Many voices saying ‘Yes’: Part 2

“My fellow Town Meeting members often do not understand the complexity of the issues that come before us. They have a hard time focusing on the issues, the structure is not deliberative, and a very few members take up a huge amount of speaking time, giving a very narrow range of opinions and ideas.” (Julie Marcus)

“What IS at risk in this referendum is the power of a relatively small group of town meeting members who have been able to wield that power for years by directing debates and manipulating the rules.” (Bob Rakoff)

“We have never reaped the benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, which could have paid for more land preservation, police and firefighters, and better public education for the families who do live here.” (Niels la Cour)

There’s an undercurrent of accusation that public officials are to be bought, and that there’s corruption, and we can’t have eight or whatever councilors — that they can be bribed, and we’ll have Empire State buildings in downtown Amherst. I was a town assessor for a few years, and I kept waiting for someone to offer me a bribe, and it never happened.” (Rhoda Honigberg)

It’s amazing to me that some Town Meeting supporters are pointing to the size of the two new buildings at the northern end of downtown as reasons for retaining the current political system. The size of these buildings was approved under the current system!” (Nick Grabbe)

Our current system feels an awful lot like taxation without representation.” (Ginny Hamilton)

“Town Meeting’s structure necessitates decisions being made more in the interest of time and passion, rather than through continuing, thorough and open discussion.” (Tim Neale)

Adopting the charter will create a government that actually knows what the residents as a whole want.” (Mandi Jo Hanneke)

If Town Meeting is representative, then the representatives themselves should be accountable to their voters. It doesn’t mean anybody gets strong-armed into voting against their conscience, but it does mean they should be easily reached and open to hearing from their constituents.” (Bennett Hazlip)

“There are no rules against voting on issues on which a member’s business interests may influence their vote. For example, landlords can vote on the very rental property regulations that may deeply affect their own businesses.” (Christiane Healy)

A smaller group has to work together and does a better job of talking about issues and considering different points of view and coming to a resolution, rather than just staking out positions and arguing.” (Sandy Pooler)

“Because Town Meeting assembles infrequently, our representatives have limited opportunity to dig deeply into the intricacies of (public building) projects and make informed judgments about their cumulative trajectories and impacts.” (Jane Wald)

When Town Meeting voted not to authorize the money for the schools, it exceeded its authority, dismissed hundreds of hours of work by citizen committees and professional staff, and overruled the majority will of the town. That’s not functional democracy.” (Katherine Appy)

“The only way forward is to change the way our town is governed. We need to ensure our community doesn’t make decisions that benefit only a few.” (Farah Ameen)

In our current government, bylaws and budgets are passed by Town Meeting.  The Select Board and Town Manager administer government on an ongoing basis.  There is no check and balance of our current Town Meeting.” (Andy Steinberg)  

I wonder if some Town Meeting members are afraid that if Amherst’s representative body were chosen in truly meaningful elections, with multiple candidates and intense voter interest and debates over issues, they would not be able to control things the way they do now.” (Nick Grabbe)

The most vocal anti-charter groups evidence a loathing for developers that baffles me. It’s a loathing that’s understandable when directed at child molesters, for example, but not at people who put up buildings and generate new tax revenue.” (Sarah Marshall)

The majority (of the Charter Commission) was willing to explore all possibilities, but the minority was not.” (Mandi Jo Hanneke)

Because we are broadly agreed on what kinds of development we don’t want in Amherst, because we like having vast areas of conservation land, we then have to be that much more careful about turning away from genuinely acceptable opportunities, when they present themselves.” (Richard Morse)

Comments 1

  1. The Neils la Cour quote needs to be in bold, because it is not fully recognized how this system has forfeited revenues over the years. It’s not just the school votes.

    The Town Council jobs are going to be unenviable ones, because some of the elected reps are going to have to lift the veil on the choices we’ve already blithely made as a town, choices that preclude the kinds of revenue for town services that other communities enjoy without even thinking about it.

    Those first terms of the Council are going to be repeated episodes of “While You Were Sleeping.”

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