by Glenn C. Koenig, webmaster at Town Wide Mall
Maynard, MA - One would think that, with a vote to fund an $83 million school building project now on the agenda for Maynard’s Fall Town Meeting, scheduled for this October 10th, everyone would have received a copy of the Warrant (the meeting’s agenda and related information) by now.
As we did not receive one at our house (or it was lost in the shuffle while we were cleaning up for an event here on Saturday), I went out in search of a copy. I walked down to the Maynard Town Hall and met with Gregory Wilson, Executive Assistant to the Select Board, late on Thursday. He has a number of copies in reserve, but most of them are being saved to hand out at the meeting itself, as an unusually large number of people are expected to attend. When I asked, he agreed to place a few copies out in the Town Hall Lobby, available to voters who need one.
Voters are left with only a few choices by now: pick up a copy at Town Hall, see the Warrant on the Town’s "Town Meeting" Web page:
... where it is available as a PDF file, or download a copy here (also in PDF format, please see link below). To produce a paper copy from the PDF, voters will have to use their own printers to print it out, or find someone willing to print out a copy for them. However, that’s quite a bit of ink, as the document runs 23 pages, if they include the budget in Appendix A (or 17 pages without the Appendix). Another choice is for voters to ask their neighbors if they received one that they don't plan to keep.
How did we get into this mess? First, a quick history: Back when many local communities had a weekly newspaper, Town Meeting Warrants were traditionally included in the paper as a separate section. On that date, the paper was delivered to every household in town, even for voters who did not have a subscription to the newspaper that would otherwise cover that day. When I lived in Arlington, that was how I got my Warrant before Town Meetings convened there.
But now that the Beacon-Villager newspaper is no longer in print, the town must use other means. The cost of postage to mail the Warrant to every household individually would severely strain the Town Clerk’s budget, to say the least, so the choice has been to have copies of the Warrant delivered with the Action Unlimited instead.
However, because the Action Unlimited is not a traditional newspaper (it carries mostly advertisements, along with a few stories and announcements), a number of voters just toss it in recycling when it shows up in their mailboxes.
So why weren't voters notified ahead of time, to keep an eye out for the September 22nd issue of The Action? A notice was posted on the town web site home page:
... on the 18th, just 4 days in advance. But many residents don’t take the time to check the town’s web site home page every few days, especially since updates are not that frequent (the most recent one that appears below the notice for the Warrant, when I checked just now, was posted back in August). There was no “reverse 911” call or text message sent out because that’s reserved for more urgent public issues, such as town wide emergencies.
Note for Newcomers
So, what's a "Warrant?" If how town meeting works and some terms used in town government may not be familiar to you, I've written a short (3 page) document to help introduce you to all this. (there is also a title page, but if you print front & back, it's two sheets of paper.) This is in the form of a PDF, with a link provided on the "Essays" page on this web site, but is also available by clicking on the link here below. I am also considering printing out a number of copies to distribute at Town Meeting on the 10th.
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