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I belong to a local sportsmanship club that has email alerts. And I believe our very own Mik set up the web site for them, maybe he can tell us all how expensive or difficult it is for the town to provide this service.
"If the town wants us to believe they don't know how to get the word out to its residents, that's BS."
What's BS is the idea that "the town wants us to believe they don't know how to get the word out". No one has suggested that "the town" wants any such thing.
I think you minimize the work involved with (and benefits of) an email notification system, but if you think that would be helpful, by all means suggest it to the town clerk. Unless you want me to do it; just let me know, and I'll put it on the list ;-).
Are you interested only in Montague? Because there's the Valley Fermenters Club, which has been around for quite a while, based in Greenfield. They have a booth in the Round House at the Franklin County Fair every year, and I believe they have meetings and other events (years ago, they had a an occasional pig roast, but I don't know if they still do). If you're interested in "do it yourself", I'd start with them.
VALLEY FERMENTERS CLUB
Po Box 1047
Is there anyone out there who is home-brewing their own stuff? Laagers, ales, wine. mead, anything fermentable, who would be interested in getting together in a forum or in person from time to time, to sample and discuss methods, recipes or other general mayhem? I'm sure I'm not the only home-brewer in Montague and am curious if there are others out there with a passion for making their own stuff.
I am sure that everyone who has commented on this topic has already gone to their 2014 calendar and circled the date of May 19th. ( The third Monday in the Month of May.)
Not a single person commenting can blame any one but themselves for not remembering to vote and make an effort to find info about the candidates.
Anyone not know about the special election for U.S.Senator and for a soon to be vacant Montague Select Board seat. Hint it is in June.
I would be interested to see how many Town Meeting members failed to vote. Election day was announced a the Annual Town Meeting and Deb B pleaded for write-in candidates for town meeting members.
70 Chestnut St. HATFIELD
Sat & Sun 9-3
Antiques, collectables, tools, side by side fridge, lg washer, snow blower, mowers, housewares, bed frames, heywood wakefield cabinet, mini crib, changing table, toys, train table, new w/tags, new in box, furniture, $1.00, .50, .25 tables. no junk cash only
Bit of a ride but worth it.
Email alerts from the town would be easy, when you register to vote give your email. When you pay your taxes you can provide your email, you could go online and enter your email. Just about everyone these days has email, or a robo text. People get free Internet at bars, coffe joint s etc. and everyone has a cell these days to receive text alerts. It's not rocket science people. If the town pretended they were trying to collect money from its residents, then everyone would be aware of all elections. If the town wants us to believe they don't know how to get the word out to its residents, that's BS. They know how to contact all of us, and do every year for our $$$$$
The internet isn't free, either (or do you pay nothing for your connection)? If you subscribe to The Recorder, you can read the entire paper online, and I expect you could tell them to take your paper copy and donate it to a school.
As for having a lot to scan through, have you paid attention to where we're putting these posts? ;-)
A) the paper isn't free
B) It is not emailed
C) it is not broken down very well into Catagories especially the front page
D) There is a lot more you have to scan through to get to the information you want
E) E mail doesn't pile up in the recycling bin for two weeks at a time. (though if you did you could figure out the recycling schedule based on how old the bottom newspaper is)
"We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to."
Can you provide examples of broken links and outdated information? I've recently volunteered to look into the town's IT infrastructure for the fin comm, and the usefulness of the web site fits right into that. Feel free to contact me privately if you like.
In the meantime, as John Hanold said, whatever its faults, there was plenty of information about the recent election on the web site, and the town clerk is always ready to answer questions. (And yes, the correct URL is http://www.montague-ma.gov, although http://www.montague.net also seems to work.)
One thing that has surprised me in this discussion is the number of people who seem to believe that this site is a good source of information about town affairs. In my experience, that has not been the case, especially in recent years. A good example is the number of people who posted here AFTER the special town meeting in March, saying they didn't know about it. If news about it had been posted here, they would have known about it, right? That plus this current discussion might be clues that if you want to find out about things BEFORE they happen, this site might not be your best choice (enjoyable as it is in every other way, of course! :-)). On the other hand, if all you want to do is complain about how "the town" hasn't lived up to your expectations, this has proven to be an excellent site, time and time again ;-).
In my opinion, if you have time to read and post on this site, you have time to read the paper, so if you don't read the paper it's not from lack of time. It's a choice, and we all make choices, and we can't choose everything, but I think it's important to recognize that it's us making the choices, and in many cases we are perfectly free to make other ones if we really want to. So don't make choices that have certain consequences and then complain about the fact that nobody else rearranged the world so that your choices would work out better than they did. That's not me lecturing -- that's common sense. Isn't it?
I did not notice anyone saying anything that warrants an apology to the town clerk. Nobody said the town or the town clerk did anything wrong. What I saw was suggestions that would make elections more noticeable to a very busy population.
Maybe to get an election board more actively advertise open positions and dates of elections would be nice.
