Fairness and Town Meeting

Editor of the Reformer:

Kudos to Lawrin Crispe for moderating Brattleboro's Annual Representative Town Meeting so capably and fairly on March 19. And kudos to Kurt Daims for continuing to raise the issue of fairness. While I did not agree with Kurt's motion to have town officials sit at floor level with the rest of us, since we do interrogate them so frequently, I do think it is always worthwhile repeating that the voices of the town officials are no more important than everyone else's.

For the most part I also think the Town Meeting Representatives did a good job not cutting off debate prematurely, yet also exercised a group will when anyone finally went on too long. Additionally, having a bunch of new Town Meeting members was refreshing.

The only really unfair process I observed in the past two weeks was scheduling of the Australian ballot for 10 a.m. during the March 12 Special Town Meeting on the police facility location question. While a lot of us had heard the many arguments pro and con on the location issue before the meeting even started, and so perhaps were glad to be able to vote after only an hour and a half, not everyone was able to speak before that voting began (and before many representatives then left). Partly at issue was the Select Board's push, at the beginning, to let us know their positions. I think they took too long doing so, especially in light of the timing of the Australian ballot. In retrospect, the Australian ballot should have taken place later (11 a.


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m.) or we Town Meeting Reps should have exercised our collective will and asked the Select Board to keep their remarks shorter. While I do look to the Select Board to take stances and to lead (we did elect them), and so am willing to cede them time for some opening remarks (10 to 12 minutes at the beginning, total?) and some leeway overall because of this, they should have been more aware that the time they took up would result in not everyone else being fairly heard.

Despite this light criticism, I think the Select Board has done a truly excellent job over the past almost three years. It has made me feel really good about our town government and the form of our town government. Thanks for this great service.

Michael Bosworth, Brattleboro, March 22