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.