RTM 101: What It Is, And Does

Nancy Kail is a member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

She wants to celebrate the town’s non-partisan legislative branch, and spotlight the work the body’s 36 diverse members do. She writes:

Westport’s RTM is a key part of our town government. Tomorrow, the entire RTM membership is up for election.

Pay attention to races in your RTM district. Don’t forget to flip your ballot over. RTM races are on the back side.

The RTM is our non partisan legislative body. We represent all 28,000+ Westport residents.

The RTM enacts local ordinances. It votes on town and school budgets, capital investments, appropriations, employee contracts, and whether or not to uphold decisions made by other Westport boards.

It approves building committee members, library trustees, town appointed commission members and others.

There are 36 RTM representatives in total — 4 members in each of 9 districts.  Each RTM district has approximately 2,300 registered voters. An RTM district map is here, and below.

Why is the RTM Important?

We represent you in decisions and votes that touch on everything in town that you care about: our schools, parks/beaches/other natural resources, roads and sewers, traffic and safety, construction and development, budgets and taxes, human resources services and our many cherished town organizations such as the Library, Levitt Pavilion and Senior Center.

Party politics don’t have a place on the RTM. We are a nonpartisan, diverse and collaborative body. Because we are a large group of representatives that operates by majority vote, we have to work together and compromise in order to get work done.  What matters is effectively representing our constituents by solving problems and addressing important issues together. We are democracy in action.

Last month, RTM members celebrated Restaurant Week with a lunch at Zucca. 

We are productive

Since January the RTM has passed leaf blower and Affordable Housing Fund ordinances, and introduced traffic and safety, and public safety, ordinances that will be voted on soon.

We passed this year’s operating budget, restored funding for Wheels2U, approved the 3-year contract for Parks & Recreation and other town employees, appointed a Transit District co-director, approved the First Selectwoman’s recommended Long Lots School Building Committee members, and upheld P&Z decisions on the Hamlet at Saugatuck.

We have all attended and spoken at numerous other town board and commission meetings, such as those involving affordable housing, town development projects, the redesign of Parker Harding Plaza, the Long Lots School Building Project/gardens/fields, traffic and safety, and flood and erosion control.

We communicate with constituents, and do our best to assist them with questions and concerns. In upcoming meetings we will discuss how to expand and improve ways the public can comment and participate in RTM meetings.

Effective RTM Members

  • Follow RTM processes and the rules governing publicly elected boards, yet when necessary, can affect process or rules changes and improvements
  • Work collaboratively with colleagues, even those with whom they disagree
  • Effectively advocate for and substantiate positions and votes
  • Consider all points of view, can distinguish fact from opinion and sound information from misinformation
  • Listen to, and communicate with constituents and keep them them top of mind when making decisions
  • Hold themselves to a high standard of behavior and engage in civil discourse.

Tomorrow, You Will Choose Your RTM Reps

Get to know your district’s RTM candidates. Click here for the League of Women Voters’ guide. Follow the prompts for your district.

Vote and tell your friends to vote.

Stay in touch with your RTM members going forward, they would love to hear from you!

A map of the RTM districts. Click on or hover over to see polling locations.

41 responses to “RTM 101: What It Is, And Does

  1. And Yet Nancy, you are one of the Rtm29.
    I think you have a lot of nerve publishing this piece on Dan woog..
    I could go on and on and on and on, as I sincerely hope others will, to do this piece justice.



    • I would say that if 83% of the entire non-partisan RTM agree on a vote, that Ciara should check her ideas against what the average Westporter wants from the town government.

      Ironically, using a very useful, non-political post by one of the 83% to stump for an almost new slate of RTM members in my district says a lot about those candidates, and is an actual demonstration of the word “nerve.” Thank you for indicating the minority-view candidates I should NOT vote for.

  2. This is simply amazing. Nancy, you are one of the 29 RTMs who, a few weeks ago, voted to strip us of the fundamental right to petition. And you actually succeeded in that bald power grab.

    In my view that is not “democracy”, it’s vandalism.

  3. Rename it the TM since it no longer represents the residents of Westport. Can someone publish the full list of the TM29? It will help to know who not to vote for.

    • What you seek Alex, can be found at:
      westport.gov -> Government (rollover) -> Representative Town Meeting -> Voting Record & Attendance -> Legislative Session November 2021 – November 2023; then scroll down to last page, see column for Item # “6”.

