Submitted by Ginni Spencer
I’d like to say a few words in support of less efficiency at Town Meeting.
I’m all in on preparing yourself for Town Meeting by reading The Citizen, attending meetings, checking the town website, etc. But even if you can do all these things, you may still have questions of clarification or want more detail. Yes, there were numerous holds on budget articles and perhaps some hair-splitting going on around specific words. But I found that all questions and comments were fair and respectfully put forward. In my own experience of Town Meeting, I have changed my mind more than once about how I was going to vote on an article because I was swayed by questions and discussion raised from the floor.
The amendments put forward on early articles did not align with my own point of view, but so what? Once the Moderator made his rulings, they were accepted without rancor or inappropriate comments as far as I observed. We moved on.
But to the larger point: should efficiency to be our only criteria for what makes an effective Town Meeting? I believe Town Meeting should, in fact, have some of the features of the town square. It is the most meaningful way we have to come together as an entire town and discuss and decide what we want now and in the future. The give and take, debates over procedure, even the tedious quest for details are a big part of what Town Meeting is all about.
Kudos to officials who try hard to make the process leading up to Town Meeting transparent and streamlined – and hey, keep it coming. But our aspirations for Bedford have to be bigger than how can we get Town Meeting over with in one night and preferably by 10 p.m.
(Editor’s note: Ginni Spencer is a former President, Co-President and current Board member of The Bedford Citizen. Spencer was also one of the tellers at the recent Annual Town Meeting. Ginni is expressing her own points of view in this letter.)