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Town Meeting ’13, Session 1

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 try to publish the notes every night after the meeting, as time allows. 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.

Arlington Town Meeting of 2013 was called to order by Moderator John Leone.

The meeting sang the National Anthem led by Town Meeting Member Jane Howard on the piano.

Father John J. Graham from St. Agnes gave the invocation.

Moderator Leone gave his remarks.  He talked about the history of Arlington’s town meeting.  He reminded members that any substitute motion or amendment needs to be provided at least 48 hours before the article is discussed.  He invited members to join the town meeting member email list.  He talked about the improved civility last year and and asked for it to further improve.  He remarked on some of the terrible events of this year, and we had a moment of silence.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine talked about the condolence books in the front entry way for town residents to sign.  He reported on how the Arlington police department was involved in the week’s activities.  The department was given a standing ovation.

New members to town meeting were sworn in.  They were welcomed with applause. Returning members were sworn in.

I made the motion for the annual vote about seating rules.  The only people allowed “on the floor” are Town Meeting Members and various officials; guests and observers should watch from the balcony.

We voted to reconvene on Wednesday.

Article 2 – State of the Town

I gave the state of the town.

Announcements and Resolutions

  • Jim O’Conor talked about joining town meeting member email list.
  • Selectman Kevin Greeley announced the upcoming 100th anniversery of Town Hall.  Tickets can be bought at Leader Bank or the Selectment’s office.

Article 3 – Reports of Committees

Many of these reports can be found on the town website.

  • I gave the report of the Board of Selectmen, and introduced the board and department heads. I hadn’t remembered the introduction part – that was last minute, and I forgot three people.
  • Al Tosti gave the FinComm report and introduced members of the committee.

  • Bruce Fitzimmons gave the ARB report and introduced the committee.
  • The electronic voting study report was given by Eric Helmuth.  He gave a 10-minute presentation about electronic voting, and showed a video from

  • William Logan asked that the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee be dissolved, and it was.

The moderator said that several committees were ripe for dissolution, and that at the end of town meeting he was inclined to ask for several of them to be ended.

Al Tosti moved that all motions within the reports be incorporated as the main motions for the relevant articles.

Article 3 was tabled.

Article 4 – Measurer of Wood and Bark

I moved that Elsie Fiore be appointed, and she was.

Article 5 – Election of Assistant Town Moderator

Michelle Durocher nominated Jim O’Conor.  No other nominations.  He was elected.

Article 6 – Accessory Apartments

Voted no action.

Articles 7 and 8 – Medical Marijuana Zoning and 1-year Building Moratorium

ARB chair Bruce Fitzsimmons introduce the articles as a collaboration with department heads and the town manager. He noted that if both articles fail, dispensaries can open in the near future as a regular retail use. He said they are not trying to say no to these stores, they are trying to say not yet. A couple speakers spoke against 7 because of children and neighbors, but yes on 8.  They didn’t think that Arlington Center was a good location, but what those speakers didn’t suggest was where they thought it should be permitted.  Stephen Harrington moved to table article 7 so that the moratorium can be considered first.The motion to table failed on a standing vote.  Harry McCabe tried to postpone instead, and that failed on voice vote. Two speakers were in favor.  Molly Flueckige explained how the Massachusetts law is much more strict than previous states.  She is concerned that B5 is too small.

We had a break for 10 minutes.

Stuart Clienman said he is voting against both because it’s a medicine we shouldn’t delay. A vote to terminate debate failed. Other speakers were in favor of both, some in favor of only the moratorium.  Town Counsel Juliana Rice explained that both articles are being considered  because when warrant was opened, the legal situation wasn’t clear. It is more clear now that a moratorium is legal.  Nathan Swilling move terminate debate, which carried.  Article 7 failed by a vote of 114-72 (it required 2/3).  Article 8, the moratorium, was approved.  Lyman Judd gave notice of reconsideration.

Article 9 – Easements Thompson School

This is for 3 poles that are already in place.  There were a couple questions about poles and burying power lines that weren’t related to this specific article.  (It was noted that burying power lines would be expensive, and the cost passed on to the rate payer).  I was asked why I was opposed to this article.  I opposed it because an easement is a more permanent solution, and there are less permanent rights that we could grant instead.  Verizon had demanded the permanent.  I’m not too worried about this, though, because in the big picture we can just take it back by eminent domain if we really need to.   The easement was granted.

Article 10 – Junk Dealers

I explained that this doesn’t change any of the rules.  We’re making the change because sellers of used goods don’t like being told they are selling junk.  The change was approved.

Article 11 – Use of Public Property

No action.

Article 12 – Electronic Voting

Eric Helmuth gave a presentation and talked about how this will increase accountability.  Chris Loreti offered two amendments that would have reduced the number of electronic votes.  He said that “roll call shouldn’t happen by default.”   There were questions about how devices would work and how they might fail.  Pete Howard opposed the plan because of the cost.  Bill Hayner spoke in favor of accountability.  I spoke, not as a member of the board, but on my own behalf, against the amendments.  I think that roll call should be the default – we should be proud of our work.  Our votes over a three year term are our body of work that we should be judged by.  Hugh McCrory proposed an amendment to permit town meeting to override the moderator’s choice on whether or not to use electronic voting.  All three amendments went down by voice vote.  The main motion was approved.

Al Tosti moved to table articles 13-41, and it was approved.

Article 42 – Appropriation for Electronic Voting

Al Tosti explained this is a lease so we can evaluate for a year if we like it or not.  Lyman Judd was opposed and called it a parliamentary maneuver, and got in a shouting match with the moderator.  The motion was approved.

Articles 13-41 were taken from the table.

The meeting adjourned for the night.



Comment from Rich Carreiro
Time: April 23, 2013, 9:49 am

So what was Loreti’s reasoning as to why roll-call shouldn’t be the default?

Comment from dunster
Time: April 23, 2013, 10:43 am

Working from memory, not my notes, Loreti wanted a) less change to current practice and b) feared that town meeting members would be “targeted” in re-election for unpopular votes.

Comment from dunster
Time: April 23, 2013, 10:49 am

FYI I just edited my comment on Article 12 and put the red color on it – forgot that part.

Comment from Rich Carreiro
Time: April 23, 2013, 7:58 pm

Well, they *should* be targeted for unpopular votes if their constituents don’t like their votes and feel they should be punished for them. That’s sort of the point of representing constituents. For better or worse, Arlington is a RTM town, not an OTM town.

Comment from Scott Smith
Time: April 24, 2013, 7:44 am

Dan, I liked your state-of-town address. Concise, and had some substance. Thanks.

Comment from Donna Wren
Time: April 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

Voted out is one thing, Rich. Getting nasty emails and threats is a whole different matter. I know of at least one TMM who has been the recipient of this type of “targeting.” On the other side of the coin, I rarely hear from constituents at all, and then it has generally been after the votes, not before.