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Board of Selectmen
February 10, 2012
9:04 AM - Open Session
North Hearing Room 3rd Floor, Hingham Town Hall
Present: John A. Riley, Chairman; Laura M. Burns; Bruce Rabuffo; Ted Alexiades, Town Administrator; and Betty Foley, Assistant Town Administrator
With a quorum present, Chairman Riley called the meeting to order.
Warrant Articles – Discussion and Vote:
Article BB Advisory Committee: Dissenting Opinions: Will the Town amend the General By-Laws of the Town of Hingham adopted March 19, 1939 as amended heretofore by adding the following paragraph to Article 14, Section 3, Part 1 of the General By-Laws, entitled "Advisory Committee?
"When a less than unanimous vote is rendered by the Advisory committee regarding a recommendation made upon a particular warrant article, any committee member(s) not in accord with the majority's Recommendation may request and prepare a written dissenting opinion which shall be published in the "Comment" section accompanying the Recommendation that is reflected in the Town Warrant." Mr. Bernard Manning, petitioner, summarized the article and the basis for the petition. Ms. Burns said that speaking as a former chair and member of the Advisory Committee (AC), she is in favor of leaving the manner in which the AC does it work up to the decision of the AC. Mr. Rabuffo noted that this is a process question, and the Selectmen televise their meetings although the AC does not. Chairman Riley noted that there is a process that allows the minority and the majority to speak. Mr. Alexiades noted that the AC members are not appointed by the Selectmen, and from the standpoint of public policy and general government he questioned the appropriateness of the Selectmen opining on how to operate.
Jonathan Asher, Chair of the AC, stated that when votes are close, the AC works to incorporate pros and cons into the recommended motion. Also, the AC is working to televise meetings. Karen Johnson, Vice Chair of the AC, stated that she drafted the article regarding the naming of the East School, she explained the reason for its format, and she agreed that the AC spends a lot of time on how a comment is fashioned when there are close votes. There was no public comment.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo that the Board of Selectmen recommends no action on Article BB Advisory Committee: Dissenting Opinions. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Article II Traffic Lights at the Cushing, Main and S. Pleasant Streets Intersection: Will the Town of Hingham raise and appropriate, borrow, or transfer from available funds a sum of money sufficient for the design, engineering and instillation of traffic lights equipped with pedestrian signals at the intersection of Main Street (Rt. 228), Cushing Street, and South Pleasant Street as recommended by Coler and Colantonio, Inc., a traffic engineering company hired by the Town at the request of the Hingham Traffic Committee? Chairman Riley asked if anything has changed since this item was last discussed. Mr. Bernard Manning, petitioner, summarized the basis for his petition, noting comments made by Chairman Riley at the 2011 Annual Town Meeting and Mr. Manning's conversations with the state regarding funding. Mr. Alexiades clarified that the Town cannot use state money for the improvements at this time, the Town could use Town money, the light cannot be funded from within the Town's road allocation, and funding would need to be taken from some other source. Ms. Burns stated that if something is different this year, she would prefer to see the Traffic Committee study the change before spending the money. Discussion followed regarding the cost of the improvements. Mr. Rabuffo stated that right now the Town has a deficit and he questioned where the money would come from, especially without state funding. Mr. Alexiades summarized the history of discussions, the current process of redesigning the Derby Street corridor, and the need to review that impact on Cushing and Gardner before taking any action on this issue. Chairman Riley stated that he still favors a roundabout over a traffic light based on the Traffic Committee study.
Mr. Bernard Peavey, Linden Ponds Way, stated that he is a strong proponent of the traffic light and it is a question of priority. Discussion followed regarding the source and required use of CPC funds.
Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns to recommend no action on Article II Traffic Lights at the Cushing, Main and S. Pleasant Streets Intersection. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Article KK Motion for the Previous Question: Vote: Will the Town amend the General By-Laws of the Town of Hingham adopted March 19, 1939 as amended heretofore by adding the following paragraph to Article 3 of the General By-Laws entitled Procedures at Town Meetings?
