Dissolving Clarity

Like most Stoneham residents, I’m busy. I try not to be too busy to at least pay attention and so when I saw there was an Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting scheduled for Monday with this agenda…

InfrasMonAgenda 11_2_17

…I thought it was good because I kept seeing upset posts in the Stoneham Community Group Facebook page regarding the MWRA project. Then I saw this post in my newsfeed this morning…

InfraStructure Meeting Dissolve 11_2_17

…and was entirely confused.  Then in looking at the Stoneham government website I saw this:

MWRADissolveNotice 11_2_17

I decided to ask the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen directly so I can simply share the exchange with the community and avoid speculation:

On Nov 2, 2017, at 10:19 AM, Liz Erk wrote:

Hi George, 

I received an alert that the infrastructure sub-committee was going to have a meeting on Monday to hear concerns of residents from Oak Street, as well as discuss the conditions of our roads and sidewalks, and listen to resident comments on unresolved issues within the town. Soon after I got a second alert that the BOS is meeting tomorrow, Friday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. to vote on dissolving the sub-committee and prevent the community-focused meeting scheduled for Monday.

In trying to find out what the heck was going on with these two meetings, I was told the Chairman of the BOS tried to prevent the infrastructure meeting from taking place, to which the town attorney said there was  no legal authority to block that meeting, and so then the Friday BOS meeting was scheduled. To me, this looks like an attempt to prevent Stoneham residents from being heard. And what makes that worse in my mind, is the appearance of a bigger interest in protecting the MWRA and not the residents of Stoneham—especially given the complaints residents have been making about the MWRA’s project impacts on their properties. I’m asking you directly as the Chairman, rather than post to the community Facebook groups because I cannot stand public speculation without asking the parties involved directly first. It just perpetuates a cycle of negativity that doesn’t serve the community. I’d rather hear from you first please. Are you really trying to dissolve the subcommittee and prevent the Monday meeting that would allow residents’ voices be heard in an official, public capacity?

Thanks for all you do,

Liz

From: George Seibold‎

Sent: Thursday, November 2, 2017 10:46 AM

To: Liz Erk

Subject: Re: BOS Meeting Tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.?

Hi Liz, I put the same agenda item on Tuesday’s meeting, the following night. I added public comments to the agenda for the board of selectmen. That’s the one thing that passed chairpersons did not allow, I’m not sure where you live Liz? I have to deal with this everyday.   Well aware of the frustration. If you watched their last infrastructure meeting, it looks like it was just self promoting themselves and not what the board discussed on what that sub committee is supposed to do.     Sorry I cannot go on I am working I just wanted to get back to you. If you want to give me a call feel free. 781-727-0786. And I know you like to have everything in writing but I am looking out for the residence of this town not just my neighborhood.

Sent from my iPhone

***

On Nov 2, 2017, at 12:03 PM, Liz Erk wrote:

Hi George,

I’m working, too, so it’s another reason why I wanted to ask you directly in writing. It drives me nuts when things are posted in forums with inaccurate info. People then don’t have time to sift through everything and then facts are lost. Having things in writing allows for accurate reporting.

I did watch the meeting, I don’t know what you mean by “self-serving.” From what I observed, that one meeting was focused on asking the MWRA officials directly about the MWRA project in Stoneham and its history. As a whole, it looked to me like that subcommittee addresses issues that include the MWRA and other areas pertaining to infrastructure matters throughout the town.

Putting the MWRA on a lengthy list of BOS agenda items puts residents at a disadvantage. I think having a dedicated forum led by elected officials gives residents a more solid, focused area‎ in which to concentrate on what is an elaborate, complex situation. So I disagree with your desire to dissolve the subcommittee.

I do like your resident comments section of the BOS meeting agendas, though it’s unfortunate that it’s like “live voice mail” in which there aren’t direct responses allowed. I understand why this is, of course. Things need to be formally on the agenda in order to follow public meeting protocols. I appreciate your efforts in getting residents’ voices heard as a compromise at least. It’s a great start because often residents don’t know where to begin and this gives a good “start point.”

‎Thank you again for responding.

Best,

Liz

***

From: George Seibold‎

Sent: Thursday, November 2, 2017 12:20 PM

To: Liz Erk

Subject: Re: BOS Meeting Tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.?

 

Thanks Liz. I do feel that you might be mislead on what I stand for when it comes to this town…  my outlook is for everybody, not the select few.  Enjoy the weather.  It’s nice out there!

