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Lessons from the Fairbanks Roof

The failure to pass the Fairbanks roof article at the “rancorous” town meeting last month provides some potential insight about improving town meeting.

The failure to pass the Fairbanks roof article at the “rancorous” town meeting last month provides some potential insight about improving town meeting. Selectman Haarde’s inspirational goal to have a community center worthy of Sudbury deserves investigation before we sink $600K into today’s less than ideal building. The defeat of roof repair in my opinion was the right decision and does not rule out voting again in the spring when more information should be available. But how did we get to this decision?

Despite some insightful and critical questions from many in the audience, the article still seemed destined to pass early in the discussion. A single question from the hall, however, changed the debate. A resident asked to hear the one dissenting opinion on the board of selectmen. From this one question, the hall learned a lot.

Selectman Haarde had opposed the roof repair a year ago at a board meeting. The other selectmen heard his objection, but pushed forward anyway. With this new information, many of the comments previously made in the hall made sense.

It turned out that not all the tenants of the building were happy, parents were not thrilled with the condition of the facility and more importantly, there was no long term plan for the community center as Haarde reminded us in his presentation.  

Yet this information never would have come out had that one request to hear the minority opinion not been made. Essentially, the minority doesn’t have a platform to easily voice concerns to the town’s legislature. Town meeting is designed to spoon feed us the majority opinion. This needs to change.

At town meeting, we should hear dissenting opinions from FINCOM, the Board of Selectmen, and on school matters, the school committees. Listening to minority opinions helps everyone solidify their position. No one in the hall should have to use their limited ability to ask questions just to get a dissenting opinion. If the Supreme Court can issue rulings with both majority and minority opinions, we can do it in Sudbury.  

Minority opinions voiced clearly at town meeting will enable us to arrive at better decisions. A good lesson learned from the Fairbanks roof.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joanne October 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
ok- kids, lets all try and play nice in the sandbox. @ Mr Stein, will there be pastries with the coffee?
Kirsten Vandijk October 12, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I like lemon poppy seed cake. What about lemon poppy seed cake? And I prefer tea over coffee. Chamomile actually.....what about chamomile tea? Are there chairs in this barn or just stalls? Is the floor clean? Do I need to sign any release forms? So many questions, so little time. Thanks for the brakes, Joanne. You are a voice of reason for a tired friend:)
Thrice Rusty October 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM
It's important to note that Bob Haarde actually went home after town meeting while our other two Selectman went to Lavender after posted closing hours. One went on to stay 30 minutes after the town allows any restaurant to be open, while the other went missing. Both were present when a town employee left drunk on way to her 3rd OUI offense. Then ensued a cover what which sparked the whole "Lavendergate" group. Whether you like Bob Haarde or agree with him on his stances, you certainly cannot knock his behavior. For that reason I have gained a large amount of respect for him and consider him Sudbury's best Selectman.
Kirsten Vandijk October 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Hi Thrice, Believe it or not I actually like Bob Haarde,too, and think his actions regarding the handling of the events of May8-9 exemplary. I am being forward thinking in my desire and belief that we all need to document our positions in the information age, especially the members of the BOS and other Town Boards and Committees that are making important decisions with taxpayer dollars. Bob unfortunately presented his opinion regarding the desire to have a new community center sometime in the future (specifically privately funded) but had no supporting documents to suggest the feasibility of this proposition or the history behind it. His popularity and majority support for his position swayed a vote that really should not have been a victim of the power of the people. This is just my opinion, Thrice. But I am pretty certain I am not alone in this belief. Again, I am able to separate the individual from the actions of the individual. I may really like someone as a person but find difficulty accepting or endorsing particular actions. My lack of control today or my "Patch-ionate blogging" is not acceptable to me! And thanks for the comment.
siobhan hullinger October 12, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I believe what Selectman Haarde said was that he brought it up with the two other selectmen to look at it and/or study it but he was declined. Who will commission the study that will produce the documentation if it is shot down? I think it was telling to the populace that the other two members weren't even interested in exploring it. Just another reason for 3-5. It was clear that evening that this crosses all generations and that is an important realization.

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