Main menu:


Subscribe by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Site search

Town Meeting ’14 – Session 4

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. 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. Sometimes I only summarize the discussion. At points I give a purely personal opinion; those are clearly labeled like this: Personal note.

AHS Madrigal Singers led the meeting in the national anthem, and then performed three songs.

Moderator John Leone swore in the one new member. He received a welcoming round of applause.

Eric Helmuth announced that one member got the wrong clicker. It was quickly resolved.

Selectman Steve Byrne moved that we return on May 12.


  • Treasurer Stephen Gilligan announced that we have a new Assistant Treasurer. He will be in the back of the hall on Monday. He also announced that he had inadvertently cast a few votes incorrectly as he put his clicker away in his pocket.
  • Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine announced that a memo about the comprehensive salary study was in the back of the hall.
  • Angela Olszewski announced that Arlington Tourism and Economic Development (ATED) has received a donated video about Arlington which will be shown during the break. It will be used online and at the welcoming area.
  • Kate Loosian introduced Maya Ginns who announced the 2nd annual cleanup event on Saturday. 9am to noon, meeting at the St. Agnes parking lot (where the farmer’s market is).
  • Selectman Joe Curro introduced Gina Sonders. She did not put forward a substitute motion on Art 20, about tar sands. But, she has materials and a petition in the back of the hall and invited us all to sign it.
  • Phil Goff announced that it is bike to work day on Friday. There is a breakfast at Thorndike field 6:30-9:30. Sunday May 18th is the 2-hour bike tour of Arlington.
  • Jane Howard May 17th is Spy Pond Trail Day cleanup.

Moderator Leone’s remarks: We said we have been very civil, but noted a place where it wasn’t best last week.

Article 3 was taken from the table.

  • Mary Harrison and Brucie Moulton gave the report of the Vision 2020 Committee. They are actively looking for new co-chairs.
  • Molly Flueckiger gave the report of the Disability Commission. She outlined some of the good and bad updates in ADA compliance in town.

Article 3 was tabled.

Al Tosti moved Articles 22-33 tabled so that we can do Minuteman.

Article 21 – Minuteman Regional Agreement

Charlie Foskett went first. He asked for extra time. He explained some of the changes in the agreement.  He moved a substitute motion. I spoke too. I had thought I was going first, and then had to re-write my speech on the fly. It wasn’t a good speech, and I wish I had gotten it better. Maria Romano was opposed. Ms. Romano made a couple of interpretations of the regional agreement that were incorrect. In particular, her understandings of how a town can veto a debt approval in the current and proposed systems were confused. It muddled the discussion. Andy O’Brien talked about how Minuteman taught him to be a plumber. Paul Schlichtman supported the changed agreement. Stephen Harrington is opposed. Michael Ruderman is in favor. He had Superintendent Bouquillon explain how the capital cost changes. Dean Carman is in favor.

10 minute break.

John Leonard had questions about vetoing debt requests which were answered. This largely cleared up the confusion from earlier, I think. Paul Valeri asked about the change in proportional voting. He also asked about the school size for a new building. Dr. Bouquillon said that they have been studying 430 and 800, but will look at 640. He asked if withdrawing towns can send students – yes, if they pay. Len Kardon moved to terminate debate 164-38. 185-13-6 we substituted the motion. Approved on voice vote.

Article 34 Minuteman Budget
Finance Committee member Steve DeCourcey noted that the budget is already approved, 11 towns having approved it. He introduced Dr. Bouquillon. Dr. Bouquillon gave examples of some excellent students at Minuteman. He reviewed the budget and the drivers of the budget. Dean Carman is in favor of the budget, though he was concerned on a couple of increases. Gordon Jamieson terminated debate – voice vote terminated. Budget approved by voice vote.

Articles 22-33 were taken from the table.

Article 22 CPA, continued
Gordon Jamieson praised the debate and supports the CPA. Ann Fitzgerald as a senior, and a member of a number of boards, she supports the CPA. Phil Goff is in favor of the CPA. Scott Smith moved to terminate debate. 170-36 terminated debate. 128-77-2 CPA was approved.

Article 23 Local Option Taxes
No action.

Article 24 Community Development Block Grants
Selectman Steve Byrne noted that CDBG is decreasing. He talked about some of the criteria for how we allocate the money, but noted that we can’t fund everything we get applications for. Approved unanimously.

