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Thread: When 2/3 isn't

  1. #16
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    Default

    I was merely pointing out that those on the losing side of a close counted vote don't necessarily demand a recount.

    So, are you saying that you had zero suspicion that the vote count was swinging against the Town Center as people departed? It was certainly clear to everyone that I was sitting with that this was exactly what was happening.

  2. #17
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    Default Look...

    We could debate how we feel about the recount/repoll, but I certainly think people who choose not to stay for the entire town meeting (nevermind the entire vote for one article) should own up to the responsibility of those actions. The results of early departure were made starkly clear and, I would hope, would encourage people to respect the meeting and stay for the entire time.

    On another note, how about the use of the rule I hate the most...that is the allowance of "moving the question" and terminating all debate. The rules of TM already limit the discussion on a question to 1 hour, very few articles ever hit this limit, and those that do are always contentious enough to allow all residents who can speak within the hour to do so without procedural censorship.

    Why is nobody talking about this abuse of parliamentary power?

  3. #18
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I was merely pointing out that those on the losing side of a close counted vote don't necessarily demand a recount.

    So, are you saying that you had zero suspicion that the vote count was swinging against the Town Center as people departed? It was certainly clear to everyone that I was sitting with that this was exactly what was happening.
    I was sitting near the front, focused on the results of the vote. I was not aware that people were leaving in large numbers. Had I noticed, I would not have been able to determine whether those leaving were proponents or opponents.

    Dave

  4. #19
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    No way to know, of course, but the dual teller method does help to suppress counting error. I have no way of knowing what the margin of error is in this type of human-counted voters situation--it might well be fewer than three votes.
    Having been roped into serving as a teller, I noticed several potential sources of counting error:

    1. people standing in the aisles talking with friends are easily confused with people standing at the seat of a row furthest from the teller

    2. the tellers manually total their votes and then compare; two tellers that happen to make the same addition error could report an erroneous count

    3. the tellers' votes are orally conveyed to the town clerk; with all the noise, the result recorded by the clerk can be different than that reported by teller (this actually happened to me, but I caught it because I could see that what the clerk recorded was incorrect)

    Based on these observations, I'd say that the overall counting accuracy is on the order of 1%.

  5. #20
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    Default Thoughts from another teller

    I agree that there is room for error, though if tellers are careful and voters are cooperative it can certainly be minimized, or even eliminated. I was a teller last night as well, working with Woody Baston. Woody and I were very diligent about checking counts with each other on each row before moving on to the next, and double-checking our math. I added as we went, Woody used a calculator to check totals at the end, and we didn't finalize anything until we were in agreement.

    I do not see the math as a source of error unless people are really not careful. I think it would probably be wise to have each teller group submit their counts directly to the Moderator before reading them out over the microphone to ensure the counts are accurately recorded, though I noted that the Moderator checked with the teller when he had any doubt as to what had been said. Also the Town Clerk was independently recording counts, and they then compared. And about a hundred people in the audience were probably recording the figures read and doing their own math. The counts my husband recorded matched the reported figures each time.

    As Dave noted, the potential for error comes from people who are not clearly associated with a seat. Woody and I were very strict about this, making sure people were clear about where they were standing, and keeping an eye out for people who might be drifting around to be social to ensure they were not double-counted.

    Voters can help out in this regard by being patient through the process and staying attached to their seat. It is tempting during this long, not very interesting, part of the evening to chat with friends during this and move around to see different friends. Please don't do it. Just stay at your seat and make the job easier for the tellers. Also, please sit down when the tellers ask you to. Especially for us short tellers! It's hard to see over you when counting the next row.

  6. #21
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    Default Town (not such a good) Meeting

    I too was disgusted with the Article 3, Motion to Move. There were 10 people patiently waiting to have the 3 minutes to say their piece and this guy runs up to “move” the article, almost like he thought it was funny. A slap in the face to those 10 people. And what about undecided people who wanted more information? The guy was an a___.

    I would never have thought to vote to “move” the article, if only from some sort of empathy for the people waiting to speak. So the vote comes, a loud “yea”. What kind of people? Selfish, manipulative, indifferent to the feelings/needs of their neighbors? Welcome to Wayland, 09. “May their children grow up to be as uncaring as they are!”

    And here at the discussion forum, amongst all this quaint talk of better ways to vote, isn’t there a bigger question. Doesn’t Town Meeting seem dysfunctional on almost any measure? I sat there wondering, “This is the way affluent, intelligent, successful adults think things should get done?” Well, this child wants nothing to do with it.

    Dysfunctional: from inadequate democracy (even a large turnout has less that 20% of the voters – but that’s still too large to manage efficiently, and a small turnout… ); voting should be secret; people manipulating the procedures; confusion; hardly any decisions accomplished (only 2 articles on Wed.?); to that deadly waste of time just waiting (think of the manhours of those 2,000 people). And how sad for all those good volunteers who give their time (both at the meeting and in town generally) to try to make it all work. So much like good-hearted Sisyphus(es?).

