In a prior letter to the editor a writer described the proceedings of the Special Town Meeting on Feb. 7 as evidence that “Town Meeting is not broken”. My less sanguine description would be that it took Town Meeting 2 sessions to resolve 6 relatively simple issues. Deliberating more than 40 articles in the Annual Town Meeting could extend its duration to 18 nights which effectively disenfranchises any individual who must work more than 8 hours per day or care for a young family. I do not believe that Town Meeting comes close to representing the median demographics of Framingham and the average voter would be better served by voting for City Counselors.
It is also interesting to review the vote to recommend rejection of the Charter. The total number of Yes/No Votes was 103 which represents 47% of the 216 Town Meeting Member positions. Town Meeting has implemented “reform” to reduce the number of positions to 162 so that the vote would now represent 63%. I perceive this reform as analogous to “shifting (or throwing overboard) the deck chairs on the Titanic”.
I believe that the fundamental problem with Town Meeting is that it is an anachronism. An organization which was structured in the 19’th century simply cannot compete with the “Information Age”. Paper handouts of Town Meeting are no match for “Google”. Time shifting technologies make Town Meeting’s schedule onerous. And social media which inculcates us to speak in abbreviations and sentence fragments makes the verbose and redundant conversations of Town Meeting arcane to the millennials.
I have never understood why Framingham is the largest community in the country with a representative form of Town Meeting while every other comparably sized community has adopted a City model. I would advocate for the adoption of a City Charter so that we can navigate into the realm of modern management techniques which take reality into consideration instead of the quixotic notions of bygone eras.
Town Meeting Member