Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Has Sprung (finally)!

Well, with Town Meeting less than one month away, I figured it would be a good time to get active on the Walpole Town Meeting Blog again after a long absence. Town Meeting is on Monday May 5, 2014, and the warrant contains 32 articles. You can  take a look at the warrant HERE. Many of the articles repeat from spring to spring, and we will be taking a look at some of those over the coming weeks. For now, I want to thank the many people who work very hard to prepare for Town Meeting, including the various town boards and committees and Walpole Town Hall staff, without whose efforts and commitment, Town Meeting would never come to pass.

So for now, have a nice weekend, Go Sox - beat the Yankees, and check back for more discussions about Walpole Town Meeting!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This article appeared in Sunday's Boston Herald, and was written by Robert Saquet, the president of the Massachusetts Moderators Association. I heartily agree with what Mr. Saquet writes here:

‘Relic’ is democracy at its best
Sunday, May 12, 2013

While many relics of our Puritan past have withered into obsolescence there is one that stands tall in the eyes and hearts of New Englanders — our venerable Town Meeting, the garden of government where the seeds of democracy are planted.

Urbanites seem so numbed by government bureaucracies that they have lost the ability to rub elbows with the individuals who still speak their minds and vote their hearts. Our towns still allow it. Town Meeting is not a form of government — it is a legislative body. It is an open and transparent place to conduct municipal business. Town Meetings are efficient and will have passed balanced budgets and finished their business by the end of June. If only our state and national legislatures could be so open.

“Tyranny of the minority” may better describe Congress than it does the Town Meeting. What good is being “elected” if you are representing special interests and lobbyists rather than your electorate?

Every eligible voter should attend a Town Meeting this year. In colonial days Town Meeting attendance was mandatory, but only if you were a church-going male landowner. Today we usually see a limited proportion of a town’s voters attend — but they can be any registered voter — man, woman or atheist. Failure to attend is the choice of citizens who have confidence in those who do attend. Keep in mind, that small fraction that does attend is far more representative than any city or town council of a dozen or so politicians.

Accessibility is a virtue of the Town Meeting. A state law dating back to 1715 allows 10 people to put an issue on the agenda for the meeting. This is their democratic right, whether the topic deals with water bottles, plastic bags, zoning changes or barking dogs. True, some Town Meetings get bogged down in apparently trivial matters. But these are issues that people are passionate about, and the Town Meeting gives them a forum to convince their neighbors to follow.

I never cease to be amazed at the quality of discussion from our townspeople. Elected officials must be prepared to listen. There is always someone in the hall who has expertise on the subject at hand and asks probing questions. Avid voters listen. They may arrive uninformed, but when a vote is called they know to make the right choice. Yes, there are some who come for a single issue and leave when their vote is taken, but dozens, if not hundreds, more stay to the end. There are some who do love to pontificate, but a gentle suggestion from the moderator can let them know they are repeating themselves and they will yield the microphone.

Town Meetings are embracing technology. Power Point presentations are easier to understand, cable TV broadcasts the meetings, and several towns have adopted electronic voting to speed things along.
As I stated, Town Meeting is not a form of government — it is the most democratic legislative body.
Replacing the Town Meeting with a town or city council will not solve any of a town’s political problems. Anyone who thinks the Town Meeting with its openness can be swapped for a ballot box is living in serious denial.

Robert H. Saquet is town moderator in Mansfield and president of the Massachusetts Moderators Association. “As You Were Saying” is a regular Herald feature. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Moderator's Creed

"Iustum et tenacem propositi virum non civium ardor prava iubentium,non vultus instantis tyranni mente quatit solida."

"The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from his firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant's threatening countenance."

- Roman Poet Horace (and a modern thanks to the US Army 101st Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade )

Hope to see you at Town Meeting Monday night May 6, 2013, WHS Auditorium, 7:30 p.m. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

RTM Orientation for Newly-Elected Town Meeting Representatives

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

FinCom at 15 Members

Each year, the terms of five members of the Finance Committee expires. Those five positions can be filled by re-appointing incumbent members, or selecting new individuals. Carol Lane, Sheila Ahmed and Tim Williams have graciously accepted re-appointments to three year terms to the Finance Committee. With Ralph Knobel having retired, Carol becomes the member with the most seniority. Carol has been doing an excellent job as vice-chair of the committee. Tim and Sheila both came on board in 2010, so this will be their first full three year term. It is a tremendous benefit to the town of Walpole to have all three of them back. 