      This is in fact the only case where the RTM voting record can lead to informed voting, because it’s the only RTM vote that resulted in *any* (29 in this case) “no” votes.

    • On October 3rd, these 29 RTM members were determined to infringe upon your ONLY guaranteed right to petition our Town government to be heard without first being subjected to censorship by the RTM moderator. This is chilling, and you should be infuriated by this assault upon your “freedom of expression” and “right to equal standing”.

      RTM29 Bairakaris, Banks, Batteau, Bram, Braunstein, Briggs, Buckman, Church, Cohn, Colabella, Gold, Hammond, Izzo, Kail, Karpf, Keenan, Klinge, Kramer, Lowenstein, Mall, Milwe, O’Day, Perry, Purcell, Schneeman, Shackelford, Shaum, Tait, Wieser

      If any of these “representatives” are in your district, think very carefully prior to casting your vote.

      You rightly ask, WHY DID THEY DO THIS? I Explain:

      TO BE CLEAR: The RTM was not obligated to assault the Town Charter provision in question. They did so intentionally in order to CENSOR specific “matters” sensitive to the current administration, and thereby avoid discussions that the administration does not want to have because they have inherent potential to derail the trains they have been conducting – some of which, via FOIA requests, we are learning were formulated outside public view.

      The excuse given was a specious concern over POTENTIAL “inconvenience”, “frivolity”, “nonsense”, and “discomfort”: Inconvenience in having to potentially stay SEVERAL MINUTES longer at a meeting, perhaps being subjected to frivolous concerns (“popcorn”), matters beyond RTM jurisdiction (“declaration of war on Weston”), and discomfort in listening to hate speech (“Nazis”). These are the EXACT concerns expressed by the RTM29 and this mirror reflects how deep the RTM abyss has become. This is insulting to every resident’s intelligence.

      FACT: NO SINGLE INDIVIDUAL IS GRANTED THIS PETITION AUTHORITY. The Charter requires “TWENTY OR MORE RESIDENTS” to simultaneously petition in order to obtain the required Town Clerk certification that grants the access to the RTM agenda.

      FACT: The Charter DOES NOT empower the RTM Moderator, Town Attorney, or anyone else to “filter” the concern that TWENTY OR MORE residents wish to discuss. THAT is having the freedom of expression with a built in guardrail to minimize the potential that a handful of residents would “waste the RTM’s time”.

      FACT: In the 74 years since our Charter was created, frivolousness has never occurred.

      Their conviction was to violate the ONLY uninhibited resident guarantee to petition AND did so without having resident approval to do so. EVEN WORSE: WITHOUT CARING TO HAVE RESIDENT APPROVAL TO DO SO.

      THAT is also at the heart of the matter. THAT is not democracy. THAT is not representative governance. THAT is bullying. THAT is oligarchy. THAT is shameful. AND THAT MUST END.

      Fact: One of those RTM29 accosted me in the rear of the auditorium (witnessed), and summarily declared that: “In representative government he need not “survey his constituents” prior to casting a vote with significant importance and consequence to the constituents he represents! REALLY?

      Unfortunately this is a sentiment stated too often by many of the RTM’s membership. I say this with great concern and sadness. The RTM must be better than this.

      FACT: RTM representatives are elected to represent the interests of their constituents in matters that come before them, and in so doing are sworn to place the interests of those who elected them above their own. Simple to understand.

      Here are the only 6 RTM members brave enough to defend your rights of freedom of expression, and uphold your ONLY Town Charter guarantee to petition your representatives in a forum where it matters: Milwe; Harris Falk, District 2; Ross Burkhardt, District 3; Matthew Mandell, District 1; Ellen Lautenberg, District 7, and Sal Liccione, District 9

      When you lose your ability to petition, you relinquish ALL control of the agenda the Town wishes to discuss. This is called CENSORSHIP. It is immoral, unjust, unethical, and directly violates the Town Charter that premeditatedly granted you your freedom of expression at our RTM forum.

      • Susan Hewelett-Davidoff

        Fact: You referred to the 29 nonpartisan members as “GANG RAPING,” in their action to vote no because they simply…did not want frivolous petitions and vitriol of filth that you have spewed to take away from the thankless job of their normal business.

