Tales from the BudComm – Deliberative Session version (Part 1)

This past week was the Deliberative Sessions for both the Town and School Districts. The townfolk review the budgets presented by the Budget Committee and all of the warrants (spending issues submitted either by the Selectmen or the School Board, plus any citizen-sponsored “petition warrants” for kind of purpose. Three petition warrants, one for the town and one (replicated) for both were the ones that had any kind of controversy.

The latter first: moving the voting from March to May as allowed by statute.  After having two huge blizzards in two years, one would have thought that this was have been a no brainer.  We all know people that it wouldn’t go to the polls because of bad weather / driving.  Most are the elderly, the infirm, or disabled who refuse to drive when the roads get real sketchy (TMEW being one of them and she has said that if I didn’t drive her, she wouldn’t go and vote if there’s snow / ice on the road). While I had put up an amendment to bring the School District’s version of this wording to be more conformal to wording specified by RSA, it turned out to be a big controversial one.  Most of the discussion wasn’t about the amendment but the idea in the first place – WHY do we need to change the date? Those speaking against the petition warrant, pretty much either those on the Left or associated with the school district in some manner, were vociferous in their attack against the warrant.

I sat there thinking about all of the times we hear about the accusations of “voter suppression” by the Right (you know, like Voter ID?), one would have thought they’d approve this in a flash because it would make it more “inclusive” (to use their wording) and help those who otherwise wouldn’t.  It was rather amusing, in a sad sorta way, when a known Progressive said this was nothing but a ploy for a specific set of people to vote.  Really – you fear old peoples’ votes?

The capstone was when the reaction finally circled back to my amendment which was, pretty much, simple housekeeping in not changing the intent or the date of the proposed vote but simply to bring the verbiage more in line required by RSA 40.  Then the question was asked “what would happen if the amendment was rejected but the townfolk voted to change the date”?

And that’s when the masked dropped and showed that the phrase “a ploy” really was just projection – an accusation by the Left that the Left would actually carry out.  The Moderator asked the District’s lawyer for her opinion and that not only was the start of the mask falling but also throwing it completely away.  Her response was that IF she was a judge, she wouldn’t allow the original wording because it didn’t conform and that if my amendment didn’t pass, there probably would be cause for legal action by those opposing the date move.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.  The question was called and the vote taken.

To be honest, in a town of about 6400 voters, only about 50 or so people were present at this Deliberative session. All of the petitioners that were present voted for the amendment – and so did all of the School Board members (minus one) – I can’t remember the exact number but it was around 25 for adoption of the amendment – again, what I thought was a housekeeping item and not on the petition warrant itself.

It lost by a couple. The “ploy” ended up on the other side – by any means necessary and possible.  Once the lawyer said that it COULD be actionable and that a Yes vote passed the warrant, it could be promptly brought to court.  After all, “their” people, their set of voters, are younger and more willing to go out in bad weather, have proven they’ll show up.  Making sure that their “enemies” (and after watching local, state, and national elections intently for over a decade, “enemies” is a far better fit than “opponents” as in the well known phrase “Conservatives believe that Liberals are misguided; Liberals think Conservatives are EVIL”.) are behind the eight ball is just fine by them.  A ploy in reverse.