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Thread: Don Bustin for Selectman?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Representatives would be the town’s informational/communications channel to their constituents (a few streets in their own neighborhoods) and as such would bring government closer to those it serves, maybe prompting more involvement.
    How would replacing the direct participation of citizens in Town Meeting with representatives bring government closer to those it serves?

    If I'm no longer able to speak at Town Meeting, but instead must rely on a representative to convey my views, in what way have I been brought closer to the process of government?

  2. #17
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    Please understand, these things are complicated, my ideas evolve, “everybody” gets to ultimately decide, not me. This discussion forum (“DF”) allows me to explore my thinking, and with others input, refine it. Dave, good question.

    Yes, people get to vote and speak at Town Meeting (“TM”), they get to represent themselves. But how much of town business actually takes place at TM? Does TM decide what articles are included in the Warrant, or how they’re presented? Does TM make appointments to Boards and Committees? (Yes, the Moderator does sometimes.) We discussed here at DF how we do get to vote on budget items at TM but not what those budget items are and in fact have almost never voted to change any budget item.

    Isn’t it the peple who do these things thave have a greater say? We do have a representative government but it’s the elected and appointed officials. It’s they who make the operational decisions, have influence, and often unspokenly align with “special interests” that have not been cleared through TM. It’s when compared with these “representatives” that I think representative TM might serve people better. People would be closer to government because the Rep would be a neighbor representing a few residents and responsible to them. Much easier for the Rep to provide them with information and much easier for the residents to express their positions to the Rep. Government engages people by providing information and promoting participation. Yes, TM lets people vote, but does it reach out and meet with people on your street?

    At TM people get three minutes to express their Pros and Cons, to what extent are the people at TM informed decision makers? Often groups with particular spending agendas show up and dominate TM. Does this represent the will of the people? Only a minority of the town enjoys the “direct participation” of TM, what about the more than 80% of residents who never make it to TM? How are they represented?

    I’m not sure how much say people actually have at TM. Yes, we just voted millions for the new High School, but do we have a say over how it’s spent or do we, TM goers, even know what its spent on? The Reps might be better able to organize some kind of financial control of spending, which would promote my interests more than I could do so myself.

    I don’t have the answers about all this, but working through these things with your help might uncover whether people are happy with the current situation. Think of our most recent TM. I believe towns that move to representative TM do so because TM has grown so large it becomes dysfunctional. While there are Warrant Articles addressing some aspects of our TM, representative TM is always an option to consider, and one that can stimulate debate. I am not wedded to the concept.

    donBustin@oneWayland.org

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post

    Yes, people get to vote and speak at Town Meeting (“TM”), they get to represent themselves. But how much of town business actually takes place at TM? Does TM decide what articles are included in the Warrant, or how they’re presented? Does TM make appointments to Boards and Committees? (Yes, the Moderator does sometimes.) We discussed here at DF how we do get to vote on budget items at TM but not what those budget items are and in fact have almost never voted to change any budget item.
    Do you believe that switching from TM to RTM would change the answers to these questions? My understanding is that it would not.


    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Isn’t it the peple who do these things thave have a greater say? We do have a representative government but it’s the elected and appointed officials. It’s they who make the operational decisions, have influence, and often unspokenly align with “special interests” that have not been cleared through TM. It’s when compared with these “representatives” that I think representative TM might serve people better.
    You seem to think that RTM would replace both TM and the Selectmen; I don't believe that's the case.


