Friday, November 14, 2003
No debates, few questions 211 out of 212 citizens agree on all Articles
It was the shortest Town Meeting in recent memory — under 45 minutes. Town Moderator Tom Raftery had little opportunity to use his newly elected powers as he presided over his first gathering on Monday evening. Advocates of two Warrant Articles were encouraged to expound on their subject of expertise, if for no other reason than to fill the dead time. Possibly the town newspaper so thoroughly explained the issues in the weeks before that no one in the audience had any remaining questions. Long-winded citizens of the town, who rarely pass up an opportunity to share their thoughts with a captive audience, were rendered speechless. When Raftery gaveled the meeting closed, people milled around, wishing that something more could be accomplished to justify their hurried dinner and babysitting fees.
Admittedly, any meeting that begins with wastewater treatment and ends with trash is doomed to brevity from the start. It was, however, not without controversy. Articles Two through Six passed unanimously with little more than a few ripples of applause from the audience. Article One was the exception. It was approved by a vote of 195 in favor and 1 opposed and therefore not unanimous. For reasons known only to himself, one gentleman voted against the Article and thereby inserted a tiny flaw in an otherwise perfect production. It was like a no-hitter in which a batter gets a solitary walk in the ninth inning. It still ends up a no-hitter, but not a perfect game.
Much of the credit of the meeting's success goes to the extensive preparation by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee. At a meeting of the Finance Team and the Selectmen earlier in the day, Selectmen chair Tim Hult reviewed each Article to ensure that everyone understood and was satisfied with the details and justification. Everything from cash to trash was hashed over one last time and Finance Committee chair Lisa Jensen-Fellows was ready with her laptop to crunch any numbers that were challenged at Town Meeting. But none were. It turned out to be "The Perfect Meeting," except for the walk in the ninth.
© 2003 The