As I hope everyone is aware, the School Department is working on a plan for the future of our school buildings. They have several options to consider but they are all going to cost a considerable amount of money. No matter which option we pursue, any spending on the school buildings will depend on one or more votes by Town Meeting.
Right now, Town Meeting is made up of group of elected representatives that are not representative of the residents in their precincts. For example, in 2010 the median age of Town Meeting was 55. Only 20% of Town Meeting was under the age of 45. Parents of school-age children are under-represented.
As the School Department asks for money to fund our new schools, Town Meeting can make our break our future. Families of school age children are underrepresented in Town Meeting. And while many grandparents and others who care about our children serve in Town Meeting, I’m concerned that without more parents joining Town Meeting, we may not be able to get the votes needed for the school plan.
Town Meeting is relatively simple:
- Spring Town Meeting meets for 6 or 7 nights starting on the first Tuesday in May and every other Thursday and Tuesday thereafter until all of the business is concluded.
- Fall Town Meeting meets for 4 or 5 nights starting on the first Tuesday in October and every other Thursday and Tuesday thereafter until all of the business is concluded.
- At each session, you read the Warrant (the document that details all of the business to be discussed and voted on), you listen to a presentation on each article, and then you vote.
- The sessions begin at 7:30 PM and usually end around 10:00 PM.
- It’s easy to run for a spot. Nomination papers are available from the Town Clerk’s office on the first business day of the New Year which is Wednesday, January 2, 2013. You need to collect ten signatures from registered voters in your precinct (you can sign your own papers and your husband can sign yours, too) and then turn your papers in before the deadline, usually the 2nd of 3rd week of February.
- The election is held on the first Saturday in April. If elected, you’d be sworn in on the first night of Spring Town Meeting.
With our next Town election taking place in April 2013, there’s a great opportunity for parents to participate. Serving as a Town Meeting Representative only takes a few nights a year and no prior experience is needed. Some of the meetings are tedious. Some are boring. But when the critical votes hit the floor, there’s no more important place to be.
Can you really afford to let someone else decide the future of your children’s education?
I’m reaching out to School PTO’s and any other groups who are interested in listening to encourage participation in Town Meeting. If you have 10-15 minutes for me to present at your November, December, or January meeting, please let me know and I’ll be there!
Thanks, and please feel free to contact me with questions micmoor at hotmail.com or 978-362-2187.
UPDATE: Here is my current schedule:
- 11/14 Vining Elementary School, 7PM
- 12/4 Marshall Middle School, 7PM
- 1/9 Dutile Elementary School, 7PM
- 1/10 Hajjar Elementary School, 7PM
After getting out on the water in our canoe for the first time. we realized it wasn’t quite stable enough to fish, at least not with a five-year-old in the canoe. So I did a little research and came up with a plan to build an outrigger for our canoe.
The design is simple. I spent about $40 on supplies. And it only took about two hours to produce.
- 3 – 10 ft. PVC pipes, 1 inch diameter
- 4 90 degree elbows
- 6 t-joints
- 4 end caps
- PVC cleaner and cement
- two noodles
- 14 zip ties, 12 inches or longer
For the two long crossbar pieces, I cut a four inch piece, put it between two of the t-joints as a spacer(you can see it in the middle of this picture), and then put a 58 inch piece on each side. The elbow joints went onto the end of each of the four 58 inch pieces. I used a miter saw with a typical wood blade for all of the cuts.
For the pieces going down for each stabilizer, I had to guess how long to make it. I wanted to make sure it went far enough down to make contact with the water, but not so long that it would push up or bow the PVC crossbars. So I made each piece 6 inches which ended up being just fine.
For the stabilizers, I put another 4 inch spacer between the t-joints and a 22 inch piece on each side of the stabilizer. An end cap on each end of the four 22 inch pieces completes the structure.
I sanded all of the joints to smooth the cut ends. I used PVC cleaner on all of the connections and then PVC cement to put it together. I put together each stabilizer first, then the crossbar structure, then the stabilizers onto the crossbar. The goal is to cement it all together and make it watertight so that it helps a bit with buoyancy. I cut a piece of noodle to fit each stabilizer and then sliced it lengthwise. I put the noodles on the stabilizer bars like putting a hotdog into a bun and then I used the zip ties to secure the noodles on the stabilizers. You can see the zip ties in the picture because I haven’t cut the tails off yet. I wanted to wait and make sure they were tight enough before I cut off the tails.
To secure the outrigger to the canoe, I used three heavy-duty bungee cords around the thwart and the outrigger and it held very well.
All in all, this worked out really well. When we have 2 or 3 people in the canoe, the stabilizers just make contact with the water. When I’m in the canoe alone, the stabilizers don’t make contact unless I tilt a bit. You really notice the difference when you’re out on the water and not in motion. The movement of the people in the canoe no longer causes the big side-to-side motion it did before and therefore, I’m not afraid we’re going to tip over every time we reach for something.
One more note… I did have to figure out how to transport the outrigger along with the canoe since, at a little over 10 feet long, it won’t fit inside the car. I ended up putting it alongside the canoe and just strapping it all down together. I made sure the stabilizers were against the canoe rather than up in the air to avoid the stress of the wind on the PVC as I drive.
Best of luck if you choose to build your own do-it-yourself outrigger for your canoe! Feel free to post any questions and I’d be happy to help.
4/11/2013 Update: This post has been viewed more than 300 times and is a popular find from search engines! Have you built an outrigger using this design? Please comment below. I’d love to know how it turned out. And did you modify the design? If so, how and is it working well?
In today’s Lowell Sun, Evan Lips wrote an interesting piece on the story around me getting the horns in my recent attempt to get reappointed to the Billerica Finance Committee.
You can find the story here. I encourage everyone to read it.
As I said in my failed campaign for Town Moderator, decisions made at the local level of government have more to do with your daily life than anything that happens on Beacon Hill or in Washington, D.C.
Local decisions affect the water you drink, the roads you drive on, and the schools you send your children to and the quality of the education they receive.
I also commented during the campaign that the Moderator’s ability to appoint people to key Town boards and committees, especially the Finance Committee, was an often overlooked part of the role that people should consider as they make their decision in the election.
And this week’s development is exactly why… while some might approach the Moderator position with the goal of establishing a well-intentioned and diverse committee of experienced Town Meeting members to provide advice to Town Meeting, that’s not what happened this week.
Clearly there’s more to the story, based on what I’m reading in the Sun article. I know I’m left with more questions…
If I won, I’d be the Town Moderator for three years. I would be able to appoint my replacement to the Finance Committee.
If I lost, I was at-risk of not being re-appointed to the Finance Committee because my former opponent is the appointing authority for the Finance Committee.
And, in case you aren’t aware, I lost.
I reapplied to the Finance Committee on April 26, 2012, less than two weeks after the election. I reapplied because I enjoy the work and I think I add value to the process. I’ve learned a lot about municipal finance in the last four years on the committee. I spent the last year as the Vice Chairman and previously served as the Secretary. I’d like to think I am a strong (and somewhat humble) contributor to the Committee.. not God’s gift to the Committee, in any way, but still doing good work and providing helpful advice to Town Meeting.
Well, it seems my services are no longer needed, based on the letter I received from the Town Moderator today. It looks like I’ll have about thirty or so more nights at home this year… at least my wife and kids will be happy to have me home.
You know what they say, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.”
Best of luck to the new Finance Committee members and to my former colleagues.