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Selectmen Reject Petropoulos Proposal for Rule Change

Selectmen Jack Petropoulos met strong resistance Monday night from his colleagues when he presented a written proposal for a vote that would allow an individual selectman to request a "One Session Delay" on an agenda item if that selectman felt that he was not sufficiently prepared to make a decision at the time of the request for the vote. In addition, Petropoulos wanted to require that the delay request be granted.

He stressed that he did not want to slow the wheels of government, that it was not his intention to micromanage nor was his proposal an indication of a lack of confidence in the Town Manager.

Selectman Peter Cunningham reminded Petropoulos that it is the policy of the Board to receive all materials ahead of time adding, "The downside here is that one member could delay (decisions)."

Petropoulos said, "Two weeks ago we were asked to vote a 25 percent contribution (for the Lost Lake Sewer project). That was a $3M vote, and I specifically asked for additional time...This is an issue of being surprised and being accountable for my vote."

Selectman Anna Eliot told Petropoulos, "This is a democratic process. You were outvoted. You want to remove our rights from the Board...You expressed your position and you were outvoted!"

Chairman Stuart Schulman added," I have an organic dislike that one selectman says that a request must be granted...The idea of rules like this is not healthy. I respect the fact that you needed more information. There was no surprise here. I was comfortable not to delay it. I don't want things derailed by a single selectman."

Cunningham suggested looking at the Board's Agenda Procedures, noting, "We can address your concerns by adhering to these, but the majority (of the board) makes the decisions."

Town Manager Mark Haddad added that the Board has 15 days to act on appointments, "I try to give you as much notice as possible," he said.

Petropoulos responded that it was not his intention "to hijack the democratic process...I understand if I can't cast a responsible vote that affects a democratic process. I couldn't justify this to the people I represent."

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