Selectboard Meeting Notes – Live Blog Edition

Brattleboro Selectboard -oct2

Tonight’s meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard is being live blogged here as it happens. For fun!

Comments | 12

  • They get started

    … I’m doing it this way tonight because I’m experimenting with new ways to cover the board.

    Here they go. Youth Vote public hearing will be moved up in the agenda.

    Fall Voting will be at American Legion Hall next to Municipal Center. Fall leaf collection schedule will be moved back a week this year – Oct 26, and Fri Nov 9.

    Bob Oeser has papers for the board. Notes ACLU report about support services, the Retreat, social work, discharge planning, and responsiveness to discharge needs.

    Dale Joy had issues with the police. They are great, she says, but there are some issues. She mentions a former police chief having oral sex in his office. Kate O’Connor warns her that “this is a family show.” Dale alludes to some current incidents – people make mistakes – and they need checks and balances. O’Connor says she thinks she’s talking about a current lawsuit.

    Diana asks about lighting and parking, feelings of safety, and the need to be safe.

    A european settler, dressed in black, wants town to start decolonizing by representing indigenous people by shutting down TD Bank. Also, the meetings aren’t welcoming, she says, with front doors being locked. “I’m often dismissed when I speak.” She suggests more bike lanes and less parking.

    Board agrees a more welcoming sign would be good.

    Nick Nickerson mentions the Lamplighter housing that has opened, the parking garage is safe, and that we should believe daughters and sons. Trust but verify, he says.

    Mikaela wants public bathrooms on the agenda, and suggests they could be bought for the price of lights. Kate promises they have not been forgotten.

  • Youth Vote

    Kate says there is a petition to change charter to allow 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote. “By state statute we need two public hearings.” We’re not voting on anything, just hearing, she says.

    Nanya (sp?) is excited to give the vote to young people, and to allow them to use their voice and participate.

    Kit Barry says it was proven that the brain doesn’t mature until 24-26 years old, or so. We’ve been moving toward over empowerment. Seems out of balance.

    Rio Daims, if 24-25 years old is a mature brain, why do 18 year olds vote.

    A father says children should be given responsibility. “We had a 14 year old run for governor… why not?”

    “I was an emancipated minor,” says Dale. She would have liked it herself at that age. We should let them vote early before their brains are damaged, she says.

    Nick says thought it was obnoxious, and still does. It agitates the majority.

    An assistant Youth Vote coordinator says it will increase voter turnout. Also says 16 year olds pay taxes. Teenagers contribute billions to the economy each year.

    Shanta Lee Gander says she appreciates the effort toward the Youth Vote, and hopes for civics education.

    Daims says that if they could vote, they’d try to educate themselves on the process. Many adults don’t really educate themselves on current politics. If they get started young, the habit gets embedded earlier on. Youth do know about political issues and are more involved. Some adults don’t know the names on the ballot, she adds.

    Mikaela says she works with young people and deal with adult issues every day. They should have the right to vote. We don’t necessarily get smarter when we get older. There is wisdom in youth. They see things we don’t see.

    Dick Degray asks for the process to be explained by the lawyer. Fisher says there is another public hearing, then to March meeting for vote, and if it passes it goes to legislature, and they will make their own determination.

    Nanya is disappointed that many community leaders and Bernie Sanders aren’t progressive enough, and the youth are more progressive.

    Another person asks how many communities allow this. Fisher says he didn’t know.

    Daims says 2 towns in Maryland that have local voting at age 16, and in Oakland 16 year olds can be on the school board, and others are working on it. Also, in other countries.

    Scott Cooper, a new resident, appreciates all the voices. Society has a graduated understanding of what constitutes and adult, and gives examples. Consent, voting, drinking, car rental, etc. Society is conflicted about what is an adult. I think no taxation without representation is the best argument. If you pay taxes, you should have a voice in how your money is spent.

  • Liquor!

    One Stop got a 2nd class liquor license. Beer and wine will be sold.

    The car wash will reopen as well.

  • Water & Sewer!

    The goal is to approve a loan to the parking fund from the Water & Sewer pool of money (Utility Fund).

