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Author Topic: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"  (Read 1864 times)

John

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"Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« on: February 09, 2014, 06:23 PM NHFT »

http://www.vnews.com/news/townbytown/grafton/10601382-95/grafton-meeting-gets-testy


Grafton Meeting Gets Testy
By Sarah Brubeck

Valley News Staff Writer
 
Sunday, February 9, 2014
 (Published in print: Sunday, February 9, 2014)
 
Grafton — Grafton kicked off its Town Meeting season by having the chairman of its Planning Board escorted out of Saturday’s deliberative session by police.

Brian Fellers, who has been a member of the Planning Board since at least 2006 and chairman since at least 2011, began the meeting by questioning the “Rules of Decorum,” which the moderator, Susan Frost, had distributed to all in attendance.

The rules prohibit cursing, name calling and personal attacks against people or their motives, and give the moderator the authority to ask the police officer in attendance to remove from the building any person conducting himself or herself in a disorderly manner.

Fellers said he didn’t like the idea that he could be kicked out of the meeting for what he had to say, and said he thought the rules were a violation of his First Amendment rights.

A motion was soon made to strike the rules of decorum. Frost warned voters to read them carefully.
 
From the back row, Pam Curran stood up and defended the rules.

“I think these are orders of respect,” Curran said. “I don’t know why we want to disrespect each other. If we eliminate this, there will be no respect.”

Ultimately, only a handful of people voted to strike the rules, and they stayed.

So did Fellers, for the moment.

Town Meeting is meant to bring voters close to their government and give them a direct say in town and school budgets. It’s a lesson in pure democracy. But as anyone who has been to a Town Meeting knows, there are moments of boredom, frustration and times when it feels like the meeting is just dragging on.

It’s safe to say that voters in Grafton on Saturday felt all of those emotions. It took an hour and 45 minutes of discussion before voters even began to address the warrant. By 2 p.m. — five hours after the meeting started — voters were only on Article 5 of 30.

Last year, the meeting started at 6 p.m. and adjourned at 12:45 a.m.

About a decade ago, the Free State Project, whose libertarian members lobby for smaller government, selected New Hampshire to settle in, and Grafton soon became the home to many “Free Staters.”

At last year’s deliberative session, Free Staters and their allies reduced Grafton’s proposed operating budget by more than $128,000, about a 10 percent cut. This year the Free Staters weren’t able to touch the operating budget, although they had plans to take a stab at it.

It’s not fair to blame the slow progress of Saturday’s deliberative session entirely on the Free Staters, but they didn’t help hurry the process along, either.
 
For almost two hours, the meeting debated two issues: a motion to strike the rules of decorum and whether one resident, Kevin Barlow, should be allowed to vote even though he didn’t have the proper paperwork. (Ultimately, a supervisor of the checklist said Barlow did not complete a voter registration form in time, and he was not allowed to vote.)

But during that discussion, in which Fellers argued to let Barlow vote, he interrupted other speakers several times. The moderator eventually asked him to leave. Fellers, who sports a long gray beard and a shaved head, was then escorted out by police.

He didn’t go quietly, singing, “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her … as someone gets escorted out.”

Some of the 100 or so voters in attendance clapped, and one woman chuckled after Fellers had left the building.

The budget discussion then went relatively quickly.

The Selectboard and Budget Committee informed the group that the $1.6 million operating budget on the warrant should be only $993,556. After some discussion, voters were asked to amend the budget to the new dollar amount, and they approved the proposed budget.

Afterward, several Free Staters, including Jeremy Olson, inquired about a motion that they had requested earlier, which was to go line by line through the budget. But they were told it was too late because the budget had already passed. A motion was made to reconsider the budget, but it failed 36-60, and the meeting moved on to the next article.

Olson said he was disappointed, especially because he and others had worked hard to plan how they would attempt to cut the proposed spending.

“It’s complete chaos in there,” Olson said referring to the budget vote. There were often several motions on the floor at once.

Olson had a stack of small slips of paper on which he had typed his motions so he could hand them to the moderator. One motion requested that the police budget be cut from $132,053 to $89,000. Another suggested cutting legal expenses by $5,000 and slashing the highway and street budget by nearly $34,000. One had a motion that would have reduced the budget by 9 percent, while another would have eliminated the streetlight budget.

Olson said he and other Free Staters probably wouldn’t have submitted all of the motions if they could have gone over the budget line by line, but they were prepared.

“It’s like a game of chess,” he said. “You have to plan all these moves out because you don’t know what they’re going to throw at you.”

When asked why he wants to cut the budget, Olson said simply, “lower taxes.”

Olson moved from Massachusetts to Manchester in 2007, and then to Grafton in 2010. He said the budget has been increasing each year. The Free State movement, he said, is all about reducing government.

“You shouldn’t be forced to pay for things you don’t want,” Olson said. “It’s democracy in action.”

This year, Olson said, there were a couple dozen residents who would vote “pro-liberty.” Compared with last year, however, there were more people at the meeting opposing, or at least not supporting, the Free State Project.

On the other side of the spectrum was Rich Blair, who wore a blue Obama-Biden button to the meeting. In an interview, he said he thinks the Free State Project is “trashing” the reputation of the town he’s lived in since 1985.

He said three people had come up to him before 1:30 p.m. to ask him not to leave, even if he got frustrated with the length of the meeting.

“People are staying because they want to fight (the Free State) movement,” Blair said.