I was not aware until I tried doing research that papers are not required to post election notices (but if they don't then I think people should write the papers to request they do so).
Town Hall and the post office are not the popular hang out places like in the olden days when election notice laws were orginially written.
"Even those of us who are too dumb to vote know that the town web site is montague.net. We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to."
Even those of us who are too dumb to vote know that the town web site is montague.net. We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to.
This seems to be a very popular thread, and I hope this discussion results in more Corkboard "posters" voting in the future. Here is what a phone call to Town Hall and a brief website look-up yielded:
* Municipal elections are always on the third Monday in May. Every year. Per the bylaws.
* The town website is www.montague-ma.org. To get to the election warrant you use the Elections link at the foot of the Home page -- where the election results will be posted when the Clerk has gotten acceptance from write-in candidates for open seats.
* Higher on the Home page is the notice about many Town Meeting seats being vacant -- it's been there a long time.
* The Town Calendar link on the Home page takes you to the highlighted election posting for 20 May. The NEWS menu on the right has had an election note for some time.
* Notices about this election were first posted in January, and stayed up till the day after the election.
* News articles and postings about absentee ballots and candidates have appeared all spring.
* Lawn signs are the candidate's choice.
As the highly-regarded Mike Naughten would say, here comes the rant.
The above information is provided for the benefit of those who are "very busy," don't drive past their polling places, don't go to Town Hall, don't read the REPORTER or RECORDER, don't watch public TV, don't talk to their neighbors, and so forth. In my opinion, the drumbeat of what _town staff_ should do to mentor and guide possible voters sounds like an embarrassed kid deflecting responsibility from himself to "anyone else." The turn-out problem (and scarcity of contested elections) is not the fault (or responsibility) of town staff -- it begins with voter/resident apathy, and cynicism about government is compounded by incomplete information broadly shared and regularly repeated. An apology to the Clerk's office might be in order?
Now, GO MARK 25 JUNE ON YOUR CALENDARS! It's a TUESDAY, we are electing both a Selectman and a U.S. Senator, and the polling places are the same as always. Pay attention to news articles (if you don't normally read newspapers, arrange for a friend [some may have to fall back instead on a neighbor] to clip articles for you). Watch for a likely Candidate Forum featuring Selectman candidates, and ask questions.
If the town were to come into the 21 st century I'm sure they could find better ways to get the word out. Otherwise 9% voter turnout will be the norm. Maybe the town doesn't want too many people voting. in this electronic age better ways are there
Chapter 63 Section 51. In towns using official ballots the town clerk, at least four days before an election therein, shall cause to be posted in one or more public places the names, residences and designations of all candidates duly nominated to be voted for in the town, substantially in the form of the official ballot.
I did not find anything in the state law about how notices for town elections need to be posted. (not to say isn't there, I am not an expert at searching laws). There was one requirement that cities had to send copies to their local newspapers but it specifically said that there was no requirement for the newspaer to print it.
I am sure the town did everything legally required. Saying it is up to the individual to stay informed by constantly having to spend their time to look to see if an election is coming up seems a very high bar in today's world when we don't have time to even read the papers any more. If I had lived for a long time in this town I may finially see a pattern to the voting but I have moved around a bit and everywhere (including towns in MA) have their own schedule and not easy to keep track.
If you don't want uninformed people voting maybe you should request the town not put up signs identifying polling places so that only the select few who stay informed can vote. This is why so many of us served in the military so just the elite could vote.
patrick - I was ranting, and I may have exaggerated a bit, but basically, yes, I'd prefer that people who don't know what they're voting for not vote. I don't know that I "complained" about low turnout; if anything, I think I "lamented" it, but that's different. I do think it's too bad that so few people consider it their duty to find out what's going on in local government and participate when possible, but that doesn't mean I want to lower the bar very much (if at all). It's like lamenting poor math or reading skills -- the answer isn't to make the tests easier.
Maybe there are ways "the town" could get the word out better, but there are cost/benefit questions for all of them. And look at this thread -- as you say, there are "several people [who] have now stated that they had no clue there was an election", and all of them have called for "someone else" to make more effective efforts to keep them informed. None of them that I saw seemed to consider the possibility that they, themselves, might also make more effective efforts to _be_ informed. Why is it always someone else's job to make sure you know what's going on?
Like many organizations, this town is run by people who know when to show up and then show up. If you want to be one of those people, the bar is pretty low -- but you do still have to show up. If you think there's an election coming up, the town web site has a calendar, and if that doesn't have the information a phone call or email to the town clerk will give the answer.
But just knowing about an election doesn't tell you about the issues, and don't expect "the town" to fill you in. For obvious reasons, the town is officially neutral on all ballot issues, so beyond providing the basic facts you're on your own. That's where other sources come in -- the newspapers, MCTV, this corkboard, whatever. You don't need cable to watch MCTV -- you can watch it on Vimeo (I just learned that tonight, though it may be old news to some :-)).