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Thread: Electronic solution for fixing Town Meeting

  1. #16
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    Default At long last, winter has come.

    Fall work finally finished. Stone wall done, firewood in, boat ready for winter… of course, some leaves still unraked, some fields unmowed… but spring will fix that. Now, the quiet of winter brings what new projects?

    Alan proposes that the town consider moving forward with electronic voting at Town Meeting. Excellent idea. Certainly seems like there’s a consensus that something needs to be done and that electronic voting might be a good step forward.

    One question I’ve had is that for all the discussion about the problems with the recent Town Meeting and the potential of electronic voting, where are our “leaders”? Peter Gossells did write a couple thoughtful articles, and that was appreciated. But with most townspeople seeming to agree that there’s a proplem, and talking about solutions, where are the “Selectpersons”. Did I miss it, or was there “not a peep”? Is this leadership?

    To me this puts Alan’s contribution in context. Peter Gossels suggests the creation of a committee to study the problem. I feel that could be slow and go the same way as the Electroninc Communications Committee. Alan obviously thinks it’s important and is willing to do something about it, even to the exent of proposing a “Petition” and creating a website. “Here, here” I say. Seems like this is a “win, win”. Where’s the downside, except that the system costs money?

    If the system cost less (proposal seems to be $120k), I would be willing to pay my share (over and above town tax) and would have loved to propose a fundraising effort to pay for the whole thing and skip the usual bureaucratic/committee type slowness. But at $120k, this wouldn’t work so easily, so money is going to be an issue, especially with town/school budgets being cut. That’s unfortunate.

    And more, even with electronic town meeting voting, other issues don’t go away: the nature and quality of the questions presented for decision making; the quality of information available to the public; whether Town Meeting is in fact democratic; etc., etc. Guess I’m waiting for 23rd century town meetings where all info is open source and handy, and we vote from the comfort of our browsers.

    Until then, let’s enjoy the snow storm, staying safe and warm by the fire!

    donBustin@verizon.net

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Wayland MA
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    Default

    If we share the system with another town, and borrow, the annual cost will be almost trivially small.

  3. #18
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Nice Snow!

    I know this doesn’t really belong here, but it doesn’t deserve a thread of its own, and Jeff, since you’re here I thought I’d ask: “Don’t you see it as deception when the fact that the school budget (and all budgets I guess) will be cut (“dismantling… ”) only comes out after the vote on the new high school?” Isn’t this important financial information that should have been included in anyone’s proper consideration of future spending?

    My understanding of Wayland is that even the “good guys” use deception in an attempt to cajole the voters. This deception can be subtle, but to me it smacks of valuing ends over means. People don’t always present complete information (in essence, lie) fearing that people will vote against their “whatever”. My understanding of “good” is that it “wins” by the “rightness”of its argument, not by some sort of deviousness. Of course, things might not always go the way one wants, but is that such a bad thing? Perhaps just another opportunity to learn.

    So what do you think, “deception”?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  4. #19
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    Mar 2008
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    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
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    Default Good Guys and Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    My understanding of Wayland is that even the “good guys” use deception in an attempt to cajole the voters.
    Curious Don, so who are the "Good Guys" and who are the "Bad Guys" (being that if there are "Good Guys" then there must be "Bad Guys")

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I know this doesn’t really belong here, but it doesn’t deserve a thread of its own, and Jeff, since you’re here I thought I’d ask: “Don’t you see it as deception when the fact that the school budget (and all budgets I guess) will be cut (“dismantling… ”) only comes out after the vote on the new high school?” Isn’t this important financial information that should have been included in anyone’s proper consideration of future spending?
    Deception? I can only surmise that the humor intended in your use of this loaded word didn't come through in your post.

    The Finance Committee made it quite clear in advance of the High School vote that they would not be recommending an override this year. Their budget guidelines, made public almost a month before Special Town Meeting, made it equally clear that the implications of no override would be budget cuts.

