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    Brian Keaney

    Special Town Meeting

    by: ArrowHorse

    Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 20:36:56 PM EST


    (As the great Harry Truman once said, decisions are made by those who show up. - promoted by Brian)

    I am APPALLED, an DISGUSTED, by the display at last nights sp town meeting!!
    It seems that everyone's mind was already made up before the meeting even began, inluding the officials.
    The way this meeting was conducted was unlike anything I have ever witnessed.
    To allow members of one group to continously speak, while not recognizing the speakers from the other side, is very disapointing.
    If this was a matter of "process", last nights meeting was a perfect example of how a process is not followed!!!
    We now have more confirmation of how this town regards it's senior population. (Which is not highly)
    To vote this article through was a slap in the face to the seniors, and to all those that have worked TIRELESSLY on this matter for DECADES!!!!
    The people involved with this article should be ASHAMED of themselves!!!!!
    And just because they "won" by a few votes last night...DOES NOT mean that the majority of the town supports them!! They had a core group of people voting on this matter, and it just so happened that those members were in attendance last night. Had more members been present at the meeting, the vote may have gone differently!!!
    And like many, many, others...I wish it had!!!
    ArrowHorse :: Special Town Meeting
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    Not all seniors are in favor of this (3.00 / 1)
    There is a lot in this post, and I'll leave it to others to respond to most of it, but there is one statement I want to refute.  You say that

    We now have more confirmation of how this town regards it's senior population. (Which is not highly)
    To vote this article through was a slap in the face to the seniors...

    This same argument was made after the Dexter School proposal was defeated by a large margin.  It wasn't true then, and it isn't true now.  As I said about this time last year:

    If you look at the top ten age groups who came out to vote (by percentage of registered voters) you will find they were 68 to 81 years old, and you have to get to the 27th place to find an age group not of retirement age.  Those 65 and older made up 40% of the vote, despite making up only 16.5% of the population.  

    It was seniors who voted down the Dexter School proposal, a senior who made the motion last night, and plenty of seniors who were included in the 108 votes last night.  There are many, many reasons people voted against this, and I don't think a single one of them can be attributed to a disrespect of seniors.

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!


    For what it's worth (3.00 / 1)
    I went into the meeting in mild support of the article but open to be swayed. My main concern was that there be a thorough vetting of potential sites and needs. When Bill Keegan suggested he might have BPCC lead such a process, I was prepared to vote against the new committee proposed in Article 7. But ultimately, my sense from the debate was that the path preferred by the BOS and COA would ultimately take longer, and at the end would still be open to being voted down at TM. Hearing the debate, and particularly Mr. Keegan's responses, led me to believe that the fastest way to get the Senior Center built, and built sufficiently for their needs, was to form the new committee.  

    Open to being voted down (3.00 / 1)
    Having formed a new committee in no way assures an affirmative vote from Town Meeting once the committee presents it findings and recommendations to Town Meeting in 2014.

    Town Meeting will again have another say in the matter, and probably will again, as then a full scope of designs would have to be approriated from Town Meeting at some further date, either Special Town Meeting in 2014 or Annual in 2015.

    Once that is done, another motion will more than likely have to be made to finance the proposed Center, if it gets that far. Either way I think it would go before the entire town in some form of a vote, bring it to around late 2015.

    If it passes all those hurdles, then you might see ground breaking in 2016, with completion in 2017 .. all things considered this is probably the most aggressive time line.

    Either way, Town Meeting will have at least two more votes on the issue at a minimum.


    [ Parent ]
    I really disagree (3.00 / 1)
    Lots of voices in two and a half hours of debate.  Not one side.

    I am so glad that the first request to "call the question" (end debate) was voted down.  The second section of debate was so revealing. We learned that if we voted down this committee, we've be back in May to fund the town's building committee to do their own feasibility study anyway.  


    I agree (0.00 / 0)
    To be honest, when this passed, I was pretty surprised.  If anything, I think there were more opponents of the article than supporters who spoke, and this was particularly true towards the end.  The momentum was was the opponents, and I for one was surprised they lost.  I didn't find the debate one sided at all.

