To The Daily Sun,
This letter is intended to amplify an article in the March 14 edition of The Laconia Sun.
When I entered the Moultonborough Community Auditorium (sign above entrance) for the Town Meeting on March 12, I expected and was prepared for an extended debate on Article 2, the $6,491,000 proposal for a community center.
Shortly after debate began, one voter motioned to "move the question" and the legislative body (the voters) affirmed the motion ending debate and starting the voting.
After the vote defeating Article 2, several selectmen alleged a "conspiracy" to "stifle debate" and alleged that the Town Meeting had been "hijacked." Everyone needs to know that there was no conspiracy. No one knew that a motion to call the question would be made early in the debate that would preclude further discussion. The margin on motion to end discussion was substantial.
Initially, with others, I wondered whether a lengthy debate would have made a difference in the 63.2 percent "no" vote. In my opinion, it would not have. After all, this was not a contest of debate teams with a surprise topic that judges were determining a winner to. At the Town Meeting, minds were made up. On Candidates' Night, held less than a week before, the question was asked as to how many voters had not made up their minds on the article, and not one person raised their hand.
The voters at the Town Meeting were similarly firm in their decisions. There would not have been a record turnout if voters were not prepared to vote their convictions.
Had Moultonborough been an SB-2 town, there would have been no debate, as the proposal would have been as set forth on the printed ballot, a simple "yes" or "no."
As other voters, I came prepared with a statement regarding my objections to the proposed Community Center that it was (1) too large, (2) improperly sited, (3) would preclude the recommended concept of a village green for the Taylor property, and (4) disrupt Route 25 traffic, if access were provided for parking at mid village. I prepared four amendments to correct those deficiencies and notified the moderator prior to the meeting. I previously stated in letters to the editor that I was conceptually not opposed to a properly sited, modest Community Center.
The several selectmen who were critical of the early motion to end debate, should have directed their complaints to the moderator, who under the rules, had the authority to defer consideration of the motion.
Finally, I would like to comment on the ill-conceived selectman's motion to reconsider, seconded by another selectman, which appeared intended to obtain a re-vote after a substantial portion of the voters had left the meeting. While there was some debate as to whether the Municipal Finance Law would preclude a same-day vote to reconsider, I moved to amend to add the seven-day requirement, as a vote the same day with substantial numbers of voters gone would have been unconscionable. I added to the seven-day delay, a requirement for publication of a re-vote in the Town Web Site and a local newspaper.
That amendment prompted the selectman who had initiated the motion to reconsider, to summarily withdraw it.