Stockbridge Democrats       
                                          "All politics is local."

 

Stockbridge Democrats' Bulletin Board:

Upcoming Meeting and Caucus - March 18, 2017
Current Topics
Shared Services
Rallies and Receptions
General Announcements
Discussion on Town Spending
     SDTC Political Survey Results
Debate Schedules and Locations
Committee Endorsements - an opinion

Open Disclosure of Town Positions







Upcoming Meeting and Caucus -

 March 18, 2017 - Agenda:


Meetings
Stockbridge Democrats

 as posted
Saturday March 18, 2017  Call to Order: 10:00 am
Meeting Room, Stockbridge Town Offices

 
Greetings, Welcome, Points of Order, Introductions

Stockbridge Caucus for the 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Convention
Meeting of the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee
Caucus of Stockbridge Democrats - Town Positions

 

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Stockbridge Caucus for the 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Convention
... to select delegates to represent Stockbridge at the
Massachusetts Democratic Convention

 

Call to Order
Guest Speakers

Convention Details

June 3, 2017 (Saturday) Worcester
Transportation
SDTC pays fee for Members*

Introduction info
Chairman letter
Inclusion -  Rules                   

Delegate Positions                              Alternates (also go)

            1 x officio                               1 male

            1 female                                  1 female

            1 male                              1 either/or

Call for volunteers, nominations and/or vote
IMPORTANT - participants need info - stay after meeting or later contact
Motions to close

Meeting of the
Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee

 
Call to Order
Minutes, Finances, Membership
By-Law and Compliance Items

Reports on
Stockbridge numbers
Local participation
Presidential election participation & Berkshire Brigades
Young Democrats

Closing comments
Election of SDTC Officers

Motions to close

 

Caucus of Stockbridge Democrats

... to nominate Democratic candidates for Town Office as "Democratic Caucus Nominee"

Call to Order

Review of rules and procedures
- General Info: Nominating to be the “Democratic Caucus Nominee” (on the ballot)
- Rules for running
- Procedure:

            First Position: 

Candidate identification and acceptance of candidacy

First candidate

Other candidate(s)

Position closed

Statement by candidates and supporters - questions & comments.

            Second Position:

            Etc.

 NOMINATIONS

 - Rules for voting:
On the ballot, for each position listed, write next to it either -
- a nominee’s name or
-“endorse no one”

A blank is an abstention.  Incorrect or incoherent entries will be voided. 
Please write clearly.

Election time line:
Now - get papers and signatures.
March 28 Tuesday- 5:00 pm deadline for turning in papers.
Now to May - campaign
May 15 Monday - Town Meeting
May 16 Tuesday - Election

Announcement of ballot results
Motions to close.

 THANK YOU

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Positions and Candidates - 2017 Election

Positions                Announced Candidates    Party/Status                 Nominees

Selectman                   Terry Flynn                 Democrat

 

Bd of Assessors          Tom Stokes                 Democrat

Bd of Health              Hank Schwerner         Democrat/Incumbent

Sewer&Water Com  Tom Schuler                Republican/Incumbent

Town Collector          Nancy Socha               Democrat/Incumbent

Treasurer                   Karen Williams           Unenrolled/Incumbent

Parks&Recreation 

3 year Steve Knopf
1 year  -- (no announced candidate)

Planning Board        

            5 year (pick two)

                                    Kate Fletcher              Democrat/Incumbent

                                    Ruth Pierce                 Unenrolled

            3 year (pick one)

                                    Dominic Cardillo        Democrat

                                    Michael Roisman        Democrat

                                    Lisa Sauer                   Democrat

            2 year (pick one)

                                    Marie Raftery              Unenrolled

                                    Stuart Hirshfield         Democrat

            1 year (pick one)

                                    Jennifer Carmichael    Republican

                                    Anita Schwerner         Democrat


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Following letter was sent to Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee Members and Friends on Feb 15, 2017:

Subject: Stockbridge - Caucus and Meeting - Stockbridge Democratic Party

Members and Friends

This is the chance for Stockbridge Democrats and friends to get together, to discuss our town, to share our views of the political scene(s), and to consider a path forward. The issues are manifold - with Republican control of government at all levels. 

We’ll be holding three consecutive meetings - State Caucus, Town Committee, Town Caucus; And all Stockbridge Democrats are urged to attend.

When and Where:

Saturday, March 18, 2017
10:00 am Call to Order - but try to come a bit early for check-in.
Meeting Room, Stockbridge Town Offices, 50 Main Street, Stockbridge
(Typically about 1½ hours total time.)

The Plan:

Introductions and Greetings and Guest Speakers. Then ...

