Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Franklin Issue on the 2020 'Watch List': Citizen Engagement

The four issues on the watch list recently posted really boil down to two general buckets of issues: 

1 - the Town budget - facing a possible override along with increases in both water/sewer rates and trash/recycling along with intro of another fee for stormwater (with PFAS as a 'sleeper' cost to be addressed)
2 - the multiple school district issues covered in the two posts; the school budget, Davis Thayer, and the 'paused' school start time issue

The third issue I'll raise is also one of the possible solution areas.

The Town Administration and School District can proceed working with the Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee and other departments in the Franklin government on our behalf, as we elected them to do, or we, the residents and voters, can step away from Facebook, and truly get involved to do something.

As part of the Town Council goals and objectives, there are proposals for Civic Engagement efforts. 
Civic Engagement (NEW) 
● Research the potential for a “Citizen’s Academy” course for citizens
● Research the ICMA Citizen Satisfaction Survey through the National Citizen Survey and National Research Council
● Continue to update and reinvent the Town website, social media accounts, consider implementing a TOF podcast (Soundcloud/ Anchor) and develop consistent best practices organization-wide
● Expand E-Permitting and online payment options
Some of these are more 'service' related than 'engagement' related and hence while this is good, I do not think it goes far enough. I also understand, and fully respect, that the Town as a government entity can only do so much. We, as residents and voters, need to step up to make this "government of the people, by the people, for the people" work for us.

I also will not claim to have all the answers. I have learned and continue to learn more about Franklin and its government every day. How we can successfully reach the voters to get them to take action on their civic duties (i.e. vote for one, but that is only one duty) is an answer I am still looking for.

If you have ideas, I am open to listen. My contact info is available; reach out, let me know you want to talk, and I'll make time to do so.

In the Town Council goals and objective doc is a listing of key presentations scheduled or being scheduled for future Town Council meetings. If one or more of these topics interests you, put a mark on your calendar accordingly.

Presentations/Discussions (tentatively/confirmed scheduled dates) 
● Community Preservation Act - February 5 (scheduled)
● Housing Authority w/ Lisa Audette - February 12th (confirmed)
● Transitional Assistance - February 12th (confirmed)
● Economic Profile Study -- March/April (pending delivery of final report)
● MECC Regional Dispatch -- May 6th 2020 (confirmed)
● Department Presentations: Land Use & Permitting Departments -- June 2020
● Master Plan midway Update -- June/July 2020
● Charter Review Discussion - Late 2020

What can you do in the meantime? 

  • Get to a meeting, or watch via Comcast/Verizon, or the streaming feed via Franklin TV
  • Talk with our Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee, School Superintendent Sara Ahern, and Town Administrator Jamie Hellen
  • Have a civil conversation about one or more of these issues; together we can, and must, find a solution that works for us
The full goals and objectives doc can be found on the Town of Franklin page

Franklin Issues on the 2020 'Watch List'
  • School District Issues
  • Multiple Fiscal Challenges
  • School Start Time
  • New PFAS Regulations Proposed

the future of Franklin remains with the Franklin voters who can be active or passive
the future of Franklin remains with the Franklin voters who can become active or remain passive

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