, a show of hands, asking how many showed up " undecided " today. Five people raised their hands. All the Embarising Hub - Bub started after the vote result was announced, and was directed at the aquward procedures, involving Town Council, and the moderator also. The core vote was NOT contested.
I am niaeve, in thinking our elected BOS are there to carry out the will of the voters. They are not there to push their own agenda. 348 220 is a strong message from voters they best heed. I will be looking for new faces on the BOS, to help preserve our democracy, and the towns integrity.

Dave Rossetti said...

Is it just us? What a mess, I'm not flying the conspiracy flag at this time but why is it that our community/town business seems to often be a complete S&#t show? If it is intentional, it is disgusting. If it is accidental, it is disgusting. I guess it's just hard to get good help these days......

Anonymous said...

I have to say the first thing that popped into my mind while reading some of the commenter's posts was, "Aren't many of these people the same ones who constantly spout off about SB2 although it has failed at least twice to pass?". I believe I have read here in comments,when people bring up the fact that SB2 should be let go because the "people have spoken", that it is the their right to keep petitioning for it. Then I guess the same can be said about a community center. It seems many here only want things to be revisited if it didn't turn out the way wanted, hypocrisy at its finest ! (For the record, I did not vote for the community center today, but am not entirely opposed to having one, I did have a few questions that I lost the opportunity to ask because I could not make some of the public hearings and did not have the opportunity yesterday.)

I was disappointed with Mr. Bartlett's prepared comments in regards to whether the town should provide free movie theaters, driving range etc., They were ridiculous and no where have I seen that any programs proposed to be offered in the community center were going to be free of charge to residents.

As for the "hijacking" of the meeting, I don't believe it is completely fair to say that it doesn't matter and the outcome would not have changed. Most likely it would not have, but I for one came in with very strong feelings about Article 16, and after listening to all of the citizens and selectmen at the meeting, I changed my mind. That is the beauty of town meeting...

Anonymous said...

Mike Brooker's statement that the Library was closed on Town Meeting day is false. The Library has been open every Town Meeting with the exception of the first one held on a Saturday. I also want to say I was seated in the middle of the auditorium half way to stage, the noise from the check in stations was so loud it was very difficult to hear what was being said