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

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.”


Enough said...

Jerry has done a fine job as our town and before that school district moderator. Crowd control was difficult and not an enviable task. There is an angry crowd in the background that would like nothing better than to drive all young families out of town.
They are now stirring up a hornets nest even when the issue is well over. Our town has become a very sad and angry place. Don't blame the select board, blame the angry crowd of negative haters.

Anonymous said...

Enough, let the town officials keep planning a gym, community center or whatever you want to call it and the crowd will get even angrier. Why is it a surprise that it did not pass? UNH acknowledged that only a minority wanted it.

Red_Hill said...

Our town has not become either sad nor angry. A vote was taken and the results are now well known.

It is your blog, and you can choose to do with it as you please, but when you say you are not going to allow comments "that I find to be offensive, rude, stupid, dumb, ignorant, arrogant, nonsensical, insulting, moronic, idiotic, silly, or....any comments that I simply don't like.", then allow a comment calling the citizens that voted against the Community Center a crowd of of negative haters, you are being disingenuous at best.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

No one called the voters who voted against the community center "a crowd of of negative haters." You have completely misunderstood Enough's comments. I took it to mean the small group of negative thinkers that stir the pot and continue to foment anger and distrust. As to anger and sadness, the emails and letters that are flying around tell a far different story. Some I was apparently not meant to see.

Eric Taussig said...

The article in today's Citizen is essentially accurate, except for the chronology. When Mr. Shipp made his motion to reconsider, the Town's Counsel' position was that the vote to reconsider be taken on the same day. I then moved to amend to add (1) a deferral for 7 days before a re-vote could take place (which in any event was the law, which I reaffirmed by a motion to amend as Town Counsel had given an incorrect opinion), and (2) also added a requirement for publication of any re-vote on the Town's Web Site and in a newspaper of general circulation.

Instead of allowing a vote on that amendment, which would have provided the 7-day delay, which Mr. Shipp asserts he wanted in the first place, he summarily withdrew his motion.

My concern was that to have an immediate reconsideration vote was not only (1) illegal, but also (2) unconscionable.

Anonymous said...

Blogger, last summer you posted about the private effort in Fryeburg to build a recreation center. If there are truly people in town willing to donate to this cause, possibly a warrant item might be approved to donate the land. Potential users indicated to UNH that they are willing to pay. Is the Friends of the Moultonborough Community Center a registered non-profit?

Chris Shipp said...

Mr. Taussig, With all due respect, you are entitled to your opinion, however, you are not entitled to mine. You also can’t reconfigure the facts to make them coincide with your version of reality. Your statement “when Mr. Shipp made his motion to reconsider, the Town's Counsel' position was that the vote to reconsider be taken on the same day” is simply not true, and you are ignoring the facts. When I made the motion to reconsider, I did so with the prior understanding that the actual reconsideration would take place at least seven days later. If you recall, I made my motion immediately after the vote was announced, which is the appropriate time to do so. There was NO discussion prior to my motion and NO legal advice was sought or given. AFTER I made the motion, we received the erroneous opinion that the reconsideration would be immediate, which is why I withdrew my motion. Frankly, your amendment had no influence on my actions. Again, until we received a contradictory opinion from the town attorney, I assumed reconsideration would take place at a later date.

Eric Taussig said...

Mr. Shipp,

I have no knowledge of when and if you consulted with the Town Attorney. The Town Attorney represents the Town and BoS including you, not me. I would presume he counseled you on the law prior to the meeting.

After you made your motion, I immediately moved to amend the motion to add a deferral period of 7 days before a re-vote could take place. This was before your withdrawal of the motion.

Only after your withdrawal of the motion did you proffer your reason for withdrawal
that the opinion of the Town Attorney required an immediate vote on the motion. Even assuming that the Town Attorney's opinion was correct, my motion to amend, which had been seconded, was on the floor for discussion and a vote when you decided to withdrew your motion.

Eric Taussig

Moultonboro Blogger said...

I have seen nasty comments, but accusing someone of backing the project to receive kickbacks from contractors is not only way over the line, it is libelous. Did you seriously think it would be published?

Moultonboro Blogger said...

For the record one last time, the motion to reconsider and my second were made on the assumption that there was an at least 7 day waiting period before that could happen. Town counsel indicated that it needed to occur that same day, so the motion and my second was withdrawn. After some time, town counsel than advised that he was incorrect and the Municipal Budget Act took precedence and it was indeed a minimum 7 day waiting period. The flurry of motions and amendments and discussion had nothing to do with the withdrawal of the motion. It was withdrawn because we were advised incorrectly that it had to be reconsidered that same day.

Dave Rossetti said...

Blogger, please understand I am not pointing fingers at any one person, however my wife and I came to a similar conclusion that somebody had made promises they suddenly could not keep. There really seemed to be so many dark turns on this community center project that any reasonable person would make these observations and come to like conclusions.
This should now be a dead issue. The people have spoken by votes cast. If 50 people were on the fence and voted in the affirmative it would not have changed the outcome.
How can we put this to rest? We are all getting tired of the banter. Let's move on.....

Curious observer said...

I don't understand the anger. Last year, voters funded the BoS to come up with a plan, which they did. Of course it was mostly for the plan - they came up with it. Then, the voters spoke. This is how things work. Who cares that the BoS didn't like the vote? That should be no ill will towards them. They did their job and the voters did theirs. That's how democracy works.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Curious, many people I talk to agree with you. Thank you for the comment.