Article 25 Revolving Funds
Stephen Harrington had questions about how the ambulance service revenues are split. Roland Chaput had a question about Gibbs School. Alan Jones had questions on white goods and Town Hall Rentals.  All were answered by Deputy Town Manager Andrew Flanagan. Approved.

Article 26 Collective Bargaining
No action

Article 27 Position Reclassification
Approved unanimously without discussion.

Article 28 Budgets
Al Tosti noted that 20 minutes were left, and that we should start fresh on Monday.  Postponed.

Article 29 Real and Person Property
Postoned to the 12th so Assessors can be here.

Article 30 Capital budget
Al Tosti postpone to Monday.

Article 31 Rescind Borrowing Authority
This requires 2/3 vote, and we approved it on voice vote.

Article 32 Water and Sewer Construction
There was confusion about how much money was in this article – $800,000. Stephen Harrington asked about Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund operating expense offsets and how they were related to this borrowing. Peter Fuller asked about capital plan relationship. Sean Harrington moved to terminate debate, and it was terminated by voice vote. The motion was approved 176-9.

We adjourned.


Comment from Bob Sprague
Time: May 8, 2014, 8:25 am

I am a longtime supporter of music as well as of informing the public, but I think Town Meeting might have been able to address budgets May 7 if the Madrigals had limited their selections to one — just “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” — and the outgoing Vision 2020 co-chairs had simply let members *read* their report rather than take up time to read the report to the membership.

Comment from Wes Beal
Time: May 8, 2014, 9:43 am

It was 40 minutes into the meeting before we began considering articles. Of course every thing done before then was important &/or valuable.

Still, I wonder if some things couldn’t be done prior to 8 p.m. A tradition wherein information is provided, performances made, and the like happens between 7:30 and 8:00 would allow us to do more of the people’s business.

I was very pleased that we were shown the Arlington promotional video during the break. Excellent use of that time.

Comment from Paul Schlichtman
Time: May 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

I thought the madrigals were wonderful last night, and were well appreciated by the meeting. They had a crisp, fast rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, probably in half the time of some nights where we sing it ourselves in Town Meeting. (It’s an anthem, not a dirge.)

The madrigals are a one time event, but what really seems to be slowing us down are the folks who drag out the announcements and reports. It was 8:45 before we got into legislative business, which means all the stuff between the madrigals and the start of business took a half hour.

Comment from Sue Doctrow
Time: May 9, 2014, 8:10 am

I’m writing to praise the Madrigals’ performance. I really enjoyed it, and I imagine it’s a big night for those kids. So, I didn’t mind the number of songs. Plus, since I have a terrible voice and hate singing in public, I’m glad they covered the Star Spangled Banner for us 😉 To me, Town Meeting is about more than the Articles and the votes (though, of course, that is its primary purpose). Re the reports, I think it’s useful that we get a summary of the highlights of the reports (some of which might involve reading parts of them) though agree that reading the entire report, if it’s a long one, can become tedious. Overall, very glad about the outcome last night…I think both the amended Minuteman and CPA-before-the-voters votes are positive steps for Arlington. In particular, the Minuteman vote, in combination with the potential new state legislation the Superintendent discussed when addressing a question (so glad he had a chance to present that), seems really good for us. Though I am not an expert in the relevant numbers, the overall progress regarding capital costs seems to over-shadow the issue of our SC voting weight being decreased from the original proposed amendments. Plus, anything that can incentivize those very active non-member communities (e.g. Watertown with, reportedly, ~70 students at Minuteman) to join the district is, I think, something we should be excited about. Especially in light of the need to rebuild or renovate the school.

Comment from Sue Doctrow
Time: May 9, 2014, 8:12 am

I meant “Wed night” not “last night”. Apparently, time flies when you’re not in Town Meeting! 😉

Comment from Rich Carreiro
Time: May 9, 2014, 2:50 pm

The Moderator is *still* letting the V2020 people waste everyone’s time by reading the damned report to TM?? That drove me absolutely batty when I was a TMM. To be fair, V2020 wasn’t the only offender, but they were usually the worst.

As for Minuteman, didn’t Wayland reject the new agreement, rendering the whole thing moot on that front?

Comment from dunster
Time: May 11, 2014, 10:47 pm

The strategy on Wayland is to get 15 yes votes, then go back and convince Wayland that the way out of the district (which they voted for, at the same meeting) is to vote yes – then leave. More than 6 town BoS have voted to let them go. It’s not binding, but it’s a strong signal.