Friday, March 11, 2016

"Town meeting civility is worth preserving"

As we prepare for Town Meeting tomorrow, it is good to remember that we are all neighbors living in the same town. We will have differences of opinion, but how we address these differences will further mutual understanding of them or widen the divisiveness. It will define us as a community that either  has learned to listen to each other respectfully and constructively, or one that does not tolerate differing points of view.
Our one day of true democracy is typically an emotional one, because our belief and convictions run strong and deep in all of us.
Unruly behavior and actions distract us from an honest an open dialogue. Town meeting is not a place for cheap shots, misdirected arguments or personal attacks.
This article in the Concord Monitor  has some good current examples of how Town meeting decorum has taken on the demeanor of national politics:

  •  A debate over a controversial new noise ordinance devolved into a shouting match Tuesday as voters in Andover overwhelming defeated the measure,” the Monitor reported on Wednesday.
  • From Hillsboro that same night, reporter Ella Nilsen wrote, “As the fight became prolonged, some residents called for (Selectman Alan) Urquhart’s microphone to be cut and yelled for him to get off the stage.”
  • In Salisbury, the presence of a New Hampshire state trooper was requested at Tuesday’s town meeting because residents were so upset about the prospect of withdrawing from Merrimack Valley School District. “As I started to see how this was going to be received, I was a little bit afraid of getting lynched,” said Ken Ross-Raymond, the chairman of the board of selectmen. It was a bit of hyperbole that elicited chuckles, yet there stood the trooper right up until the moment the article was tabled, which didn’t take long.

The article ends with these excellent recommendations: 
"Vigorous debate helps clarify ideas and strengthen the democratic process. Anger and frustration are understandable at times because town meeting issues always hit close to home, but shouting and name-calling are like sledgehammer blows to a fragile foundation.
While we don’t expect civility to make a comeback overnight, there is an obvious path forward. It involves listening to opposing viewpoints dispassionately, calmly assessing the argument’s merits and shortcomings, and offering a thoughtful response in a measured tone. The person with whom you disagree shouldn’t be seen as a threat but a neighbor with a different perspective.
It’s important to stand for something, but that doesn’t mean positions should be defended as if existence itself was at stake. And even if it was, civility would still be preferable to shouting."


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done blogger.

Anonymous said...

As a community member I could see the amount of work Mr. Blogger put into gathering information about the community center proposed in article two. It was sad and discouraging to see how those facts did not have the opportunity to be shared due to a few members of the community hijacking the debate. It seemed to me like it was a premeditated attack to stifle one side from giving their opinion.

Anonymous said...

I read the anti art 2 ad, very hard to find in the LDS. Some one seriously put down " anonymous" as a donor for the ad. Wow. What a secretive little group that is. How about coming forwad anon and put your name to it. WHat are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

"It will define us as a community that either has learned to listen to each other respectfully and constructively, or one that does not tolerate differing points of view"

Based upon yesterdays wild town meeting I guess you have your answer, the latter.

The Voice of Reason said...

It becomes clearer and clearer every year that the town of Moultonborough is becoming a retirement community. The older residents in town should begin to think of the community as a whole instead of purely themselves. If we were voting on adding senior services there would be an overwhelming amount of support, but because the community center benefited the younger population in town they were more than happy to shoot it down. If we continue like this the town of Moultonborough is going to shrivel up and die. People in town think about things short term and do not think about the future. How are we going to develope our town center if there arent even sidewalks to walk on. There is another example of efforts to make the town better being shot down. If people want to live in a retirement community then they can move to Florida. It's time to stop being selfish, and do what's best for the community.

Anonymous said...

Speaks volumes when one of the biggest proponents of SB2 calls the vote, with the intention to stifle any community dialogue, knowing so many wanted their voice to be heard!
After that act of selfishness we can be assured that people like this guy could care less about your opinion, voice or vote! He also stole our opportunity to hear the facts, particularly when you're in the forum to get factual information, instead of biased opinions written In the local comics.
So when you hear him/them claiming that SB2 will benefit you, just consider the integrity of the source.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, with a need for 66% approval for passage and receiving only 40%, losing 348-200?... what is this thread about? Town Center?? Get a library book?, pay a tax bill?, renew a dog license?....what town center? As for people paying the lion's share of tax dollars leaving altogether for Florida? If you are concerned about this town shriveling up, that should speed up the process nicely. Despite having early March marathon meetings, no SB2, a earlier denied vote, UNH studies, architectural power point presentations, as stated on blog, strong leadership preferences.....this particular request got soundly beaten...by such a margin that Daniel Webster, Honest Abe or any other orator couldn't have reversed such a clear cut vote. This is clear cut, despite inside politics, the people have spoken.