Friday, August 13, 2010

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha...

Saw the new rules Marsha drafted. Disappointed from a resident it from the lawyer who sues the Town perspective. Keep the detail Marsha. It only makes it easier for the BoS to make fatal errors.

In any event, being the member who RE-instituted the category "other," I have a couple comments on these proposed rules. I give Jane Lopes the credit for me putting "other" back on the agenda, based on a comment she made in the Nemasket Forum a while back, where she described how Vic Sylvia and others would come to the mike and have long "debates" on Town issues before the Board of Selectmen. Her comments resonated with me and I really respected the tradition that she described of Middleborough citizens confronting their government in the old New England way.

Since I have come to this Town, I have always heard that "we have always done it this way." This can be frustrating at times, because sometimes the phrase is used to perpetuate error. But where public comment and input is involved, it is quite another story. The tradition of free speech and debate before the Boards of this Town should be immutable and sacrosanct. Our Board should be the primary and jealous protectors of that right.

Marsha...I cannot count the number of times that you have backed silly, outdated policies and procedures with the mantra that "we have always done it this way." In fact, wasn't it you that argued that the Board has always conducted itself without written rules, so why change it now. You fought to maintain the tradition of not adopting rules.

Now, Marsha, you have apparently decided that you are willing to give up the tradition of acting without written rules, and you are also throwing out the longstanding tradition of citizens, and the Board raising discussion. Nobody asked you to change the traditions of the Board, just to write them down on a piece of paper so that newcomers like me know what those traditions are.

Your new rules -- which do not even have a provision that allows them to be amended by this or any later Board -- give an iron fisted grip to the Chairman, who is simply an officiate of the meeting and no more powerful than any other member, and puts a jackboot right on the throats of those people who have the greatest inherent right to speak out at a meeting -- the citizens and those people who are about to decide if they want you to remain a Selectman.

Marsh...get a grip and reconsider who and what you truly are when you serve. The people you are squelching are the same people who you need to let know you are listening. Hopefully, you will redraft the silly set of rules that you are proposing -- I really don't need the extra business.


These Rules of Procedure describe the duties and methods of operation of the
Middleborough Board of Selectmen.



1. All members shall make every effort to attend each scheduled meeting.
2. Members of the Board have authority only when acting as a Board legally
in session. The Board shall not be bound by any action or statement of
any individual Board member, except when such statement or action is
pursuant to instructions from the Board.


1. ELECTION - A chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall be elected at the first
regularly scheduled meeting following the swearing in of members elected at
the annual Town Meeting. Election shall be by a majority vote of those

2. DUTIES - The Chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Board, and
perform all duties required by law. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson shall preside and assume all duties and responsibilities of the Chair.

C) COMMITTEES: The Board, by vote, may delegate members of the Board to
investigate Town matters, to serve on committees, and to perform other duties.



1. ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS - The Board may adopt the previous
Board's policies and procedures, subject to amendment as provided in these
Rules of Procedure. The Board shall establish a schedule for meetings for
the upcoming year.

2. REGULAR MEETINGS - A more formalized meeting of the Board generally
conducted in accordance with the order of the "Agenda" contained herein.

3. WORKSHOP MEETINGS - A less formalized meeting of the Board, generally
conducted for the purpose of providing Board members with a more detailed
understanding of a limited number of issues or to permit discussion of
issues in greater depth.

4. NON-PUBLIC MEETINGS - A closed meeting of the Board held for appropriate purposes in accordance with the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law.

B) SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS: The Board shall meet every Monday evening in a
regular meeting. Each meeting shall be posted in accordance with Massachusetts law. The
weeks in which the Board is not scheduled to meet shall be reserved for workshop
sessions as called by the Chairperson or Town Manager. The Board may alter this schedule of meetings by a majority vote of its members.

C) REPORTS OF COMMITTEES: Written reports from committees received by the
Board shall be filed for review by the Selectmen.

D) REVIEW OF AUDIT REPORTS: The Board shall review the annual financial report
submitted by the auditor as soon as the report is made available and take any
action related thereto.


A) QUORUM - A quorum shall consist of three (3) members of the Board.

B) AGENDA - Shall be published with meeting notice, and included in the minutes. A
suggested agenda is provided below. It may be changed by the Chair, or by vote of
the Board.
5. ….etc


a) A motion for adjournment will usually not be in order until after the
completion of the order of business, unless a motion has been made
at the start of the meeting to adjourn at a specified time.

Persons, including Selectmen, wishing to place an item on the agenda must notify
The Board of Selectmen’s Secretary before the agenda setting deadline, which is
12:00 Noon on the Wednesday preceding the meeting. If the person is going to
make a presentation, s/he must provide a copy of all presentation material and
documentation to be included in each Selectman's packet which shall be available
no later than 4:00 PM on the Friday preceding the meeting.