First will be our State Caucus, selecting delegates to represent Stockbridge at the Massachusetts State Convention, to be held this year on Saturday June 3 in Lowell. As usual, we’re allowed six participants. This year’s Convention is slated to be a “Platform Convention.”

Second, we’ll hold a brief meeting of the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee. At this time, agenda items include a report on committee status, a number of administrative procedural items and reconsideration of future directions.

Third and finally we’ll hold our Stockbridge Democratic Town Caucus. Here candidates will be presented for endorsement as “Democratic Caucus Nominees”- a designation to appear on the May 16 ballot. There are thirteen positions up for election this year, and at this writing there appear to be candidates for all but two positions. This is a chance to meet and question those who will be serving us in our town government.

More Info:

A complete list of positions and candidates appears on our stockbridgedemocrats.org web page - tab for Election Score Card. An updated agenda along with past meeting minutes and treasurers report for all meetings will be posted there closer to meeting time.

Questions, comments or suggestions? Hit the reply button on this email. As always, we want to hear from you. And keep an eye on our web page for updates, breaking news and info.

Look forward to seeing you on March 18. 

Don

Don Chabon
Chairman
Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee

PS: I want to announce that our long time Stockbridgee Democratic Town Committee Treasurer Sue Rogers has chosen to resign. Anita Schwerner, with the enthusiastic approval of all Board members, has agreed to fill the remaining term. We thank Anita for stepping forward and Sue for her service.

Letter to:
31 Members and Associate Members
77 Friends
  5 State Contacts
  3 News Media



Current Topics
Shared Services (The following is intended to present ideas and positions on the current debate on Stockbridge Shared Services):

Letter from Terry Flynn (and see note at end)
Letter from David McCarthy
Letter from Bob Jones
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Letter From Terry Flynn:
October 18, 2016
To The Editor of The Berkshire Eagle:

          I wish everyone in Stockbridge could have witnessed the recent meeting of the tri-town committee on regionalization. The primary focus of the meeting was to tweak a plan to regionalize the administration of the 3 towns.  At the center of the region would be a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)-a position which would be assumed by the current Lenox Town Manager. The CAO would in turn hire 2 Administrative Assistants. Since the CAO’s greatest expertise is in finance, the 2 assistants would be selected with an eye to expertise in human resource, IT, or some other major area.

          The plan was created by the MA Department of Revenue, and at its base is the questionable narrative that declining population, increasing demands on services, tighter budgets, and complex regulations have created for the 3 towns a crisis so imminent that they must be managed by highly qualified and expensive experts. A key focus of this narrative is to centralize the management of employees in the 3-town region, and thus to increase efficiency, reduce the number of employees, and save money on wages, salaries, and benefits. While at first the CAO would work with each town’s current structure of elected and appointed boards and employees, the assumptions behind regional administration will ultimately lead to uniformity. For example, within a few years, Stockbridge’s elected positions of Tax Collector and Treasurer might well be transferred to hired managers, and our police, fire, and DPW employees might well be led by regional leaders.

          Zack Blake of the DOR presented the plan with the heavy-handedness that often comes with the state’s regionalization efforts. He made it clear that the idea of any one of the towns rejecting the plan was unacceptable. To emphasize this, he pointed out that a town going it alone ran the very real risk of failing so badly that the state would take it over.  He also mentioned the need to act expeditiously, citing pending deadlines and continued mismanagement. Of course he and his colleagues also used the softer means of cajoling, as they described various types of grants and start-up funds. Cajoling townspeople into saying yes was a major focus of the meeting, and at one point, Mr. Blake was asked to add more detail about the state’s role..  He said he was hesitant to do so, because sometimes people worry about ‘Big Brother’ in state initiatives.  One of the committee members responded by saying he could use all the euphemisms he wanted. The most disturbing part of the DOR’s presentation was the repeated assertion that, by committing to this plan, the Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge compact would become the flag ship for other towns to follow. Clearly Boston wants this to happen.

          Our previous select board made a mistake by joining the tri-town compact.  Doing so has involved us with Boston and all the pressure and power that implies, and it has unnecessarily kept us from exploring shared services with other towns including West Stockbridge and Richmond.  Last year, when Selectman Cardillo began exploring shared services with West Stockbridge, he was publically chastised by one of his colleagues, and told the commitment to Lee and Lenox prohibited him from doing so.  This was and is not true.

