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Town Meeting ’19 – Session 7

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.  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.

Jane Howard played the National Anthem on the piano.

The AHS Madrigal Singers sang two songs. At 8:12 performance over, and we began.

Moderator John Leone noted that we had no court reporter today, but the meeting transcription will still be made.

The moderator noted we had 22 articles left, and we could finish tonight if we move quickly.  I admire his optimism, and I really really wanted to finish tonight, but the meeting had other plans.

Clicker test: It costs more to make pennies and nickel than the coins are worth. 167 true 14 false 13 abstain. -It was true.

Announcements

  •  John Gersh sang the praises of Arlington Residents for Responsible Development. He pushed this as an “information” site, but I’d characterize it more as an advocacy organization.  
  • Helene Newberg announced a Pride Stage at Porchfest and the upcoming LBGTQ picnic.
  • Al Tosti – Ranking Officers agreement is complete and available to review for upcoming vote.

Article 37, Police Chief out of Civil Service, continued

Christopher Moore asked about how the chief is chosen within Civil Service. Town Manager Chapdelaine explained that under Civil Service he would have to hire the top scorer on the test unless he gives written reasons to pick the second or third scorer – no lower. Those reasons for the 2nd or 3rd are challengeable.  It’s a very narrow pool. Bill Hayner is opposed to the change, and thinks the civil service test is important. John Deyst moved to terminate debate, the motion failed 109-90-3 (requires 2/3). Charles Foskett is opposed to the change and thinks that it violates the goals of civil service. I think that Mr. Foskett articulated the benefits of a fully-functioning civil service system, but we don’t have one, and we can’t get one without state-level reforms.  Joe Tully is opposed to the change. Betty Stone is in favor of the change because it assures an open and competitive hiring process. John Leonard is opposed. Gordon Jamieson is in favor of the change. Peter Gest asked for a repeat of Diane Mahon’s argument from Wednesday. Selectman Steve DeCourcey spoke against the change – he thinks the hire should be from within the department. He asked the opinion of Fire Chief Jefferson – Chief Jefferson is opposed to the change. Jordan Weinstein supports this change. Annie LaCourt asked about the two Arlington Police Captains hired to Belmont and Bedford – they were hired outside of civil service. Mark McCabe is opposed to this change for morale reasons. There was expectation on the floor that he’d move to terminate debate – there was laughter when he revealed that he’s there to speak. Bob Radochia is opposed – he thinks the chief should come up through the ranks. Timur Yontar asked the Town Manager why he was in favor – hiring, flexibility, and noted that the last 3 chiefs were all hired out of civil service. After a few more speakers, Eric Helmuth moved to terminate debate.  The change was approved 126-81-6.

Paul Schlichtman moved reconsideration on Article 34. He said that the meeting was unaware of the impact to uplighting. 85-93-9 the motion of reconsideration failed.  I abstained on this one.  I needed more information to get to yes.  The couple of sentences on the floor weren’t enough.

Article 38 Senior Tax Deferral Limit
Sophie Migliazzo asked how we would handle the missing revenue while it’s deferred. Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler explained that the money comes out of overlay revenue. Christopher Moore had questions about the role of the bank and the mortgage. This is the type of question that can probably be handled before Town Meeting, not during it. Michael Quinn, member of Council on Aging noted that Thursday May 23rd the CoA is sponsoring a meeting to do more education of seniors of available programs. John Worden thinks it’s a good program. 207-2-1

Article 39 Deaccession of Town Library Materials
Director of Library Services Andrea Nicolay walked through the history of the Robbins print collection. Gordon Jamieson is in favor. 186-7-3

We took a break.

Article 40 – Library Parking Costs
Andrew Fisher moved a resolution to ask the Select Board and Library Trustees to find a way to lower parking costs for disadvantaged visitors. Michelle Durocher asked the Library Director about the current parking situation. James O’Connor asked about a voucher system, but it has a privacy issue, and is in favor of the resolution. Roderick Holland is in favor of the resolution. Mustafa Varoglu is in favor of the resolution. Paul Schlichtman moved to terminate debate. 121-61-8 the resolution was substituted. 125-52-8 the resolution was approved.

