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ABOUT TOWN: Speak Up

Speak up. That is the way to be heard. Weston’s elected and appointed officials want to listen to the people from time to time. And that time is at hand again.

Mark down Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10:30 to noon at the Weston Public Library Community Room for the 22nd annual League of Women Voters of Weston Speak Up event.

This is the best opportunity to find out, in one place and at one time, what’s up for 2013 in Weston government. If you have wondered where you can see all of your key public officials in one place at one time, this is it. The chairmen of all boards and commissions, the full Board of Selectmen, state legislators, the superintendent of schools, the chief of police, and many other town employees and officials sit up front. They remain silent until you ask them a question.

I think the timing is perfect. In accordance with Weston’s new charter, there must be a referendum on town, school, and capital budgets in early May. As of the date of Speak Up, none of these budgets will have come under scrutiny.

I’ve spent a good bit of time this autumn researching where “sustainability” fits into Weston’s planning and zoning and conservation policies. My website, aboutweston.com, addresses these issues. What more can Weston do via regulation than we do already? Would it be better to concentrate on public education, enforcement of existing regulations, and bringing up a new generation of environmentalists?

Another study I am pursuing is just beginning. Last November, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein called a tri-board meeting which, among other things, addressed building usage in the town and school superblock, in the light of declining enrollment. This was a question I had been waiting for the town to open up! Check out the same link to read more.

Speak Up would be a great time to ask what the town is doing about detaining runoff in Weston, so that downstream towns are better able to deal with flooding from Long Island Sound. Or to ask about creating new opportunities for bikes to be ridden safely.

And related to that is a favorite of mine: Can we make School Road closings events that occur every summer weekend while still permitting access to the adjacent tennis courts?

Public meetings

The Police Commission held a televised meeting recently, something that does not usually take place. Since I attended in person, in a front row seat, I can tell you right now that we are fortunate to have these seven commissioners, as well as our officers, protecting us. The chief is an inspiration to those who seek to avoid partisan politics, and just stick to the facts. In addition, our three sergeants were in attendance. I was impressed.

Every board and commission operates differently. The Police Commission in Weston follows a practice of allowing public comment after each item on its agenda. The Board of Education entertains public comment at the beginning of its meetings.

At public hearings, which must be noticed in the newspaper, the public knows what is up and can choose whether or not to voice an opinion. A recent hearing on revisions to the Town Code appeared to involve minor matters, and no one showed up to comment. These changes were not unimportant, though, because they now require the town to post notices of public hearings online at the town website.

The FOI Commission does not impose notice requirements for public meetings if no quorum is to be present. Perhaps, though, Weston can set an example by posting all public meetings, for which quorums are expected, online as well as in town hall.

Right now that is not the case.

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Check out Margaret Wirtenberg's website: http://www.aboutweston.com/

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