          Most of us in Stockbridge realize that our town is a self-governing community, not a business, and that the ‘best practices’ being pushed by the state are not necessarily best practices for a community. Contrary to the narrative being spun by Mr. Blake and some leaders in our town, there is no imminent crisis facing Stockbridge, and there is no need to panic and drastically alter the management of our town.  Despite the contentious nature of our recent discourse, Stockbridge is alive and well, and in a strong position to deal creatively and effectively with any pending problems.  Both our elected and appointed officials in the town offices are working efficiently and professionally, and our elected boards and department leaders are looking carefully at pending capital needs. Our Planning Board is working energetically on important present and future issues, and public safety, sewer/water, and highways are in good hands. We have an interim town administrator, who has years of experience, knows the town well, and is eager to learn and grow. And we have a neighboring town administrator with 25 years of experience, who has a deep appreciation of the small-town way of life, and who has offered to assist our town in any way he can.

          We should reject the tri-town regional CAO and begin exploring reasonable shared services with all of our neighbors.

Terry Flynn
Stockbridge

P.S.  I realize your limitations of space, but I prefer to have little or no editing.  Thank you.

-------------------------

Note: This saw daylight in The Edge. We are advised the Eagle told Terry they would be interested in printing this if he edited it in half.
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Letter from David McCarthy
To Stockbridge Selectmen
copy to 30 contacts
October 24, 2016

Dear Selectmen,
 
First, let me state up front that I am very much in favor of the concept of shared municipal services. Thus, I was very interested to read the report presented at the recent BoS meeting last week. Having done so, I was left with some very fundamental questions that I think you, as a board, need to answer early on in this process. In fact, I would have thought they would have been addressed before this point in the process, and perhaps they have but have not been widely reported.
 
1. What is the rationale for approaching a shared services project in a “top down” rather than a “bottom up” fashion? One might have expected you to first establish joint working committees across the three towns to identify areas where services might be shared, and specific and quantifiable potential savings identified. If compelling and concrete evidence of savings were found, you might then consider a joint administrator. What is your thinking in following what appears to be the complete opposite of such an approach?
 
2. Please note in the report presented at the BoS meeting the very substantial differences in budgeted expenses between Stockbridge and the other two towns (even after adjusting for education expenses), but the very similar tax base of the three towns. Given this, what analysis has been done to provide some level of comfort that Stockbridge will not become a “cash cow” in a joint arrangement with Lenox and Lee?
 
3. Given the population disparity between Stockbridge and the other two towns, why wouldn’t any discussion of shared services have begun with (or included) other towns of similar size (e.g. West Stockbridge, Alford, Richmond, etc.)? On the surface it would seem to be a far more obvious place to begin?
 
Again, I think these questions, and perhaps others, should be publicly addressed by the BoS at the earliest possible date. I’m sure many of us in town look forward to your thoughts on them.
 
Please let me know when a discussion of these questions is planned.
 
Sincerely,
 
David
 
David F. McCarthy

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Letter
From: Bob Jones
To The Berkshire Eagle
Published October 23, 2016

To the Editor:

The Town of Stockbridge has been in transition over the past couple years, with changes ranging from members of the Board of Selectmen, a new police chief, a library renovation/ restoration and any number of topics which have generated varied opinions and impassioned debate. It’s not always pretty. But there is more to the story than simply disagreement and rancor.

Jack Spencer, the Chairman of the Stockbridge ZBA, recently reported at a BOS meeting a personal observation. Using round figures, he said that in a town of 1800 voters, around 200 were either serving on boards, committees, or organizations directly involved in Stockbridge concerns. That is impressive.

Passions are sometimes elevated in meetings and expressed in earnest in letters to the paper. I personally believe that these are signs of a healthy community. People care. They are concerned about their neighbors, quality of life in Stockbridge, and in doing the right thing.

The latest challenge being faced by the Town is the issue of “shared services.” This could get complicated if we choose to go that way, but I suggest that it doesn’t have to. I have spoken to many friends and neighbors on the subject, and I have yet to meet one who doesn’t think it is a good idea on some level. The idea of sharing a piece of road equipment, a grant writer, perhaps even vying for a better bargaining position with contractors by working in concert… All of this seem worth a conversation.

But we are currently being led down a path that will take us far from sharing just incidental services. We are being asked to share an administrator with the towns of Lee and Lenox. Consider this: Three communities with very distinct differences being run by one administrator and two full time assistants. Not to mention one town with a completely different form of government involving town representatives.

We, as individual towns, are in danger of losing our distinct identities. Folks in Lee have preferences that are different than folks in Lenox. Lenox is distinctly different than Stockbridge, and so on. Currently if we have a concern, we can go to a Selectmen’s meeting to address the matter (or simply chat with them on Elm St.). How accessible will an administrator be to the citizenry of three towns? Our Selectmen (not to mention other boards) will in many ways be abdicating their direct responsibilities to us. Elected officials are responsible to the people who put them in office. Administrators are answerable only to their supervisors: our Selectmen or Town Reps.

