Yeah, I was supposed to jump on this last week, but I didn’t. I was going to jump on this first thing this morning, but I didn’t do it then either.
I’m a complete-ist. I like the Town Meeting minute-to-minute recap because this sausage-making form of government is not only messy, it’s amusing as well. But the last hour of fall Town Meeting was a definite example of How Not To Present and only supports my theory that Powerpoint is the tool of the devil.
So if you’re just tuning in, let’s recap before the recap:
- The road to nowhere runs through a winter parking ban.
- Everybody has an axe to grind, and no one wants to give town officials fining power.
- Deer are the real terrorists and, oh yeah, we’re buying Pell Tree Farm.
- Cliff’s Notes highlights are right here.
10:55 p.m. And we’re on Article 26, which requests $750,000 for modular classrooms at Grafton Middle School. This will require a debt exclusion, which will add $15.50 to the property tax bill for the average $390,324-valued home in town.
Supt. Joseph Connors notes that while the language of the article says “buy or lease,” leasing really isn’t feasible, since you cannot borrow funds for a lease — and we’re going to need these modulars for a while.
The four classrooms would provide room for 100 students at 25 per classroom and will also add 100 student lockers. It will only ease the space problems the middle school is now having (you could go back in time to the second entry on this blog to see some of them) but will not solve the high school space issue that is now being studied.
The funds will cover the cost of furnishing and adding technology equipment to the classrooms. No new teachers will be hired as a result of the addition — the middle school already has plenty of teachers whose classroom consists only of a cart.
11 p.m. Charlie Bolack offers his endorsement of the new classrooms and notes that today’s modulars can last up to 50 years. (Yesterday’s modulars weren’t that bad either. The “portables” added to my elementary school, in which I spent second grade, are still in use back at Stall Brook Elementary School.)
11:02 p.m. Modulars are approved. Wow, that was quick. A few people — not as large as the Pell Farm crowd — get up to go home.
11:06 p.m. 34-0 Patriots, according to my neighbor’s Blackberry. Are they playing the puppies from the Puppy Bowl?
11:10 p.m. And we have skipped along, approving funding for the modular special election (still no date) and a few transfers. Now we hit the mother of all speedbumps: Article 31, the storm water management bylaw.
I did not get this woman’s name. I believe she’s a member of the Conservation Commission. I am sure a lot of thought and discussion went into this bylaw and presentation, and I can respect that. I can even get behind the issue and say yes, we need to control the adverse effects of post-development stormwater runoff — I’ve seen them firsthand in my incomplete neighborhood. It’s not pretty, it’s not good for the environment and it’s probably not good for the sewers, either.
We are a tired crowd at this point, and a much-shrunken one. We are almost at the point where May Town Meeting had finished. We’re already looking ahead at Article 32, the biomedical research and production bylaw, and wondering how long that debate is going to take.
This is not the point to bust out a 25-minute Powerpoint presentation.
She had a dramatic open — the Oct. 15, 2005 storm. Remember that one? Completely rained out Octoberfest at South Grafton and the newscasters were all standing outside with umbrellas talking earnestly about dams possibly breaking. Then she notes that particular flood situation had little to do with the topic at hand — good God, why bring it up then? — but that other flooding situations bring about runoff, which is evil and wrong and bad for the environment on a number of levels…
… which she goes on to explain at length.
11:15 p.m. My notebook reads “I HATE POWERPOINT.”
11:30 p.m. She stops talking.
11:35 p.m. She resolves a technical issue and STARTS UP WITH THE POWERPOINT AGAIN. My neighbor, who is my ride home (I swapped husbands with a friend down the street), and I debate whether or not we should stick it out or catch up with everything at home.
“She’s probably still going to be talking by the time we get to our TVs,” I say. We opt to stick it out.
11:38 p.m. After all that, a North Street resident asks to amend the bylaw to have it apply to 40,000 square feet, the federal standard, rather than 10,000 square feet. The remaining crowd starts rumbling at this — why does the town want to adopt a tougher standard than the feds?
11:40 p.m. I give up following the argument completely and start writing random stanzas from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in my notebook.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question
Oh do not ask “What is it?”
Let us go an make our visit.
11:45 p.m. I count a little over 100 people in the room and wonder what Town Meeting quorum is.
11:50 p.m. There will be time there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
There will be time to murder and create
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate
Time for you and time for me
And yet time for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions…
11:53 p.m. The moderator makes a plea to the people watching at home — the camera guy is running out of tape. Could someone please record the proceedings on their DVR?
11:55 p.m. My neighbor mutters “If we keep going on much longer, the kids are going to start coming in for school.”
11:57 p.m. There’s a motion to adjourn for Wednesday night, noting that there are a number of people who have to get up for work at 5 a.m. It’s pointed out that we can’t adjourn in the middle of an article.
MIDNIGHT We vote to passover the article. If this shows up at the next Town Meeting CUT DOWN THE POWERPOINT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
12:02 p.m. Article 32, the Biomedical Research and Production Bylaw, passes without discussion. I feel for poor Tom Keppler, a non-resident who has had to sit through the entire meeting waiting for this one article, only to not be asked any questions.
12:05 p.m. After passing over Articles 33-36, we adjourn for the night.