Stop Gap Solution For These Horrible DSes

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Stop Gap Solution For These Horrible DSes

Postby Andy Sylvia » Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:13 am

There is a stop gap solution we can impliment within current state law to alleviate the potential for mob rule we get at DSes. I don't think it's a permanent solution since it robs much of the spirit of our town meeting tradition, something the Charter Commission agreed with, but it's an idea


TITLE III
TOWNS, CITIES, VILLAGE DISTRICTS, AND UNINCORPORATED PLACES
CHAPTER 49-D
LOCAL OPTION--TOWN CHARTERS
Section 49-D:3


III. Representative town meeting shall be a variation of the open town meeting, but with legislative authority vested in a group of individuals elected to represent districts within the town. Any charter providing for a representative town meeting shall be guided by the following:
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all powers of the town meeting conferred by statute or the constitution shall be conferred on the representative town meeting. The representative town meeting shall be empowered to address all matters that the general law requires to be addressed at the annual or a special town meeting, except those matters which by statute or charter must be placed on the official ballot of the town. All procedural requirements prescribed by law relative to the actions of a town meeting shall also apply to the actions of a representative town meeting.
(b) The charter shall specify the manner of district representation; the manner of filling vacancies; powers of nomination, appointment, and confirmation; requirements for attendance and quorum; any domicile or eligibility requirements of up to one year in the town or district and continued domicile during term; specific procedures for the preparation, presentation, public hearing, and adoption of annual budgets and designation of a fiscal year; an annual municipal election date pursuant to RSA 669:1; bonding of certain town officials and employees where not required by general law; and requirements for periodic independent audits of all town financial matters by a certified public accountant.
(c) In addition to the elected members, the board of selectmen, town clerk, and chairman of the town budget committee shall be members-at-large. The members-at-large shall have the same rights, privileges, and duties with respect to representative town meeting as the elected members.
(d) The charter may provide for referenda on certain issues to the registered voters of the town-at-large at special town meetings called for the sole purpose of deciding those issues.
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Postby T Dutton » Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:09 pm

if this means doing away with the DS sessions - I am not for that. I understand where everyone is coming from. However the DS meetings are a true democracy. I just wish more peple would show up. 10 years ago there would have been over a 1000 attending.

Going to a Charter gives us even less of a chance to speak. As you can tell I do not like the Town Charter concept.
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Postby Dennis King » Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:44 pm

I agree with Tim,
The deliberative session is not the problem.

The teachers were organized and got out the vote, simple as that. I do fault the Telegraph for not pointing the simple fact that many teachers were at this meeting voting to keep teacher jobs. I believe hiding that fact was intentional to give the perception that the crowd was a general cross section of the population and we taxpayers had no problem coughing up another 3/4 of a million dollars!

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Postby Norman Phillips » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:31 pm

Dennis King wrote:I agree with Tim,
The deliberative session is not the problem.

The teachers were organized and got out the vote, simple as that. I do fault the Telegraph for not pointing the simple fact that many teachers were at this meeting voting to keep teacher jobs. I believe hiding that fact was intentional to give the perception that the crowd was a general cross section of the population and we taxpayers had no problem coughing up another 3/4 of a million dollars!

Dennis
I think you are wrong in your intimation that there was a conspiracy to restore the funding. They got friends to attend, in my view, to prevent a drastic cut as happened in March 2006 at the town DS. Evidence----
  • 1 The petitioned article included an appropriation, which would not have been necessary if plans were to restore the funding.
  • 2. Most significantly, the person who made the motion to restore the funding for staff cuts was Dave Nichols. In my experience he has been a "lone wolf" in politics since the late 1990s. I respect him for the independence he has acquired and cannot imagine him being part of a conspiracy


I am often impressed by what I see as people ascribing motives to other people that mirror their own secret wishes in reverse. I think these conspiracy advocates are doing that----they imagine other people acting as they themselves might act. :D
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Postby Andy Sylvia » Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:18 am

I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree here,

Town Meetings, when they are conducted with proper decorum, are democratic(lower case d), but Deliberative Sessions are not Town Meetings. Deliberative Sessions are half of a town meeting, with the Town Election being the other half.

Rather than democratic, DSes are Minoritarianistic and Ochlocratic. I think this is due to the separation of the Town Meeting into a DS and an Election, since there is far less at stake at DSes, thus making people want more likely to amend something unnecessarily since all they can really do there is amend the articles.
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Postby RBarnes » Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:36 am

Andy, the problem is that as long as we allow any 25 people to submit warrant articles the NH constitution requires the legislative body (in town that would be the people since we write those articles) to deliberate and in some cases even amend what is submitted.

In some cases it can be used to clean up poorly worded articles. We've seen it used this way a number of times successfully.

