Town Meeting ’13, 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 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.
Jane Howard led the meeting in the national anthem.
Moderator John Leone made two announcements. Precincts 8-14 need to organize tonight. Boy’s lacrosse is having a bake sale outside.
- I introduced the visitors from our sister city Nagaokakyo. The Cherry Blossom festival is Friday at at Ottoson School. The leader of the delegation extended his thanks to Arlington.
- I announced that the Attorney General had already approved the vote of the Special Town Meeting in regard to leaf blowers, and will become effective after the change is advertised on May 9. This is record time for such an approval!
- Gordon Jamieson asked how to inquire about legal questions. The moderator replied that a legal question about a vote is a legitimate point of information.
- Clarissa Rowe reported on progress for the Books for Bill program and invited members to talk to her during the break.
- Roland Chaput announced a cleanup of Robbins Park 9-1 on Saturday.
- Diane Mahon announced a Saturday cleanup of Hill’s Hill by the Summer Street Association at 9AM.
- Diane Mahon reported on the AHS basketball and cheerleaders banquet.
- Sean Harrington announced for Thursday at the Senior center.
Article 3 – Reports
- Stephen Gilligan gave the report of the treasurer.
- Gordon Jamieson asked for the dissolution of the bus shelter and liberty ride committees. It was granted.
- Diane Mahon asked for the dissolution of the leaf blower committee. It was granted.
Al Tosti moved to table Article 3.
Article 13 – New Animal Laws
Juliana Rice explained that the state has passed a new set of laws. This proposal updates our bylaw to fit the new state law and incorporates some other items that are already in practice. Zarina Memon asked several questions. She is opposed to the change. There were discussions of some of the detailed language and several corrections of typos. Mark McCabe moves to terminate debate. Debate was terminated. The new bylaw was passed.
Article 14 – Self-serve gasoline
I spoke, and said that this article was brought forward by 10 voters. Selectmen discussed the safety issues, ADA, and other considerations. Carl Wagner spoke. He had proposed this change, but is no longer in favor. The Master Plan (and others) should look at it. He urged the town meeting to vote it down quickly and move on. Mr. Worden proposed an amendment: permit self-serve, but require full-service. Paul Schlictman terminate. Worden’s amendment went down. The main motion went down.
Article 15 – Utility Poles
John Leonard proposed a resolution that the selectmen ensure that all double poles and other utility pole issues be resolved in 90 days. I was opposed to the resolution. I complete agree that the poles are a problem and the town should work on it. We have adopted a new policy and put in some levers to get change in the future. But a resolution that demands the problem be fixed in 90 days just isn’t a reasonable resolution. I would have preferred a more realistic resolution. A speaker was in favor, and one against. A speaker wants us to bury the lines. Swilling moves to terminate. debate is terminated. Leonard’s motion was substituted and approved.
Article 16 – Safe Streets
Article 17 – Overnight Parking Fees
Jim Ballin proposed a resolution asking the selectmen to lower the parking fees. I noted that the issue will be on the agenda this summer and that we value the opinions of town meeting members. Several speakers were in favor.
We took a 10-minute break.
Mark McCabe moved to terminate debate. The resolution was substituted and passed.
Articles 18, 19, and 20
All voted no action
Article 21 – Evens Maurice
Bill Hayner said we should take a look at the rules more carefully. Carl Wagner said we should use existing rules, and we shouldn’t allow this to happen. In a more perfect world, I’d agree with Mr. Hayner and Mr. Wagner. In this case, we are stuck between two terrible options by state law. The exception granting process is a way to mitigate the bad options. The real solution here is a change to civil service law by the state. Moore moved to terminate the debate. The motion was approved.
Voted no action.
Article 23 – Public Art Fund
I noted that this article has no appropriation and no appropriation is contemplated at this time. Stephen Harrington was opposed because he thinks it will be an appropriation. Several speakers were in favor. A vote to terminate debate failed. Several more speakers were in favor. Debate was terminated and the fund was approved.
Article 24 – Retirement Board Compensation
I noted it doesn’t affect retirement or health insurance benefits. John Bilafer spoke for several minutes about what the board does. Chris Loreti was opposed. In Loreti’s speech, he referred to the board’s meeting minutes, and how the minutes talked about sending a member to a conference in Hawaii. It was an attempt to paint the board as a cushy, perk-filled job where the members vote each other favors. What Mr. Loreti didn’t say is that no one actually went on the trip. A juicy sound bite, but lacking in substance when you find the real story. Other speakers were in favor. Mark McCabe terminated debate. Passed 88-81.
Article 25 – Personal Property Exemption
Postponed to Wednesday because Assessors are out tonight.
Article 26 – Local Option Taxes
Article 27 – CDBG
I talked about the declining funding for CDBG. We are trying to move programs to private charities where we can. We are trying to prioritize and support health programs first. There were several questions. The motion was approved.
Article 28 – Revolving Funds
There were several questions and demands for more reports on spending. The article was approved.
Article 29 – Collective Bargaining
One union still is not under contract. This reserves money for future appropriation. Approved.
Article 30 – Positions Reclassification
No discussion. Approved.
Article 31 – Budgets
With 9 minutes to go before 11, we adjourned early rather than take up the budgets.
At this pace, we are in a good position to have two nights left. We can do most of the budgets on Wednesday, finish up any budgets and spending articles the following Monday. Let’s hope we keep the pace up!