Putney parliamentarian offers new 'grassroots guide' to Town Meeting

PUTNEY — “Emerging from the pandemic hiatus, contemporary relevance questioned, in-person Vermont Town Meeting is at risk, as some people advocate abolishing it,” says Howard Fairman, who has written and created a concise and comprehensive downloadable guide to the venerable Vermont institution.

Fairman, who has served as parliamentarian at Putney's Town Meeting, says he is making the four-page “Grassroots Vermonter's Guide to Vermont Town Meeting” available “in the spirit of 'knowing what we've got before it's gone.”

Despite Town Meeting's long tradition and its role in making New England town government the purest form of democracy, Fairman acknowledges that “learning, and remembering once or twice a year, how constitution, statutes, rules of order, moderator and voters work together during a town meeting can be challenging.”

He notes that Town Meeting is guided by the Vermont Constitution, state law, and Robert's Rules of Order, “implemented by an elected moderator [and] possibly advised by an appointed parliamentarian.”

“Grassroots Vermonter's Guide to Vermont Town Meeting” advises voters about placing, discussing, amending, and voting on warning articles and other motions, as well as thornier parliamentary examples.

“I have quoted and cited each statute and rule of order so that you can know and share exactly what they say and where - beforehand and 'on the floor,' Fairman says.

For more information, and to download the guide, visit

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