So the question is, how to get around that? Is it worth it to toss out petitioned warrant articles to get rid of the D.S.?
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:00 pm

Rick

I think the number of signatures should be increased considering the population of this town.

25 signatures is insufficient. I have 25 friends and relatives in town that I could get to sign one. So technically, my family and friends could run the town through warrant articles :shock:

A minimum of 100 signatures for every 10,000 population makes more sense to me.
So in this town it would require 260 signatures. It's one thing to have a warrant article to clean up wording with 25 signatures, but to have this happen with so much money involved isn't right at all.
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Postby RBarnes » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:19 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:Rick

I think the number of signatures should be increased considering the population of this town.

25 signatures is insufficient. I have 25 friends and relatives in town that I could get to sign one. So technically, my family and friends could run the town through warrant articles :shock:

A minimum of 100 signatures for every 10,000 population makes more sense to me.
So in this town it would require 260 signatures. It's one thing to have a warrant article to clean up wording with 25 signatures, but to have this happen with so much money involved isn't right at all.


That doesn't fix the problem with the DS though.

Any group can show up in force and add or subtract from the bottom line of the budget. Likewise any group can show up and gut an article preventing it from ever having a chance to be voted on.

It doesn't matter if 25 people signed it or 250 people signed it, the DS can still override anything the put forth.

The real problem here is that people as a whole are lazy. I can understand some people have business trips, or family issues or whatever and can't always make the meetings but 320 in a town of 27,000, where we usually get 6,000 to 8,000 show up to vote on election day? There's your problem right there. But how to fix it?
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:22 pm

Rick

I think the DS is quickly becoming a dinosaur. People don't have the time, interest or energy to go and sit there for hours and listen to people drone on.

I'd much prefer a city form of government at this point.
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Postby Norman Phillips » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:33 pm

Andy Sylvia wrote:I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree here,

Town Meetings, when they are conducted with proper decorum, are democratic(lower case d), but Deliberative Sessions are not Town Meetings. Deliberative Sessions are half of a town meeting, with the Town Election being the other half.

Rather than democratic, DSes are Minoritarianistic and Ochlocratic. I think this is due to the separation of the Town Meeting into a DS and an Election, since there is far less at stake at DSes, thus making people want more likely to amend something unnecessarily since all they can really do there is amend the articles.


Andy- I disagree strongly. The actions at last year's town DS and this year's school DS could have happened at the old fashioned town meeting. (Are you old enough to have experienced this?)

The SB2 procedure, with its DS, was fashioned by an anti-tax group specifically to prevent town and school meetings from being swamped by town or school employees.

To repeat, the recent "actions" could also have happened if we were still operating with a classical town meeting format.
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Postby Nat Fairbanks » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:59 pm

Norman Phillips wrote:Andy- I disagree strongly. The actions at last year's town DS and this year's school DS could have happened at the old fashioned town meeting. (Are you old enough to have experienced this?)

The SB2 procedure, with its DS, was fashioned by an anti-tax group specifically to prevent town and school meetings from being swamped by town or school employees.

To repeat, the recent "actions" could also have happened if we were still operating with a classical town meeting format.

You are of course right that the actions could happen with a standard town meeting format, however with a standard town meeting format there is no attempt at deluding the participants that the official ballot voting day is the important day. When all actions occur during the same day people who want to participate in the process will show up to vote at the town meeting. With the SB2 format people feel they can simply show up and cast their ballot. They are mistaken of course, since just about any SB2 Deliberative session will provide examples of why the DS is just as important as the official ballot vote.

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Postby Confucius » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:19 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:I'd much prefer a city form of government at this point.


I could not agree more. Primarily for the reason that there are two many people in this town for either the Town Mtg or Delib Session to be any kind of accurate representation of the voter's will.
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Postby T Dutton » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:52 pm

If you perfer a City Goverment - Move to Nashua or Manchester - They have their problems with budgets as well.

At least during the voting process we as a town can vote on the budget and other items.

Do not trust a Board of Aldereman/Mayor to have complete control over budget affairs. Look at the mess Nashua is currently in with higher than Merrimack tax increases.
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:56 pm

T Dutton

I lived in Manchester for over 20 years and although it is a more impersonal type of government, the self interest groups can't go in and make the types of changes to the tune of 700k in a budget.

It is wrong and these "letter to the editor" victims who think they have the right to take money out of my pocket means it is out of control.

I want a Mayor who has the final say - not a bunch of self serving people seeking monetary gain.
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Postby Confucius » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:13 pm

T Dutton wrote:If you perfer a City Goverment - Move to Nashua or Manchester - They have their problems with budgets as well.

At least during the voting process we as a town can vote on the budget and other items.

Do not trust a Board of Aldereman/Mayor to have complete control over budget affairs. Look at the mess Nashua is currently in with higher than Merrimack tax increases.


At least the people I actually voted for would be the ones screwing things up.
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