By Paul Punturieri. "A local blog with news, events and things that matter to all citizens of Moultonboro"
"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Monday, March 21, 2016
Time to Move Forward
( What BoS Chairman Shipp states below in an article in today's Citizen is 100% accurate. I completely agree. We never intended to re vote the same day. All we wanted was a debate. Period. The Municipal Budget Act is quite clear that there has to be a minimum of 7 days before it could be reconsidered.
In addition, the vote to call the question, at least according to the report from the Meredith News, did not receive the required 2/3 votes to pass.
Many towns in NH use very similar Moderator rules, but there is no one clear answer in the literature regarding the motion to reconsider when the votes are by secret ballot.
Lastly, the role of Moderator can be a thankless one. Jerry Hopkins stepped in to fill the vacancy as a public service and Harry Blood, now the Town and School moderator, is doing likewise. I thank them for their service. So should you.)
Some residents upset about timing of motion to reconsider vote
MOULTONBOROUGH — Town meeting may be over and done, with the proposed $6.49 million community center voted down by 348-220, but some residents are upset with the actions of some of the selectmen during the meeting, with a focus being on a motion to reconsider the article after it was voted.
The motion to reconsider was made close to noon, which was three hours into the meeting. This came a little more than an hour after the necessary time the poll needed to be open, since they were voting on a bond.
Selectman Chris Shipp said he wanted to set the record straight as to why and when the motion was made, after various letters to the editor accused him and fellow Selectman Paul Punturieri, who seconded the motion, of hijacking the meeting. Shipp said this accusation is simply false.
“I made it very clear at the meeting why I made a motion to reconsider,” said Shipp. “It was because there was no debate on the issue.”
Shipp hoped the town could have had a discussion and come to a more informed decision, but he said without the debate, the town’s people were going on misinformation put into the papers in the form of advertisements and letters to the editor.
“Town meeting would have been a good opportunity for people to get the right information,” said Shipp. “That’s the only reason I made the motion to reconsider.”
Moultonborough resident and attorney Eric Taussig said while there was debate on whether municipal finance law would preclude a same day vote to reconsider, he made a motion to amend to add a seven-day requirement, since he felt the vote on the same day with far less people was unacceptable. Taussig feels that this is why Shipp withdrew his motion.
Shipp said after he made the motion, Town Counsel Peter Minkow advised them that reconsideration would have to take place immediately at the meeting. Shipp decided to withdraw the motion when he found this out, he said.
“It wasn’t my intent to have another vote after people had left,” Shipp said, referring to the fact that many voters had left the meeting at this point. “My intention was to have debate. I wasn’t trying to hijack the democratic process, I was trying to protect it. I didn’t think it was right to vote again immediately.”
Shipp said prior to the meeting, he was told by the town counsel that a vote would have been no sooner than seven days later. He said there was some confusion and conflicting information, and it was later found that the seven-day period initially explained by town counsel was indeed correct. However, at this point, there had already been another motion to reconsider made, which was declared out of order, as the resident declined to say how he voted.
“The bottom line is, the only time to make a motion to reconsider is after a vote was announced,” said Shipp. “I couldn’t have done it at any other time.”
Taussig said he was not completely opposed to a community center, but he did feel there were issues about it that were unacceptable, such as being too large, improperly sited and potentially disrupting traffic. He said he was prepared for an extended debate on the topic, and that some of the selectmen alleged that there was a conspiracy to stifle the debate. Taussig said this was not true, and the vote to end the discussion was significant, with 286 in favor and 165 against.
Taussig also questions whether a lengthy debate would have mattered, as there were 63 percent of the public voting against the article.
He felt that Shipp’s motion was out of line because he was not on the prevailing side of the vote on the community center bond. He explained that under the moderator’s rules, the proponent of reconsideration needs to be on the prevailing side. Shipp was one of four selectmen who recommended the article.
“Very troubling was Town Counsel Minkow’s failure at a critical stage to (1) properly detail the seven-day reconsideration vote requirement under RSA 33:8-a, and (2) to confirm the requirement that the mover of a motion to reconsider must be on the prevailing side,” said Taussig.
Shipp said he hopes the issue can just be put to rest, as the community center was voted down and town meeting is over.
“It’s time to move on, but for some reason there is a handful of people who can’t seem to do that,” said Shipp. “The same misinformation being put in the papers before town meeting has continued after.”