We are in also in danger of letting this whole process get away from us. Talks are being conducted by Selectmen, Town Reps, and State officials to make this happen. I suggest the Stockbridge Board of Selectmen to withdraw from further negotiations with other Towns and the State until the voters of Stockbridge have had the opportunity to discuss and fully comprehend the issues surrounding this fundamental proposed change.

Sincerely,

Bob Jones


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Rallies and Receptions




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General Announcements


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Survey Results:
At the March 14, 2015 SDTC meeting a political survey was conducted.  Following are the questions and results -

1. How often do you vote?
Almost all respondents reported voting in almost all elections.

2. When you vote how important is the political party of the candidate?
In national elections most responded between very important and the midpoint.
In state elections responses were evenly scattered over the full range between very important and not important.
In local elections responses were between the midpoint and not important.

3. When voting, will their party be influential if you can't decide between candidates?
Responses were overwhelmingly yes.

4. How often do you cross party lines when voting?
Responses overwhelmingly indicated that sometimes everyone crosses party lines.

5. Is the "Incumbent" endorsement on town ballots influential?
Responses were evenly spread between often and rarely.

6. Is the "Democratic Caucus Nominee" endorsement on town ballots influential?
Responses were spread between often and rarely, but clearly skewed toward the often side of the scale.

General Comments:  People said they were pleased to have had this chance to participate.  There were no negative or disapproving responses.
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Debate Schedules and Locations




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Other Items

For An Interesting Opinion Piece on


Town Committee endorsement of candidates see the bottom of our <SDTC By-Laws> tab at left.  This kind of thing is often a divisive issue for town committees, and
the insights of then State Chairman John Walsh 
are worth noting.

Open Disclosure of Town Positions

The following letter was delivered to the selectmen on the date indicated.  The SDTC Vice-Chairman Hank Schwerner and Chairman Don Chabon appeared before the Board in early January 2013.  The select Board agreed with the letter and indicated that action would follow. Action to date (5/2013): The new town web page does now have some information on available positions. We know of no other action that has been taken.

December 5, 2012

To:

Selectmen, Town of Stockbridge -
Deborah S. McMenamy
Stephen A. Shatz
Charles Gillett

Town Administrator -
Jorja-Ann P. Marsden

From:

Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee -
Don Chabon, Chairman

Subject:  Publication, Promotion and Open Disclosure of Town Positions

In General:  The Town of Stockbridge has many opportunities for its citizens to participate in town government – through elected as well as appointed positions.  This proposal is aimed at improving that participation.  It is believed that the community will be better served if more citizens are given the chance to participate, if voters and/or appointing bodies have a greater selection of candidates to choose from, and if the nature of town positions is openly and clearly stated with issues or special situations surrounding these positions being fully disclosed.

The Current Situation:  Elected positions are indicated in the Annual Report.  Notice is placed on select bulletin boards – typically in the Stockbridge Town Office and U.S. Post Office on Elm Street.  We believe this fulfills the minimum requirement for legal notification.  Appointed positions are filled ad hoc – and the process varies.  Often the search procedure is haphazard – including the general inquiry “…does anyone know someone…” or the current board/committee is asked, or someone with connections will suggest someone or come forward, etc.

Proposal:  We propose a consistent, complete, open and publicized announcement of all available town positions. This should include an overview of what these positions entail, requirements of the office and the term length; it should be promoted in a manner that a majority of residents would become aware of openings on a timely basis and then provided a link with easy access to relevant details.  This would also include full disclosure of any special situations surrounding these positions (e.g. special election, shortened terms, etc).

Specific Options:   A single clear place/page on the town web site listing “all available position information” in standard format seems fundamental.  Advertising blocks in local media could be useful at minimal cost.  Attractive promotional posters (as opposed to “legal type” notices) would be helpful and could be placed at many locations around town.  Consistent reach-out to town political leaders (e.g., heads of political committees, chairs of boards, etc) should be commonplace.  And an important aspect is that announcements be regular in location, consistent in format and timely (at the time papers become available or at least one month advance).

Comment:  In this day and age, government openness and full disclosure is essential.  Adopting the tenets of this proposal would go a long way to avoid bias, exclusion and discrimination in filling town positions.  Good citizenship would suggest that positions be open to everyone and that everyone has the opportunity to present their credentials for consideration.

Each year the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee seeks people for town office.  And each year we find ourselves searching for candidates and trying to explain to residents what positions are open, what these positions involve and how they can go about running.  Our last members meeting instructed the Chairman to make this proposal; it was felt that this is a full town issue – not just one of the Stockbridge Democratic Party.

We would be pleased to discuss this further at your convenience.

Donald M. Chabon, Chairman
for the Officers and Members of the
Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee

Copies to SDTC Officers
Massachusetts Democratic Party representatives
Letter posted on SDTC web page <StockbridgeDemocrats.org>

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