Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Southbridge General Government Subcommittee To Consider “Absentee Voting” At Town Council Meetings




This Wednesday, September 5, at 7 pm, the General Government subcommittee will meet in the Rice Conference Room in the Southbridge Town Hall.

There will be only one item on the agenda: 

“1. Discuss Memorandum to Municipal Clients regarding Open Meeting Law – Remote Participation and present to Town Council to adopt as part of municipality-wide policy.”

What the devil does that mean?

It means that the Town Council, the School Committee and other municipal bodies could allow members to participate by remote electronic means (i.e. phone, Skype, etc.).

The concept is outlined in a memo from attorneys Kopelman and Paige (weren’t they back here only to handle a limited situation?).



































































































































First, I found it verging on the hilarious that this is coming up in front of a subcommittee chaired by a councilor (Pamela Regis) who has, arguably, the worst attendance record of any sitting councilor.

Second, those of us who have attended public meetings or watched them on the local cable channels should be convulsed with laughter when reading the provisions labeled Media and Technical Issues.

Half the time people in the council chamber cannot hear the speakers, let alone those of us at home. And in those cases we are dealing with technology that has been in use for over a decade.

Finally, there is the provision labeled Reasons. Clearly this will be a matter to be determined by the Chair. 

What could possibly go wrong with that? 

The catch-all terms “personal illness” and “emergency” should be familiar to all of us who have taken a “mental health” day off from work. Given the current Chair’s propensity to shut down comments by councilors who are physically present, what confidence is there that such judgments about the ability to participate electronically will be rendered impartially?

Clearly this is an idea that whose time, for this community, has not come.

10 comments:

  1. Why not? They all call it in anyway, and this way, Pam can make all of the meetings from her full time job...what a joke!

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  2. I'm traveling Wednesday...can I call into the GG subcommittee? No? I guess it's not for the regular folks. We can't stream meetings live for the benefit of the citizens, but if it helps the Town Councilors, by God, let's do it. Time to clean house completely.

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    1. Me too Dennis call me in also as I will be in Beijing next week. “They” cannot even do a cable committee meeting right. FYI An open meeting law violation occurred on August 22nd which was admitted by the cable Chairman. Town Clerk office much embarrassed on this one (See meeting and editorial comments on Channel 13). The call-in thingy has some restrictions though they (The TC) must have a Quorum first, and it cannot be a habitual thing either.

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  3. Jim I'm confused. I thought u Hated Dennis Forever because he snickered at your dopey petition, and then u used all those hurtful words. U guys back to being buds after that? I wonder how Dennis feels about it.

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    1. Do not vex to much confused. All associations have difficulties. Any “snickering” may have been (I believe) caused by the perception that the so-called “dopey petition” had some/many limitations, and either did not meet his standards or it was not the right time to bring it to the voters. We do not agree on everything but we do agree on the level of incompetence in our local government, and the mind-boggling acceptance by the locals to put up with it

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  4. The town doesn't have the capacity to do teleconferencing so I'll be surprised if this makes it out of the subcommittee. On the other hand, I can see the TM using cable funds to create that capacity.

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  5. For various reasons, the remote participation proposal died in subcommittee this evening. I was totally fine with this, as was everybody in the room. Some of the particulars just make it more of a can of worms than anyone really seemed interested in dealing with at this point in time.

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    1. Amelia, thank you for your objective analysis of what happened.

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    2. It's not objective, its stating the obvious. Amelia has been as ineffective as the rest of them. What a waste.

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  6. First of all I was at that cable meeting and the chairman admitted nothing of the sort that it was an open meeting violation. Also, I checked with the town clerk and the meeting was posted on the computer and on the official calendar. So, I think both Zotos and Sottile should be fined the cost of processing their frivolous petition....

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