Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trip the light fantastic

Town Moderator Harrison Gregg calls the meeting to order (the usual 10 minutes late)

So in addition to the usually screw ups--PowerPoint snafus and sound system screeches--two hours into Town Meeting, after I had already taken 35 photos (equally divided between pro and con speakers) from my front row seated position which is designated for media, after Mary Streeter trudged to the microphone 40 feet from me, Molly Turner interrupted with a "point of order," claiming I was distracting speakers (of course she meant those on her side who opposed the article) by "flashing" in their faces.

Moderator Harrison Gregg, who I had already photographed three times, seemed confused and asked her what she was talking about. Obviously I was not a distraction to him, even though seated almost directly in front of his podium.

And Ms. Streeter certainly did not seem to notice, as she was juggling papers and asked about removing the microphone. I was taking two photos of every speaker and you can barely notice the first flash (the lighting is lousy in the auditorium and does require a flash for usable photos) and then the second and final one a full 24 seconds later.

He then flippantly bans my flash. Now yeah, I could have done what Luke Gelinas did with the South Hadley School Committee and get arrested and then suit for a First Amendment violation. But I figured a major disruption could cost votes as most people know I favored passage of the Form Based Zoning article.

That night before Town Meeting started, the Moderator announced that a member wished to enact a rule to limit all speakers to no more than five minutes. But he said since town meeting had not formerly adopted such a rule, he could not suddenly try to enforce it now.

Last spring the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee briefly discussed the use of flash photography and photographers moving about on the floor of town meeting potentially distracting or "intimidating" speakers--but nothing ever came of it. No enforceable rule enacted.

I guess that makes me and my flash...special.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what next're breathing to loud?

Anonymous said...

Buy a real camera instead of using your camera phone.

LarryK4 said...

Brand new Kodak z981, with a nifty 26x optical zoom.

I don't own a camera phone.

Anonymous said...

The five minute rule was in effect back in the late 1980's when Bill Fields was town moderator. I was pretty sure that had been approved by town meeting then. No records of this vote?

Anonymous said...

in a town literally polluted with landscape architecture and regional planning graduates and professors, one would think the planning in your town would be modern and streamlined. Amherst should take advantage of the LARP dept at umass.

Anonymous said...

form based zoning for Cinda, how precious. is that why you are for it... little secret crush on the town owner?

Larry why so many pictures? can't reaaly see the first flash? what planet you on? like I said, people do not want YOU taking their picture... since you are an intrusive bonehead

LarryK4 said...

The photos per subject is hardly a lot and Town Meeting is rather, you know, l-a-r-g-e made up of lots of folks who like to, you know, TALK.

I actually would have been in favor of the five minute rule as I always kept my speeches to three knowing town meeting would never allow me an extra second.

I just hold up a mirror, Cowardly Anon Nitwit. Don't blame me for the reflection you see.

Anonymous said...


Your flash is intimidating and a symbol of tyranny.

You should only be able to take a picture with a flash once every 10 photos.

Or, on designated flash days.

Anonymous said...

Get a camera that doesn't need a flash for low light, cubby.

Anonymous said...

The irony of Town Meeting is that, although it is a public office, its members have been operating in relative obscurity for so long, with little or no contact from or attention by constituents. Therefore, many long-time members are upset when it appears that they may get attention from someone other than the usual small circle of ACTV watchers. Remember when there was the flap about the publishing of Town Meeting voting records?

Town Meeting members operate in a parallel universe separate from the usual mechanisms of accountability and many of them like it that way. That's how we can understand the upset at Larry's picturetaking. How dare you!

Anonymous said...

Our Town Meeting form of government provides us with a peculiar kind of democracy:

of the fearful, by the fearful, and for the fearful.

Anonymous said...

Now if you REALLY want to get town meeting's attention, why not BE a flasher instead of just causing them.