Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FM #77 - Franklin, MA: Mid-term Review

Let's take about ten minutes to look back at what the Town Council and School Committee have accomplished at the mid-point in their two year term.

Time: 9 minutes, 29 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

This is #77 in the series of internet radio shows or podcast for Franklin Matters.

I took the title of Community Information Director because Franklin needs one and unfortunately with the budget issues can not afford one. I do what I do to share information with my fellow citizens. I have a unique perspective on Franklin by having participated in more than 60 meetings this year; Town Council, School Committee, FINCOM, Financial Planning Committee with a few Planning Board and Conservation Committee meetings for some variety.

A shortened version of this will be presented to the Town Council and School Committee meetings this week during the citizens comment.

Mr Chairman, members of the (Council/Sch Comm)

As elected officials, you are now one year into your two year term of office. You all started this term in Nov 2009 and will either be re-elected or have some new members as a result of the election in November 2011. Focusing on the Town Council and School Committee, the two major elected bodies, let's look at what you have accomplished during this first year.

  • Biotech bylaw zoning changes were made
  • Charter changes were approved and partially accepted by the voters
  • A very informative Budget workshop was held in January
  • A balance budget was passed after an override failed and additional personnel/services were cut
  • New trash/recycle vendor and process introduced, some scars were created during the process but the implementation is an accepted benefit now
  • Abatements and adjustments for seniors were approved
  • Downtown revitalization planning underway
  • Economic Summit held to tout the benefits of doing business here

Next year, as you well know, will be a tough operational budget year with a possible high school renovation project on the horizon with a debt exclusion for a sum total uncertain at this time.

The operational and capital needs of the Town are not well understood by the general population.
You can not accept that. If you do, you give into the CAVE people What are the CAVE people? An acronym for Citizens Against Virtually Everything. This a great term that Bill Glynn took back from a conference he attended with other members of the School Committee and School Dept Administration

If we assume perception is reality, and your attendance indicates your level of effort, then there is room for improvement for some of you.

Details for the chart can be found at the following Google document

I understand that there may be very good reasons for missing meetings
You do this because Franklin matters to you for a variety of reasons

Let's assume perception is reality, I recommend you take a series of actions to really help improve the outreach to our community

1) Member of the Council meet at the Senior Center regularly; Bill Glynn held a sit/chat during the summer; need to do something for the remainder of the residents on a regular basis

2) plan for another budget workshop or series of workshops

What of the Long Term Planning Committee?
This group sort of disappeared after the override, it is good to see the group on the agenda for the meeting Wednesday. Maybe we'll find out what is going on

The Finance Committee is getting reduced from 11 members to 9 per the one question that passed on the Charter Changes. They are scheduled to meet in December. How is the change going to be handled?

3) Get out in front of the big issues, be proactive, don't let the void be filled in by others with hearsay, determine the conversation

For the School Committee in particular, I believe your normal year end meeting is scheduled to be held in the training room on the 3rd floor. It is your own review session, I would heartily recommend that you change the location, bring the meeting out into the open, broadcast it, foster the engagement with your community.

I could have done some ratings in a variety of ways. I chose not to do so. It was deliberate. I think you have been able to observe my own actions, you know I don't create screaming headlines. I am not out to sell anything. I am working to share information to create an informed voter. You can help in that effort.

Consider yourself a crew team. The crew team needs all the oars in the water swinging in synch with one another to succeed.

I think you for your service to the community.
I thank you for your time tonight.

As I close this session this week, let me remind you that
  • If you like what I am doing here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don’t like something, please tell me
Thank you for listening!

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark and Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to listen to the audio podcast.