The Town & I

Summary
1.5 years Town Meeting Review Study Committee
2 years Groton Fianance Committee
6 Months GDRSD Regional Agreement Amendment Committee
Several accepted submissions for 2015-2016 Groton Charter Review process
Destination Imagination Team Coach

What we’ve done together so far:

  • Groton Finance Committee — 2014 — current
    • Worked on FY16 and Fy17 budget cycles where I gained a fundamental understanding of our municipal fiscal operations, and, of course, what concerns we face moving forward with unsustainable growth.
    • Championed the newly established Fiscal Sustainability Committee which will advise the Board of Selectmen regarding various possibilities to reign in the year-over-year increases we’re currently facing.
    • Wrote the Fincom’s final submissions to the Charter Review Committee (CRC). I presented our team’s approaches for the Fincom to have a greater role in the Town’s fiscal governance. All of our submissions were adopted by the CRC and will be made available to the people during a future town meeting for ratification or rejection.
  • Groton Town Meeting Review Study Committee (TMRC) — 2013-2014
    • This was a great opportunity to get involved in Groton’s municipal workings. The TMRC was a diverse team of Groton citizens, the Town Clerk and the Town Moderator who together examined the possibilities regarding Groton’s Town Meeting structure.
    • Scott Harker and I created a very scientific survey which was distributed in paper and electronic form. This data was then collated by volunteers within our GDRSD High School.
    • My significant contribution was to perform a thorough analysis of the survey data
    • I presented the Committee’s findings in our September 2013 public hearing: TMRC Survey Presentation
    • The TMRC proposed several minor modifications for Town Meeting, many of which have been implemented by the Town Moderator and the Board of Selectmen. Click here for their final report and presentation.
      • Electronic voting at Town Meeting was investigated further by a subsequent advisory committee, and it was rejected due to cost considerations in 2015.
  • Submissions to revise Groton’s Town Charter
    In 2015, I made several submissions to the Charter Review Committee (CRC), an excellent team of seven thoughtful, diverse, and diligent individuals who are tasked with offering improvements for Groton’s Charter, which is basically our local constitution. I have attended quite a few of their meetings, and enjoy seeing how a team can really work well together to forge an excellent foundation for our town’s governance. In addition to minor housekeeping items I noted for the CRC, below are some highlights of my recommendations:

    • #79 Information Technology Director — accepted
      • Because the IT department should be a fundamental component of Groton’s government, the Charter Review Committee agreed with my recommendation to encode this role in the Charter.
    • #77 Public Relations Specialist — not accepted
      • In an effort to increase transparency, responsiveness, and community outreach, I recommended the Charter contain provisions for an individual who specializes in engaging and understanding the public which Town Hall serves. The CRC did not feel that this type of role should be mandated by the Charter.
    • #112 Keep the Board of Selectmen membership at 5 — accepted
      • A 5 member Board of Selectmen gives the voters of Groton a much better opportunity for a governing body which reflects the diverse demographics and intent of the town’s populous.
      • 5 members can provide internal checks and balances that might not be possible with a lesser number.
      • According to the 2011 Massachusetts Municipal Directory sixty-five out of sixty-nine towns governed by a Town Manager have at least 5 members governing policy.
      • It’s not the Charter’s mandate to assure harmony in our government. However, the proponent for a 3 member board states “another factor in favor of a three member BoS is the pressure for more cordial interpersonal dynamics.” It is irresponsible to attribute a cause-effect relationship between a numerical value and team dynamics. The quoted statement as a logical fallacy, incapable of being proven.
      • The Charter explicitly identifies a 5 member Board of Selectmen. It was clearly the choice of the first committee drafting the original Charter. It was also approved by the people of Groton at Town Meeting and at the ballot.
    • #35 Board of Selectmen Term Limits — not accepted
      • On behalf of another citizen, I submitted this proposal. It was important that this item be discussed by the Charter Review Committee, and I agree with their outcome — we have a chance at limiting the terms of ALL elected officials each time they run for re-election.
    • #35 BoS members may not hold any other elected office — accepted
      • A member of the BoS holds tremendous influence over the Town’s affairs. It goes against best practices in governance to allow one person to have statutory authority over different facets of Groton’s governance. The CRC agreed with me and accepted this recommendation.
      • While not part of the final recommendation, it is also critical to the separation of Town powers that a member of the BoS should not serve on the Fincom, which is an appointed committee.
    • #34 Professional Development for the Town Manager — no determination
      • The Town Manager role is so critical to our town’s function. The role requires so many hats, that it seems unlikely we would find a candidate who is exceptional in all areas. It’s common in business to require managers and executives to attend seminars and classes which allow them to improve specific areas of weakness and remain up-to-date with the latest theories in management and governance. This type of continuing education should be a mandatory part of the Town Manager scope, and allotted for in the Charter.
  • Destination Imagination Team Coach — 2014/2015 & 2015/2016 School Year
    • The DI Program is one of the best ways to teach problem solving and team work skills to tomorrow’s brains. It’s been a great experience to guide a small group of middle school kids through a yearlong continuing project. If you have a kid in the middle school and they haven’t tried Destination Imagination, I highly recommend it.