    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    People would be closer to government because the Rep would be a neighbor representing a few residents and responsible to them.
    Help me understand how having someone represent me will bring me closer to government than representing myself directly.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Much easier for the Rep to provide them with information and much easier for the residents to express their positions to the Rep.
    Perhaps, but expressing my position to my Rep does not mean that the Rep will understand my position, agree with my position, or effectively articulate my position during the meeting where decisions are made.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Government engages people by providing information and promoting participation. Yes, TM lets people vote, but does it reach out and meet with people on your street?
    Everyone on my street is welcome to engage in TM, constrained only by their energy level and determination. Doubtless we can make such engagement easier and less grueling.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    At TM people get three minutes to express their Pros and Cons, to what extent are the people at TM informed decision makers? Often groups with particular spending agendas show up and dominate TM. Does this represent the will of the people?
    Discussion of the "Sex Offender" article during the most recent TM was quite effective at creating informed decision makers, and resulted in the rejection of an article strongly endorsed by the Selectmen. The will of educated people prevailed.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Only a minority of the town enjoys the “direct participation” of TM, what about the more than 80% of residents who never make it to TM? How are they represented?
    Those who choose not to attend have explicitly delegated their interest to those Wayland citizens who do attend TM. The objective of TM cannot be 100% participation of the citizenry; that would be a logistical nightmare. The objective of TM is to make the best possible set of decisions on issues and opportunities facing Wayland. The theory behind TM is that a self-selecting set of participants produces better decisions than any other decision-making process, whether it be RTM or Australian Ballot.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I’m not sure how much say people actually have at TM. Yes, we just voted millions for the new High School, but do we have a say over how it’s spent or do we, TM goers, even know what its spent on?
    At a reasonable level of abstraction, I know how it's being spent; I sat in on a school committee meeting where the plan was reviewed. If I wanted more detail, I could have obtained it.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin
    The Reps might be better able to organize some kind of financial control of spending, which would promote my interests more than I could do so myself.
    You are presuming that RTM will more fundamentally change our governmental structure than I understand to be the case. You are also imparting the Reps with magical capabilities, which is easy to do at this point in time.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin
    I don’t have the answers about all this, but working through these things with your help might uncover whether people are happy with the current situation. Think of our most recent TM. I believe towns that move to representative TM do so because TM has grown so large it becomes dysfunctional. While there are Warrant Articles addressing some aspects of our TM, representative TM is always an option to consider, and one that can stimulate debate. I am not wedded to the concept.
    There's a long list of ways to incrementally improve TM's accessibility and efficiency, many of which have been put forward over the years but never implemented. It would be a serious mistake to abandon TM before taking these steps.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    NO, that wasn't my point. But I will resist my very real temptation to stop there and make you guess again. :-) My point was to put "a very human face on it", so we weren't discussing amorphous hypothetical people but actual ones. Real-world decisions, not "virtual reality" sound-bite easy ones.
    My point was to cut the salaries of real people - not virtual people but do it in a way that is part of a plan and covers everybody concerned.
    Singling out one person to make a point not only accomplishes what really needs to get done but its counter productive.
    Of course, asking the clerk to get a salary decrease would be voted down, would create embarrassent for the motioner, the audience and the clerk but having our leadership lead and make a difficult demand across the board as part of larger and actual plan is the only way to go.

    So no, I would not be in favor of singling out one person as a token. When the cuts would be made there would be real faces and many faces put to it.
    Just like in the companies that the taxpayers work in....

    Motioning for the clerk to take a salary decrease is moot.

  5. #20
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    Sorry, I think you were still missing my point a bit, but let's not take this thread off-topic and let Don answer the questions as he gets to them.

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    Default Sliced and Diced

    Several people here use the method that Dave uses above and I’d like to question its usefulness. Suppose one of the other candidates, thinking that open informational sharing was a good thing, or perhaps a not-very-combative type of person, who felt they’d like to contribute here, were working up to posting. Seeing how their words may be attacked, might they not think twice before dipping a toe into these waters?

    For my part, when I read down the list of quote, rebuttal, quote, rebutttal, etc., etc. my mind quickly loses track of what the arguments are, loses its train of thought, becomes confused, and doesn’t know how to proceed. Of course, I do get the feeling that what I originally had said, the words that were dissected, was somehow grossly inadequate. Is that the goal?

    Looking back at my paragraphs, they look to me, well, OK. A few thought-provoking ideas. Dave, what would be helpful to me would be if you could perhaps write your thoughts in simple paragaphs. It would make it easier for me to understand your position and to incorporate it into my way of thinking about things. Thanks.

    Representative TM is a bit “off-topic” to any issue currently facing Wayland. Especially considering the years it would take to implement and the logistics of getting everybody “on-board.” Maybe the conversation should turn to something else.

    I do think that groups with particular spending interests can dominate TM and this may contribute to the town’s inability to control spending and that over 80% of townspeople are not represented at TM. We just can’t blame them for not coming, it would seem that the “mechanism” of our TM decision-making process has to bear some responsibility for not being designed in a way that would ensure their participation.

