Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Smooth Sailing (So Far)

258th Annual Town Meeting

In spite of the enthusiasm exhibited by Moderator Jim Pistrang the new $26,000 electronic voting devices did not see official use last night other than a 20 minute practice session with only a minor glitch or two.

At one point it looked like they would be fired up for official use, but a member made a "point of order" to remind Mr. Pistrang that a voice vote will always go first.  That vote was so overwhelmingly one sided he decided not to waste another minute or two to confirm it via the clickers.

 Town Moderator Jim Pistrang demonstrating new electronic voting devices

At this rate the batteries should last quite a while.

But it certainly indicates Town Meeting members were all on the same page with the votes thus far.  Even the $10 million Pubic Safety Budget was approved unanimously without any naysayers questioning authority, something this town seems to specialize in.

Of course the long winded advisory articles that have nothing to do with operating our $80+ million enterprise have yet to come up, although a procedural motion moved article 45 to tomorrow night first thing.

Amherst College students want their $2 billion institution to divest from fossil fuels and apparently don't want to get arrested via sit ins like UMass students recently did. 

And since they will be gone in a week,  it's far more convenient to have the article come up sooner rather than dead last.

Town Meeting, at your service.


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, if they aren't used we still don't know how our town meeting reps have voted on each issue. Right?

Larry Kelley said...

Correct.

Anonymous said...

In the training period in which we tested out our voting devices early in the meeting, I still counted a total of less than 200 members participating. Think about that: on the opening night of Town Meeting, there were presumably STILL 20-30% of the body NOT there. (The town website will have authoritative attendance figures soon.) Is that acceptable to the voters in town? Is this part of our ideal vision of how town government should work?

Rich Morse

Larry Kelley said...

If the weather had been better I would have taken a drone shot of the full parking lot and then a couple months from now retake it on the final night of Town Meeting to show the difference.

Anonymous said...

Average attendance, historically, is around 72%. So, anything around 70% is a good night at Town Meeting. What is interesting is the age of those who actually attend. While the average age of ALL Town Meeting members is around 55, the age of those who actually attend for critical votes (2/3) like zoning is more like 65. That will be the test, who shows up for zoning votes.

Anonymous said...

I just went poking around in the warrant and petitions. Kevin Collins's petition for open government should be a fun one. Imagine the horror, TM members subject to conflict of interest and open meeting laws! Most interested to see the debate on this one... and glad that all votes will be recorded.

Also interesting that the statute exempts members of charter commission. I wonder the purpose of the exemption.

Anonymous said...

The Town Meeting Yahoo group should be open for all to see. They are essentially discussing OUR town policies behind closed doors. Good luck Mr. Collins.

DJ R Superluminal said...

You should go.Also people should specialize in questioning authority.

DJ R Superluminal said...

It actually is pretty transparent. The moderator does his job well.The last one at the middle school there were (at least) 130 members there plus the general public. The Chief (PD)as Well as many others.Oh yes someone from the Bulletin/Gazette,I think.A yahoo group does not capture the esscence. You are proboably pressed for time like everyone else these days(not sarcastic) It is worth going to though.

DJ R Superluminal said...

Actually,( In my opinion) that is a pretty good number.Just in comparison to the City I'm originally from.Apples and Oranges though.

Anonymous said...

DJ, 4:02 here - as a former board member I sat through many, many hours of TM at both the front and back of the room. No sarcasm taken; the excessive time commitment is in my view a major reason we don't get many qualified candidates for TM (present company excepted of course).

Anonymous said...

The point is that they discuss things in the yahoo group before it gets to the public meeting. Unacceptable. Ms. Streeter needs to permit the public to have access to it like they did years ago. What possible excuse can she have for this?

DJ R Superluminal said...

I apologize.I didn't know that.I am a relative newcomer to Amherst (2 Years)

Anonymous said...

Town meeting members get criticized for not being prepared before town meeting, for discussing the articles in a listserv or at warrant meetings, for not asking questions, for asking too many questions, for not deferring to every committee or board proposal or any town employee, for voting a budget that costs too much taxes, for not voting for a budget that costs too much taxes, for adding $100,000 to the budget so poor kids can take summer camp, for not being qualified, for being old, educated and/or owning homes (pick 1, 2 or 3), not declaring their conflict of interest in voting on town affairs that affect them when the whole purpose of democracy is to give citizens a voice in their government….anyone else want to pile on? And yet, sort of great town results.

Anonymous said...

Even if it were true, "sort of great" is not good enough for the taxes we are paying.

Anonymous said...

@2:32, They can discuss articles all they want. Hell they can hash it out online and save town meeting time. But it should be in the public eye.