        As a grandmother of three girls, a mother of two children, and a victims advocate for 35 years, I am appalled that such a entitled, privilege, “doctor” who worked in the ER for 35 years, as I searched, would even refer to their action as that when I am POSITIVE you treated patients and victims of rape.

        Your constant sounding off broken record approach would receive much more respect, had you delivered it without such anger and hatred.

        I offer you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul and you find peace.

        Gang rape:
        the rape of one person by a group of other people.
        (of a group of people) force (a person) to have sexual intercourse with a number of offenders against their will.
        “the woman was allegedly gang-raped by four staff members”

        • Mrs. Davidoff
          I accept your criticism of my choice of words and apologize for having offended you. Clearly my reference was used figuratively as the word taken in the context it was utilized meant “to steal”, “to abduct”, “to pilfer”, “to destroy”. You will find this in the dictionary as well, and this is the original meaning of that word, is still commonly used to delineate the intensity of the theft and destruction. Common examples are the references “Rape of the Land”, “Rape of the US Constitution”, etc. These, as well as my reference, have no association with sexual assault. It means “theft”.

          However this is irrelevant in that I unintentionally offended, and apologize for having done that. My choice of word should have been better.

          Regarding the remainder of your comment: I do not spew vitriol, and the RTM29’s concern about “frivolous” petitions was a smokescreen; in the 74 years since our Town Charter has existed there have been ZERO frivolous petitions requested by our residents. ZERO. Westport residents are far too intelligent and considerate for that.

          The reality is that several very important and significant petitions have been denied. “Frivolousness” was claimed, but it is NOT the actual reason that they have decided to censor your right to petition. The reason is to control the issues that our Town leadership does not want discussed (the poisonous Baron’s South dumping, Parker Harding project, Community Gardens, etc.) until such time that THEY decide to allow it – if ever. They desire to filter what gets heard, and when it gets heard.

          Hatred? I never hold hatred nor malice towards anyone. Never. Anger, frustration, sadness is another matter. Many many residents have become angry because their opposing voices when provided politely has been repeatedly ignored. There comes a time when “anger” becomes inevitable. I imagine during your decades of victim advocacy you have felt similar emotions as well, as you have illustrated in this comment to me. Being a product of the 1960’s we are well aware that anti-war, civil rights and women’s rights issues did not get ANY attention until people became angry and “impolite”. THAT is what was required to obtain the justice long denied.

          Entitled? Trust me when I say this has not, is not, and will never be the case.

          Privileged? Absolutely privileged to have lived my life in a country where a Constitution has guaranteed me all the freedoms you and I enjoy, and to have had a long career dedicated to serving my patients without ever once being concerned about payment. Very privileged indeed.

          If you have no interest in the truthful information that I have brought to light to help Westport’s residence understand the truth, ignore it. Nut I hope you reconsider.

          In closing I ask you to consider this: If you and 19 other residents decided that the state of homelessness in Westport, or that Westport’s victims of social media bullying required attention, your group of 20 could have successfully petitioned the RTM to hear your concerns in an official forum. The RTM is the ONLY place that our Charter guarantees you this ability. Now you will be denied that opportunity because the RTM has “no jurisdiction” over homelessness or bullying (or substance abuse or Westport suicide or book censorship, etc.). This is not what the Charter says. The Charter guarantees your group’s right to petition. None of these are “frivolous” concerns. YOUR Constitutional right is being stolen.

          This has made many of us angry.
          Serving on the RTM is not a thankless job as most of us thank them often. However, even good people makes mistakes – and they have done so in this instance. They can do better.

          Thank you for your dedicated service as a victims advocate. And again I apologize for having offended.

  4. The only District 9 RTM who voted on 3 October to preserve the right to effectively petition the RTM was Liccione.

    Separately, but still On Topic:
    Can someone explain to me what that little District “1A” on the map is all about?

  5. I could not agree more Morley,
    In fact to wake up this morning and to have to read such unadulterated drivel, which quite frankly has ruined the start to my week, the following are my thoughts.

    Ms kail is not only one of the rtm 29 ( who chose by her vote) to tell me as a resident she could care less about my “matters” mattering. She also ignored for 8 months the letters from not only me but from Sal liccione, a fellow rtm’er attempting to engage her in the Parker Harding debacle. One she finally did get involved in when the writing was already on the wall. When she realized her election chances were in peril, only then did she grudgingly decide to take residents side on the cut through road. Now I suggest she has a neck like a jockeys bollox to ask Dan woog to publish this piece.

