Sunday, June 15, 2008

Franklin Matters: Intro and Override Reasons

This is the first podcast in a series for Franklin (MA) Matters. In this segment, I review the reasons for the recent override failure, propose some lessons to be learned and possible actions to be taken to prepare Franklin for the future.

This is a public service provided to my fellow Franklin (MA) citizens and voters.

Time: 10 minutes, 43 seconds

MP3 File

Podcast Notes:


Based upon the traffic analysis, how many readers, how many listeners, I am going to try something different, this podcast will likely to be a weekly format, or at least as frequently as necessary to cover what matters

I will make this available via iTunes, I’ll continue to record as many meetings as I can attend but rather than posting the full meeting, I’ll use segments in this podcast.

The goal of this podcast is to provide a review of what has happened and an outlook as to what is coming up for the week or near future


Why did the override fail?

By the numbers, 1600 yes votes from last year did not vote yes this year:
500 of them chose to vote no. Just over 1000 stayed home and chose not to vote at all.

What happened to these yes votes?
I think there are a number of reasons.

Apathy is always a factor - "My vote won't make a difference." On a national scale, the individual vote does not count for a whole lot. On the local scale, one vote is ONE vote.

Town priorities - The school budget is always a town matter. The School Department and Superintendent are properly advocates for what they need. The Finance Committee provides some oversight and validation but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Town Council. So while this year (and last) the School Committee brought forth what they needed to maintain the level of education that they were providing, the Town Council chose to follow the beat of their own drummer. Last year the Town planned for the override in advance and included town operations in the override amount. This year, the Town set the schools up on their own and only allowed an override when forced by the School Committee and the presence of growing support within the community. Alas, the support was not enough to carry all the way through.

Mis-information - The hearsay, mis-information and inaccuracies were prevalent in the community discussions. Trying to get the proper information out to the folks was like swimming against the riptide. The Milford Daily News closed out anonymous comments the day after the vote but the damage was done. The constant naysayers were abusive and out in force. Heaven forbid, you try to get a word in edgewise. The key point on this is the difference between a capital expense and an operational expense. Clearly, the majority of Franklin voters don't understand or appreciate the difference.

I believe the Franklin voters who did not cast their ballots will come to regret their decision. The days of Franklin being selected in Top 10 or Top 100 are over. Digging out of this hole will be the hardest thing to do.

The task of the Five Year Plan Committee will be immense. We, the voters, will have a chance of getting a decent plan. There are two "normal, everyday citizens" on the committee along with the elected and appointed officials. We will have to monitor the committee to ensure that they are open and doing something productive. We can not let the Town Council let this opportunity sit idle again.

Additional reasons can be found here


What can we learn from the failure?

Personally, letting others direct the conversation, reporting the facts, hoping for the best doesn't work.

Action will be required. The level of my own engagement in the town meetings (especially the Town Council) needs to increase.

You, yes you!

Don't sit at home and let the talking heads babble on. Make the effort. Go to the Council Chambers. Show them that there are real live people for whom they should care about what they do. Hold them accountable.

Conversation about what is happening needs to maintain some focus on the real issues. Don't let the agenda hide some items. Ask where is it? Ask what is happening? Ask why?

Together we can come out of the hole. Or separately, we can see our home values decline, or students fall behind, our future dim.

This is our choice.

What choice will you make?

How much does Franklin matter to you?

For additional textual information, please visit Franklin Matters

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow Franklin citizens and voters by Steve Sherlock

You can send me an email at shersteve at gmail dot com


The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

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