In this week's The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch, I discuss Brookline Town Meeting's recent votes to ban polystyrene cups and plastic grocery bags.

What is the connection between these votes and Muffin and Squeaker? Read "Roots in the Future" to find out.

And if you're a fan of either Spider Robinson's Callahan's Bar stories or J. Michael Straczynski of "Babylon 5" fame, there's a little bonus for you.
Tomorrow's The Brookline Parent column on Brookline Patch, "Roots in the Future," begins with a quote from Spider Robinson and ends with a quote from J. Michael Straczynski. And in between, a discussion of Brookline Town Meeting. What do all of those things have to do with each other and with Muffin and Squeaker? Read the column tomorrow morning at 9 and find out...

"Don't worry. They'll be back."
"Aye. To vote us down."
- Reverend Jonathan Witherspoon and Colonel Thomas McKean, 1776


Last night, Brookline Town Meeting had its final session in May. One of the articles we were considering was Article 20, which I filed in an attempt to get some sort of regulation for political robocalls.

Throughout the process of bringing my article to Town Meeting, the biggest obstacle I encountered was that many people felt that robocalls, as annoying as they are, are protected speech under the First Amendment. My original article suggested calling for a ban on robocalls, but the Advisory Committee supported an alternate motion calling for their regulation, which I supported.

Unfortunately, neither the Board of Selectmen nor Town Meeting felt the same way I did. I presented my case last night, but in the end Town Meeting voted down the motion by a majority vote.

My hope was that we could send a message to our political candidates that excessive robocalls are not an acceptable method of campaigning. Despite the fact that Brookline Town Meeting disagrees, if you live in Massachusetts you still have a chance to let your voice be heard.

This year, the Honorable Stephen Kulik, who represents the First Franklin District in the Massachusetts House, has sponsored House Bill H00870, "legislation to restrict calllers from using certain automatic dialing devices for sending informaion to subscribers of telephone services." Furthermore, eleven other representatives and senators are supporting the bill.

If you live in Massachusetts and feel as I do on this issue, I encourage you to contact your state representative and state senator, and let them know that you support House Bill H00870 and would like to see it pass.

Otherwise, expect to be bothered by robocalls again and again during election season.

Folks last night did tell me that I thought I spoke very well. I assume that at some point Brookline Access Television will make the third night of Town Meeting available on their website; in the meantime, for those of you who are interested, the text of my floor speech is below. (Bonus points to anyone who catches my reference to Spider-Man.)

Article 20 Floor Speech )
When I last posted about Article 20, I indicated that I had filed a new petitioner's motion that would explicitly endorse House Bill H00870. My main reason for filing this motion was that although the Advisory Committee had approved a new motion to regulate political robocalls, the Board of Selectmen had voted against it 3-2. As one of the objections was that the motion was not specific enough in the kind of regulation being called for, this new motion would give the Board of Selectmen a chance to look at the specifics being proposed

On Tuesday night I went before the Board of Selectmen with my new motion. After a rather good discussion, in which many of the Selectmen dissected the details of House Bill B00870, they voted against my new motion. This time the vote was 4-1 instead of 3-2, which meant that I had actually lost ground.

Last night, I met with an Advisory Committee subcommittee to discuss the new motion. After some more high-level discussion, I decided in the end to withdraw my new motion and return to the Advisory Committee's motion, which I still fully support.

The back-and-forth has been a little confusing, but I've emailed my fellow Town Meeting Members to let them know where everything currently stands. I expect that we'll get to Article 20 on Tuesday, May 31, and I'm hoping my arguments in favor of the Advisory Committee motion will be persuasive.
Our latest The Brookline Parent column for Brookline Patch has been published — one day ahead of schedule!

In All Politics Is Hyperlocal Nomi discusses how my local political career impacts our parenting.

Click the link, to see a picture of Muffin and Squeaker from a year ago helping me to get out the vote!
For those who are wondering....

Last night, I went to the Selectmen's Meeting in support of the revised motion under Article 20, which I filed with Brookline Town Meeting. This motion would ask the state and federal legislature to pursue legislation that would regulate political robocalls.

As reported by both Brookline Patch and the and the Brookline TAB, the Selectmen voted 3-2 to recommend No Action on Article 20. (Patch has a lot more detail than the TAB, but you have to scroll to the bottom.)

It's a bit of a setback, but on the other hand, I also discovered that the issue was moving forward already. It turns out that the Honorable Stephen Kulik, who represents the First Franklin District in the Massachusetts House, has sponsored House Bill H00870, "legislation to restrict calllers from using certain automatic dialing devices for sending informaion to subscribers of telephone services." Furthermore, eleven other representatives and senators are supporting the bill.

