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Town Meeting, 5/22, Session Nine (Final Session)

I take notes during Town Meeting. They are not official in any way. As I listen to people speak, I scribble notes. I’m sure that, at times, I mishear or misunderstand the speaker, but my notes represent what I hear at the time. I then publish the notes every night after the meeting. I do go back and make a few edits as errors are pointed out to me.

I do not try to reproduce my entire notepad for this online version. Sometimes I relay a quote from a specific speaker. Most of the time I only summarize the discussion. At points I give a purely personal opinion; those are clearly labeled like this: Personal note. When I remember to note the time, it looks like [8:05].

The meeting was called to order promptly at 8:00. Town Meeting member Charles Gallagher played the national anthem. A man from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church gave the invocation.

The moderator reported on the student Town Meeting.

The moderator noted that of 76 articles, 49 were finished.

Article 2 – Reports

John Belskis reported that the GIS/40B Study Committee hadn’t met since it was formed last year. Note: When you create a committee, be sure to choose which member is in charge of calling the first meeting.

Article 52 – School Building, continued. Mr. Healey made an amendment that would fund most of the planning through an increase in the tax rate. [8:14] Town Meeting does not have the power to set the tax rate. The amendment was revised to spend money out of general funds, but it did not specify an offsetting cut to balance the budget. The intent of the amendment appears to be to remove the funding through borrowing. That, of course, makes it a majority vote rather than 2/3. I think I have myself to blame for pointing this out in my notes last week. There were several speakers who were in favor of rebuilding Thompson, but thought this plan was too risky. I moved to terminate debate. Healey’s amendment lost, then Shea’s substitute motion failed, and then the Finance Committee/Spangler version was approved unanimously.

Article 4 – Assistant Moderator election. Moderator Worden announced that he was accepting the nomination and Rich Carreiro was declining. I read a short statement from Rich Carreiro who explained that he will run in the future. Worden won unanimously.

Article 53 – Sewer Financing. Passed unanimously. [8:50]

Article 54 – Water Financing. Passed unanimously.

Article 55 – Liberty Ride Committee. Passed. [8:52] Despite the fact that the vote was taken, the moderator permitted speakers. A speaker complained that historical committees were not created with enough rigor. The motion passed (again).

Article 56 – Pension Adjustment. $0 approved.

Article 57 – OPEB funding. Finance Committee chair Allan Tosti explained that the sources of the funds (past savings, annual contribution, increase in retiree premiums, and Medicare Part D) and why they were being placed into this particular reserve fund (arcane details of accounting practices and poorly-written home-rule legislation). Kaj Telenar proposed an amendment that would move town funds to the state retirement system when it became possible. Town Counsel explained why he thought the motion wasn’t legal. Maher also said that he had originally said the amendment held water. I would be pretty annoyed if I’d made the amendment and then watched counsel do a 180. Mr. Fisher proposed a resolution about a state funding mechanism. Gordon Jamieson made a long and confusing statement with questions about health care funding. He threatened to make an amendment, but did not. John Bilafer defended the retirement board. The resolution was approved. The amendment failed. The main motion was approved, 130-1.

Article 58 – Local Option taxes. No action.

Article 59 – 200th Anniversary. [10:01]. Pam Meister outlined the Arlington 200 celebration for next week. Lawrence McKinney complained about the committee. I thought Mr. McKinney’s comments were in very poor taste. He went through the list of volunteers on the committee one by one and disparaged them. Volunteers should be thanked, not chastised. The appropriation was approved.

Article 60 – Animal Commission. No action, unanimously.

Article 61 – Revise Budgets. No action, unanimously.

Article 62 – Barber Progam. Approved unanimously.

Article 63 – Minuteman Senior Services. Approved unanimously.

Article 64 – Revaluation. There were several questions about valuation methods and the 9-year valuation cycle. Voted unanimously.

Article 65 – Tip Fee Stabilization Fund. Voted unanimously.

Article 66 – Cemetery Fund Transfer. Voted unaimously.

Article 67 – Overlay Reserve Fund Transfer. After a question, voted unanimously.

Article 68 – Override Stabilization Fund. $100,000 was put in to support the 5-year plan.

Article 69 – Unencumbered Funds. Passed.

Article 70 – John Maher explained that the bylaw was to permit committee members to vote in certain circumstances even if they had missed part of the meeting. After a question about the historic commission the changed was approved.

Article 71 – Ian Miller explained the goal of the endorsement of the Arlington Sustainability Action Plan (ASAP). Chris Loreti noted that the article asked us to endorse a plan that had not been distributed to members. He moved to weaken the language in the motion. A couple speakers defended the article, and others were opposed. Two notes. 1) At this point, 7 of the previous 9 speakers had last names that started with J, specifically Judd or Jameison. See previous notes about meeting karma. 2) I voted against this. The ASAP plan has some good stuff, but it goes too far. I think the science is shaky and the policy even moreso. I supect that if they’d actually passed out the ASAP plan that they would have had a harder time getting this through. The amendment failed and the main motion passed.

Article 23 – Daniel Wesinger. Like Article 22, this was to get around the state’s age requirements. Allan Tosti proposed a time limit of 2012. Passed 120-2.

Article 72 – Health Insurance Funding. Voted no action.

Article 73 – Belmont Development Resolution. [11:06] A speaker complained about the effect it would have on Arlington. Voted unanimously.

Article 74 – Troop Support. Kaj Telenar proposed a substitute motion that supported the troops but removed the references to the war on terror. There was debate in favor and against both versions. The substitute motion was used by a vote of 70-42, and the motion then passed.

Article 75 – Spanking. After some directionless discussion the vote of no action was approved.

A presentation was made to John Worden for 19 years of service as moderator.

The meeting was dissolved.


Comment from Dean Carman
Time: May 22, 2007, 10:44 am

I think Bill McKinney’s comments were the low point of the 2007 Annual Town Meeting, which is quite a dishonor. It’s one thing to go after the Selectmen, Treasurer, Clerk, Board of Assessors or Housing Authority, because they are elected public officials and should be held accountable for job performance. Committee volunteers are residents who have given up their personal time to help the town in a specific capacity. They should be praised for stepping forward, not attacked on the floor of Town Meeting.

Comment from Scott Smith
Time: May 23, 2007, 9:13 pm

Regarding Article 55 – Liberty Ride Committee, I noticed that the speaker’s hand was up well before the first “vote” was taken. So, allowing him to speak was reasonable.

Pingback from Dan Dunn’s Podium » Town Meeting Session #7
Time: May 20, 2008, 1:50 pm

[…] Jamieson has had a longstanding beef with the usage of Medicare Part D funds (see here in 2006, 2007, and 2007); the committee had heard the argument and rejected it. What it did not hear during […]