Article Six Passes by Razor Thin Margin

On Tuesday April 29, 2008, Stephen Peterson of the Sun Chronicle said “Voters at Monday’s annual town meeting narrowly appropriated more money to improve public safety communications in the west end” (“Wrentham voters OK cash for 2 projects,” Sun Chronicle, April 29, 2008)

Leaving aside the issue of whether the vote “improves” communication or replaces a free and good solution with a substantially unproven and expensive one, the margin was razor thin.

According to Carol Molica, “The number of voters checked in at both meetings was 225 exactly.” (5/2 email to Bob Cohen)

The communication tower was Article Six on the Special Town Meeting warrant and came up for discussion last.

There were some 141 voters left by the time the discussion began. Based on the an overstatement of the danger, an understatement of the costs, and a failure to negotiate with Tom Morse, I made a motion to indefinitely postpone the measure. It lost 80 to 61.

Subsequently, the measure itself was taken up. The crowd thinned further as the discussion of the warrant ensued. In the end there was a voice vote taken. It was similarly close. The moderator opted not to count votes and declared Article 6 passed.

A profoundly small minority of voters have committed the town to spend $127,997 on a communication tower for services we were already getting for free. I got a voter list in April for my campaign. It puts the number of registered voters in Wrentham at approximately 7300. Less than 4% of the voters turned out for this meeting. Of that, fewer than 80 people made the decision for our town to needlessly spend this money.

And really, when you think about it, less than 20 people made the difference.

We’re now heading down the path of unnecessary expenses in a trot at a time when

  • talk of an overide for the KP budget is swirling around town,
  • we are negotiating contracts with various unions,
  • my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen are preparing to significantly reduce health insurance benefits to town staff,
  • we are talking about staffing the Sheldonville Fire Station,
  • my colleagues on the BoS are talking about cutting out trash pick up