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    [ Parent ]
    Sufficiently debated (3.00 / 1)
    Whether the debate ended an hour earlier or lasted an hour longer I don't think much, if anything, new would have been raised.  There weren't many novel arguments made after the first several folks spoke and the fact the initial attempt to end the debate was only about 5 votes short of being successful indicates a majority - just not a super-majority - were ready to move on.

    One thing that really stood out to me was the disagreement amongst the supporters of the motion.  I didn't keep an actual tally but I'd estimate it was pretty close to 50/50 on this point.  Half the folks were clear about wanting to find the best site and that it very well may end up being located at Endicott.  The other half was all about finding the best site but made it very, very clear they didn't think Endicott should even be considered.  I'm not sure how supporters reconcile the views of each camp, but those who focused on anywhere but the Endicott certainly kept alive the NIMBY charge.

    Perhaps those who wanted a site committee and structured process and were more than willing to consider the Endicott really just wanted a clear and well-defined process to follow.  If so, when paired up with those who simply didn't want the Endicott to even be considered, they formed a majority to move forward with the motion.  Now we all get to wait (and wait, and wait some more) to see what happens next.    


    [ Parent ]
    For Your Consideration (0.00 / 0)
    I don't know if you posted this diary in an attempt to gain support for your position, but any time I see an angry rant like this one, I immediately assume that the author is both insufferable and incorrect. I know very little about the issue at hand, but now I am predisposed to side with those who voted for whatever you voted against.

    Really? (0.00 / 0)
    "mind was already made up" - there were quite a few undecided TM memebers sitting near me when the Article began
    "members of one group to continously speak" - in the first part of the meeting it was more the proponents, and later in the meeitng it was more those opposed . . evened out, by my count
    "worked TIRELESSLY on this matter for DECADES!!!!" - if you work for decades and don't succeed perhaps it's time to change your approach  
    "people involved with this article should be ASHAMED of themselves!!!!!" - we are not; most times insults will nto persuade people to vote your way
    "core group of people" - quite a few supporters of Article 7 did not attend

    I am a senior who thought that selecting a site without vetting it first through TM was a mistake . . . and by a  small margin TM agreed.


    Straw Man? (0.00 / 0)
    I'm not sure I'd interpret the vote result that way.  If the CoA (with the backing of the BoS) had picked a site that was universally agreed to be the ideal location, I seriously doubt TM would have passed this motion.  

    By your logic, the only reason the motion was proposed and passed was because TM was upset it didn't have a say sooner.  Perhaps a few (or even many) TM members might have felt that way, but what carried the day was the bloc of folks who simply didn't want the site at the Endicott Estate.

    Then again, if there was such a thing as a "universally agreed ideal location", a senior center would probably have been built decades ago.    


    [ Parent ]
    interesting (0.00 / 0)
    Your first para is right . . . but that possibility doesn't exist in our physical world (as your third para says.)

    The developers of Article 7 agreed that the "existing process" was flawed, some because of the process itself and some because of the anticipated result.

    I suppose the fixing of that flaw could have been a prohibition on any development at the Endicott . . . but that would have been a different Article with different coalitions and a diffferent vote total.

    Getting things through local government is many times a function of finding what we can agree on to move the ball forward and leaving other stuff off to the side for a time. People had many reasons to join up and support the Article, but the policy proposed by the Article was simple and straightforward: TM should be THE major decision maker for EVERY major Town project.



    [ Parent ]
    Hard to agree if it's a great location (4.00 / 1)
    if you aren't ever asked or given a voice.

    One of the speakers indicated she goes to Town Hall 3-4 times per week to see what meetings are posted. So she knew every relevant meeting for this topic.  That's great for her, but for those of us who work regular hours and don't live walking distance to Town Hall, that is not really an option.

    This is another case, as with redistricting, of the Town Hall postings being a completely inadequate communication system for most people in town.


