LETTER: Town Meeting Members Need to be Held More Accountable

Arlington resident Rich Carreiro, a former Precinct 19 Town Meeting member, writes that members have near-zero accountability for their actions due to the current voting structure.

The following is a Letter to the Editor from Arlington resident, Rich Carreiro, a former Precinct 19 Town Meeting member.

July 19th's vote on the leaf-blower ban once again shows what many of us have known for years -- Arlington's "representative" town meeting is anything but.

Why? Because Town Meeting Members have near-zero accountability for their actions. If you want to know how your TMMs voted, the only way to even begin to have a chance to find out is to get a seat in the gallery at Town Meeting, hope that you can see your TMMs from where you are sitting, and when a counted vote comes along, see which way they vote. Good luck!

Now, having said that I am nonethless firmly convinced that Arlington's Town Meeting is a far better form of government than any replacement such as a city/town council (which would be horrible.) But that doesn't mean Town Meeting's flaws should be ignored -- and ending TMMs' lack of accountability would go a long way toward fixing Town Meeting's primary flaw.

Some suggestions for how to do that include:

1. More roll-call votes. TMMs can easily force roll-call votes to put all TMMs on the record. It only takes 30 TMMs to require a roll-call vote to be taken. As a former 14-year TMM myself I understand that roll-call votes are slow and inefficient, but if TMMs are going to purport to represent us, they should be willing to provide evidence they are actually doing so.

2. Instead of calling for a pure roll-call vote, TMMs could ask the Moderator to poll yeas and nays by precinct. So rather than calling everyone's name the Moderator could do something like "All Precinct 19 members in favor please stand" (and then take down the number), "All Precinct 19 members opposed please stand" (and then take down the number). This would let residents of a precinct at least know how their TMMs voted as a group, which would provide much more accountability than currently exists while allowing a vote to be taken much faster than a pure roll-call vote. Come January I am planning to submit a warrant article to explicitly give TMMs the power to force such per-precinct votes in addition to the counted votes and pure roll-call votes TMMs can already force.

3. Serious consideration (and not just some lip service study) should be given to using modern technology to provide some form of quick, in-hall, electronic voting so that all votes would essentially be roll-call votes but would take no longer than votes currently take.

Personally, I believe electronic voting would be the ideal solution. But until then there are the other ways that can and should be used to force TMMs to operate on the record and be accountable to their constituents.

