I’m ready. Bring it on, baby. Town Meeting, here I come.
Tom Murphy, our very fine Town Moderator, has recently advised us, in these pages, that Town Meeting is coming, and we should get ready for it, and I’m telling you, I am so ready. My heart rejoiceth. Oh, this venerable tradition, unchanged for centuries, yet ever-shifting, ever-new! Oh, this link to our past, by which we lay claim to our future! Oh, this inspiration for overwrought poetry!
Of course, I’m new around here, so I understand I don’t get all the nuances. I realize not everyone in Ipswich was happy with the suggestions for Town Meeting that I previously offered in these pages. Some felt it was disrespectful to consider selling Town Meeting survival gear: seat cushions, neck pillows, megaphones, ear plugs. I’m afraid these same folks are probably not going to like my new idea: a kiosk in the lobby offering cake, candles, and pointy hats for those who grow a year older before the meeting is over.
Certainly there are people who feel Town Meeting is fine as it is. I respect this. Some of these folks have lived here since 1633. Think of the cumulative total number of years they’ve spent in Town Meetings, and you must agree that they deserve to have their say. I admire them. I am a big fan of Town Meeting. It is a venerable and valuable tradition. I think every Ipswich citizen should attend. In fact, I think we should return to the 1643 by-law imposing a one-shilling fine on non-attenders. Of course shillings are hard to come by these days; so as a courtesy, I’d like to have a booth out on the parking lot, where you can buy a shilling for five bucks.
Or maybe we should offer a carrot rather than a stick. Instead of the one-shilling fine, let’s set up a cash bar in the lobby. Plus, the YMCA can have a “wellness booth” where they offer energy bars for the weary. And sedatives for the obstreperous.
Town Meeting is worth tinkering with because there will always be Town Meetings. As Moderator Murphy explained in his recent column, an annual Town Meeting is required by state law. I guess if you don’t hold one, you get kicked out of the Commonwealth. Perhaps some folks really hate Town Meetings, but they attend faithfully just to keep Ipswich from being deported to New Hampshire. It’s one thing to spend six hours of your life stuck in Town Meeting; it’s quite another to spend the other 364 days and 18 hours in New Hampshire.
On the other hand, I suspect there are some folks who love Town Meeting too much. While our Ipswich by-laws require the state-mandated annual Town Meeting to be held on the second Tuesday in May, adding a second “special” Town Meeting in October may actually be enabling people who are struggling with a tragic Town Meeting addiction. These are people who keep their rectangular Day-Glo Town Meeting ballots as mementoes. These are people who download the video from ICAM and keep all the Town Meetings in their personal DVD collection. They don’t need another Town Meeting. They need help. Maybe we could give them a step-down meeting. Maybe a seat on the Government Study Committee.
But until we vote them the help they need — which of course will require more Warrants, and Articles, and other stuff I’ll need the Murpherator to explain to me — I’m going to be there. Front row. Every Town Meeting. No matter how many we have. Meet monthly, I don’t care. Bring it. I’m there. Kept my Day-Glo ballot from the last Town Meeting. I’m ready to vote.
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Recommend treatment for Doug Brendel by contacting him at Outsidah.com.