Sue Jukosky had to leave the meeting after the budget vote, but she said she wished she could have stayed. Jukosky said she doesn’t usually come to the deliberative session because she said the town doesn’t do the best job letting residents know the date and time. But this year, she got a phone call the night before the meeting encouraging her to attend, and she said she wanted to be there because she didn’t want the budget to be “undermined.”

“I didn’t want people to come and cut the budget to pieces,” Jukosky said.

The meeting, which started at 9 a.m., lasted about 11 hours, but all the warrant articles “survived” and none were thrown out or changed dramatically, said Selectboard Chairman Steve Darrow.

Grafton residents have always been reluctant to spend money, Darrow said, but the Free Stater’s role last year in cutting the budget arbitrarily caused a larger turnout this year. The Free Staters were vocal, but they couldn’t control key votes.

“People wanted to show up to make sure what happened last year didn’t happen again,” Darrow said late Saturday night. “There was strong support from people who didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.”

Town Meeting is scheduled for March 11. Voting will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grafton fire station.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.
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Knowaymr

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 09:50 PM NHFT »

Wow...not sure what to say about this or where to start....know this though.....Kevin Barlow was registered to vote....Bonnie knew it.....shit may hit the fan.....ahh Grafton.
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Tom Sawyer

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 10:08 AM NHFT »

Quote
Fellers, who sports a long gray beard and a shaved head, was then escorted out by police.

See they're weirdos!

Quote
“There was strong support from people who didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.”

Who are "arbitrarily" cutting the budget.

Don't see any negative terms used for the idea of increasing the budget year after year.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 11:15 AM NHFT by Tom Sawyer »
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MaineShark

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 12:20 PM NHFT »

Don't see any negative terms used for the idea of increasing the budget year after year.

Yeah, there is a lot of bias in the article.

For example, she mentions that Jeremy moved from Mass, branding him as an outsider.  Then she immediately goes to Blair, mentioning that he's lived here since 1985, but without any more information, implying that he's a local who was born in 1985, when in fact he's a crackpot lunatic who moved here from New Jersey in that year, and who consistently attempts to change Grafton into some copy of NJ.

She says things like, "Free Staters and their allies..." when in point of fact, the situation is "local liberty lovers and their allies among the Freestaters" - the local liberty folk far outnumber the FSP participants.

The whole article is filled with loaded terms, careful omissions, etc.
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Russell Kanning

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 01:28 PM NHFT »

People responsibly grow government
And irresponsibly cut it
Ack
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Free libertarian

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 07:59 PM NHFT »

Pigs engaged in eating don't like interruptions.
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Russell Kanning

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2014, 10:15 PM NHFT »

Can you at least joke amongst yourselves or play drinking games during the all day meetings?
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Free libertarian

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2014, 03:46 PM NHFT »

Can you at least joke amongst yourselves or play drinking games during the all day meetings?


Mocking demockracy is not allowed.
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blackie

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2014, 03:53 PM NHFT »

I'd rather stay home, and let the voters fight amongst themselves.
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Jim Johnson

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2014, 08:10 PM NHFT »

I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
I didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.
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Russell Kanning

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 08:43 PM NHFT »

he is learning
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KBCraig

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2015, 09:12 AM NHFT »

http://www.vnews.com/home/15198024-95/grafton-man-guilty-in-outburst-case

Grafton — The former chairman of the town Planning Board has appealed a disorderly conduct conviction stemming from last year’s lengthy deliberative session in Grafton, where he repeatedly interrupted other speakers.

On Monday, Brian Fellers filed an appeal of the judge’s verdict that he disrupted the flow of the Feb. 8, 2014, meeting by speaking out of turn multiple times, including when he sang God Bless America while being escorted out by police.

In his four-page appeal, Fellers questioned whether the court followed proper procedure prior to and during a one-day bench trial in Lebanon District Court on Dec. 9.

Fellers, who is still a Planning Board member, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a public facility at an arraignment in April. Under state law, it is illegal to disrupt “the orderly conduct of business in any public or governmental facility.”

Fellers, who represented himself at the trial last month, was found guilty by Judge Thomas Bamberger, who issued Fellers a $500 fine, which was suspended as long as Fellers stays out of further legal trouble for a year, according to a case summary filed in Lebanon District Court.
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Free libertarian

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2015, 04:33 PM NHFT »

 

This years meeting should be even more interesting.    There should be at least 20 liberty related warrant articles heard.

For instance,  no town cooperation with the NSA,  no civil forfeiture,  decrim. the weed, victimless crime, reduce the cop budget from over 100 K per year to 10 K per year.  (can you say Barney Fife gets a bicycle?)   etc.

Yeah....we got carried away with this freedom thing.


Oh and the article in the Valley News was in error.  It failed to mention the Prosecutor can't work for Lower Grafton County Prosecutorial Association, or at least not the one registered with the State.  Somebody else registered THAT already and has an "official gold seal stamped"  magic paper from New Hampshire to prove it.  So it seems the Prosecutor might have fibbed a little bit and is using the name but he's not "official" .    I can't wait to wear my new blue blazer emblazoned with "LGCPA"  next time I'm in court or handing out Juror info.
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blackie

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2015, 09:58 PM NHFT »

Has a UN free zone warrant article passed in Grafton yet?
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Jim Johnson

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Re: "Grafton Meeting Gets Testy"
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2015, 11:01 PM NHFT »

...and 'The Most Effective Use of Warrant Articles' goes to...
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