    Smart parking, new kiosks, an app, allowing credit cards, lighting, refunds for smart cards… all to be done by February 2019. Patrick Moreland says the inter fund loan is less than originally thought – $260,000. Site prep costs for parking kiosks won’t cost as much as first thought.

    First, lend the money, then borrow the money he advises. It is a good paper trail for auditors. Interest will be paid on the fire year note.

    Brandie Starr asks about cost of bathrooms if the interest rate is only 2.5%. Moreland says bathrooms are already at the transportation center in the lobby, open part of the day. Near parking enforcement office.

    Diana thinks daytime bathrooms are good for some people, but what about after 4:30 pm? There is a seasonal need. Maybe not needed all 12 months of the year.

    Moreland warns against keeping the bathrooms open for more hours. All town staff leave, so facilities is unmonitored and unstaffed. “That’s how I like my bathrooms,” says Starr.

    Bonin says she isn’t sold on the need for lights. Wants to see an overall strategy.

    Peter Elwell says the issues are already decided. These are finalized details for final action. Decisions have been added.

    David Schoales says this is one part of an overall plan. “Just keep coming back and nagging us. We’ll get it done.”

    Other board members agree.

    Degray mentions adding money for public bathrooms. “A broader conversation is needed.”

    Nanya says to vote no on parking improvements. There are more important things than cars – humans. Feed the poor. Parking garage is the white tower of privilege when people are homeless and hungry.

    Loan approved.

  • Parking!

    Moreland explains the new parking upgrades – a “smart” parking system by February 2019.

    New rates will go in effect when parking system is upgraded, adds Elwell.

    “A really good point,” says the assistant Town Manager.

    Jean asks if meters can extend their time by adding more money if one is running late? Yes! Like now, plus use a credit card or app.

    Diana asks when the publicity will be done for this? Moreland says public education will be a Town responsibility. Elwell agrees.

    Degray asks about Elliot Street by fire station. Elwell says their is a width issue with the sidewalk. Next summer work will be done, then new meters can go in.

    Degray asks about accepting credit cards prior to rate changes? Yes, as meters go in.

    Wessel says they will still take coins. (“Bitcoins?” asks a voice from the audience.)

    They approve the new $260,000 parking system.


    They also approve borrowing the money from the Utility Fund.

  • Review of Boot Procedures

    The booting procedure is discussed.

    Gander says in other places, the booting fees are lower. Sometimes people make mistakes. She got booted.

    Moreland explains the process. Unpaid parking tickets leads to a fee escalation after 14 days, then again in another 14 days. A ticket and two letters.

    He says to be booted you have to have 3 unpaid tickets like that, then you get a letter that you are on the boot list, then you must make a payment arrangement. If another two weeks goes by, then your car can be impounded/booted. The a final total amount must be paid. There is a post seizure repeal process, after boot is removed.

    Gander asks why mail is sent when there are faster ways to contact people.

    Starr says our ordinance says we can take it and sell for scrap metal or use in our fleet. Elwell says there is an impact to the public if a car sits abandoned.

    Fees should cover the cost of the service, says Schoales, when they bring up possibly lowering the fees.

    Gander suggests different rates for different income brackets. Elwell says he could get data on booting fees. There could be a payment plan, he suggests. Schoales suggests parking ticket information educational outreach.

    Degray wonders if cars could be ticketed after they get booted. Moreland says many vehicles get towed.

    Elwell says he thinks the board might make things kinder and gentler, and staff thinks it is about right as is.

    No changes!

  • New parking rates

    Moreland says last rate change was in 2009.

    O’Connor says to purchase new equipment, parking rates were examined, and this is first reading. Public hearing at next meeting. Every space will cost more.

    Degray asks about overnight parking rates going up. Thinks $10 overnight fine is too low. They’ll make the edit for him and raise the fines.

    Gander asks about people who are too drunk to drive leaving their cars overnight. She says renters have trouble with overnight parking bans, too.

    They decide a $5 increase in overnight parking fines would be best. Maybe. Starr isn’t so sure.

    (a long interlude about how ordinances work…)

    They take a 10 minute break.