The two new members I have appointed are Michael Iwanowicz and Donna DiCenso. Each has a very interesting and accomplished background, and I am confident they will make excellent additions to the Committee.

I have known Mike Iwanowicz for almost 20 years since when we were close neighbors in Swan Pond. Mike is currently the deacon at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church in Sharon, MA, - Mike was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1976, has worked for forty years in the computer field, and earned his MBA from Babson College in 1969. Mike served a term on the school committee back in the 1990's. You also may have seen Mike on Walpole Cable Television where he hosts a regular show. My recent conversations with Mike revealed his uncanny grasp of and insight into all of the major issues Walpole is facing these days, which will enable him to make significant contributions to the committee's work right from the get go.

Donna and her husband have a young son and have been in East Walpole for 12 years. Donna graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude. She has more than 20 years experience as an asset manager with financial institutions in Boston and in New York City. In her most recent position as a Vice President, Donna was responsible for the overall portfoio performance of 90 multifamily residential properties (16,522 units) in the Northeast and South Florida. She has been responsible for the oversight of capital expenditures in excess of $50 million dollars. Donna is also a new RTM from Precinct 1, and from talking with Donna I know she will bring a refreshingly discerning eye to all of Walpole's issues, fiscal and otherwise.

I also want to express a belated thank you to John Stadtler for his many years of service to the Finance Committee. John was originally appointed to the committee by prior town moderator Jim Brady. It was a no-brainer for me to re-appoint John to the committee a number of times. When John recognized that his work commitments would not allow him to spend the necessary time on FinCom matters, John honored the committee and himself by stepping down. His business acumen, accounting expertise and grasp of Walpole's financial structure will be missed.  

This leads me to my last point, which is to thank all members of this finance committee for your devotion to the town of Walpole. You donate your expertise, dedication,  and hundreds of hours of your time to the town. Oh behalf of all the residents of Walpole, I express my deepest gratitude for your efforts on the Finance Committee. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thank you Ralph.

As I announced at Spring Town Meeting, Ralph Knobel is retiring from the Finance Committee as of June 30, 2012. Actually this was the third year of his most recent three year term, and Ralph has been letting people know for a while now that this would be his last year. Ralph served the town with his heart and soul for the past 23 years. Ralph was appointed by Moderator Steve Sullivan in 1989/90; then kept on and reappointed four times by Moderator Jim Brady. I had the good sense to reappoint Ralph in 2006 and 2009. When I announced Ralph’s retirement at Town Meeting in May, our legislative body showed great class and respect by giving Ralph a rousing and well-deserved standing ovation.

Last night (June 11, 2012), after the FinCom’s brief meeting was conducted, the Finance Committee hosted a social gathering to extend Ralph good wishes. Wonderful goodies! It was very well attended, and included the following people (while I was there. I may have missed some early visitors.)

Clem Boragine
MaryAnn Boragine
Fire Chief Tim Bailey
Deputy Police Chief John Carmichael
Building Superintendant Don Anderson
Moderator Jim Brady
FinCom Chair Larry Pitman
FinCom Vice Chair Carol Lane
Joe Moraski
Steve Connell
Claire and Tony Abril
Josette Burke
Michael Caron
Jim Capaletti
Cliff Snuffer
Pat Hinton
Dan Bruce
Lynn Donovan
Joe Denneen

In true Ralph spirit, he left his own party early to attend an Adams Farm meeting.  However, Ralph was recently voted in as an RTM from Precinct 8, so we will continue to have his presence at Town Meeting for years to come.

Thank you to Claire Abril, Josette Burke and Carol Lane for having this enjoyable time for one of Walpole’s finest citizens, Ralph Knobel.