    I’m sure there’s some bureaucratic reason why we couldn’t just vote on everything at the polls on Tuesday. Of course there is. Wouldn’t this be a good time for our leadership to present some alternatives to Town Meeting, if only to get us moving toward some sort of representative town meeting, or whatever they think best (but not something that benefits just some small constituency, please).

    [Wouldn’t it be fun to have our own little 100 member parliament (committees, voting blocks and all)? And back to quaint, “How about a local wireless network where we vote on our phones?”]

    Do you think Town Meeting is dysfunctional?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  7. #22
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    Default What would happen?

    I know it's democracy and all that but it is grueling. I paid $82.00 for babysitting for the two nights and I still had leave at 9:45 pm last night to relieve the sitter. I'm not complaining, but those of us with kids and/or traveling spouses, it does cost money, never mind time to go to Town Meeting. I wonder if the money spent on sitters is tax-deductible?

    Here's an idea: at the next town meeting, all of those who have kids should bring them...all of them. Imagine the chaos. Would it help the meeting goes faster? (this is said tongue in cheek.)

    I don't feel the meetings were particularly civil. Who is that woman who was so angry who shushed the child? Ouch.

  8. #23
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    Default

    I see, it’s the babysitter lobby in town that benefits from things as they are, and opposes any improvement.

    Ah ha!

  9. #24
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    Default

    My take on the whole "quiet the child" thing at STM was this sense of, "Someone in this hall is happy--we cannot allow this."

    I'm sure that the Police Chief was thrilled to be dispatched by the Moderator to restore order! [grin]

    I'm not ready to give up on Town Meeting (in some form, maybe even with voting taking place at another time/place) just yet. Think of how much better it would have been if the counts could simply have been instantaneous? We could have been spending our time on substance.

    Oh, and an admission. I was one of those who voted to terminate debate on Article 3 the first night. In hindsight, I shouldn't have. I too was interested in hearing what the people lined up at both microphones had to say. Somehow, that interest (and sense of what was in the best interest of the meeting) didn't break through. My apologies.

  10. #25
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    Thumbs down Lets talk about the reconsideration

    In 2006 the TM committee raised the bar to prevent 'gaming the system' by the reconsideration move which had been done 'willy nilly' in the past and in other towns too.

    New and Significant Information not available to the TM during the original article debate was the high bar to jump over.

    So what did we have?

    "The developer pays a different amount of taxes from the assessor's records and the assessor's records are the golden standard and this incorrectly states the contribution to the town"

    Was this new information?

    ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    Molly Upton, one of our assessors got up and stated it clear as day during the original vote. It was KNOWN... It was NOT NEW INFORMATION.

    But there we were all sitting there watching our assessor testify to the TM and the moderator that she had said all of this during the original vote and the moderator says: "My ruling on this is not debatable"

    This was 'Alice in Wonderland' stuff... we were all watching a murder and everybody was saying to themselves... yeah thats a murder so what else is new. (At least that was my perception).

    Now everybody knows how the new game works...
    Just put a defect into your article (a small one that nobody will notice) and then if you don't like the vote, you can always go for a reconsideration.

    In this case, there was a defect and it was uncovered first.

    But there is more....

    The other reason was: "The tellers were telling people it was ok to go home"
    What tellers? What were their names? Did the tellers get to speak to Peter Gossels to confirm or deny.. ? This was HERESAY period... no proof and it would have been thrown out of any court of law.

    And what if the tellers had said it was ok to go home?
    Well it was... nobody is a prisoner, they can go home. Its up to you the citizen to realize that you better stay to make your vote count. Who cares what the tellers said? That was NOT part of the TM reconsideration rule.

    But the two were accepted... one was a blatent ignoring of the evidence and the other was heresay that had noting to do with the procedural code.

    But there is more....

    When that lady got up and tried to do a reconsideration on the High School vote because "Well we were harassed and we had to stand there during harassment and the no's were counted and the yes' were not"...

    There was no proof of that either... and that WAS not accepted as adequate proof. (By the way, I didn't buy that either but it was inconsistent with the previous ruling).

    My commentary above has NOTHING to do with my positions on the articles. They are commentary on the procedures and their manipulations due to POLITICAL pressure for which Wayland has evolved into.

    Welcome to Stepford Conneticut or the Twilight Zone.

    Signing off Alice in Wonderland.

  11. #26
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    Lightbulb An idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    I know it's democracy and all that but it is grueling. I paid $82.00 for babysitting for the two nights and I still had leave at 9:45 pm last night to relieve the sitter. I'm not complaining, but those of us with kids and/or traveling spouses, it does cost money, never mind time to go to Town Meeting. I wonder if the money spent on sitters is tax-deductible?

    Here's an idea: at the next town meeting, all of those who have kids should bring them...all of them. Imagine the chaos. Would it help the meeting goes faster? (this is said tongue in cheek.)

