I believe that Town Meeting owes an apology to the citizens of Framingham for its actions last night.
During the meeting, a resident tried to speak, or more accurately tried to make a speech, on an issue. That speech was repeatedly interrupted from the floor and the head of Town Meeting. The premise for this inhospitable treatment was that the speech was not apropos of the article on the floor. It does not take a literary genius to infer from the few complete sentences the speaker was permitted to say that his point was something along the lines of: "while the average incomes for Framingham residents are falling, we are voting raises for Town employees". Most certainly on point.
The members of Town Meeting may not agree with the speaker, but Town
Meeting is founded on the idea that the best way to prove someone wrong is to let them make their case. To censor him, to chase him from the floor with protocol is counter to our principles and our purpose.
Town Meeting is an interface, it is a conduit for the many citizens to make their thoughts known to the few that govern on their behalf. It is definitely not our place to question the minutiae of complex labor agreements. Our purpose is to monitor the outcome, share it with residents, and deliver their judgements back. In that mission last night, we failed.
All too often I see Town officials take an aloof and paternalistic stance towards Town Meeting, as if our inquiries are a nuisance, an interruption in their efforts to accomplish their real work. This attitude is an incivility. It runs counter to our democratic purpose. Last night we displayed that same attitude to those we serve, and that is a shame.
Town Meeting member, Precinct 2