    My grandfather , god rest his soul, used to say when he heard something shocking
    “What is the world coming to”
    That is what I thought this morning when I read this

    If you care about your voice you WILL in district 9 elect


  6. Highlighting a single RTM member the day before an election in a very crowded D9 race is not fair. I will not be voting for any of the RTM 29. In district 9 I will be voting for:

    Sal Liccione
    Doug Enslin
    John Suggs
    Jennifer Johnson

  7. Michael Mossman

    And here are the early rising conspiracy mongers who see a majority of volunteer public servants (the “29”) as somehow in cahoots against democracy. Funny but I thought democracy was all about achieving a majority. 29 to 6 from a non-partisan body is pretty compelling. And if the four candidates being pushed by the conspiracy mongers here represent this type of thinking and behavior it’s probably a good reason to vote for someone else.

    This article invites the public to engage with their RTM representatives directly and ask why they vote the way they do. I’d encourage people to do just that instead of listening to the strident voices in this comment section. And please vote for informed, open-minded, competent and collaborative representatives!

    It’s minority rule that threatens democracy. 29 to 6 happened for a reason. And “reason” is the operative word here.

    • Mr. Mossman, you may be forgiven for not playing close attention to the heist in question. To clarify, ONE person, the RTM Moderator, now decides whether you and the rest of Westport’s electors deserve to be heard. Like those odds?

    • That a majority voted to negate a long respected and often exercised right for any Westport citizen to petition the RTM doesn’t seem like democracy. It’s the opposite.

      • Democracy will not function without procedure. All of us Westporters are free to communicate with our RTM members. Westport democracy has not been diminished by this vote. If you are concerned about it, I would suggest you check in with your RTM reps, rather than the commenter who want to sell you their candidate with a false narrative.

  8. Idalia Rodriguez

    Why vote to remove the right of local citizens to petition the RTM? Isn’t the role of Elected town representatives to listen to their constituents to effectively serve in the best interest of the people they represent?

    • The RTM is a legislative body. Your RTM reps, if you’re district voted in good ones, are available to hear your concerns. This vote is related to procedure. It does not stop anyone from communicating with their RTM reps.

  9. Michael Mossman

    Morley, once again you write with confidence in your own incorrect assumption. I don’t need your forgiveness. Perhaps you should ask for mine as you have represented my opinion with misinformation.

    I have, in fact, followed the moderator’s decision. Jeff Weiser’s was supported by the town attorney. It was based on the needs of the RTM to get the mountain of business in front of it accomplished in timely fashion. The moderator is himself a gardener and was not trying to subvert any process, just trying to keep an orderly process and respect the time of the volunteer RTM members who often meet until late at night after a long work day. As it turns out, the RTM is the most open and available body in Westport for members of the public to observe and address. The garden issue is not a “heist.” Just about everyone in town loves the garden and hopes there is a way to rebuild Long Lots School and preserve it. But beating up on the moderator and RTM volunteers will not help that cause.

    It’s is a real turnoff and disrespects the work of our town volunteer representatives. And you have disrespected me. Please stop.

    Anyone who wants to be informed as to why the RTM voted the way they have on any issue can follow the abundant guidance provided in the above article. Get accurate information, not strident misinformation.

    • Keep up the good work, Mr. Mossman. You’re doing a great job! I always thought that “shall” meant “shall”. Now I know that – only in Westport- it actually means “may”. Thanks for setting me straight.

  10. Thanks for this. How do I know who is the representative of my district? Sounds interesting to do and it is an important job!

    Thanks to all who represent.

    • Pam, the sitting RTM members for all 9 Districts *and their contact info* can be found here:
      westportct.gov -> Government (rollover) -> Representative Town Meeting -> Members / Contact Information.

      You can then compare with their voting record, see my comment above.

  11. Nancy Kail: This explanation of the RTM is helpful, but idealistic. We can all aspire to the ideal but reality is more telling. In that regard, please tell us your view on the matter of the Westport Community Gardens, and whether the Parks and Rec ‘wish list’ should be conjoined with the unrelated but urgent Long Lots school matter.

