It’s not often that voters get treated to an entertaining night out at Town Meeting.
But this year’s event was an Oscar winner. Well, at least it was worth the price of admission.
Here are our picks for best performances of the night:
The night’s first “top pick” came quite early in the evening.
A group of Girl Scouts had just filed off the stage after leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, when Town Moderator Garry Blank invited the Reverend Tina Walker-Morin of First Church up to the microphone to deliver the invocation.
Back in November, Rev. Tina and Mr. Blank had a heated exchange on the Town Meeting floor, which climaxed when Mr. Blank directed her to be silent. When she refused, Mr. Blank called for her to be removed from the auditorium, which drew gasps from the crowd.
Monday evening, Rev. Tina quietly made her way to the microphone and, with a slightly mischievous look, thanked Mr. Blank for allowing her to speak.
The quip sparked knowing grins, hoots, laughter and applause from throughout the auditorium.
Judging from the pre-Town Meeting buildup, many were expecting the school district’s multimillion-dollar capital funding request to be a verbal slugfest on the floor. It’s a lot of money, after all.
But thanks to a professional and informative presentation delivered by Superintendent Pamela Gould, facilities director Jonathan Nelson, and school board chairman Donald DiGiacomo, the much-needed repairs sailed through to a resounding win.
That trio—and everyone who had a part to play in that presentation—deserve a standing ovation.
Plastic Jug Woman
Let’s face it, plastic bottles are pretty boring. Empty plastic bottles, even more so.
But resident June Bowser-Barrett used empty plastic bottles to great effect when she spoke out against a plan to ban single-use plastic water bottles in town Monday evening.
She started her comments by stating that we can all agree that the world has a plastic pollution problem.
She then reached down into a bag she had at her feet and pulled out a large blue laundry detergent bottle, holding it above her head. “This, is a big problem,” she said before casting it aside and reaching again into the bag. She held up another large plastic jug. “This, is a big problem.”
One last time, she reached into the bag and withdrew a tiny single-use water bottle. “But they want to ban this,” she said. “This, is not a big problem. It makes no sense to single out the one product that actually has the lowest environmental footprint of all packaged drinks and is also the most recycled item.”
Her props helped drive her points home and sounded the death knell for the ban this time around.
The Marijuana Guy
The resident who petitioned to bring the retail sale of adult use, recreational marijuana to Sandwich provided some comic relief near the end of Monday’s Town Meeting.
Adam Higgins used self-deprecating humor to win over the room as he stumbled through two procedural motions: one to split his petition article into two votes (the first to change the town’s zoning and the other to change the general bylaws pertaining to the retail sale of pot), and another motion to conduct the vote by secret ballot.
When the first motion failed, Mr. Higgins stepped to the microphone. “Yeah, bummer on splitting the vote. I blame the guy who explained that poorly,” he said, referring to himself.
When the secret ballot motion failed overwhelmingly, he again stepped forward. “Woof, 0 for 2,” he said. “I’m not starting off well here. I’m not doing myself any favors.”
But from there, things improved for Mr. Higgins. When he started talking about the tax revenue the town would reap from this new industry, a few in the auditorium clapped and whooped. “Woo, finally. The room is changing,” he said with excitement.
By the end of the discussion, Mr. Higgins had charmed enough of the crowd to get his petition approved.
All The Rest
Last but not least, a list of the “best performances” from Monday’s Town Meeting must include all the voters who turned out to have their voices heard. Every one of them. This includes all the “regulars” and also all the newbies. The school capital project brought out a lot of young parents who were first-timers at Town Meeting.
While the democratic process might often be dry and boring, it does have its moments, as we saw Monday night. But it’s important to note that the entire night is dependent on our participation.
The community got a lot of good work done Monday night and had a few laughs along the way. And it was all because of who showed up. Thanks for being there.