    Dave, do you have any ideas on how we might improve these situations? Then I’ll try to get back to answering Alan’s original questions.

    donBustin@oneWayland.org

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Several people here use the method that Dave uses above and I’d like to question its usefulness. Suppose one of the other candidates, thinking that open informational sharing was a good thing, or perhaps a not-very-combative type of person, who felt they’d like to contribute here, were working up to posting. Seeing how their words may be attacked, might they not think twice before dipping a toe into these waters?
    Hi Don, to add my two cents here, I find the interspersed quoting to be a very helpful way to review a response. It seems to me that you shouldn't feel attacked, but rather you should feel that he responded to you. He took your words point by point and told you what he thought. I'd call that open and transparent. He certainly wasn't rude; he quite respectfully disagreed.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Dave on Representative Town Meeting. The way I think of it, we currently have representative Town Meeting, but we all get to be representatives. Switch to official Representative Town Meeting, and you'll tell people who are currently reps that they can't be one. This moves people farther from government, not closer to it.

    On the other hand, I also agree it's not among the most important issues in town. However, it was on Alan's question list, so thanks for addressing it. Please note that I asked several questions, too, if you're willing to partake -- even if I didn't think to put numbers on them ;-)

  8. #23
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    Default Sometimes the whole = more than the sum of its parts

    A brief history of the interspersed quote thing, as I recall it.

    This is a technique that Jeff Dieffenbach introduced (no attack there, Jeff, just trying to present what I recollect. If I'm wrong, feeel free to correct me). For the longest time, he was the only one that used it, until people started to use it in response to his posts.

    Ironically, when Dave Bernstein came on the forums for the first time, he publicly asked Jeff to stop doing that, and as I recall, he did. For awhile.
    But it quickly crept back in.

    I could be wrong, but that's how I remember it, and if someone cared enough, they could go back and piece it all together.

    While this technique has its place, I usually find it very annoying.

    Whether intended or not, it has the effect of interupting a poster's flow or complete thought. To individually analyze each line does not do justice to the whole thought. Too many tangents. Too easy to lose sight of the poster's orignal point.

    Imagine this famous quote with interspersed reactions:

    Ask not what your country can do for you....
    What do you mean? I pay my taxes, I expect something back for them. My country owes me....
    Ask what you can do for your country.
    Hey, I do enough for my country already, what the hell you talkin' about!..... and so on.

    I'm sure some of our posters here could have a field day with this:

    Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
    on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
    dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
    whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
    dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
    field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
    that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
    their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
    fitting and proper that we should do this.
    But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
    consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
    living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
    far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
    will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
    it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
    living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
    work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
    advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
    great task remaining before us…that from these honored
    dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
    they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
    highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
    that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
    freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
    for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


    Bottom line, interspersing quotes throughout someone's post if of limited value and should be used sparingly.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Several people here use the method that Dave uses above and I’d like to question its usefulness. Suppose one of the other candidates, thinking that open informational sharing was a good thing, or perhaps a not-very-combative type of person, who felt they’d like to contribute here, were working up to posting. Seeing how their words may be attacked, might they not think twice before dipping a toe into these waters?
    Are you saying that I attacked you, Don? I certainly questioned or disagreed with several of your points; do you consider that an attack?

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    For my part, when I read down the list of quote, rebuttal, quote, rebutttal, etc., etc. my mind quickly loses track of what the arguments are, loses its train of thought, becomes confused, and doesn’t know how to proceed. Of course, I do get the feeling that what I originally had said, the words that were dissected, was somehow grossly inadequate. Is that the goal?
    No, the goal is clarity. When I ask a question or make a comment, its very clear what part of your post motivated that question or comment. Of the ten components of my post, four were responses to questions you asked me, and two were questions from me aimed at better understanding your position or thinking. The remainder were comments, only a couple of which could be characterized as "rebuttals"

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Looking back at my paragraphs, they look to me, well, OK. A few thought-provoking ideas. Dave, what would be helpful to me would be if you could perhaps write your thoughts in simple paragaphs. It would make it easier for me to understand your position and to incorporate it into my way of thinking about things. Thanks.