    • Ps I know some time ago you already told me you would support the “school over the gardens” but I’m hopeful the hard-fought facts now available have found their way to you. This is not “school versus garden.” Have you changed your view?

  12. For those 29 Representatives choosing to vote against the rights of the citizens of Westport to petition the RTM….including our Town Attorneys…. it might help that you abide by the definition of “shall” and not an interpretation.

    shəl, ˈshal
    past should shəd, ˈshu̇d ; present singular and plural shall
    Synonyms of shall
    auxiliary verb
    —used to express what is inevitable or seems likely to happen in the future
    we shall have to be ready
    we shall see
    —used to express simple futurity
    when shall we expect you
    —used to express determination
    they shall not pass
    —used to express a command or exhortation
    you shall go
    —used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory
    it shall be unlawful to carry firearms
    : will have to : MUST
    : will be able to : CAN

  13. Your RTM is dead 🥲
    The 29 bozos who voted to deny citizens the right to petition themselves destroyed a beautiful form of government. They should be expelled and censured and prohibited from posting their trash on 06880.
    Post their pictures all over Westport 🤮

  14. What an enormous pile of steaming dreamscape civics. I feel as if I’m being forced to watch a crappy third-grade filmstrip so the teacher can go to the lounge for a cigarette.

    The idea that the RTM is nonpartisan is a naive trope repeated ad nauseam, but it’s never going to be true. And it’s insulting to try to convince Westporters otherwise. I appreciate the hard work of many bright and dedicated RTM members, but I’m tired of the tedious meeting comments of those who enjoy the sound of their own knee-jerk, partisan, self-interested voices.

    This is Election Day Eve revisionism at its worst. It wants to seem statesmanlike, but it reeks of desperation.

  15. I personally appreciate helpful information, and I thank Dan Woog and Nancy Kail for making this non-political, factual, helpful and valuable post available to all of us through 06880.

    It is ironic that this post, which includes information on how to engage your RTM member, is in the comments being used to attack 83% of the existing RTM and Nancy Kail specifically, with the false narrative that Westporters cannot now make their interests know to their RTM reps.

    It is telling that several comments are stumping for specific RTM candidates, AND IN DISTRICT 9 ONLY. Perhaps the “outrage” over the votes of the 83% is an attempt to influence voters to go with candidates who take the minority opinion, extremist points of view of a small group of agitators.

    There are strong candidates in D9. Nancy Kail is among the strongest and most civic minded. I certainly would not vote for the “block” that will ensure that D9 votes the most extreme, minority, agitative side of every issue.

  16. Whoa, whoa… I don’t think I’ve ever commented on this blog before, and I wasn’t intending to start, but these comments are shocking to me. Let’s everyone take a beat here. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but this comments section goes well beyond that and puts it – from my perspective – squarely into the realm of cyber bullying.

    Calling the author of this article (and the rest of the volunteer publicly serving members of our civic leadership) “bozos” and a “jockeys bollox [sic],” calling for their “expulsion,” and in a vaguely threatening way suggesting that we “post their photos all over Westport” should be absolutely unacceptable to all of us. And for what? Because she explained that the election is tomorrow and articulated the RTM’s role in terms someone doesn’t agree with?

    Whether you want a garden or a ballfield, one candidate over another, the word “can” or “should” or “may” or whatever the debate over linguistics is, we all ought to strive to live in a place governed by civility and decency well beyond what this comments section demonstrates. These comments – based on their vitriol – strike me as a coordinated attempt to chill public discourse and discourage community service, which must not become an accepted part of our community.

    Call me a “jockeys bollox,” but as an unaffiliated voter, I’m voting for anyone who lowers the temperature here.

    • Let me just clarify for you.

      While there are certainly people who are concerned about Gardens, Ballfields, and Parker-Harding, the fundamental outrage is about something else.

      Our Town Charter calls for the ability of 25 citizens to bring any matter to RTM by way of petition. The Charter uses the term “shall” – as in anything with the needed number of signatures shall be added to the agenda. It is stated with absolute certainty.

      The Moderator, assisted by the Town attorney and former Moderator, have singularly declared that this is more of a suggestion than a requirement, so two things that have been appropriately petitioned to RTM have been refused by the Moderator, in clear violation of the Town Charter.

      A signatory should sue Town so that the State can address the matter. “Shall” is pretty unambiguous.