    [ Parent ]
    She is a reporter (0.00 / 0)
    The woman who is looking at the bulletin board 3-4 times a week is a reporter, and that's why she is at Town Hall so frequently.  Incidently, some years ago there was an article at Town Meeting that would have given committees the ability to post meetings online only.  This was before there was widespread internet access, and she got up to speak against it.

    Back to your point about Town Hall postings being inadequate, though.  I've been giving this some thought as well in my role on the Charter Advisory Committee, and am trying to come up with ways it can be improved.  Do you (or anyone) have any suggestions?

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!


    [ Parent ]
    Meeting notice (3.00 / 1)
    I think we can safely say the internet is here to stay as a communication tool.  I would like to have ALL official meeting schedules and agendas on the town website, in an easy-to-find spot. If the agenda isn't available before, put it on after.  Minutes of a meeting can be private to a committee or group, but agendas would be really useful for the public record.

    I personally would love the option to have an email distribution list with this week's meetings.


    [ Parent ]
    Town Meetings (3.00 / 1)
    .... wanted to also add that I'd like to see the Town Meeting warrent items and finance committee recommendations on an email or other social media distribution list for all citizens.  It's out there, but not easy to find on the web site.  There is no reason why a voter shouldn't be able to get that info prior to the meeting without having to hunt for it (electronically). Make it easy for citizens to sign up for notifications if they so wish.

    [ Parent ]
    THHGTTG (0.00 / 0)
    ARTHUR DENT:
    I asked him if he'd come to clean the windows and he said he'd come to demolish the house! He didn't tell me straight away of course. Oh no. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver. Then he told me.

    MISTER PROSSER:
    But Mister Dent the plans have been available in the planning office for the last nine months!

    ARTHUR DENT:
    Yes! I went round to find them yesterday afternoon. You'd hadn't exactly gone out of your way to pull much attention to them have you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.

    MISTER PROSSER:
    The plans were on display.

    ARTHUR DENT:
    Ah! And how many members of the public are in the habit of casually dropping around the local planning office of an evening?

    MISTER PROSSER:
    Er - ah!

    ARTHUR DENT:
    It's not exactly a noted social venue is it? And even if you had popped in on the off chance that some raving bureaucrat wanted to knock your house down, the plans weren't immediately obvious to the eye were they?

    MISTER PROSSER:
    That depends where you were looking.

    ARTHUR DENT:
    I eventually had to go down to the cellar!

    MISTER PROSSER:
    That's the display department.


    Unreal (0.00 / 0)
    The majority of people had voted down the dexter school proposal due to the price of it, and what it would cost them in the end-not the actual center itself.
    The seniors DO want this...they are tired of waiting for a center in their lifetime!!!!

    I did use TIRELESSLY and for DECADES because all the people who have been involved over the years put in all the hard work to get us towards a senior center. They have tried to "get it done"...BUT what does happen when these advocates try to get a center proposal passed-it gets voted/turned down!! In each case it was due to the price, size and location!! (NIMBY comes to mind in each case)
    A center never happened because no one in town wanted to pay the price for it, or they thought it was too big and out of all the places the NEIGHBORS in that area put up a fuss of having it in their area!!!!  

    The most current Senior Center Site Committee (NOT the one they want to create) found a GREAT location! Price is even better and the SENIORS,many residents-including many neighbors, do SUPPORT it!!!!

    Out of everything anyone has been saying, no one will actually tell it like it is: "NIMBY"!!  It was not a case of "process" and how it was "not" done.  Whatever the process was, the Senior Center Group was following it. They had planned on involving TM and other Official groups in the town.
    But ultimately the TOWN, not town meeting, should vote on the issue. This should only have had to go to TM if there was any money involved, but there wasn't.
    It should have gone to a special town election...not let just a few select TM reps decide!!!!

    If anyone (who hadn't already made up their mind going in) had bothered to actually listen to the powerpoint presentation given by the Senior Center Advocates, you can clearly see what work has been done in the past to get to this point. As well as the process they were intending to follow. It is just a shame that they will not get the chance to get this done!!!!