    Representative TM is a bit “off-topic” to any issue currently facing Wayland. Especially considering the years it would take to implement and the logistics of getting everybody “on-board.” Maybe the conversation should turn to something else.
    The message I'm receiving from you here, Don, is I don't want to respond to your post. If that's the case, just say so; throwing up chaff by criticizing the form of my response and then declaring RTM "off topic" is hardly the open interaction you have espoused.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I do think that groups with particular spending interests can dominate TM and this may contribute to the town’s inability to control spending and that over 80% of townspeople are not represented at TM. We just can’t blame them for not coming, it would seem that the “mechanism” of our TM decision-making process has to bear some responsibility for not being designed in a way that would ensure their participation.

    Dave, do you have any ideas on how we might improve these situations?
    Groups with particular interests can as easily dominate RTM or a ballot. With RTM, there's a limited number Reps, and their identities are well-known; this makes lobbying quite efficient. With a pure ballot, there are no pesky questions, opposing viewpoints, or amendments.

    The goal of TM should not be 100% participation of all Wayland citizens; as I said before, that would be a logistical nightmare. The goal of TM should be 100% participation of all Wayland citizens who want to participate. TM policies and procedures that impede participation by those who would otherwise participate -- multiple late-night sessions, no child care, public voting, inaccurate vote counting, complex real-time amendments, premature termination of debate, inappropriate reconsideration -- must be improved. These improvements cannot be accomplished by chartering a committee every few years to make recommendations, as history demonstrates. Improving TM must be a continuous effort.
    Last edited by Dave Bernstein; 04-20-2010 at 03:54 PM.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    A brief history of the interspersed quote thing, as I recall it.

    This is a technique that Jeff Dieffenbach introduced (no attack there, Jeff, just trying to present what I recollect. If I'm wrong, feeel free to correct me). For the longest time, he was the only one that used it, until people started to use it in response to his posts.

    Ironically, when Dave Bernstein came on the forums for the first time, he publicly asked Jeff to stop doing that, and as I recall, he did. For awhile.
    But it quickly crept back in.

    I could be wrong, but that's how I remember it, and if someone cared enough, they could go back and piece it all together.
    I obviously don't have a problem with this style of interaction, John, and don't recall ever asking Jeff to not use it; a review of my first year of posts here revealed nothing along these lines. I do recall asking Jeff to not cut and paste responses between threads; perhaps that's what's triggering your memory.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    While this technique has its place, I usually find it very annoying.

    Whether intended or not, it has the effect of interupting a poster's flow or complete thought. To individually analyze each line does not do justice to the whole thought. Too many tangents. Too easy to lose sight of the poster's orignal point.
    Yes, one could do that, but my response to Don is not an example of this style. The organization of my response was driven by Don's assertions and questions; it was not a phrase-by-phrase or sentence-by-sentence deconstruction.

    And if one chooses to criticize the form of someone's response, it best to do so after first addressing its substance. Otherwise, it looks like one is just ducking uncomfortable questions or points.
    Last edited by Dave Bernstein; 04-20-2010 at 03:57 PM. Reason: to fix quote formatting

  11. #26
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    Sorry, had to throw in one more off-topic post: regarding the Gettysburg Address, there's a classic PowerPoint version online here. I particularly love slide 5 of 6.

  12. #27
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    Dave (Kim too), it’s hard to believe you think it’s inconsequential that an overwhelming majority of Wayland residents are essentially disenfranchised? I also fear you glossed over one of my points, I was asking you to help me understand, not dissect. Regardless, I do agree that TM should be continually improved, which gets us too Alan’s questions 6–9, which all relate to the Warrant articles about TM voting.

    Anyone attending the last TM will probably attest to the need for improvement. As we know, Alan is the petitioner for the Electronic Voting article. Electronic keypad voting has some benefits. Would speed up the voting process, leaving more time for debate, less “waiting”. Would provide better accuracy, actual results readily available, with a “paper trail”. Voice and standing votes can encounter difficulties guaranteeing/substantiating accuracy. Not a big problem, but keypad voting would add the security of knowing that people who weren’t entitled to vote, didn’t. Voting in privacy. I’ve always assumed that secrecy of ballot was fundamental to the proper functioning of democracy. If people know your vote, try as we might not to be, we are influenced.

    So, electronic keypad voting would streamline the voting process, adding speed, accuracy, security, and privacy. Seems like a winner, but it costs money. I support trying to contain new expenses, so we’ll all have to decide whether the improvement to our democracy is worth this “not-so-large” expense.