Only bona fide emergencies may be placed on the agenda for discussion at the
meeting after the agenda setting deadline has passed


The Chairperson's duties are as follows:
1. To open the session at the time at which the Board is to meet by calling the
members to order.
2. To announce the business before the Board in the order in which it is to be
acted upon.
3. To recognize members or other speakers entitled to the floor.
4. To state and put to vote all the questions which are regularly called or
necessarily arise in the course of the proceedings, and to announce the
result of the vote.
5. To protect the Board from undue harassment or otherwise uncivil conduct,
6. To assist in expediting all business in every way compatible with the rights
of the members and public by:
a) Allowing remarks when non-debatable motions are pending.
b) Calling a recess to permit restoration of order or clarification of an
obscure point if s/he thinks it advisable.
c) Guiding the members when engaged in a debate to stay within the
rules of order.
d) Ensuring on all occasions the observance of order and decorum
among the members and the public.
e) Deciding all questions of order (subject to an appeal by any two (2)
members) unless s/he prefers to submit the question for the decision
of the Board.
f) Informing the Board on a point of order, or practice pertinent to
pending business.
7. To authenticate by his/her signature, when necessary, all acts, orders, and
proceedings as directed by vote of the Board.
8. The Chairperson may vote as a member of the Board, but is not otherwise obligated to do so.
9. Discussions which are not addressing the business before the Board, or
which are conducted in a disorderly or disrespectful manner, shall be ruled
out of order. The Chairperson shall take whatever action is necessary to
achieve and maintain order, including ordering the removal of any person
who continues disorderly conduct.

D) CONDUCT OF MEETINGS: Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with
generally accepted practices of order and decorum. In the event of a dispute
regarding procedural matters, Robert Rules of Order shall serve as a guideline
with a vote of the Board being the final deciding authority.

E) RECORDING OF VOTES: Votes shall be by verbal outcry. The
vote of each member present shall be recorded. No action shall be re-considered at
a subsequent meeting in the same calendar year except by majority vote of the
members present and voting.

F) REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION: Should it become apparent to the Chairperson or
an individual Board member, in the interim between meetings, that additional
information relative to a specific item may be needed for Board use at the next
regularly scheduled meeting, a request for this information may be submitted to
the Town Manager. Any information provided to any individual Selectman shall be provided to the rest of the Board and shall note the origin of the request.


A) DUTIES: The Selectmen’s Secretary, or his/her designee, shall be responsible
for recording the minutes of the Board's meetings, and an official copy of the
record is to be filed in the Selectmen's' Office and open to inspection by any
person at reasonable times. In addition to keeping the minutes of the meetings, and in addition to any requirements under Massachusetts law, it is the duty of said Secretary to, at a minimum, record the essentials of the
proceedings as follows:
1. The kind of meeting - regular, special, work session, or recessed.
2. Time and place of meeting.
3. The presence/absence of Board members.
4. Whether the minutes of the previous meeting were approved or amended.
5. A brief, written record of the general topics discussed.
6. All main motions and points of order and appeals, whether sustained or lost,
and all other motions that were not lost or withdrawn.
7. Record of any votes by the Board, including names of those Board members
opposed if not unanimous.
8. The hour of adjournment.

An amendment to these Rules of Procedure may be moved at a Board meeting, but
shall not be voted upon until the next regularly scheduled meeting, not less than
seven (7) days later. A copy of any amendment shall then be certified and submitted
to the Selectmen’s Secretary for inclusion in the Selectmen's' Records.

These Rules of Procedure shall take effect immediately following a majority vote of the Board of Selectmen at a regularly scheduled Selectmen's meeting.


Anonymous said...

Adam, your rules are fair, concise and of course legal.
I would, honestly, have to say that Marsha is committing political suicide and so aren't the others that vote on her new rules. Who the hell does she think she is, now or could it be an agenda to punish those that have confronted the IT department?
Is this an ethics problem?

sm867 said...

The problem is a longstanding habit of tyrannical dictatorial control. Pure and simple. Marsha is sick and tired of listening to people in HER meeting.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a pending ethics investigation against the board?

Anonymous said...

you will never know about a pending ethics investigation, unless, it is exposed by the board or a penalty is imposed. If you are talking about Marsha seeking her own answer about the fiasco with her sitting on the Board with a very improper discussion by her and the board about the study done. unfortunately, if you think about her going in front of the board as a citizen than that was the answer. No penalty, just that she can not sit on the board during any discussions about the IT department, not just her husband. The budget, line item and salaries and personnel issues all have to do with her husband and thus, is unethical. That is the reason why Marsha has come up with the new rules. She can't talk, therefore, no one else will. Her agenda is showing.
I suggest that everyone read the new ethics laws and report every violation that the BOS does. It will make awareness more prevalent and transparency will have to come sooner or later.
Even if someone e-mails the BOS or sends a letter to the BOS the Wednesday before, there is no quarantee that The BOS will acknowledge receipt of the talking you want to do. They are known for trying to not read the taxpayers or citizens letters and not acknowledging them.