Friday, May 8, 1998
Let's Tighten Up Our TM Act
by Penny Zezima
Town Meeting had a little bit of everything—a capacity crowd, a substitute moderator (Howard Hensleigh, doing a valiant job while keeping his sense of humor), multiple last-minute amendments (where were these people at the budget hearings?), beeping cell phones, a tabled Warrant article—all miraculously squeezed into one night. One thing can always be said with certainty about this unpredictable event: expect the unexpected.
Surprising as Town Meeting tends to be, it is possible to use the perspective of 20/20 hindsight to make a few very early suggestions for next year's event. Note to the powers that be: file this away for future reference.
Considering the inherent unpredictability of Town Meeting, always expect that there will be a crowd and make sure that the back wall of the Corey auditorium is open before the meeting starts.
Advise all parents attending with small children and babies that they should be aware of how hard it is to hear the discussion when a child's wails are echoing off the auditorium walls. Perhaps it would be smart to suggest that such parents sit near the back door so as to facilitate a quick retreat to the lobby when a young one gets fussy.
Post a sign requesting all cell phone carriers to put the phones on "quiet mode" or, better yet, on "vibrate."
How about ushers? Someone to show latecomers where the open seats are and encourage people on the aisle to move in would be a definite improvement. While we're at it, a doorman would be nice to keep the doors shut on the lobby hubbub that erupts periodically throughout the night, as well as keeping them from slamming over and over again. Such a major domo could also gently dissuade those people who leave en masse after the only article they are interested in has been resolved, threatening the quorum and annoying those of us who have to stay to the bitter end.
On the more practical side, however, it would be a fine idea to get David Flannery (director of buildings and grounds) an extra pair of hands. While it can be fascinating to watch him do everything he does at Town Meeting (lights, microphones and general stage managing), please have pity on the man. He's not an octopus.
Maybe a stage manager would be a good idea. There is a bit of the theatrical to Town Meeting—every night is opening night; perhaps these suggestions can help tighten up the production.