Real Democracy

Today I had the opportunity to attend the Town Meeting, a very important meeting of this city. This is the “Real Democracy”.

Norwood’s Town Meeting is the legislative body of the Town and is comprised of approximately 250 representatives, elected to three-year terms from each of the Town’s nine voting districts, together with five at-large members – the Town Moderator, the Town Clerk, and the Chairpersons of the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Commission, and the School Committee.

Norwood’s Town Meeting is required to meet at least once a year.  The Annual Town Meeting starts on the second Monday of May each year.  Special Town Meetings are called at various times of the year as the needs of the Town and its departments require.  The by-laws of the Town provide that all sessions of Town Meeting are held on Monday and Thursday evenings.  Meetings are usually held in the auditorium of the High School and are open to the public.  The meetings are also broadcast live by NPA-TV.

Sessions of Town Meeting are presided over by the Town Moderator, who is elected to a one-year term by the voters of the Town at the town election held on the first Monday of April in each year.  The Moderator conducts the discussion of the matters brought before Town Meeting and oversees the Town Meeting Representatives’ votes on those matters.  The Moderator is the final authority on any procedural issues that may arise during Town Meeting.  The Moderator also makes appointments to various standing committees and boards of the Town, as well as to special committees that may be created by vote of Town Meeting.  The Town Moderator may be contacted by emailing moderator@norwoodma.gov.

Town Meeting’s responsibilities include the consideration and approval of the operating and capital budgets of the Town, including all borrowings and expenditures.  No public money can be spent by any department of the Town unless the funds have been appropriated by Town Meeting.  Town Meeting must also vote on all proposed transfers of land or other interests in real estate involving the Town and on all general and zoning by-laws of the Town.  Occasionally, Town Meeting votes to request certain action by the State Legislature and decides whether Norwood should adopt or accept certain “local option” statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Finally, when the need arises, Town Meeting establishes committees to investigate or consider particular important public issues affecting the Town.

I see the professionalism of every attendee such as the representatives, government officers, and moderator. Representatives prepare themselves before the meeting, freely express opinions and ask questions. Moderator manage timing very well with some warning to representative about unemotional expression.

In summary, the foundation of this effective meeting is based on well education of stakeholders. Also this community is the middle income class. Thus to develop democracy effectively at the community level, it should consider both educational and economic development at the same time and the REAL DEMOCRACY might be not just only ideal anymore.

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