    Another article promotes “Australian Ballot” voting. It splits the discussion and voting phases of TM. TM-type discussion one night, voting at the polls several days following. The Austalian voting process seems to have many of the same benefits as keypad voting: efficient, accurate, secure, private, and an added benefit of including the residents who don’t make it to TM.

    My first intuitive fear about the Australian ballot was that it would “devolve.” Fewer and fewer people would attend the discussion, eventually rendering it superfluous. Seems the mechanism also adds much complexity. How does the discussion phase amend the articles? Do they vote? (that problem again) Who decides what moves to the voting phase? (Vote again, or Selectmen decide?) Would the Warrant have to be reprinted before voting to reflect changes? Cost of running the polls? Other questions?

    Some of the questions will be answered in the final Warrant version but it does seem more procedurally complex than discussing an article and pushing a button.

    Summing up my feelings, electronic keypad voting is simple, straightforward and would greatly improve how TM functions. Let’s do it.

    A related situation that points out some of the difficulties I have with the way our town does its business. The Finance Committee reviews all proposed Warrant articles. Finalizes the draft and gives its recommendation. The committee divides up the articles amongst the members, each gathering background information and presents a proposal to the whole committee. Turns out one of the Finance committee members is a lead petitioner for the Australian Ballot article. He was given all the TM voting articles to review. You’d have to watch the meeting and see if you think he presented all the facts in an unbiased manner. Regardless, procedurally, it seems only “fair”, “just” whatever, that these questions should have been given to someone less involved.

    As it turned out, he proposed supporting the Australian Ballot, and the whole committee then endorsed it. One might ask Mr. Bladon what he thinks about all this.

    donBustin@oneWayland.org

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    A related situation that points out some of the difficulties I have with the way our town does its business. The Finance Committee reviews all proposed Warrant articles. Finalizes the draft and gives its recommendation. The committee divides up the articles amongst the members, each gathering background information and presents a proposal to the whole committee. Turns out one of the Finance committee members is a lead petitioner for the Australian Ballot article. He was given all the TM voting articles to review. You’d have to watch the meeting and see if you think he presented all the facts in an unbiased manner. Regardless, procedurally, it seems only “fair”, “just” whatever, that these questions should have been given to someone less involved.

    As it turned out, he proposed supporting the Australian Ballot, and the whole committee then endorsed it.
    That's quite a serious accusation, as it sounds like the events you describe would be a conflict of interest. Which member of the Finance Committee has responsibility for this article?

    But let me ask you first... are you quite certain about this? The Lead Petitioner is Mark Greenlaw, who is not a member of the Finance Committee. The members of the Finance Committee are: Sam Peper, Richard Stack, David Gutschenritter, Cherry Karlson, Bob Lentz, John Bladon and Paul Grasso.

    None of these names appear on the petition submitted to get the Austalian Ballot article on the warrant (and I will note that being on this signature list does not even make you a supporter, it only says you think it should be on the ballot). The petitioner names are available on the attached document (click on the thumbnail for a readable version).
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    I don't think its a legal conflict of interest. I don't imagine there's laws about what information a committee member can present to their own committee. More a philosophical conflict. Yes, the person's name isn't on the petitions paperwork, but I do believe he'se been a supporter from the beginning. But could I prove it in court. Probably not.

    I was trying to make a point about what I believe and what I find objectionable. That there are quiet, behind-the-scenes maneuvers that influence what is then presented in public. Shouldn't be a surprise. Like the politicized nature of appointments to supposedly independent fact-finding committees.


    donBustin@oneWayland.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I don't think its a legal conflict of interest. I don't imagine there's laws about what information a committee member can present to their own committee. More a philosophical conflict. Yes, the person's name isn't on the petitions paperwork, but I do believe he'se been a supporter from the beginning. But could I prove it in court. Probably not.
    I would call the described conflict of interest as ethical, not philosophical. And what you specifically described in your original post was a "lead petitioner", not a "supporter from the beginning", or, even perhaps more weak, someone who is in support.

    But surely, you're not proposing that a committee member can't lead the research on something they might be pre-disposed to support (or oppose) -- else wouldn't every member realistically have to recuse themselves from virtually every article? I mean, they are people, and must have opinions...

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I was trying to make a point about what I believe and what I find objectionable. That there are quiet, behind-the-scenes maneuvers that influence what is then presented in public.
    If the handling of this article is an example of what you find objectionable, I guess I find your complaint a little, well... :-) objectionable.

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