    I watched the powerpoint presentation (0.00 / 0)
    and learned that this was the 2nd try to put a Senior Center at the Endicott Estate.  Such a long history of false starts. Something about the council on aging's approach is not working. I don't know if it is a personality issue, or if they do not have a good relationship with town officials, or if it's something else. But what they are trying was not working. If it didn't fail at this meeting, it was just as likely to fail at the next once they'd put even more money and work into it.  Time for new voices and a new approach.

    As for a great location: the Endicott Estate is the jewel of Oakdale.  Of course it's a great location, but it is for the whole town to enjoy and it is our green space.  The prospects raised by some speakers bother me. A campus of town buildings on the property, building a storage garage, a greatly expanded library, potential for an expansion of a senior center to include a kitchen.  Not in my backyard, without a long conversation beforehand.


    [ Parent ]
    Special Town Election (0.00 / 0)
    I'm curious why this should have gone to a special town election and not just to Town Meeting.  As you might know, we are in the process of revising our Charter, and so this is the time to make that change.  Are you upset simply because your side lost, or is there something special about this particular article?  What criteria would you have us follow to decide what should be decided by Town Meeting and what should go before the voters?

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    [ Parent ]
    Don't Despair... (0.00 / 0)
    A few points, please don't think it was mainly a case of the
    "NIMBY", it definitively was more of case of not following the best process for the entire Town.

    All the work the Senior Center Group will not go to waste it will be used by the new committee and the Senior Center Group/COA can attend any and all meetings and give their input.

    Once the new committee completes their task of finding a site and choosing a funding source, then they will give thier recommendation to the BPCC, who will then take over the project for bidding and construction purposes.

    By the way, using this process will save about 6 months, as the BPCC would have to go back to TM in the spring to ask for about $50k to do thier own feasibility study.

    So the moral of the story, you can still be involved in the entire process, the BPCC will take over when needed, and 6 months will be saved in the process, and TM got to be involved from the begining, not at the end.

    Putting hurt feelings aside, what is so bad about this process?


    [ Parent ]
    if at first you don't succeed . . . (0.00 / 0)
    change your strategy . . .

    The way the School Committtee got the Middle School and Avery built was give up control of the process, put a Town wide group together, and let that Town wide group do the work. The COA could have chosen to take that approach, too.

    Calling it NIMBY?  There's some truth to that, but . . . it's a GOOD THING that the neighbors near the old Avery have a say in what happens fotr re-use, that the neighbors  in the Manor near the Striar have a say in what happens at that park, that East Dedham neighbors have a say in how Mother Broook is improved. The message: ALWAYS better to include the neighbors if you want to develop something in their neighborhood because they ALWAYS want a say . . . and if you shine them on they willl not be happy.

    Fred

    P.S. Re-read Brian's analysis of the 2008 election  . . .  the SENIORS as a group voted against the Senior Center then . . . so when you say that "the seniors" want it the truth is that many have opposed all these proposals.


    Don't claim seniors are in favor (0.00 / 0)
    My late mother had no interest in a senior center, and would vote against spending money for one. A senior center would serve a fraction of the seniors in town. As my dear grandmother once said: "I don't like it here - there's too many old people!"

    I don't care how long you've worked for it, or how dedicated you are. If I think it's a bad idea, I'm against it. And I'll always be against it.  


    Amen (0.00 / 0)
    Yeah, just because somebody puts in time on a project doesn't mean it deserves everyone's support. On a similar track, I am continuously disappointed in the large number of people I see who leverage their volunteer work to extract "first in line" status, special favors for their kids, etc.

    Hard work is its own reward, those who expect a quid pro quo or a big medal for their meritorious service should never sign up in the first place.


    [ Parent ]
    Who was voting (3.00 / 1)
    And just because they "won" by a few votes last night...DOES NOT mean that the majority of the town supports them!! They had a core group of people voting on this matter, and it just so happened that those members were in attendance last night. Had more members been present at the meeting, the vote may have gone differently!!!

