Sunday, May 20, 2007

Town Meeting

I might have been too subtle in the previous post when I spoke of Town Meeting.

Town Meeting in New Hampshire, where we came from, and other New England states, frequently employ Town Meeting as a form of governance. Town Meeting members, usually all of the eligible voters in a geographic district but sometimes representatives elected by those voters (called Representative Town Meeting), actually vote to approve or disapprove a budget for the particular district, salaries of municipal officials, and by-laws, which are local statutes.

If you aren't from New England, or a government junkie like me, you might not have heard of Town Meetings and School District Meetings, but we always found them to be as close to pure democracy as its possible to get. There's a name for it: Direct Democracy.

Florida Statutes probably don't allow for such a structure here, but nothing prevents The City, in its various expressions from engaging citizens in dialogue about big things, important things. Its inefficient, sure, but it sure is designed to let The Public have its say about things. No three-minute time limits, no Monday afternoon meetings, and a highly-skilled moderator who is able to enforce what few rules govern the conduct of such meetings. Here is how they do it in Maynard, Massachusetts.

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