George

Sent from my iPhone

***

On Nov 2, 2017, at 12:34 PM, Liz Erk wrote:

I wish. I’m glued to my desk, but I like having my window open for faux summer. 😉

I am going to post something later and will include everything here. While I disagree with you on some town issues, I am in the belief that your heart is in the right place. That’s what elected offices are supposed to be all about, especially at the local level. (and why I ask people directly. I don’t like it when people post things that are speculation and without facts. It just starts trouble that is entirely unnecessary. This town is our community and home.)

Thanks again for your hard work, and your fast replies.

Liz

***

I didn’t really gain any insight into my original questions through this exchange, except that I believe the Infrastructure Subcommittee should be kept in place. From what I’ve observed in meetings since its inception, it doesn’t just focus on the MWRA, but at the moment that is the utility with the biggest impact to our town’s day-to-day. (I will update this post with a clip of the meeting where it was formed, once I track it down) As it is right now, I don’t think what’s currently happening with the MWRA is going to get enough time that it needs crammed into a BOS meeting. (That agenda isn’t posted yet, so I cannot link to it at this time) The Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting agenda is quite loaded with a number of important items. If I lived on Oak Street, I’d want this meeting to proceed. (Quite frankly, as a resident NOT on Oak Street, I want this meeting to proceed. These are all agenda items that we should be supporting our neighbors on by staying informed.)

The vote to dissolve the Infrastructure Subcommittee takes place tomorrow, November 3rd, at 5:00 p.m. (The subcommittee is led by Tom Boussy and Caroline Colarusso.) Please try to attend (though I can imagine if most residents are like me, they’re either still working or wrapping up their work week at that time). Be sure to reach out to the Board of Selectmen and share your thoughts:

George Seibold: geoseibold@gmail.com
Shelly MacNeill: macneill616@gmail.com
Anthony Wilson: aww181@yahoo.com
Caroline Colarusso: carolinecolarusso@gmail.com
Tom Boussy: tboussy@thbcompany.com

 

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Stoneham, do you want better roads, sidewalks, and improved transportation?

CompleteStreetstoStoneham

We’re listening to YOU: Complete Streets Workshops and Survey.

Stoneham Residents, it’s time for your voice to be heard! We have two “drop-in” workshops scheduled so that literally every single resident can help shape the future of how we move around Stoneham.

Thursday, June 1:       9:30 am – 11:30 am at the Stoneham Senior Center

Tuesday, June 6:         6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Stoneham Town Hall Auditorium

Stoneham will be applying for a Complete Streets grant in September and we need your input. The goal is to develop a 5 year prioritization plan and in order to be successful, we need to know what’s important to you, the residents of Stoneham. For instance, do you want Stoneham to be more walkable, thus making sidewalks the emphasis? Or is public transportation more important to you? Traffic lights, ADA compliance, bike lanes or just bike racks… Are you more concerned about crosswalks, or traffic and safety, or parking? What would YOU like prioritized? Walking to recreational areas, downtown or to the schools, or is connecting neighborhoods more important to you? Tell us all about it!

There are two ways to participate and I encourage you to do both:

1- Drop-In Meetings: Mentioned above, these will be very informational, shouldn’t take more than a half hour of your time, and you can show up at any time to participate.

2- Online Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HQMNYY7.

For more information on Complete Streets, the town will also have representatives at the Farmers Market this Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 at the Town Common.

We really want to make this an all-inclusive process, so if you have new ideas or opinions about how to improve mobility in Stoneham please get involved. Every single voice will play a role in the way we get around Stoneham!

As Always, The Voters Make the Call

Thank youI have been your Moderator for the past six years because I respect and honor the process that ultimately comes down to the voters, and today is no different.   

I want to congratulate my opponent on her victory, and wish her and Stoneham the best as she takes on her new role. Also, a special thanks to my supporters for all of their hard work.

 

Thank you,

Larry Means

Cristine Warren Linn: It’s All About the Solid Work Ethic

10572071_10207844278775337_8341126795282299126_oI’m proud to officially announce my endorsement for Cristine Warren Linn for Stoneham Selectman in the election taking place this Tuesday, April 4th. Cristine is a good friend of mine who has worked on my campaigns in the past and I have returned the favor in this election, but that’s not why I’m endorsing her. I could talk about her two degrees, one in economics and another she achieved later in life for nursing, or just the plain fact that she had returned to school later in life at all, proving that she loves to take on new challenges. A step like that takes courage, and moreover, she made that move to nursing so she could give back to people at a time they need it most.