    There were a total of 105 seniors (defined as those old enough to use the center) who voted in the role call vote.  They made up half of all those voting (105 out of 211).   Proportionally, seniors were represented in far greater numbers than they are in the general population in town.

    There was a majority, 59, or 56%, who voted against the substitute motion.  What is interesting about the breakdown is that almost every precinct was evenly divided (5 & 5 in P3; 9 & 9 in P3, etc), except for P4 where the seniors were overwhelmingly against it (11 - 6) and P6 (13 - 4) where they were clearly in favor of it.

    The takeaway, for me anyway, is that seniors were just as divided on this issue as were the rest of us.  I think this was as favorable a crowd as the seniors were ever going to get.

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!


    Addendum (3.00 / 1)
    I should also add that there were a number of people for whom I could not determine their age.  So, it is quite possible, and indeed very likely, that a majority of people who voted were senior citizens.  In a vote this close, it might also mean that the breakdown of seniors could have gone the other way.  

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    [ Parent ]
    Who spoke (3.00 / 1)
    To allow members of one group to continously speak, while not recognizing the speakers from the other side, is very disapointing.

    By my count, there were 23 speakers who approached the microphone to speak on the matter.  Two of them I classified as simply asking questions or seeking clarification, though one might be classified as a mild yes.  Nine people spoke in favor of the substitute motion to create the committee.  Twelve people spoke against it.  It simply isn't the case that one side was denied the opportunity to speak.  In fact, as you can see, more people spoke who were opposed to the measure than were in favor of it.

    myDedham.org - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!


    well you may get another shot (0.00 / 0)
    I guess it's not ever 'til it's over.

    Rumors I hear is that some of the COA folks are taking steps to have a special TM meeting and revote on the issue and/or get a town-wide vote for their project.


    Too late (3.00 / 1)
    I would not be happy if the COA tried to circumvent the Town Meeting vote.  Especially after all time spent debating. It was a fair and reasoned vote.  If we are ever going to have a senior center, it will have to go through TM at some point, so showing some respect to the process would be prudent.

    [ Parent ]
    Who/what is BPCC? (3.00 / 1)
    I have been trying to figure out who is on the BPCC, what they do, when they meet, or anything. Based on the town's website, they don't exist:
    http://www.dedham-ma.gov/index...

    There is a link to the 2008 Powerpoint presentation about the proposed Senior Center on the Dexter property. There is also an agenda for a meeting that took place on November 15, 2012 where they posted the RFP for the new Police Station.

    I have to say I was very impressed with Carmen's statement at STM; it gave me confidence that the BPCC does exist, and they do something, and maybe they even do it well. Still, I'd like to know more.


    wait, don't attack me!! (0.00 / 0)
    I just figured out I can see agendas from meetings by selecting previous months. Honestly, I am not usually so dumb, but sometimes I just miss the obvious. Still, it's not clear who they are, what they do, etc. I wish I knew more.

    [ Parent ]
    Good Questions... (0.00 / 0)
    I feel all meetings should be posted on the Town's website and along with the agenda, there should be the list of people who are on that board or committee and a link with contact information on it as well.

    Secondly, two of the Board of Selectmen are on the BPCC, go fiqure, nice way to sway the vote right off the bat, in your direction for any Town building project!

    Don't stop there, I think I counted(I attended several meetings) three BOS persons as members of the new "Financial Policies Committee," nice way to sway several votes in your direction regarding the Town's newly implemented financial policies.

    Looks like they have their agenda in the bag!

    I would like to see a policy that would prevent any BOS person from being a member of any board or committee where a site and funding source is determined, and from being on any board or committee that decides which financial polices are adopted.

    This would prevent the steering of any town project or policy agenda by a Town Official.
    Let the departments that normally decide these matters do their job, then hand it off to the TA and the BOS and let it take it's course.

    Just my view.


    [ Parent ]

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