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Officials move to cut off debate on facilities plan

October 24, 2014

Walpole officials don’t even seem to be confident enough in their own flawed facilities plan to be able to defend it in a public forum. They and their supporters shut down debate on the measure at Town Meeting on Wednesday evening.

Town Meeting Representatives had to sit through a 1-hour-long presentation, in what amounted to a sales pitch, by Selectmen on the proposed $30 + million facilities plan, and then only a few RTMs were allowed to speak about the plan before Finance Committee member and Precinct 4 RTM Joe Denneen moved to cut off debate. His motion to end debate and take a vote, known as “moving the question,” passed by voice vote.

Mr. Denneen’s move to end debate was briefly questioned by Precinct 1 RTM John Hasenjaeger, who argued that Mr. Denneen, as  Fin. Com. member, has had months to discuss the facilities issue while most RTMs only had one night to discuss it. Mr. Hasenjaeger pointed out that a mailing error had caused the Town Meeting Warrant to be delivered late, so some RTMs could be coming into Town Meeting unprepared. Moderator Jon Rockwood still allowed Mr. Denneen’s motion to end the debate, but also allowed two RTMs who had been waiting to speak prior to Mr. Denneen’s motion, to speak.

Precinct 5 RTM John Vaillancourt, who managed to speak before Mr. Denneen cut off debate, submitted a substitute motion that would have funded a police station on South Street without an override. But Selectman Cliff Snuffer, also a Precinct 2 RTM and a vehement override supporter, quickly moved to cut off debate on that motion, too, effectively depriving voters of a chance to hear alternatives to the plan Selectmen have proposed. Mr. Vaillancourt’s motion was voted down with absolutely no debate or discussion allowed on it.

Precinct 8 RTM Joe Moraski submitted an unknown substitute motion of his own, but Mr. Rockwood did not consider his motion valid because it was submitted after debate was cut off.

Under Town Meeting rules, a motion to “move the question” is non-debatable and a vote is taken immediately. The motion requires a 2/3 vote.

Although it was brief, the debate about the facilities plan was tense at times. At one point, Mr. Rockwood ruled that Selectmen Chairman Mark Gallivan had made a comment toward an RTM that was “out of line.” At several points during the meeting, certain groups of RTMs clapped and jeered about particular points that were being made.

The plan eventually passed Town Meeting after a roll call vote, 92-36 (according to 180’s count), with 128 RTMs present (out of 150 total.) The measure needed 2/3 support for passage.

Selectman Jim Stanton, who was elected in June espousing fiscally conservative views, supported the plan as a Precinct 2 RTM, however his wife, Judy Stanton, opposed the plan.

Town Meeting will reconvene Monday to vote on the proposed acquisition of Sharon Country Day Camp on Common Street.

Voters will cast their ballots on November 4 on a $21 million override to go toward the facilities plan. Selectmen plan to use about $9 million already available to the town to supplement the override.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Luce permalink
    October 24, 2014 11:34 AM

    very nice letter i pray the people of walpole shoot down the override it wastful spending

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