But the real reason that I am convinced that Cristine is the right person for this job is her work ethic. If you want to know how hard someone will work as a Selectman, just watch how much effort they put into getting elected.  I have watched Cristine’s campaign and I must say that I’m very impressed. From the beginning she set a budget, laid out a schedule, and stuck to it while raising enough money to meet her budget. She identified the most pressing issues facing Stoneham, then studied the facts around them. Next, she went out and spoke to the residents directly to get their feedback. This whole campaign she has been writing about the issues and how we need to address them, all based on LISTENING to what Stoneham residents said.

Cristine prepared for the live TV debate, something that she had no prior experience with, and she knew she would be facing an opponent who has spent 10 years on the School Committee that was quite used to answering these types of questions. Cristine tried to anticipate the top issues Stoneham is facing and she came prepared to speak on these topics, but the questions posed to the candidates focused on a completely different track of questions. For example, one of the panelists asked about the trash contract, something Cristine was not familiar with, and that is how she answered. The day after the debate Cristine went to Town hall to learn what she didn’t know and posted her findings. That shows the kind of work Cristine will do for our community. If she doesn’t know the answer, she will tell you that and then go find facts.  

During this campaign, I have seen Cristine work a 12-hour night shift at Lahey Medical Center, come home and sleep, then get up to go knocking doors until she must go back to work. March has been a particularly cruel month, but she is out there in the cold rain and snow, talking to the voters and listening to their concerns. When a question shows up on social media, she answers it thoughtfully and respectfully. I honestly have never seen anyone work this hard, and she is doing it because she loves Stoneham and the people that make it a community. She truly wants what is best for Stoneham.

While I have a tremendous amount of respect for her opponent and the time and dedication that she has given in her 10 years on the School Committee, I haven’t seen the same energy and commitment to this campaign– and it’s understandable after 10 years you do get a little tired of trying to promote your ideas as you will always face opposition.  Therefore, I think the fresh ideas and new perspectives, along with a renewed energy that Cristine has shown throughout this campaign, not to mention her years of community building– including inspiring total strangers to meet at the Common to have fun and get some exercise while training with the Couch to 5K– is truly what Stoneham needs in a new Board of Selectmen member.

This coming Tuesday, April 4th vote for continued steady progress by casting your ballot for Cristine Warren Linn, Stoneham Selectman.

School Committee Candidates Forum Focus: Substance Abuse Crisis

NFNHelpCombatSubstanceAbuseThere were a lot of topics discussed during the Stoneham TV School Committee Candidates Forum, and as we grow closer to election day (three days away!), I wanted to focus on one question that stood out to me: “Stoneham has been hit with the opiate crisis, just like every other town in the State. What can you do to combat this problem?”

One of the reasons I am running for School Committee is because I especially would like to help enhance policy in addressing the substance abuse crisis. We are extremely fortunate to have so many great resources in our schools and our town, so I want to ensure we build upon our successes and stay committed to supporting our programs in whatever ways they may be in need.

Here is my full answer:

Thank you for taking a moment to hear my thoughts on this issue. Please vote Nicole Fenocchi Nial for Stoneham School Committee this Tuesday, April 4th.

Orderly and Fair: Responsibly Following the Rules

GavelMeansQuestions sm

A Moderator’s job and responsibility, first and foremost, is to promote discussion that is orderly and fair.  “Fair” means exactly that, plain and simple: Everyone has the right to speak and vote, but must do so within the rules, and especially in a responsible way. I am not there to eject any member from Town Meeting, however if the member is so disorderly or refuses to cooperate with the Town Meeting rules in such a way that it is disruptive to the other members of the meeting, then that individual can be subject to a variety of sanctions by the Moderator. 

During this election I have been asked several times about Special Town Meeting: October 22, 2015.   “What happened during that Town Meeting? You threw someone out??”

Since it has come up repeatedly, I thought it was best to address it in writing so it reaches a broader audience, and also helps to clarify an aspect of Town Meeting process.

