LETTER: Town Meeting needs to Grow and Evolve
As 2012 draws to a close and we look forward to the New Year and the changes and challenges ahead, town meeting changes will be part of the conversation. Conversations have already included thoughts like we must preserve town meeting. What does this mean? The town's early founders did not journey up Gibbet Hill and chisel out stone tablets of the top 10 requirements for town meeting. Considering the political environment of the day, the first town meetings were probably only attended by white male landowners. Women and others did not even have the right to vote in elections, so it is not a giant leap to think they were not invited to the early town meetings.
Over time the larger society around us changed and town meeting reflected these changes. Society continues to evolve with new technology, social acceptance, and new laws protecting the rights of all diverse groups in our society. Clearly town meeting should grow, evolve and embrace these elements to reflect our immediate society and society at large. Town meeting may not be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, but is it too much to ask that we have a person who signs be on stage to deliver the audio portion of town meeting to those with hearing impairments?
According to the town's website, annual town meeting does not require a quorum but special town meeting requires a two percent quorum. In January 86-100 voters can attend and 60 voters could enable $500,000 or more annually for 20 years of taxes collected to build and repay cost for a new fire station and Fitch's Bridge. Is it reasonable to include as part of the article that, if passed, the article is subject to ballot approval of all voters?
Town meeting has no provisions to deliver accommodations to those who cannot attend due to disabilities, parents of very young children who simply have priorities that make it difficult to attend, those who are sick and thankfully show respect to the rest of us and stay home, and those whose jobs include out of town travel. The ballot includes an accommodation for these voters with an absentee ballot.
The last election represented 80 percent of the voters. Shouldn't town meeting deliver the same opportunity of these voices to participate in the delivery of these new infrastructure enhancements?
Rule Loving, Townsend Road