As I continue to ponder Representative Town Meeting system used by Brattleboro, I find myself coming to the same conclusion: it either needs to be reformed, or it needs to go.
The biggest problem is representation. While voters can elect “representatives” to participate in Representative Town Meeting, there is almost no representation going on. Unlike selectboard candidates, reps rarely state to voters what they stand for. Reps rarely hold district meetings to discuss issues. Voting records of reps aren’t tallied or made public. And almost all the information reps take to Representative Town Meeting is given to them by town officials, not constituents.
Voters, despite picking names on district ballots, often don’t know who represents them, how to reach them, or how those reps have voted. Writing in names of people better known to a voter has been eliminated, unless that person is deemed “official” through registering as a candidate. Sometimes reps get slots through the caucus process, under the radar of most district voters.
There is almost no accountability in this system.
Join us on Thursday, December 2oth at at 6pm in the Community Roomfor the first in a series of monthly policy conversations. Representatives Emilie Kornheiser, Molly Burke, Tristan Toleno, and many of your neighbors will be coming together to talk about community goals for the coming year.
I’ve been watching Brattleboro budgets for quite a while, through multiple selectboards, three Town Managers and one Interim Town Manager. I’ve watched many Representative Town Meetings as well and participated in a few. That’s a lot of meetings.
While I’ve come to the conclusion that Representative Town Meeting doesn’t really work, I know that it has become cherished and it is unlikely that abolishing it will be on the ballot anytime soon. Therefore, it should be improved.
The Brattleboro Selectboard officially kicked off FY20 budget season at a meeting Tuesday night, in which they learned about the Police and Fire departments and where the Town expects to find revenue to pay for the budget.
It’s nice that the Selectboard reviews these matters, but this is really about you — the Brattleboro resident or visitor.
It’s Representative Town Meeting Day in Brattleboro.
Representatives are filing in and getting settled, as are those of us who plan on covering today’s event. I have to say, I’m pretty tired from all the work on the new site, so I especially apologize in advance for spelling errors and such.
Usually, however, as they get into the more interesting debates of the day, this becomes less of a chore and more fun. I’m counting on it today.
I urge support for Article 13, Skatepark funding. The emotional arguments against a skatepark are reminiscent of arguments against dance halls in the 30’s, pool tables in the 40’s and bowling alleys in the 50’s. Kids are going to hang out somewhere. In my neighborhood, it was a 6′ plywood pool table in our basement; mom and dad upstairs; not exactly supervised, but ever-present. A skatepark is a relatively contained area more easily supervised than a dead-end dirt road in the woods.