During the Article 12: Capital Purchases discussion, a Finance and Advisory Board member had made a motion to amend the article. As part of the process, discussion about that motion ensued.  Mr. McCabe was given leeway by me when he asked permission to mention the main motion, even though the main motion was not the pending question since an Amendment was proposed and was the discussion in-progress. Here’s the video clip of what took place: 

 

The motion before the assembly was not whether we needed a new bucket truck, but rather the amount of money to be spent when the Amendment was made by the Finance and Advisory Board.  I overlooked many indiscretions by Mr. McCabe (again the Amendment was about the cost ), especially when he started off by bringing up Mr. Towse, followed by then attempting to take a poll by having the members raise their hand. I tried to get him back on track with a tap of the gavel (a very universal rule at any Town Meeting in the State, which is that when the Moderator taps the gavel, the debater immediately halts his debate).  Again, the Town Meeting was discussing the Amendment, not the Main Motion, and that is where some of the confusion seems to be in terms of responses that I have been hearing. 

Mr. McCabe refused to stop talking and here I will quote what he said after I tapped the gavel:  “Larry I’m going to talk alright!!!”  “Listen I’ve seen how Larry won’t let people talk who disagrees with him”  … “I don’t want to sit down” …  “I’ve seen Larry do this to many  people.”   No Moderator– not me, not a future Moderator, or any other Town Moderator– would allow that type of disdain in a speaker’s voice towards the Moderator in front of the entire assembly.  What he was really saying was, ‘I’m running this show and not you.’  

 Again, the Motion on the floor was not the bucket truck, but rather the Amendment on spending less from $74,000 instead of the $284,000 in the Main Motion. Unfortunately, many erroneously thought he was on subject because he was talking about the uses of the bucket truck, but rather he was off-topic from the pending question which was the Amendment of a lesser amount.

I hope this information is helpful, and I thank those of you who asked about this. I am always more than happy to discuss process and decisions at any time. I know the rules and processes can be confusing, which is especially why I enjoy hosting “Town Meeting 101” how-to sessions.

Please remember to get out and vote THIS Tuesday, April 4th. Like Town Meeting, the election works best with as many votes as possible!

Tuesday’s Election: Why Cristine Warren Linn and Larry Means?

Gazebo Run GroupDecisions and policy made at a town level have a greater, direct impact on each citizen’s life, more so than state and federal policy. It is for that reason I decided to step forward and become involved in town government four years ago. At the time, I had no political or government experience. It was my contention then, and remains today, that participation in local government should be open to anyone, not just those experienced in government environments. The Board of Selectmen is a policy-making body that makes decisions for the community, which are then carried out by the Town Administrator.
The Board of Selectmen meets to consider various agenda items. As a Board of Selectmen member, I listened to both sides of an issue and, I always asked myself how I would feel about the passing of a policy if I lived on a side of town that would be impacted. I considered what I thought was most fair. Because I was new to the local government scene, I was not beholden to any person or business. I made the decisions I thought were right for most people in Stoneham. It is in that spirit that I endorse BOS candidate Cristine Warren Linn.

I have a great deal of respect for her opponent, who has served in another capacity for many years, and in making my endorsement I have nothing but nice things to say. However, I believe that it is both healthy and productive that new people step forward to bring different perspectives and new ideas to the community. This is, in my opinion, the best way to critically consider issues and push the forward-moving momentum of the community. Cristine is clearly qualified, holding a degree in Economics with many successful years in the business world. She is currently a nurse at Lahey Clinic.

Cristine approached me in her neighborhood outreach and shared with me her perspective of community. I must say I was very impressed with all she had to say, and I hope you will join me in voting for Cristine Warren Linn next Tuesday.

I also endorse Larry Means for Moderator. I first met Larry four years ago when I joined the Board of Selectmen. I found him warm, welcoming, supportive, and extremely bright. Larry knows everything there is to know about our bylaws and more importantly, he knows how to run a Town Meeting. It is not easy to maintain control of up to 600 people when debating a contentious item. One must keep the room focused on the matter at hand, and in doing so it may be necessary to reel in a conversation in danger of going off topic. Larry knows, and takes very seriously, Robert’s Rules of Order, which is the format in which Town Meeting is run. Larry is also approachable and fair-minded. I have never seen him not allow a voice to be heard because he holds a different opinion. I hope you will consider re-electing Larry to Town Moderator.

I hope that as a community we band together on Wednesday and support whomever the town decides upon. Putting yourself out for a town position is not an easy job and that makes me grateful we have contested races.