SECTION 13 "The purpose of the motion for the previous question is to end discussion and have an immediate vote on the pending question. The motion must receive a second, is not debatable and requires a two thirds vote for adoption. The Moderator will decline to accept a motion for the previous question if other voters are seeking recognition and if both sides have not had a fair opportunity to be heard. The Moderator will accept the motion for the previous question if it appears that both sides have been heard and the discussion is becoming repetitious." Mr. Bernard Manning, petitioner, summarized the article. Mr. Alexiades stated that currently a majority vote is required. Discussion followed regarding the by-laws, voting procedure, and the procedure followed by the moderator. Ms. Burns discussed the moderator's discretion in running the meeting. Mr. Alexiades stated that Town Counsel has opined that the change is permissible. Ms. Burns is in favor of leaving the moderator's discretion as granted by state law, noting that a more proper response to dissatisfaction with how town meeting is conducted is to replace the moderator. Mr. Rabuffo asked Mr. Manning if he discussed this with the moderator. Mr. Manning said no. Mr. Rabuffo stated that the concept is worthy of consideration but suggested that Mr. Manning discuss it with the current moderator and the candidates for moderator. Chairman Riley agreed that the current process works. Mr. Manning continued, saying that there is an additional issue of "no second." Ms. Burns said that she had never seen a motion for the previous question fail.
Jim Costello, Cushing Street, commented on Tom O'Donnell's appearance before the Government Study Committee and said that he has never seen a motion for the previous question fail. He also expressed caution on referencing specific rules of procedure that limit the town moderator's authority.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to recommend no action on Article KK Motion for the Previous Question: Vote. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Article JJ Motion for the Previous Question: Procedure: Will the Town amend the General By-Laws of the Town of Hingham adopted March 19, 1939, as amended heretofore, by adding the following paragraph to Article 3 of the General By-Laws entitled Procedure at Town Meetings?"
"Section 14 The Moderator will decline to accept a motion for the previous question, which must be seconded, if other voters are seeking recognition, a situation the Moderator will determine by his oral request that all voters wishing to speak on the article stand to be observed. The Moderator will then instruct them that the information they desire to impart must not be repetition of matters already discussed. If this procedure forbidding redundancy is not followed then the offending voter's presentation will be summarily terminated. The Moderator will then recognize each who seeks the Moderator's attention." Mr. Bernard Manning, petitioner, reviewed the article and cited the transcript from the 2011 Special Town Meeting. The Board requested Mr. Manning to lower his voice; Mr. Manning apologized. Ms. Burns said that she is not in favor of a requirement that the moderator must recognize everyone who wishes to speak, and a more proper response is to replace the moderator who is elected each year. Mr. Rabuffo said that the current process is not broken, the moderator is elected because of the moderator's judgment, the town meeting already is difficult to manage, and the moderator must be able to exercise his judgment. Chairman Riley spoke in favor of leaving the discretion with the moderator. There was no public comment.
Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns to take no action on Article JJ Motion for the Previous Question: Procedure. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Mr. Alexiades stated that the balance of Mr. Manning's articles on the agenda will be rescheduled at Mr. Manning's convenience.
Adjourn/Executive Session: Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to adjourn to executive session, not to return to open session, for the purpose of discussing strategy with regard to Police Department-related litigation because discussion in open session may have a detrimental effect on the litigating position of the Town. A vote was taken by roll call and showed as follows: Ms. Burns – yes, Mr. Rabuffo – yes, Chairman Riley - yes; the motion passed.
The open session adjourned at 10:01 AM.
Laurie Zivkovich, Clerk Pro Tem
Documents (a complete meeting packet of supporting documentation is on file and available for public review in the Board of Selectmen's office):
1. Proposed Warrant Articles
Approved: March 1, 2012