Friday, March 13, 2009

Northfield News: Dems Raise Money for CERV

If you missed it, there's still time to pick up a copy of the Northfield News, or cruise on over to its website to read about our Town Meeting Day efforts to raise funds for CERV.

Here's a brief excerpt:

On Town Meeting Day this year, voter debate about the issues wasn't the only thing brewing. The Northfield Democrats brewed hot coffee and supplied free baked goods, requesting contributions to CERV in return. Altogether volunteers raised $120.49 for CERV, plus another $10.00 for the Vermont Foodbank.

"Our committee met the Saturday before Town Meeting Day," explained Christopher Curtis, Chairman of the Northfield Democrats. "And, we all agreed as a group that this was something we wanted to do," he said.

Linda Gray, CERV Coordinator gladly accepted the contribution. "We have seen an increase of fifty percent in need this year," she said. "And, we're up to 400 visitors this month compared to 300 last month," said Ms. Gray. "We could really use more food donations, and more volunteers," she said.


Great job everyone!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 8-Vote Opportunity

Nate Freeman posted a great summary of the activity at town meeting day over at Green Mountain Daily. Here's a brief excerpt:

"The floor activity on Town Meeting Day in Northfield had dwindled to a 20 minute affair by 2008, but this year it drew what appeared to be 200 or so folks. While I couldn't attend past 12:30pm, the show got off to an auspicious start with the mundane task of electing a moderator. Apparently, Mr. Larry Drown called for a paper ballot vote, nominating Rep. Anne Donahue against long-time moderator, Steve Jeffrey. Something as simple as the vote for moderator turned into a 45+ minute event.

A call for 100% Australian Ballot voting brought out some folks who prefer to maintain the tradition of floor activity on Town Meeting Day.

This led into the approval of minutes. A lengthy discussion ensued.

Another contentious issue derived from a petition to reconsider a special town meeting vote in November. The question related to whether or not the Town and Village should share an equal tax rate for road and bridge maintenance. This question brought out many residents of the Town who did not want to share the highway maintenance burden with the Village because their tax rate would rise slightly. Northfield is one of about 14 towns in Vermont that continues to operate with a town/village municipal system, requiring twice the level of governance over the same community. Questions such as the one raised today unmask a shortsighted reality of taxpayer rationale: 'My taxes pay for the town truck to plow my road, not theirs...'

The Australian Ballot vote on the school budget was refreshingly close despite its failure."

One of the things I liked about Nate's post is its upbeat assessment of the school budget vote. Obviously, most of us are disappointed that the budget was voted down so narrowly, but Nate's take on it is decidedly optimistic. His point is that in these difficult times it's in some ways a victory to come so close (especially in a town with a history of voting down school budgets - sometimes repeatedly). So, in a sense, we're continuing to close the gap.

Maybe this is our "8-vote opportunity" to re-organize, rally around our public schools and communicate a message that really explains what the school budget dollars will fund and why they are needed. This may be a great organizing opportunity to get out there for the special election and rally for public education.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Town Meeting Day: Cleaned Out!

Town Meeting Day!
It's always great to participate in this important exercise in democracy. But this year was especially fun. At our last meeting, we agreed to pull together a bake sale to benefit CERV, our local foodbank.
Despite a slow beginning, our bake sale was a ringing success. By the time the actual town meeting began (voting by Australian ballot started by 7am, of course, but town meeting doesn't start until 10am) people were ready to start browsing. And, once folks realized that this year's meeting was going to be longer than normal our little concession stand became quite popular.
A giant coffee maker (courtesy of Carolyn and John Stevens) kept the high test flowing, and almost everyone on our little committee came by with cookies, brownies, or what-not. Initially, I thought we'd far overshot our audience and that we'd have leftovers galore, but this year town meeting went through early afternoon. We were cleaned out!
The best part is that together (and with the generous donations of everyone who came to our booth) we raised $129.11 total for CERV. This was a great exercise in service politics, and a way to not only be present and partcipating at town meeting, but to have a little volunteer activity on the side. Thanks to the entire committee for coming up with this idea, supporting it on short notice, and helping to make it happen. I especially want to acknowledge Siobhan Smith, Ruth Ruttenberg, and Aaron and Sonya Rhodes (and Anastasia!) for volunteering their time at the booth.
One of the other things I really like about town meeting is that a lot of kids come with their parents. Not only is it great for them to see "democracy in action", but it's a fun social time as well. I know I'm not the only one who enjoys watching my son interact with everyone from town, and especially to have the opportunity to play with other kids of various ages who attend. And, everyone watches everyone else's kids. So, a great day all around.
I'll give a little report on the actual votes that took place at town meeting once we get the reports that include all the balloted items.