Please come to the Public "town meeting" Forum
Letter to the Editor
Friday, June 8, 2007

Newburyport - To the editor:

In regards to City of Newburyport's public "town meeting" forum to be held at City Hall Auditorium on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m.

This forum will specifically address fiscal issues, both revenues and expenses, and is designed to be both informative and "formative." Originally planned earlier in the budget process, the event was postponed until after the May 22 override. At this point in time, with the mayor's proposed budget figures in the midst of review and final approval by City Council and the results of the tax override now known this presents the perfect opportunity to figure out where we go from here.

This is the citizen's forum, organized in accordance with the ideals set forth in Section 20 of the original - now obsolete - 1851 City Charter, which reads:

"General meetings of the citizens qualified to vote may from time to time be held to consult upon the public good, to give instructions to their representatives and to take all lawful measures to obtain redress for any grievances according to the right secured to the people by the constitution of the Commonwealth. And such meetings may and shall be duly warned by the Mayor and Aldermen upon the requisition of fifty qualified voters."

Following that traditional, though now purely symbolic, step, the meeting will be "duly warned" at the June 11 City Council meeting, initiated by a memorandum from the mayor to the City Council president and members of the City Council. The communication describes the forum as a means to stage "dialogue on potential solutions to provide both desired and needed services for our community" - stressing that the forum is not a debate or "platform for political discussion." Which one might add, the community has just endured with the recent special election and will soon confront with the biennial primary and general ballot election of city representatives.

Those involved with facilitating the organization of the forum thank those city representatives in advance for "duly warning" the public of this opportunity to join in civic and civil discourse that will help set a course of action. And we are hopeful that they choose to lead by example in their participation, joining the mayor who will be attending along with some city department heads, including the school department and members of the School Committee, to help answer questions from the public.

More detail about the June 14 public forum - its information format and conversation flow - will be available on a link from the Web site and of course the before and after the forum.

And as for those "concerned citizens" who may have expressed concerns about who will be sponsoring this forum and/or informational meetings in general - something that since the recent override has become a factor before coming to the (laboratory) table to help formulate compound solutions to complex problems - please rest assured that your litmus test would find the basis and medium of this forum totally neutral.

We the undersigned are an ad hoc committee - (or "comity" which is the provincial spelling for the word "committee" in local 18th Century historical record of town meetings) - who represent those with diverse perspectives on many topical issues, including the recent tax override. The financial information assembled for the Power Point presentation is provided by the city and the forum discussion will be moderated by John Altson. The powerful points will be made by the participants, citizens and representatives who will together "consult upon the public good."

Forwarded in a Motion of Comity ~

Ken and Dominique Dear
John Altson

(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Current.)
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