    I don't feel the meetings were particularly civil. Who is that woman who was so angry who shushed the child? Ouch.
    Elizabeth, I say this idea with compassion for your situation and although radical, it may be the best solution.

    We know about 'designated drivers' how about 'designated sitters'.
    10 families get together and Baby Pool.

    If there are 2 votes in each family then thats 20 votes.
    For 20% of those votes or 4 votes, those 4 adults can take on the job of sitting for the 10 families at a designated house. Everybody can take turns doing this over time and split expenses.

    Seems like it solves an economic problem and creates a small sacrifice to get a large voter gain.

  12. #27
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    Default

    1. The other procedure "inconsistency" that baffled me was the Moderator's refusal to recognize people intending to move the question. Setting aside the wisdom of this refusal, it appeared to be directly at odds with the rules.

    2. A few town meetings back, child care was made available at Happy Hollow. Of course, that doesn't work for very young children, and even for older children, it makes for a late night.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post

    So what did we have?

    "The developer pays a different amount of taxes from the assessor's records and the assessor's records are the golden standard and this incorrectly states the contribution to the town"

    Was this new information?

    ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    Molly Upton, one of our assessors got up and stated it clear as day during the original vote. It was KNOWN... It was NOT NEW INFORMATION.
    I don't agree with you here. Molly presented a one-quarter tax bill of $109,000. This is not necessarily the same as 1/4 of the annual bill, as we all know from our own tax bill histories. It was easy for me to imagine it had to do with weird adjustments or late payments, or who knew what. I was not clear on the annual tax bill, and did not know the extent to which this bill was being propped up in value by the "promise" of a Town Center. That is, how much the bill would drop if the Town Center was no longer on the table, and the property was re-evaluated. Maybe I should have known this information, but it was not presented, and was not clear during the debate.

    Look, a re-vote was the right thing to do. If we didn't have a re-vote, then we'd have ended up with a Special Election, which takes just 100 signatures to get, shortly down the road to have an accepted vote on the situation. As it was, it was mired in controversy. Doing it again was the right thing because it gave everyone who wanted to have a say a chance to come and and vote and be counted and get it right. By right, I don't mean the answer I personally was looking for, but rather one that wouldn't have people feeling that their vote didn't matter.

    Whichever way it was to go, I think people should have gone into that new vote feeling like this one counts and we should all accept it, regardless of the outcome. I know I would have, the whole controversy over the initial vote forgotten.

    As a teller last night I can tell you that I saw a couple of people vote for the reconsideration, but then against the article. I have great respect for that. They knew that the vote the prior night was not legitimate, and wouldn't be accepted. Getting a new vote, however it turned out, was simply the right thing to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Now everybody knows how the new game works...
    Just put a defect into your article (a small one that nobody will notice) and then if you don't like the vote, you can always go for a reconsideration.
    This would be unacceptable and we'd all see right through it. People would not be sympathetic to this at all, and I don't believe that small defects will tend to be the kind of thing that the Moderator would find "significant".
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 11-20-2009 at 03:42 PM. Reason: fix typo - word "be" was missing

  14. #29
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    Default Baffles

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    1. The other procedure "inconsistency" that baffled me was the Moderator's refusal to recognize people intending to move the question. Setting aside the wisdom of this refusal, it appeared to be directly at odds with the rules.
    Jeff, don't be baffled. Not when there are professional question movers sitting on stage camped out like their waiting for tickets to a Red Sox game ready to pounce when the word is given.

    Perhaps Peter is starting to see right through that.... listen to what he said.
    He admonished him for being there all the time and others have done the same in the past.

    This is called 'prima facia' evidence.

  15. #30
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    Default O'contraire

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I don't agree with you here. Molly presented a one-quarter tax bill of $109,000. This is not necessarily the same as 1/4 of the annual bill, as we all know from our own tax bill histories. It was easy for me to imagine it had to do with weird adjustments or late payments, or who knew what. I was not clear on the annual tax bill, and did not know the extent to which this bill was being propped up in value by the "promise" of a Town Center. That is, how much the bill would drop if the Town Center was no longer on the table, and the property was re-evaluated. Maybe I should have known this information, but it was not presented, and was not clear during the debate.
    This detail sounds pretty far down in the mud to me.
    1/4 * 4 = 1 and this was plenty accurate for tax projection estimations, in fact, much more accurate then the SWAG's that the FinCOM presented which are based on 'wishes and hopes'. So I don't agree with you here... but what I really don't agree on is this...

    The defect was done by the proponent and if the proponent would have prevailed in the second vote then the proponent would not have asked for a reconsideration... would they?

    So one man's defect is another another man's good enough.
    Molly Upton make the supposed 'new news' 'old news' sorry no amount of 2nd and 3rd order effect justifications will change that fact and it was a poor example and precidence to have to done for future TM's.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    This would unacceptable and we'd all see right through it. People would not be sympathetic to this at all, and I don't believe that small defects will tend to be the kind of thing that the Moderator would find "significant".
    Well this one was a poor example, and we all did see right through it.
    But it still happened.

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