Rich Carreiro
Former Town Meeting Member
Precinct 19

Walt Smith July 22, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I sat right behind you for many of those 14 years, Rich, and wholeheartedly agree. We are long overdue for electronic voting at Town Meeting, especially for those critical votes after "the break" when lots of TMMs suddenly disappear. Too bad you decided to "retire" when you did. We need more rational, conscientious TMMs...
Bob Sprague July 22, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Another view of this issue, first posted on the Arlington email list, has been published at YourArlington.com. See http://www.yourarlington.com/your-view/town-meeting-accountability-or-citizen-responsibility.html Bob Sprague
Drew July 22, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Somebody might have said that exact same thing in Roxbury, Lynn, Mattapan or Everett sixty five years ago when those communities were at the top of their game with beautiful homes, professional, hard working people, vibrant businesses and plenty of financial backing to keep things that way. For whatever political reasons and other factors that changed those areas into what they are today has been slowly happening in Arlington over the last ten to fifteen years or so. Compared to what Arlington was like in the 60's and 70's I have seen a tremendous change in the town as a whole and not all good by any means, but I suppose nothing ever stays the same.
Leanne Fitzgerald July 23, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Listen - be embarrassed by the 95 moonbat town meeting members but be extremely proud of the 5,539 Arlingtonians who stood up to these fools and said enough is enough!!! This is huge and it means something. I am serious. I think it means something and it is a game changer. I don't think we are going to see any more bans of this kind any more - this isn't going to play well. We have proven that we are not going to STAND for this crap. 95 people can not make this kind of decision for the people of this town - they obviously do NOT represent us.
Leanne Fitzgerald July 23, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Oh Bob - as usual - "Youarlington.com" - Precints 8 and 12's newsletter - has found it's way to free advertisement on another media site's forum. How some things never change........Leanne
Lily July 23, 2012 at 11:23 AM
You are so right, Leanne. Just on Saturday, Sprague posted this to the Arlington List of Crazy People: On Sat, Jul 21, 2012 at 8:36 AM, Bob Sprague <sprague.bob@gmail.com> wrote: "I hardly ever promote anything on Patch, because it is a competitor ..." Why Patch would allow a competitor to link to his website with a teaser meant to drive people to Sprague blog is beyond me.
Tim July 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Hey Fitzi , Did you see the Bosses Boss chimed in? One thinks less worrying about politics and more worrying about child care is in order . One thinks no more free passes ... But then again this is Arlington
Leanne Fitzgerald July 23, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Tim - lol. Some people just are so glaringly clueless there is nothing that can be done about it. Maybe she'll continue to move on out.....lets hope
Paul July 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Tim hang in there and don't GIVE UP on ARLINGTON.... ya some real BEAUTS have moved in the last two decades but that is no reason to let these "progressive" libtards take over. Back in the 50s and 60s Arnie WOO WOO Ginsberg was a favorite of all the kids in Arlington.... today, Arlington suffers with Charles G the snarky, condescending "progressive".types .... you know the whiny type... over educated, worked in government or some university full of godless, unhappy, liberals who couldn't hold a real job no less create a business. They sit in their offices until they retire and then sit by their laptops and continue to snipe at those they HATE. Laugh it off.... they are NOT taking over...they are just getting their jollies on line. Hey, Charlie ...get yourself a WOO WOO whistle and visit a drive in restaurant and lighten up.... your idiotic pipe dream of a "progressive" i.e. anti American world has been around over 100 years and AMERICANS haven't been fooled by it YET! Arlington's roots are deep in the AMERICAN Revolution.... Uncle Sam Wilson was NOT a fable.
Tim July 23, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Nope Jill I sold it and bought another toy :)) .. And now I charge these silly yuppies a ton to remove their snow ...... Need your lawn cut ? Lawn blown ?? Give me a shout I will give you the libtard discount ... Fitzi shoot me an email I got a good story for you
I. M. Fedup July 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Hey Paul....excellent description of Massachusetts liberal politics...and attitude. We do need a change in perspective in this state....it is time for the every day man and woman to step up and bring about change.....it starts at the ground roots level and builds from there. The day of the candidate simply assuming that they are entitled to victory based only on their party membership has passed....Scott Brown proved this in 2010....Lets keep the effort going forward on all fronts. We the People DO have a voice in the decision making process, starting with local issues and moving forward from there. The era of entitlement has passed. ..Leanne, Lily, and Tim: Keep up the good work.
Shauna July 23, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Funny stuff Tim. Any summer keg patries planned you think?
Shauna July 23, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Tim July 23, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Pau , I ,M fedup. I will never give up I am a Thorn in many peoples side .. The more they aggravate the more I am a pain. There is one guy in this town that prays everyday that I would just go away. GUESS WHAT ?? I am not..... The Badger .....
Tim July 24, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Shauna if there are any I will Let you know ... Hopefully this time the party thrower will get in trouble
I. M. Fedup July 24, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I like your style, Tim....there is a blogger who should move to Cambridge.....hopefully he will leave Arlington and let the informed citizenry run the town without his slanted left wing views.
Tim July 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I.M Fedup I am hopping that someday I hear that Bobby the blogger or should I say Bagdad Bob has moved away. He is really bias ... NOT .... Like my friend Howie says He isn't a journalist he is a blogger ...
Paul July 25, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Jill your comment IS what you complain about. Put down the giant bag of chocolates from Walgreens on Mass Ave ;get out of bed , brush your hair and get a life. Snide comments questioning others sexial preferences make you look far more ignorant than you know.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Jill no closet here .... Married ( to a women) with lots of kids more then the Yuppie norm of 1.5 children by the way the .5 is the silly dog they had before they had a kid and treat it better then their kid ... Keep eating those chocolates
Tim July 25, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Yeah Keep eating those chocolates Don't for get your Lizzy Warren stickers
Tim July 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Nope straight as an arrow here ... You must have me confused with some moonbat that just moved here ..
Paul July 25, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Lizzy Warren took an axe And gave he resume 40 wacks When she was done She told Harvard I'm Pocahontas 41!
I. M. Fedup July 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Jil...straight as well......it's a shame that the moonbats have to resort to name calling and innuendo to distract people from the real issues of the day.....incompetent and inexperienced candidates who fell entitled to elected seats merely by virtue of their membership in a particular, left leaning, political party.. I say this with some reservation, as there are some honest, clear thinking Democrats who do put the welfare of the community above there own personal agenda....people who examine an issue and vote their conscience, not the political party line. ...these people know how to "bury the hatchet" so to speak, and work with people from the other side of the aisle.. Leaders should be elected on the basis of their ability to lead and inspire, not on their affiliation with any particular party. It is time to focus on the issues at hand, be it the leaf blowing controversy in Arlinton or the national economy, rather than on character assassination. We shoushould be on the warpath against those issues which threaten our American way of life, and not against an individual because of their political party affiliation. ......and, by the way, I am a very proud resident of Arlington, and though I may disagree with some of the decisions of our town leaders,I respect their honest efforts to lead.
Paul July 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
All that i M Fedup, taken into account, a liar and manipulator of "minority" status cannot be trusted to do what is best for the common good. Liars and manipulators operate by "the ends justiys the means".
Drew July 25, 2012 at 06:14 PM
That last comment of Fedup regarding our town leaders was was rather generous, abiet naiive to say that he respects their "honest"efforts to lead. Let me suggest that some of these "leaders" are not making decisions based on honesty at all but rather for other unscrupulous reasons that politicians are famous for.
Mark Kaepplein July 25, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Commentary is getting off topic, but I suggest we get lingo in order. Axe=tomahawk. Money=wampum; Campaigns raised big wampum! Meeting=Pow wow. Deliberate=smoke peace pipe. Peyote was likely unavailable to the Cherokee. I enjoy laughing at both Warren's alleged non-heritage and Brown's centerfold modeling.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Drew I couldn't not agree with you more . Why is Eddie Munster agreeing with everything these crazy moonbats come up with? The answer for his political future . When he decides he wants Donnellys or Garballey's job he will have the moonbat vote locked up ...it's pretty simply do something for these moonbats and they think you walk on water . Heck you could commit a crime and people will still think your the best . Example the "perv in the Prius " .
Rich August 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Beer pong?
Rich August 30, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Mmmmmm beer
Paul August 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
How the governance of the Town morphed over 50 years from a simpler representative model to today's overly complex model of pure democracy is a topic for some political science student. We need to go back and to clean out all the layers and committees etc. if the Selectman screw up, vote them out in next election! It isnt the United Nations people.... It's just 4.4 sq miles of mostly a bedroom community.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »