Citizens' petitions for May town meeting

Our town meeting on Monday, May 12 will be here before we know it. This is the voters chance to approve or disapprove various expenditures and actions suggested by our board of selectmen, our school committee and other boards in town.
However, as the League of Women Voters likes to remind us, democracy is not a spectator sport. Nowhere is that more evident than in the New England town meeting, that ancient and wonderful institution initiated by a few of our propertied, lily white, male founders, which, after many local and national battles and a Civil War, now includes all registered voters in the town of Weston, as in other towns.
Our annual town meeting in May affords the best opportunity for the voters themselves to suggest legislation, as only 10 signatures are required to submit a citizens' petition. At other special town meetings, at least 100 registered voters must sign a citizens' petition for it to appear on the warrant.
The Board of Selectmen has announced the deadline for submitting such a petition for this May's meeting is Thursday, February 20, at the town clerk's office. So I urge my fellow voters to get involved in their own local government. At the very least show up and vote. But if you have an idea that you think would make our community better, put it out there and let's debate and vote on it.
I have already seen and heard about several interesting petitions and I have some of my own, all of which have to do with the issue of affordable housing.
As I'll be going around with my petitions soon, I'll save myself some explaining time by spelling them out here.
1. Give tenants in affordable rental housing owned by the Town of Weston (except for the Brook School Apartments) the option to purchase their homes at an affordable price.
2. Allow the house at 71 Warren Ave., formerly the home of the superintendent of the Weston water department, to remain a single-family home and direct the Affordable Housing Trust not to divide this house into two units.
3. appropriate $2 million for the town to acquire the property currently for sale at 52 Gun Club Lane, consisting of a house recently condemned by the Weston Board of Health, and about to be vacated, a barn and 11 acres of land, for municipal purposes, including but not limited to affordable housing, open space and parking for the coming rail trail, which abuts the property.
4. Require the Board of Selectmen to appoint 3 new members to the Affordable Housing Trust which started with 7 members but has been going forward with just 4 for the past year or so.                                        
P. S. This letter appeared in today's issue of the Weston Town Crier, Unfortunately the words "lily white" were omitted from paragraph 2, which of course ruins the point.

William Crum February 03, 2014 at 12:05 PM
It is good to publicize the early Feb. 20th deadline to get Citizen's Petitions on the Warrant for the Weston Annual Meeting this May, but Ms. Jancourtz neglects two points. 1) It is ridiculous that citizens have to submit petitions nearly three months before the ATM, while the Selectmen can wait until just a few weeks before the meeting or even put in socalled "placeholders" that do not fully warn voters of proposed wasteful spending or awful Bylaw changes. 2) All registered voters are not "included" at Town Meeting because most of us do not bother to attend. E.g., in 2012, only 240 voters or 3.1% of the average registered voters showed up for the three weekday evening sessions. Americans watch over 40 hours of mediocre TV a week, but Westonians spend under 10 hours per year at Town Meetings to approve over $90 million of spending. William C. Crum


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