  • Anti-Panhandling Repeal

    O’Connor says it is a repeal of an ordinance, and is a first reading. The ACLU says the ordinance is unconstitutional.

    She reads “Chapter 13, art 1, sec 13-2. Begging Prohibited.”

    Atty Fisher says to repeal it. Likely unconstitutional. Talks about signs in AZ and Worcester. Begging laws are too broad and restrictive, he explains.

    O’Connor says the ACLU will be sued if we don’t repeal it.

    Police Chief says other laws still apply, to behavior. Disorderly conduct! Call the police if you don’t feel safe, and we can ask questions.

    Starr – aggressive behavior from someone asking for money or being asked for money. Chief says yes.

    Gander says she did research, in Northampton and Brattleboro. People want to know what to do. What can we do to make this a healthier town?

    Schoales asks for a review of current projects, so they talk about them.

    Kate – remember this is about repeal the ordinance, not solving the issue. Keep it in mind.

    Degray says everyone understands that you must repeal, but I want a bigger action plan to do something about the issue. Day to day behavior continues. I wish I had the answers. I haven’t heard about the Town really making an effort. More officers on the street are needed! It helps when they are seen downtown. We can do better.

    Kate says more crime going on around town than just downtown.

    Kit Barry say he’s studied panhandling for three years and interviewed hundreds. Many are ignorant of what’s going on, the specifics or effects on the greater whole. 30-35 impacting hundreds in the community. So, I want to educate the public. 60-70% of panhandlers are drug or alcohol involved. The public is acting as an enabler. Stop giving money. I wrote a booklet to educate the public about this.

    Geersham (sp?) thinks officers should get downtown more, but has noticed homeless are looked as a piece of trash. How did they get there?

    Elizabeth said she asked for suggestion on the issue, and many suggestions are illegal, immoral, or outrageous. We need to change to ordinance, and will talk of resolving the issues.

    Nanya is grateful or removal of this ordinance. The constitution has so much oppression in that document. Panhandling is stigmatized. People should be people first. I’m bored by parking, and hope the town will invest twice as much in people, not cops, as parking. White supremacy has to change for real liberal progress.

    Rachel said she moved here 4 months ago from NYC. I saw a friend on the street here, from NYC, who was homeless here but not there. We both thought Brattleboro was a great place.

    Diana asked how old the ordinance is, and why? No one knows. Wessel points out previous section is “throwing stone prohibited.”

    Scott Cooper says he read the history of the ordinance in newspapers recently. Repeal it!

    Josh Davis says it should be repealed. Every time this conversation comes up, there are big questions and lots of opinions. I’d urge some leadership about this issue. Who is holding the conversation?

    Gander was everyone to come together to solve things. “I want to be proactive, not reactive.”

    Schoales thinks gathering information is the best path, and agenda item. Town staff can’t do it, though.

    Gander suggests a task force or committee. “I’m a strategic thinker.”

    Starr – how do we tap into community resources that already exists. Needs to be about inclusion. Will be hard conversations about poverty.

    Wessel defends the board’s work on the issues thus far. We’re taking the time to discuss this issue. Repealing doesn’t end the conversation. These are huge national issues seen locally. I feel like we are leading – we’re holding a conversation but we don’t have the power some people think we have. We can control tax dollars.

    O’Connor recognizes that there are a lot of things going on in the community. Only some are illegal. There are social issues.

    First reading is done.

  • Tri Park Master Plan

    Sue Fillion says a grant will pay for a flood plan for Tri-Park. Did a RFQ, got master planners to bid, they were reviewed and we’d like to contract with Dubois and King to do the work. $71,000 and some change.

    They’ll look at the site, do outreach, do financial analysis, and long term management plan.

    Done by June 30, 2019. “Pretty intense deadline” says Sue.


  • Disc Golf Improvements

    The disc golf course at Living Memorial Park got a grant. $6,800 to expand and improve the course.

    It was accepted and appropriated.

  • Wrapping up

    Budget schedules, etc… rounded out the meeting.

    (Time to go find the new cat.)

  • Thanks Chris

    I like the new format!

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