Selectmen Consider How to Improve Town Meeting
Town Meeting this year was a success and the Board of Selectmen are trying to improve it even further.
Concord Town Moderator Eric Van Loon spoke at the Board of Selectmen's meeting Monday night to discuss the 2012 Town Meeting and what adjustments should be made for the upcoming 2013 Town Meeting.
One suggestion Van Loon put forth was to start Town Meeting on a Sunday to get through the fundamentals, wrapping up on Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Changing the start day of Town Meeting would make it easier on for parents with young children and seniors to participate. Town Manager Chris Whelan said he wanted to check with his staff if they would be open to working on a Sunday.
Town meeting went for four evenings, 16 hours, in which 175 citizens and 1,183 voters participated. There was even a special Town Meeting held on the second night of Town Meeting. There were more people participating at the end, where the bigger, most interesting issues were addressed.
“If anything could come up, it did,” Van Loon said. “The tape of town meeting could serve as a moderator training tape. I have received more comments and evaluation sheets since I have been moderator.”
Another issue the board addressed was the use of the podium. The board voiced the opinion of reserving it for officials, presenters and board members, and having floor microphones for the public to respond.
“It’s hard, rhetorically, to make a point in a time limit,” Selectman Jeffery Wieland said. “I think the podium should be reserved for petitions and officials. It gives a credibility to a speaker which they may not have.”
The only issue Van Loon spoke of was that other towns have lengthy and explicit bylaws on how to run Town Meeting, where Concord does not. The one bylaw Concord has on Town Meeting is one that Van Loon confessed to having difficulty understanding.
“It really only addresses the mechanics and doesn’t say anything about the standards or the procedure,” Van Loon said.
Check back with the Concord Patch on a poll put forth by the board on how residents and voters would like to improve the Town Meeting process.