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Town Meeting ’11 – Session 3

I take notes during Town Meeting. They are not official in any way. As I listen to people speak, I type 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 notes 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.

The Selectmen met tonight at 7:15, and then we went to the Finance Committee meeting and met with them. We had a conversation about the override, health care savings, budgeting, PAYT, and other related issues. The meeting ran long and I missed the beginning of Town Meeting. I could hear the anthem from the hearing room. But, I did not hear what reports were given or what announcements were made. I heard at least one vote of postponement – so I missed at least one article being postponed. I’m told that this the only actual vote that I missed:

Article 29. Ballot Question for 2 More Liquor Licenses, continued. Voted 94-16.

The rest of the votes I was there for:

Article 26 – Bylaw. Motor Boats on Spy Pond.

My notes here are short as I was just getting settled. A Spy Pond neighbor whose name I didn’t get gave a substitute motion. She said that the residents and recreational groups (particularly the high school crew) had reached a compromise. One speaker stood up and said that there was no such thing as a launch without wake – he was a crew coach. I could have argued him on this point! There’s a company called Still Water Design that makes wakeless launches. The designer of these boats lives in Arlington on Pleasant Street. How do I know? I used to row crew, and Dicky Pereli was the boatsman. Small world. There were several speakers about rowing, wakes, and rule interpretation. It passed by voice vote. A parent from the crew was there, but she didn’t get to speak.

Article 30 – Home Rule. Non-Public Safety Civil Service.

Caryn Malloy explained the article. This is a request for very narrow special legislation that would remove certain positions from the civil service regulation. In answer to a question, she said there were two kinds of civil service, the Official Service (state) and Labor Service (town). The town’s Labor Service was the only change here, and the union in question agreed with the change. Voted, 161-11.

The Moderator announced that the Redevelopment Board was having an emergency meeting.

Article 31 – Home Rule. GIC.

Tabled because of ongoing issues. With active negotiations and the pending legislation on Beacon Hill, this can wait until after the override.

At this point Lyman Judd stood up and got in an argument with the moderator about tabling.  Unfortunately, this was a repeated theme this evening. Mr. Judd has a unique perspective on life, and he is not shy about sharing it.

Article 32 – Home Rule. HRA.

Selectman Clarissa Rowe explained this home rule legislation would create a town-funded healthcare reimbursement account. In the event of an employee having catastrophic health costs, those costs would be funded by the HRA. Barbara Goodman, speaking for FY Arlington, explained that a few percent of GIC subscribers run into extraordinary expenses. This protects them from those expenses and removes a barrier to joining the GIC. Al Tosti said the Finance Committee supported the article. Debate is terminated. Passed 174-3.

Article 33 – Home Rule. Wireless Antenna Leases.

This is to renew the legislation we have used in the past to negotiate leases and use the money. There was a question about how the $250,000 cap got chosen – there was no specific reason. Chris Loreti was opposed. Why money to parks when it’s only a fire station? We don’t need legislation to do a long-term lease. Is the money spent on parks and rec? Yes. Has there been any that reverted to the General Fund? No.

Break for 15 minutes.

136-6 the article passes.

Art 34-35. PAYT. Tabled.

Article 36 – No action.

Article 37 – No action.

Article 38 and 39 – Parmenter and Crosby. Postpone to May 4th, waiting for Charlie Foskett.

Article 40 – No action.

Article 41 – No action.

Article 42 – No action.

Article 43 – No action.

Article 44 – Amend Town Manager Act.

Consolidated Town-School Human Resource Department. Al Tosti chaired the Town Government Reorganization Meeting, and he gave their report. He said the Selectmen had endorsed their recommendations except one, and that would be put forward as a substitute motion. He noted that the group had avoided talking about financial reorganization because the committee was very divided. Question about who does the hiring of teachers – in the end, it’s the principals. At this point Lyman Judd’s phone rang, and he took the call outside. There were a couple questions about whether it’s legal to have the HR department keep the personnel records of teachers. Town Counsel Juliana Rice said – “directors of personnel always must follow the law.” I spoke in favor of this article. This is how we spend our town monies wisely – by finding efficiencies where we can. We added a comma to the language. A couple more speakers were in favor. Passed 133-16.

Article 45 – No action.

Article 46 – Annual Finance Report.

Al Tosti explained that this was being done without a bylaw. No action.

Article 47 – Town Manager Act. Budget Submissions.

Al Tosti explained that the Town Manager Act doesn’t really say who should create the overall, balanced town budget. This bylaw centralizes that in the Town Manager’s office. Treasurer Stephen Gilligan in favor. Answered that it will not take more resources. Does Finance Committee still get a say? Absolutely – every line. Passed unanimously.

Article 48 – No action.

Article 49 – Al Tosti. Postpone to Wednesday. Waiting for Foskett.

Article 50 – Extend Town Reorganization Committee For One Year

We reviewed the charge of the committee. Adam Auster thanked the committee, and suggested that one if its actions be to consider recommending WHO could talk about the finance issues, since they couldn’t. After a couple questions, debate was terminated. Voted unanimously.

Several notices of reconsideration were given.