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Egremont ballot question supporters ‘totally shut down’

In her letter to the editor, Kathy O’Malley writes: “We had been informed by the moderator that we would be on the agenda and have time to present and answer questions.”

To the Editor:

At the Egremont Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 2, we were not allowed to present our question which will be on the May 9 ballot.

Earlier this year, several of us were successful in getting 203 signatures on a petition that granted the ballot question — for the May 9 vote:

Should the Town of Egremont vote to accept the provisions of Section Six C of Chapter Forty of the General Laws, which authorize towns to appropriate money for the removal of snow and ice from private ways open to public use?

This is not an unusual request — ensuring everyone’s safety at nominal tax increase and has been adopted by many cities and towns across Massachusetts. In fact, Great Barrington has been plowing and sanding its private roads since 1995.

Last year, the same question was on the ballot, and at the town meeting the previous week, we were able to present our points and have brief a Q & A.

This year, we had been informed by the moderator that we would be on the agenda and have time to present and answer questions.

At the annual town meeting on May 2, we were prepared to present and answer questions.

After the usual introductions, moderator Tom Gage skipped the ballot question which was first on the warrant and went to the first article. There was no explanation. We were stunned. After presentation and discussion of three budget articles, I stood up and asked for a “point of interest.”

After we asked to present our question as promised, the moderator shook his head no. He said since the question is on the ballot, there will be no discussion. I pointed out that he had said to committee member Maryann Decker that we would be allowed to speak. He again said no.

It was also pointed out that this will affect the town’s finances. He again said no. We were totally shut down.

This is not how I perceive our democratic process to work. I and our entire committee are deeply disappointed.

Kathy O’Malley

Egremont

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