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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Clueless


Tonight I attended both the library trustee meeting regarding the proposed budget cuts and the Selectboard meeting.

Well, I tried to attend the Selectboard meeting but apparently  -even though the 2015 budget and the proposed cuts to the library and parks and recreation -not to mention the police/fire bond- have been discussed endlessly and passionately and even though ibrattleboro and the Reformer FB page have been filled with discussions and comments for 2 weeks and even though the Selectboard has received numerous letters from voters wanting to share their opinions and displeasure...even with all of that going on-the Selectboard apparently never concluded that perhaps there would be a larger than usual crowd at the meeting tonight.

And,because the crowd was approximately a dozen people over the occupancy limit, David Garenstein decided that the meeting would not be held and would be moved to another location on another night. This shows- better than any scenario anyone could come up with-  just how painfully out of touch this Selectboard is with regards to the people in this town. David Garenstein seemed so surprised that there was a crowd and even stated that "in 6 months of discussing the budget we never had this many people". Really? Maybe that's because the voters hadn't rejected any previous budgets; maybe because you weren't threatening to slash the budgets of programs that are beloved and vital to the town.

Garenstein would not allow anyone in the audience to speak or to suggest any alternative to rescheduling the meeting. The level of arrogance and disrespect he directs at the tax payers of this town -who came out especially to be heard on the budget matters - is despicable and unprofessional. I heard many people say they would not be able to attend a meeting later in the week and I couldn't help but think that maybe that was the point. It has never been more clear than tonight that the Selectboard- at least as represented by Mr. Garenstein - couldn't care less what the people of this town have to say. I hope tonight is remembered when it comes time to elect a new Selectboard.

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best attended, and shortest

I was expecting a short recess to let everyone try to figure things out. I bet people in the room had some ideas.

That was both the best attended and shortest meeting I think I've ever seen.

How was the library?

 
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At capacity, plus

All seats taken and several people in the meeting room of the library had to stand - the library trustee meeting was well attendend and supported.

 
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Perhaps the Selectboard

could show a little consideration and respect for the taxpayers of this town and re-schedule the meeting for a Saturday. They should know many people work days and/or nights and a week-day night is difficult for a lot of reasons.

Why not have it at the high sshool on a Saturday same as we do for the reps?

If the high school is not available we have plenty of other schools one of which should be able to be used on a Saturday.

 
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A good meeting

The library meeting was well organized, I thought and everyone who wished to speak was given the opportunity to do so. There were probably 30 -40 people not counting the trustees. Jerry Carbone gave a concise and heartfelt report of what budget cuts would mean to the library and to the community at large and it was not good news. I felt that most people wanted to be sure members of the Selectboard were fully aware of how devastating budgets cuts like the ones proposed would be and a written statement was drafted to be sent to the Selectboard. It was a good meeting and everyone felt welcome and were treated with respect.

 
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A bakers dozen?

Again, not a dozen people over limit, but easily 50 or more, with more coming in!

 
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Momentum

I came home from my class tonight expecting to hear impassioned speeches about the town budget and instead I hear the meeting didn't happen because too many people attended. I do have to agree with KAlden that the response to the budget rejection vote has been loud and noticeable. There were six or seven stories on it on iBrattleboro within 24 hours of the news coming out. There have been comments all week, and a lot of discussion here and elsewhere. So on that score, it seems like the SB should have known there were going to be "occupancy issues" with the regular SB mtg room. On the other hand, all this came as a bit of a surprise in that no one was saying anything about this stuff prior to the elections and Town Meeting. Turnout was low at town elections. So maybe the SB didn't see this coming. I know I didn't.

But hey, it's here. Now we know that a lot of us are unhappy about the budget and taxes and probably other things too. It's a bummer to lose tonight's meeting because this kind of thing tends to kill momentum. But on an issue as big as this one -- which has a bit of a survival element to it -- I think people will show up for the rescheduled meeting.

 
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I believe that people will

I believe that people will want to attend the next meeting, Lise but may not be able to. There were many older folks at last night's meeting (myself included) and it's no easy feat to get out to an evening meeting twice in a week. I know several people who left work early; arranged for childcare and for rides to and from last night's meeting who would likely be not able to do that again so soon. Now that the Selectboard knows there will -in all liklihood- be a large crowd -it would make sense to have it on a Saturday when people have more free time and the town bus is running for those who don't have cars or can't get a ride. I heard many people expressing disappointment and annoyance after the meeting was adjourned so abruptly - I can imagine that some of those people may not come back. If you are holding meetings that are open to the public and offer opportunities for the public to voice their concerns then you should make at least a minimal effort to ensure that the public can easily attend. There's a way to have this very important meeting in a way that's "user friendly" and, of course there's another way to do it.

 
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Saturday sounds good

Quite a few people are suggesting Saturday. I hope even more are able to attend.

When a meeting gets postponed, not only are the citizens inconvenienced, but also folks at the newspapers, radio stations, and BCTV, all of who are balancing schedules as well. BCTV volunteers, for example, have been doing a great job of keeping up with all the added meetings. A different location will require them to move equipment and do a special set-up.

 
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actually….

Not so, that there was nothing going on pre elections and pre town meeting. There have been petitions about the bond presented to the select board (I presented one specifically related to the bond late last summer, and others did shortly after town meeting last year). Clearly some activity was under the radar, but grumblings and activities have been going on for some time.

 
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Under the radar

Maybe so, but I wasn't hearing much public discussion prior to Town Meeting. It seemed like a really lackluster time, and I chalked it up to uncontested seats. Scan Town News here on iBratt around both town elections and RTM and there really are hardly any stories and few comments addressing the issues we're discussing now. Since the town-wide budget vote, though, there's been lots of discussion.

So whenever and wherever the discussion is happening, it's a good thing, and almost remarkable, given how seldom we have a truly town wide debate.

 

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