Straight Talk

HONEST talk about local issues!

Town Meetings … When the moderator changes the rules …

Last evening, I witnessed a Town Meeting that reached a NEW low … at least from my point of view.

A Town Meeting is suppose to be a legislative meeting, where the citizens of the community debate and ultimately decide on laws (called ordinance at the town level).

The Town Meeting is ‘regulated’ by local ordinance, or in the absence of a specific ordinance, Roberts Rules of Order.  The idea is to keep debate organized, civil and germane to the issue on the floor of the meeting.

A ‘moderator’ is chosen to keep the meeting organized and to insure that the rules are being followed.

At the Town Meeting in Salisbury (April 3, 2009), the moderator actually chose to ignore the rules of order.  The Meeting approved a motion to take a vote concerning the formation of the SSRRA by paper ballot.

After the ballots were placed in the box, he then called for a voice vote on the same issue and declared it passed.  Some people in the room were not aware of what was happening at the front of the room, including myself.

After voting on the second issue of the meeting, they were preparing to close the meeting with no intention of counting the paper ballots that had been cast on the first issue.

When called upon to count and announce that vote, the looks that came from ‘the Bosses’ of our Town were … well … let’s say quite demeaning.

The votes were counted and the actual vote was announced.

For a moderator to ignore a previous vote at a meeting and call for the vote in a different fashion, at his own discretion, shows that the moderator is ignoring the proper process of the Town Meeting.

Frankly it should disqualify that individual from serving as moderator at any future Town Meetings.

This is one of multiple events that raise questions about the conduct of (what used to be) our most sacred institution, the Town Meeting, and how it is being ‘dismantled’ by our public officials …

More to come …

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4 thoughts on “Town Meetings … When the moderator changes the rules …

  1. Mike,

    Heard part of your show this morning. Over the years, I’ve covered dozens of CT town meetings and have never heard of a maneuver of this sort.

    Have you asked Charlie what his thinking was behind the move? I’d be curious to hear it. I’m a big fan of Charlie’s, but this sort of begs an explanation.

    • Terry …
      I understand what you are saying and why you may be ‘scratching your head’ (careful!).

      I talk about people not as people that I know, but rather in the particular office they are holding or executing at a given moment, in this case, the moderator of a Town Meeting.

      Having been born and raised in a small town, I know most of the people I speak of. It is important for me to separate ‘the person from the job or task’ … My intent is NOT to make personal attacks … I am only interested in individuals acting in the ‘public interest’.
      While I respect many of the individuals that I ‘take to task’, I fail to understand why they take the course that they do when acting in a ‘public capacity’.

      I have not spoken to the moderator of that meeting personally about what happened that evening.

      I try not to bother folks on the weekend, other than to appear on their TV’s, radios, and computers … at least there they can turn me off if they like.

      Explanations are due from multiple officials concerning the conduct of that meeting … and for that matter … the conduct of the public business in multiple cases …

      For those out there who may not quite get it … politics has great influence at the local level and actually ‘infects’ the way individuals act when called to public service … it may actually be worse than what we see at the State and Federal levels.

  2. george parsons on said:

    Terry you should watch the video tape of town meeting and then decide for yourself

  3. Claudia Parsons on said:

    Just watched the broadcast of the April 3 Town Meeting, at which all of our questions were to be answered, or at least that’s what we were told ….
    In previous meetings citizens of Salisbury were told to hold all questions on the SSRRA for this meeting and “all would be answered.” WHAT?! Nothing was answered and discusssion was strictly limited by the moderator. This is what we waited months for? And the moderator wasn’t even going to count the paper ballots? Democracy in action? I think not.
    This reminds me of the days (and I have done a great deal of research in this area to determine just who the original Raggies are vs. those who claim to be, or as I call them the “wanna-be’s) when the original Raggies of Salisbury (and I do not mean the Yanks or those who claim to be Raggies because they NOW live near the top of Mt. Riga) were told by the “powers that be” (and even offered stipends) that it was their patriotic duty to go off and fight in the Civil War. The richer land owners and those with polictical influence would stay behind and “protect their interests.” That they did, all right. When the Raggies returned home from serving their country, they no longer owned their family farms near the mountain top, but were relegated to the bottom of the mountain. Why? Those who had pledged to help and protect instead claimed for back taxes and took possession of prime land for themselves. As an original Raggie (born in a home at the base of Mt. Riga, surrounded by dozens of other original Raggies in what was referred to by locals as “Raggie Land”) I cannot help but draw a comparison. Here we were told to “trust in our political representatives,” much as present day Salisbury is being told. What did it get us back then?
    I say it’s time for the Raggies to take Salisbury back! Enough is enough…..

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