To The Daily Sun,
This is a tale of two meetings. One where democracy was demonstrated to its finest and one where it was severely lacking.
I attended Inter-Lakes School District Meeting last week on Wednesday, March 8, where we started off by voting in our moderator for that evening, Mr. Chris Boothby. He presided over the meeting with experienced moderator skills and ran the meeting in the true spirit of democracy.
A young man, Jackson Williams, a senior at Inter-Lakes High School attended. He had come with a prepared speech about asking the School Board, the IL superintendent and the residents of Center Harbor, Meredith, and Sandwich to reconsider putting back $95,151 for a technology integrator that the School Board had cut from the budget during the budget process.
What actually happened was that Jackson missed his opportunity allowed by parliamentary procedures because the body had just voted and passed the school budget as proposed.
Realizing this he went to the mic and asked if there was anyway the audience would consider letting him make his case for this position. The moderator put it to a vote and the audience allowed him to read his prepared speech. A few residents asked some very good questions and made some clarifying statements. The audience listened and decided after the discussion that we heard a very reasonable and compelling argument and voted to put back the money for this position.
It was exciting to be there and be a part of the process where the youngest voter among us had the courage and the facts to make his case and fight for something he believed in. He was articulate, made his points and persuaded us that indeed this was worthy of reinstating.
The second tale is where democracy was sorely lacking and that is at the Belknap County Delegation meetings.
On Friday, March 3, and Monday, March 6, I attended the 2017 budget meetings where I personally asked Chairman Herb Vadney if he would allow public input which was not included on the agendas. In both cases he told me "no."
Monday, I approached Rep. Vadney in the hallway of the Belknap County offices, where a number of constituents held signs asking the delegation to fully fund the commissioner's budget. I started off by asking if he had attended our school district meeting on March 8? He said he had not, so I quickly filled him in on what I stated above. Then I said; "This leads me to ask you, if there could be public input tonight?" His answer: "not a chance."
I have attended many of these meetings over the last few years and different representatives have stated before a vote that they had heard from their constituents by phone or email on particular issue and that is one of the defining reasons why they vote the way they do. Evidently, they take into account those they hear via the phone or email but not constituents at their meetings.
Why is that? I would like to know why hearing from their constituents at a live meeting is any different. Why do they not give all of their constituents the same privilege? Why is the chair the only one who decides when there will be public input or not?
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