Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Squeaky Wheel

TMCC turns the table on reporter Scott Merzbach 1/11/12

So third time was the charm for the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee request for reporter Scott Merzbach to "join us" at the table for a friendly discussion of public relations in general and free press for their open house town meeting recruitment drive 1/31 in particular.

Pat Holland pulled the "I'm hard of hearing" routine and Mr. Merzbach was too much the gentleman to turn that down.

The Committee had listed the reporter as an agenda item, so I thought maybe they were going to upbraid him for something or other the way I was at the last Town Meeting for daring to use flash photography. But no, they just wanted to hit him up for free PR advice.

Although during the discussion they seemed to fully understand the basics. If you want to get media attention, send out a press release. Or, apparently, put them on your agenda as a discussion item.

Carol Gray: "You're welcome to come on our bus tour, Scott"

Daily Hampshire Gazette Friday the 13th (appropriately enough)


Anonymous said...

Could it be that the people of the Town grasp the essential meaningless of it all?

LarryK4 said...

Yep. That's why they will never get 240 people to run for those open seats, even though it only takes one signature to get on the ballot.

And why the annual spring town election averages somewhere under a 15% voter turnout the past twenty years or so, while the Presidential every four years gets over 75%.

Anonymous said...

Can't figure out why people don't find it to be an honor to be blinded by your flash taken from the front row?

LarryK4 said...

The vast majority of Amherst Town Meeting members are already blind.

And if you look at the video replay, clearly, Mother Mary was not even looking in my direction.

Anonymous said...

The voter turnout in spring 2005 was closer to 30%....

LarryK4 said...

Wow, you're a real statistician.

Notice I said "averaged" over the past 20 years. The two years of the Charter change vote to kill Town Meeting, 2004 and 2005, the turnout was 30%, and for an Override or two it was also 30%, but some years--like last year for instance--8.5%.

And in 2005 we had redistricting, so all 240 Town Meeting seats were up for a vote.

Interestingly the TMCC, which was formed in 2003 (as a reaction to Charter change movement), did not seem to remember the 2005 redistricting, as they told reporter Scott Merzbach the last time it happened was the year 2000.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how write-in votes work? Just wondering in case they don't get enough to officially run.

LarryK4 said...

That's a very safe bet.

You can't force someone to serve; so if you write in your neighbor and they win with that one vote the town clerk will ask if they wish to accept the position.

And potential winners have to be registered voters of the town, i.e. Mickey Mouse or Che Guevara don't count.

Anonymous said...

So do we have a trend line developing of steadily dwindling numbers of candidates for Town Meeting each year?

Clearly the residents are prioritizing other activities such as rearranging their sock drawers over spending idyllic spring nights in the Middle School auditorium, listening to the same members drone on and on.

Jonathan O'Keeffe said...

You're quite the statistician yourself, Larry. Almost every statistic you've cited here is inaccurate.

Voter turnout in the annual spring elections over the past twenty years hasn't averaged "under a 15%" turnout -- in fact, the average is 20.8% (going back 19 years to 1993, the earliest year that is available on the town website). The presidential election, which you said gets "over 75%" every four years, has in fact been over 75% only once in the past five presidential elections, with an average below 70%.

And the charter votes were in 2003 and 2005, not 2004 and 2005.

I know, I know, "hot copy", yadda yadda.

LarryK4 said...

Something like that. Or as those famous House builders for Mr. Souweine used to say, "Close enough for South Amherst."

And my off-the-top-of-my-head memory was better than the entire TMCC about when the last time all 240 seats were up, eh?