      If the Town powers that be think that 25 signatures are too low a bar in a town of 28,000 given the Charter was written when the population was approximately 4,000, they are free to go through the Charter revision process (which ultimately requires a referendum, I believe). But the Moderator isn’t free to ignore the Charter simply because he is uncomfortable with an issue being petitioned to RTM.

      • Thank you for filling me in, Chris. I honestly appreciate the background and the polite clarification, and I love how I was able to learn something without anyone calling anyone else a bozo. 🙂

  17. It’s clear that local politics are a passionate subject for many, and it’s important that we engage in these discussions with respect and an openness to different viewpoints. Having followed the work of Nancy Kail and the RTM closely, I’ve seen firsthand the dedication and effort that goes into serving our community. While not every decision will please all constituents, it’s the willingness to listen, adapt, and work for the collective good that stands out in Nancy’s tenure. Her vote on the petition issue, I believe, was not about silencing voices but about finding a more effective way for community engagement. The role of the RTM is complex and the accomplishments this year are testament to the hard work of all its members, including Nancy. Let’s remember to appreciate the process and aim for constructive criticism that moves our town forward together.

  18. I’m with Marc on this. The reaction to a non-partisan
    informational piece about the role of the RTM as a whole is sadly reflective of the style of politics we see elsewhere but hoped would not take root in Westport. In the marketplace of ideas, the best ideas usually win out. Threats and insults like the ones posted above are not ideas. They do nothing to inform any reasoned, civil debate. They convince no one.

    As for the RTM election, I look for candidates who know and understand our community, who are thoughtful, approachable and intelligent, and who have relevant prior experience whether in business or government.

    Nancy Kail comes from a family that has long been involved in Westport civic life, is a graduate of Staples, Brown and Wharton, had a career in investment banking before raising three children, and has served on the Greenwich Board of Education among many other accomplishments and civic responsibilities. I know for a fact that she cares deeply about our community and gives due and respectful consideration to all viewpoints.

    If anyone would like to stack their favored candidate’s credentials up against that and have a civil, reasoned debate on the subject, feel free.

  19. Michael Mossman

    Jeff Wieser’s response to the really ugly comments some have made above is a model of civility and professionalism. I’m certain, however, that his clear explanation of how he moderates the RTM will, fall unheeded by those who just want to try to bully the RTM into having their way.

    It’s up to voters to choose representatives who do listen and debate in a civil and collaborative manner. Ms. Kail’s article simply pointed toward what the RTM does and how people can participate, not overthrow the process and put their agenda ahead of every other business before the RTM. This includes understanding how the moderator schedules business which he has explained multiple times. “Shall” doesn’t mean everyone else moves out of the way for the loudest and most viscous minority to go first.

    If still in doubt, try reading Jeff Weiser’s post in 06880 today.

    For her efforts, Nancy Kail has been outrageously attacked by a small and mean-spirited group apparently intent on electing a slate of candidates who are OK with the behavior of these commenters. That’s not the representation I or most of our neighbors want.

    Passionate advocacy is our right, respecting an orderly process. Mob bullying and misinformation is beneath us. Westport, we deserve better. Please vote tomorrow and keep Westport civil and effective. 29-6 was not a conspiracy. It was democracy. Thanks Jeff Weiser and thanks Nancy Kail. And thanks to all of the RTM for your service to our community.

  20. Rick Rosencrans

    I confess, I don’t know the first thing about the “petition” issue. What i do know is that a lot of vitriol is being slung at 29 citizen volunteers and a Moderator who give up their time to serve on Westport’s popularly elected RTM. What have they done that so enrages their opponents other than use their best judgement on issues that are clearly complex choices that cannot please all constituencies. If you disagree with their choices, please do it respectfully without demeaning language that challenges their motives. They deserve better, and so does Westport.

  21. Let’s be clear: The Town Attorney’s office doesn’t represent “us,” it represents the Town.

    The Town makes a mistake–say, forgetting for years to update certain tax rolls? The Town Attorney defends the Town’s negligence and enforces back taxes despite State statutes prohibiting same. Town employees want to do something unpopular? The Town Attorney helps it happen. RTM members out of their depth or without time to do due diligence on an issue? The Town Attorney gives them an out.

