Town Meeting Trophies Awarded but Badge of Bombast Coming ...
Falmouth Town Meeting is always filled with memorable moments, quips, quotes, giggles and guffaws. This week's edition did not disappoint. Here then, are the November 2008 editions of the official Town Meeting Trophies (TMTs):
Best Recognition of A Job Well Done - Town meeting members are stingy with their applause and only offer it when they mean it. That made the standing and lasting ovation for retiring State Rep. Eric Turkington and his 20 years of service in the Great and General Court both meaningful and touching.
Best Example of Detective Work - Sometimes pot-stirrer, most times naysayer Chet Krajewski scored a rare salient point when he mentioned he had "heard" that over $50,000 was spent on plumbing supplies for the High School project that cannot be used. Capping off an otherwise concise and successful presentation, High School Building Committee Chairman Don Johnson looked a bit sheepish when admitting that some showers were ordered but "will be sold at the end."
That bit of detective work was rivaled closely with the revelation by former selectman Virginia Valiela that figures offered by Pat Kerfoot of the planning board and the moderator did not match on a zoning article. Nice attention to detail, Virginia.
Best 15 Minutes of Fame - While making a presentation on Article 2's guidelines for Town Meeting presentations, moderator Dave Vieira gave up the gavel to Town Clerk Michael Palmer. The newly minted moderator looked content in the part and offered the night's best line when he said "Anyone want to change anything while I'm here?" Our now veteran clerk continues to impress with his guy-next-door likeability and no-nonsense approach to the job.
Worst Student Award - Following a detailed and visually-friendly discussion on the best use of PowerPoint presentations by the moderator, the finance committee followed up with their version of Article 3 in printing so small some thought it was a poking fun at the moderator's lesson. It wasn't. This is on the heels of not-so-hot preparation at the last Town Meeting. These folks are our financial watchdogs and should do better with simple details. This glitch was rivaled closely with the total non-answer by the planning board when asked how many parcels would be impacted by the article on the Senior Care Retirement District. With GIS and technology what it is today, that information is available in seconds. It wasn't available at Town Meeting either on purpose or simply by mistake. Neither option is acceptable.
Best Oops Moment - Attorney and zoning guru Bob Ament revealed perhaps just a bit too much about the main petitioner of the Cape Cod Bagel Plaza article when, in reference to former selectman and project proponent Eddie Marks, he noted that "Eddie is one of the bagel shops steady customers," to giggles from the crowd. No word on whether he orders the light cream cheese.
Best Gotcha - The moderator continued his recent streak of being right on top of the game when he rejected an offer by Rebecca Putnam to change the motion of an article on the floor. "She tried a parliamentary trick and I will not allow it," was the matter-of-fact and swift response from our premier parliamentarian.
Best Statement of the Obvious - In arguing for a zoning change near the Falmouth Inner Harbor, Town Meeting veteran Rich Maclone offered this pithy thought - "If they're not on the water, we shouldn't force them to sell anchors." Indeed.
Best Message - This one goes to the Town Meeting as a whole, for approving language in Article 5 permanently prohibiting selectmen from instituting a fee for a home occupation permit. While the review of the article at the Attorney General's office may not allow this one to stay, the message on fees from Falmouth's local legislature was loud and clear and a refreshing unified voice against the creep of fees.
The title bout of the Woods Hole affordable housing had yet to be debated when this article went to the editor, so stay tuned next week for the rest of our TMTs and pay particular attention to the team of Latimer and Shearer as the compete for the coveted Badge of Bombast.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Bulletin.