Letter to the Editor: Urging More Citizen Preparation for an Efficient Town Meeting

Submitted by Nancy Wolk

The 2023 Annual Town Meeting was a display of tyranny by the minority. At every turn, a vocal minority delayed the meeting. I am very frustrated by these techniques to air their grievances and slow this important business meeting.

Starting as early as Article 2, people started to challenge the meeting rules as somehow underhanded. This is insulting to the entire town. Residents who are spending their Town Meeting time as tellers are not trying to sway the count. I was pleased the Moderator stood his ground on the rules as they have served the town well for the decades they have stood. Yet, another resident challenged the Moderator’s ability to run the meeting! 

Article 3 was delayed because a small minority insisted that the legal language was not clear enough. I suspect most of the people who were trying to change the language are unaware of town easements throughout the town and how these are needed and legally acquired.

These sorts of pushbacks continued throughout the evening. People requested hand counts when they lost the vote even when it was obvious the Moderator made the correct assessment of the vote. These incorrect claims that issues could not be raised to the Select Board about the Town Meeting concerns implied people were being silenced by the board. This was not true as the Town Meeting was on the agenda.

We did not need to hold certain budgets because there were questions that were not germane to the budget. Those questions would be better directed to the individual boards in those meetings, yet every year, we hear these questions.

I strongly urge every resident attending Town Meeting to educate yourself by reading the Town Report. Attend the Select Board Meetings in January and February when they are discussing Town Meeting.  Ask questions ahead of time at different boards in town. Reach out to different board and committee members.  

Town Meetings are being taken over by a minority who are acting in a manner that is inappropriate for a business meeting. Town Meeting is not a town square. This disenfranchises voters and is the opposite of town democracy. Let’s work to make the Town Meeting efficient and far more effective. Holding up the meeting and slowing the process is not democracy, it is a tyranny of the minority.

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Editor’s note: Nancy Wolk is an elected member of the Bedford Board of Assessors, but the statements in this letter are her own opinion.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Patty Carluccio
July 2, 2023 11:51 am

Tyranny of the minority? The few that take the time to ask questions and you insult them like this? The point of TM is mainly the budget. You know, our taxes and how they are spent. Nancy, perhaps you need a history less about “Taxation without Representation” and our Republic. I’m sorry you were bored with the questions. Personally I am grateful that there are residents who volunteer their time to understand what is going on. AND, many of the questions were asked at TM because others could not get answers beforehand.
Full disclosure – I am on the Volunteer Coordinating Committee. I believe ALL Bedford registered voters have a right to share their opinion, should be respected, and have an opportunity to serve if they so choose.

Robert Marshall
March 31, 2023 10:47 am

An open town meeting is for ALL residents to voice their concerns with the articles on the town warrant.
They’re a resident’s that have fled countries where their voices and opinion were not allowed and followed by persecution or worse. Rather than handing out the colored cards for voting, the left could hand out duct tape to put over the mouth of anyone that does not agree with the opposites agenda. Driving around town multiple signs i.e. stop asian hate, Black Lives Matter to name a few. Next sign should be Stop Liberal Hate. The town government has forgotten that they work for us and not us working for them.

Julie Brill
March 31, 2023 7:55 am

The Bedford Citizen guidelines state, “Letter writers should disclose if they are currently serving on a town board or committee, or in a position of authority, and qualify if they are writing on behalf of themselves as a group representative.”
Nancy Wolk was elected to the Bedford Board of Assessors. This information should be included in her letter.
I hope her letter and the sentiment behind it don’t intimidate residents from participating in town meeting. Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Democracy is often messy and time consuming, but bringing a little patience and good will helps. Hand counts are a reasonable part of the process to ensure democratic outcomes and we have seen where the moderator has called a vote and the ensuing hand count shows it was miscalled.

March 31, 2023 11:39 am
Reply to  Julie Brill

Thank-you for bringing this to our attention. We have corrected our oversight and added the note to the letter.

Joseph R Piantedosi
March 30, 2023 10:12 am

This letter is an insult to all the people who went to Town Meeting and asked valid questions about the articles and the budget. The whole purpose of open Town Meeting is to have a healthy debate and allow taxpayers to ask questions about the articles and the budget before voting on them.  

March 30, 2023 9:04 pm

More of an insult than introducing an amendment that implies that we can’t trust the tellers’ counts unless we hear them ourselves? More insulting than telling the Town Moderator that he doesn’t have the authority to rule on accepting such an amendment?

The author didn’t say everyone should sit quietly and rubber stamp every article. But the fact is that there are valid concerns and questions and then there are those that just waste time. Talking about individual gripes with snow removal procedures for 20 minutes does nothing to shed light on the $50,000 that needed approval. 20 minutes of NOT valid questions was wasted over 0.005% of the appropriations.

Barbara Aldorisio
April 3, 2023 5:04 pm

Right on Mr Piantedosi…Babs

Robert Kalantari
March 30, 2023 9:45 am

It is very concerning to me that a fellow Bedford citizen does not think the rest of our citizens have the right to speak and ask questions during our open town meeting. The last I knew, we still live in a free country called the United States. And I as a naturalized citizen, I am proud of it!

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Kalantari
Jerry Pfeffer
March 29, 2023 9:45 pm

Hear hear!
Well said.

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