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Voices / Letters from readers

On Robert’s Rules, municipal meetings, and diverse views

RE: “Questioning legality of Rescue vote” [Letters, May. 11]:

In the editor’s note to this letter, a quote appears from Tim Wessel, a member of the Brattleboro Selectboard, who states “We don’t do seconds, ever.” The editor’s note states that the Brattleboro Selectboard uses Robert’s Rules of Order for Small Assemblies, which makes the process of seconding motions as an option for the organization.

As a member and then-chairperson of the Newfane Selectboard for several years, I know that using the Robert’s Rules of Order can be used as a guideline for conducting meetings without having to follow it in an exact manner.

I believe that consistency matters and therefore if an organization such as a town Selectboard follows the structure and rules of Robert’s Rules of Order, it is best to follow the rules, no matter the size of an assembly.

Selectboards exist to represent each and every member of the town they serve in the state of Vermont and to do so in a transparent way at all times. I always emphasized that it was important to listen to opinions and concerns, and I encouraged members on both sides of an issue to speak up and be listened to.

Therefore, asking for a “second” followed by “discussion” provided the opportunity the residents for voice their viewpoints. My suggestion is to turn to Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) for guidance when an important issue arises in the town.

As far as the dismissal of Rescue Inc. is concerned, I am saddened to know that Brattleboro residents will lose the service of an organization made up of devoted Vermonters who have taken such incredible care of people for so many years.

Marion Dowling

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Originally published in The Commons issue #664 (Wednesday, May 18, 2022). This story appeared on page C3.

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