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.
The regular Town Meeting was called to order, and we opened the Special Town Meeting. I heard some question about why there was a special town meeting. The reason we did it this way is to make the leaf blower regulation changes as seamless as possible. Anything passed in a town meeting doesn’t take effect until some period of time after the meeting is completely dissolved. Regular town meeting sometimes extends into June. The special town meeting was dissolved tonight. Thus, the new leaf blower regulations will take effect much sooner, almost-but-not-quite before the May 15 when the seasonal ban will technically go into effect.
The Arlington High School Madrigal Singers sang the national anthem. They performed three other songs.
The moderator announced that precincts 1-7 were taking organizational votes today. He referred to a breakdown in civility on Monday. He gave the definition of an ad hominem attack.
Since it’s the Special Town Meeting, we have to set our ground rules again. The basic motions about seating etc. were made.
- Scott Smith of the Bicycle Advisory Committee announced a bike path cleanup for Saturday at 9:30
- Carol Kowalski made several announcements about the Master Plan process. She introduced the town’s consultants who outlined the 18-month process. Harry McCabe asked why we didn’t have a building moratorium during the process, and the answer was that the changes anticipated so far weren’t sweeping.
- Michelle Durocher announced Saturday’s cleanup of Meadowbrook Park at 9am.
- Maya Ginns announced a town-wide cleanup on May 11.
- Jim O’Conor talked about joining town meeting member email list.
- Chris Loreti found a pair of eyeglasses
- Lyman Judd announced that he was forced to apologize for his actions at the previous town meeting. He gave a meandering speech on various topics, some related to the incident on Monday. This was a spectacle, awkward, painful to watch, and a waste of the meeting’s time. It is not clear to me what the moderator was hoping for when he (apparently) required an apology from Judd. That said, I don’t have a easy alternative to recommend for dealing with misbehaving members.
Article 1 – Reports
- I gave the report of the Board of Selectmen.
- Al Tosti gave the report of FinComm.
- Michael Quinn moved that the Municipal Power Committee be dissolved. This was the first committee I joined in Arlington. It was a good group, and I enjoyed the work we did.
Article 1 was tabled.
Article 2 – Leaf Blowers
Selectman Kevin Greeley recounted the history of the leaf blower debate in Arlington. He advocated support of the proposed compromise. Christopher Moore proposed an amendment to apply the bylaw to internal combustion, not just gasoline. Wes Beal made a substitute motion to “press the pause button” and send it back to a committee. Paul Schlictman said it was not a true compromise. There are real concerns on both sides, but we should vote this down. Landscaper Tibbets described the process of the compromise committee and advocated its support. He received applause and cheers, and the moderator asked them not too. I completely agree with him. Cheering only inflames and does not advance the debate. Michael Ruderman gave a “minority opinion of one” from the committee. He said the committee was driven by people with a financial interest, and not enough input from non-landscaper experts. I think some people thought this was an attack, but I think Ruderman’s language was careful and quite appropriate. It is entirely reasonable to point out someone’s financial interest and how they affect a position being taken. Carol Band asked Town Meeting to reject the compromise, and go with the compromise Town Meeting approved last year. Mark McCabe moved to terminate debate – failed. Andy O’Brien talked about emissions of gas and propane leaf blowers. Questions were asked and answered about the language. Bill Berkowitz described the question as one of balance of different people’s rights. Speakers were for and against the compromise.
We took a 10 minute break
After a couple more speakers, Jim Doherty move terminate debate, and it was terminated. Beal’s amendment went down by voice vote. Internal combustion amendment was approved: 125-74. The main motion was approved 113-95. So, the vote last year was 95-85. After so much debate, a ballot question, public hearings, etc., it all came down to 20-odd town meeting members whose votes approved the new policy. Interesting to think about.
Article 3 – Tourism
Angela Olszewski explained what the proposed building is for. Visitors come to Arlington – we need them to understand where they’re visiting and encourage them to stay. John Leonard is concerned about grafitti. Steve Harrington thinks it should be somewhere else. Ted Sharpe spoke in favor of busking. Chamber of Commerce is in favor. Sean Harrington moved to terminate debate. approved. Spending approved on voice vote.
Article 4 – Water Bottle Ban
Harry McCabe with a substitute motion on behalf of Amy Currul. She spoke to explain the substitute motion. She spoke of the negative environmental effects of water bottle production and disposal. Diane Mahon spoke, opposed to the ban, and introduced the manager of Stop and Shop. Stop and Shop are opposed. A couple more speakers were opposed. Nathan Swilling moved to terminate debate. McCabe’s substitute went down by voice vote, and no action was approved.
Article 1 taken from the table.
Meeting was dissolved.