    We ask a lot of our representatives; so much of what comes before them is complicated. I get that sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow/shoot from the hip instead of diving into the weeds. Which is why it’s so impressive when representatives like Sal Liccione take the time to weigh issues fully. I wish I could vote for him.

    Standing up to town employees is hard. Standing up to one’s RTM peers is even harder. And standing up to someone with legal expertise is almost impossible.

    • Stacy,

      your comments make two assumptions that are worth discussing.

      First, your comments about the town attorney’s office implies that our government officials are against “us.” That doesn’t seem right to me. They are members of our community no different from you and I except that they are tasked with making hard decisions that are sure to displease some of their neighbors. That’s the price of leadership. I’ve disagreed with their decisions in the past, and I’m sure I will again on specific issues in the future, but that does not put us in an adversarial, “us and them” relationship.

      Second, you at least imply that the RTM members (most notably Mr. Liccione) who voted for passage of the recent motion to allow the public to add items to the RTM agenda via petition are the only ones who got into the weeds and gave the motion proper consideration. That rings hollow to me, particularly since I know at least passably well some of the 83% of RTM members who voted the other way. They are intelligent people who, by habit or otherwise, get into the weeds, think critically, and make up their own minds.

      At base, your argument seems to be “everyone is wrong but us,” with “us” in this case being a quite small minority of the RTM. Perhaps it is worth considering that the overwhelming majority of RTM members (the vote against the motion was 29 to 6) have a point. I can’t force Jim Himes to propose a bill in Congress — our federal government would be even more dysfunctional than it already is if that was allowed — but I can ask him to. We all can make similar requests even more directly to our RTM reps here in town. In my experience, they’ll at least listen to what you have to say.

      • The problem you hypothesize in your last paragraph is exactly why several writers are calling the 29 Representative Town Meeting members to account.

        Previously I thought I (and every citizen who could collect twenty signatures on a petition) had a right to be heard AND then a majority of the RTM would vote. Majority rules. Now the RTM moderator has stripped me of my right to petition. However nicely or legally couched, it is an act of repression.

        As you note… where we had a right to be heard now we can ask an RTM rep to listen.

  22. Ellen Lautenberg

    I am a current RTM representative from District 7. My District is not contested, AND I was one of the “6” who supported the petition that people referred to in some of the comments, so this is not being written on my own behalf. However, after reading all the comments, I have decided to add some thoughts that I hope will be considered by those reading this piece and the comments.
    1. I don’t see anything about Nancy’s piece that is about promoting herself – the information in it is about how the RTM works and some of the items that have come before us in order to encourage people to understand what we do and to vote tomorrow. Also, she cannot “publish” anything to 06880.
    2. On the “29 vs 6” vote: The matter originally brought by petition to the RTM was on a matter that was not actionable by the RTM. Because it was not actionable, it was turned down. The petitioners then brought a second petition essentially asking whether the RTM is compelled to add an item to the agenda regardless of whether it is actionable. The “RTM 29” along with the town attorney, interpreted the Charter provision to mean that the Moderator was allowed to determine what “Matters” are appropriate for the RTM agenda. It was not said that the public cannot bring a petition. It is more a matter of being practical when it is an issue that is not within the RTM’s purview and therefore can’t be acted on. I AM NOT LOOKING TO DEBATE THAT HERE – simply stating what occurred in case some people reading this do not know the background. This is an important issue that spurred a lengthy debate within the full RTM and its Rules Committee. That discussion resulted in several ideas about how the RTM can better communicate with the public and hear from them in ways that are more effective than the current processes. That conversation is ongoing but had to be put on hold until after the election so as not be rushed through.
    2. The BIGGER issue I believe, is that this conversation has become focused on determining an RTM member’s worth based on ONLY ONE VOTE. I urge everyone reading this to look at ALL the issues that have come before the RTM in this past 2-year term and ALL of the votes. There have been many times where it was not a unanimous vote. Does that mean that one side should be regarded as not doing their job? We all spend many hours reviewing issues before us and do what we think is right for our constituents. Not everyone is going to agree with our decisions. People are allowed to disagree. But that does not mean it is fair to use vitriolic language and to assume a representative does not do their best just because you don’t like the way they voted on something. If you are not familiar with the process, please come to any of our committee meetings or full RTM meetings to see and hear how things work and to give your thoughts on the many issues that DO come before us.

What do you think? Please comment! Remember: All commenters must use full, real names!