BRATTLEBORO — At last Wednesday's Representative Town Meeting (RTM) information session, the Selectboard members were constantly visible and audible while everyone else was muted and with video turned off.
The technical bugs had already been worked out during the district caucuses - District 2 was allowed 14 minutes, with no time even to welcome new members.
By contrast, when the Selectboard was ready to speak, democracy was intact. Board members' time was unlimited.
Selectboard gets unlimited time; RTM members get scraps. This kind of practice is undemocratic and did not begin with COVID-19.
The Selectboard thinks RTM has no purpose other than approving the board's proposals. It's not true. The town charter calls RTM “a guiding body for the town, and a source of ideas, proposals and commentary.”
It doesn't say that for the Selectboard.
Brattleboro Common Sense (BCS) has been working to end Selectboard dominance over RTM. Getting the board off its elevated platform, allowing time for our chartered purpose of guidance and proposals, controlling our own agenda - all these things may not happen until people take RTM seriously.
One BCS worker says that RTM is seen as an event and not as a branch of government. To activate the people in it, to get people to take it seriously, it has to meet four to six times a year. Then people and members will see it as a branch of government.
That should be our focus. Other progress will flow from that. Do you think so?