  6. #21
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    Apr 2009
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    Default

    So Jeff, I take it you vote, “not deception” to incomplete information? Certainly I know that I see Wayland’s governance more negatively than many of you and perhaps I’m here trying to reconcile my “misbeliefs”. But yet…

    Of course there couldn’t be an override in this year of the new high school – it would make it too obvious that Wayland’s finances were in trouble (and taxes will have to go up). “Budget guidelines” that imply service reductions (and taxes will have to go up) that go to Departments and Committees – does this make it into the public discourse? Was any of this made explicit to the public while considering borrowing for the new high school (and taxes will have to go up)?

    I just revisited the Warrrant and the HSBC web site. Under “Financial Considerations/Tax Impact” all they had was that “tax matrix” with the average taxpaper paying a $483 per year tax increase for just the school’s borrowing. I don’t think that gives anything like an accurate picture of what’s going to happen to Wayland’s finances, its taxes, and/or its services.

    Add in the other future financial liabilities we have no information about (new union employeee contracts, (how’s that going?), future employee pension liabilities, health expenses, and I wish someone would be explicit about the cost to the taxpayer (especially the low-income taxpayer) of affordable housing, etc.) and, well, taxes will have to go up!

    Do YOU think Wayland’s finances are on a sound footing?

    And I do think it’s deception to ask the town’s citizens to borrow big money without providing them with a complete financial picture.

    Good to know that there are only “good guys” in Wayland. No one with conflicts of interest or personal unspoken agendas, just everyone working towards the common good. That must be why everything is so harmonious.

    Alan, my apologies for bringing all this negativity to what was your posting about the e-voting system proposal. What you have done seems straight forward and you’ve attempted to be as informative as possible, complete with costs and FAQs. Wouldn’t it be fun to have one of those “AmericaSpeaks” meetings in Wayland, everyone around tables in the new high school cafeteria, collectively arriving at the “answers”?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  7. #22
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    Default A lot can be done with technology

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Alan, my apologies for bringing all this negativity to what was your posting about the e-voting system proposal. What you have done seems straight forward and you’ve attempted to be as informative as possible, complete with costs and FAQs. Wouldn’t it be fun to have one of those “AmericaSpeaks” meetings in Wayland, everyone around tables in the new high school cafeteria, collectively arriving at the “answers”?
    AmericaSpeaks is an organization which attempts to emulate the customs and traditions of New England Town Meeting but injects all available technologies to bring participation and 'voice' into both the discussion and voting.

    To their credit they have hosted electronic town meetings all over the USA and one notable one was the 'Listen to the City' town meeting where 5,000 Manhattan residents got an equal voice in the re-building of the 9/11 World trade center.

    Anybody reading this... please visit (and re-visit as I continue to add new materials)

    http://www.ElectronicVoting.info where you can read the Q & A on how this process would work in Wayland and you can see how this technology has been put to use around the world. I'm very excited about what this can do for us.

  8. #23
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    Interesting quote from House Minority Leader John Boehner in this MSNBC summary of a possible time line for today's health care vote.

    - 7:00-ish: Debate ends. Vote on the SENATE bill begins (This is where John Boehner has asked for a manual vote, which would take much longer than a normal electronic vote. He isn't likely to get it, however.)

    Wow, Wayland could soon be more high tech than the GOP ...

  9. #24
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    Watching the HCR debate is like looking into the future of Wayland's ATM: voice vote, moderator rules for the nays, ayes challenge the count, moderator asks the challengers to stand, moderator rules enough challengers, moderator directs ... electronic vote. But, a 15 minute window? Why not 60 seconds.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Watching the HCR debate is like looking into the future of Wayland's ATM: voice vote, moderator rules for the nays, ayes challenge the count, moderator asks the challengers to stand, moderator rules enough challengers, moderator directs ... electronic vote. But, a 15 minute window? Why not 60 seconds.
    I feel the same approach is appropriate for Wayland TM using e-voting and yes, 60 seconds.

  11. #26
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    On 7-April-2010 I have a 12 minute speech to the League of Women Voters on the subject of Electronic Voting at town meeting.

    The film of this speech is now available at: www.ElectronicVoting.info

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