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The Age of Innocence is Over

Reflections on Special Town Meeting 2012

The Special Town Meeting of September 24, 2012 will be a new bookmark worthy page in Sudbury's history.  While an agenda of six articles may not seem very big, this meeting really deserved two evenings to allow for more thorough discussion from all interested and concerned citizens.  There was no question in viewing the attendance that this article would pass, in my mind anyway.  

But there were proposed amendments to discuss thoroughly to the satisfaction of all range of citizens and not just the petitioning parties and many citizens were unable to either be heard or were constantly interrupted with points of order thrown about with no basis for doing so.  

Time, it seemed, was of the essence, and the process was not given the full and dedicated scrutiny it deserved to feel that due process had been demonstrated.  I refer to the Special Town Meeting setting specifically and not in a general way.

This said, I voted in favor of article 4 but for other reasons than what the petitioner presented.  I voted for growth based progress, the sooner the better. Because as the high school auditorium began to burst at the seams I couldn't help but think ahead to 2020 when another critical issue will come up and we will all be looking at video screens and be voting with buttons instead of little green cards.  

I hope that meeting will be a more hospitable one and a meeting that will encourage lengthy discussion and not interrupted comments and hurried voting. The meeting in 2020 may have a warrant article to replace the High School roof, as well as another to approve construction of the new Community center.  And I am certain that some of those who disrespectfully interrupted me and others last night will cross their fingers in 2020 in hopes they can make their comment without points of order interrupting their momentum.  

I was like a naive babe going into this meeting last night. I really believed that the history being made would be flavored with a sense of community and understanding and goodwill.  

I left the evening frustrated by the inability to not only make a simple point regarding growth which happened to call for referring to historical data as supporting argument FOR article four, but a feeling of discontent and sadness when neighbors on either side of me left out of frustration as well.  I had hoped to bring my youngest son who attends LS with the pretense that this would be a wonderful example of democracy and co-operation at work.  

I am glad I did not succeed because I left the meeting feeling Sudbury shed an innocent skin.  When and if this article 4 is put to a vote I urge you to support it.  We need to address growth with as much input and support as this town can muster.  

Pardon the historical pun.

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.

LessIsMore September 26, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Kirsten, I also believe that the crowd was inconsiderate and impatient during your presentation. I believe that this was more a result of a frustration of the attendees that unfortunately was taken out on you. I like many of the other attendees would have welcomed an open debate on the merits of the article. I thought that Mike Troiano did a great job presenting his case in support of the article without any personal attacks and sticking to the issues. However, this was immediately met with an attempt to derail and delay the process (My opinion - Shared by many with whom I have spoken) with an amendment that prevented further discussion of the merits of the article. It is curious to say the least that the person offering this amendment just happened to the be the first person recognized by the Moderator. This resulted wasting a considerable amount of time debating an amendment that I believe was not offered in good faith and that had no chance of passing. It is just these types of actions that have generated the palpable frustration of many citizens. Unfortunately, you were treated rudely due to this frustration and that is not fair. However, although I believe it would be better if we could all be cordial toward our fellow citizens I believe that the increased involvement of all citizens can only be a good thing for the town. I am sorry that you were treated roughly but I agree with UserName and I am more hopeful about the direction of the town.
JJoseph September 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
LesslsMore, Well said. I agree that this was a total stall tactic on the entrenched to derail the vote. Michael Fee spends 15 minutes to come up with a one sentence amendment? This type of behavior is exactly why the audience was growing increasingly impatient. Everyone I have talked to is bothered by the fact that this was all pre staged by the Sudbury insiders. However, it did not work this time.
Rick Billig September 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Kirsten I thought you did well expressing your thoughts. I don't think anyone felt any differently. It just feels that way when you are standing in front of the room. Everyone was respectful when I spoke my mind too but I will admit that it was my first time speaking and I sounded like an idiot. If we look at it from the perspective of the majority in the room - they feel they have had to put up with this same treatment all along too. (I was supporting a delay so we could have more discussion on the topic by the way).
Kirsten Vandijk September 27, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Thank you, LessIsMore, for validating what I was beginning to think may be self importance on my part. I am aware of the time it takes for reasonable discussion and that is the main point of this blog. Town Meeting is, apparently, a new venue for residents to freely voice their concerns and opinions. Town Meeting has a protocol and many have found ways to creatively help their particular position. But now that we agree there is a new movement using an old tool let's also agree to follow common courtesy and the very protocol that can and will serve everyone. I look forward to May and an increased attendance now that Town Meeting has been discovered.
Kirsten Vandijk September 27, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Thanks for your comment, Rick. I feel our connection. But I may seem inflexible when I say that I don't excuse the inappropriate behavior exhibited Monday evening. My hope is that May will be a much more ONE SUDBURY feeling event and not one filled with sparring and rancor and disrespect for protocol. The rules apply to everyone--even the frustrated and angry. Sorry to be so dry but objectivity is a friend in matters concerning town politics.

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