Article 41 – Redevelopment Board
No action

Article 43 – Means Test Senior Tax Relief
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine explained that this is yet another senior tax relief program – this one is means tested, though, which is different. It requires act of the state legislature. Steve Revilak had questions about the impact. John Deyst thinks it shouldn’t be just for seniors, it should all be means tested. Sophie Migliazzo asked about the qualifications. Charles Hartshorne asked about wealth v. income. Michael Quinn shared some experience working with seniors, and is in favor. John Worden is in favor. Gordon Jamieson talked about circuit breakers. James O’Connor talked about circuit breakers. Ann Fitzgerald talked about fixed income and is in favor of this change. Paul Schlichtman moved to terminate debate, and it was. 188-5 in favor.

Article 44
No action

Article 45
Benjamin Rudick explained that his neighbors can’t vote, and it was startling to him. He went through the history of voting rights. He argued that the town should let permanent residents vote. Rieko Tanaka explained her path to citizenship, how important this change is, and is in favor of the change. Jim DiTullio is opposed because he thinks it will lead to permanent residents being denied citizenship. Michael Ruderman is opposed. Timur Yontar asked if it’s legal – it will be legal as soon as the state says it is. Patty Muldoon is in favor – she argued this is not simply a symbolic action, it’s how change happens. There was a question about how voting registration would be done practically. Sophie Migliazzo is opposed to this, because she thinks voting should be linked to citizenship. John Worden is opposed. A motion to adjourn failed. Christopher Moore moved to terminate debate and it was. 131-51-5 it was approved.

Adjourned.

Comments

Comment from Joe Tully
Time: May 14, 2019, 9:02 am

I was surprised at the amount of resistance to Article 45. With the current national political climate and the treatment of those who immigrate here, it seemed to me like this was one of those votes where you might want to be on the right side of history. Granted, we aren’t here to solve macro, national policy problems, but it seemed like a moment where we could do our small part to go on record as a welcoming community. Too many of the opponents equated voting in TOWN ELECTIONS ONLY, with granting full citizenship, which is: (a) of course vastly untrue; and (b) a really bad comparison even if not intended to deliberately mislead. The prevailing sentiment among the opponents seemed to be “if I had to work hard to gain my citizenship, I don’t want to just bestow the same benefit on someone else for free.” Again, we’re not talking about CITIZENSHIP – we’re simply saying that if you live in this town you can vote on things such as whether your taxes should go to rebuild your kids’ schools or who should represent you at town meeting. Further, the attitude inherent in that sentiment always rubs me the wrong way – because something might have been difficult for me, I want to make life equally difficult for you. I’m glad this article passed but I’m disappointed at the number of people that objected.

Comment from Adam Auster
Time: May 14, 2019, 3:18 pm

We did two Home Rule petitions last night, but for some reason only one of them attracted disparaging comments about how the vote was nonbinding, “symbolic,” illegal and so forth.

That was the one about allowing noncitizen residents to vote in local elections.

I think someone could have pointed out that we do HR petitions every time we add a new liquor license. Our entire town charter is a home-rule petition.

Comment from Jon Gersh
Time: May 14, 2019, 11:12 pm

The only thing that I, personally, advocate is for is local control. If that sometimes seems to be at odds with the town officials, departments, and committees, then one could reasonably wonder who exactly they are representing.

Comment from Mustafa Varoglu
Time: May 15, 2019, 10:46 am

As a child of immigrants who became citizens I found both Ms. Tanaka’s and Ms. Migliazzo’s statements very heartfelt and credible despite being polar opposites. I understand where they are coming from as I saw my parents struggle with the decision to become citizens. My parents could not vote despite living in the same house and working in the same city for decades until they finally became citizens. However, as you saw from the two speakers there is a real push-pull tension to become a citizen and give up your connections to your birthplace and embrace a new home vs. the difference in significance people place on citizenship and the costs to obtain those benefits (including voting). I believe we should offer this path to people (per my vote) but I don’t find Ms. Migliazzo’s arguments to be petty or mean spirited.
I did find the argument that people with vacation homes can’t vote at those locations incredibly condescending and specious. Nobody, including US citizens, can vote in places where they are not residents. This argument completely diminished the desire for residents of our town to have the most minimal say in their community. It equated not voting where you vacation to the desire of people people who live in Arlington permanently and pay year round taxes to provide services that everyone benefits to have a voice in their town.

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