I spoke to the legislative director in Representative Kulik's office, who told me that he was prompted to take action due to the requests of many of his constituents, who were plagued by an excess of robocalls during the recent special race for senate.

Given the Selectmen's decision to recommend No Action, I've filed a new petitioner's motion under Article 20. My new motion, if passed, would simply support House Bill H00870 as it currently reads. My hope is that Town Meeting will approve either my new motion or the one recommended by the Advisory Committee.

As it is, both the AC and the BoS will have a chance to weigh in on the new motion; perhaps this version will draw more support.
I'm pleased to be able to say that Jonathan A. Karon, the candidate I endorsed for the one-year Town Meeting Member seat from Precinct 12, won his race on Tuesday. Jon will be joining the rest of us as Town Meeting convenes later this month.

And speaking of Town Meeting, I've been a little lax about updating on Article 20, my anti-political robocalls resolution. As I noted a while ago, a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee had a hearing to discuss the article. The subcommittee decided that they could support a motion to regulate robocalls, rather than a motion to ban them, and I was happy to go along with their recommendation. The full Advisory Committee voted in favor of the revised motion 13-9-1.

Tonight, the Selectmen will be considering the motion at their public meeting in Town Hall. If you live in Brookline and support the resolution, please consider attending the meeting, which starts at 6 pm. I'll be there to speak in favor of the motion, hoping to get the support of the Selectmen.
The Human Services and Personnel Subcommittees of the Advisory Committee has scheduled a public hearing on Article 20, my Town Meeting warrant article resolution urging political campaigns not to use robocalls.

This hearing is the one opportunity for interested members of the public to let the Advisory Committee know how you feel about this issue. The subcommittees will report back to the AC with a recommendation on the article, which will then be brought to Town Meeting.

If you live locally and feel strongly on this issue, I urge you to attend the hearing. I will be there to present my case.

The hearing will take place this Thursday evening, at 7:30 pm, in room 209 of Brookline Town Hall (333 Washington Street).
The Brookline TAB and its associated Wicked Local Brookline website has run a piece on my anti-political robocalls warrant article. The online version is titled Brookline resolution calls on politicians to hang up robo-calls, although the print edition title is catchier: Call to action.

Also, the print edition seems to be leading with the story; it's above the fold in the rightmost column, which traditionally is where the most important story of the newspaper is printed.

The reporter, John Hilliard, contacted a few of the state political parties to get their reaction, and also contacted the Secretary of State's office, which confirmed that there is as of yet no state regulations dealing with this issue.

The warrant for the May session of Brookline Town Meeting closes today at noon; as I noted before, I'll be interested in seeing what other issues Town Meeting will be debating.
As I noted in my Brookline Parent column Waken Baby Syndrome back in October, I'm frustrated by the robocalls that come from political campaigns during election season. Like many others involved in politics, I tend to think that robocalls aren't really effective; in fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that they harm political candidates rather than help them.

I would very much like to see them banned, and I'm not alone. The Citizens for Civil Discourse, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, is trying to encourage political campaigns to stop using robocalls with a National Political Do Not Call Registry. Some states have passed laws limiting the use of political robocalls, and in 2008, Senator Diane Feinstein of California introduced federal legislation that would limit political robocalls, but it went nowhere.

It occurred to me that I could take a stand on this issue as well.

As a Brookline resident and an elected member of Brookline Town Meeting, I've introduced an article for Town Meeting to consider when we convene again in May. The article, "A Resolution Against the Use of Robocalls in Political Campaigns," would ask our representatives and senators in the Massachusetts General Court and the United States Congress to introduce and/or support legislation banning the combined use of computerized autodialers and pre-recorded messages in political campaigns. Brookline has a long tradition of passing resolution on national issues, and frankly, this is one national issue that directly affects the quality of life of the residents of our town.

In fact, Brookline residents are so concerned with this issue that I managed to get three times the number of signatures needed to introduce the article at Town Meeting. Many Brookline voters, when they heard of my petition, grabbed for a pen and asked if there was any way they could sign twice.

We filed the article with the Selectmen's Office yesterday morning, and by yesterday afternoon, the Boston Globe's website had already published an article about it: Brookline Town Meeting to vote on resolution against political robocalls. My understanding is that the article will appear in the print version of the Globe West section on Thursday.

The warrant closes on Thursday at noon; I'll be interested in seeing what other issues Town Meeting will be debating come the spring.
http://brookline.patch.com/articles/town-meeting-in-60-seconds-night-two

Brookline Patch: "Brookline Town Meeting in 60 Seconds: Night Two" by Neal Simpson

Even shorter version: Town Meeting voted to give green card resident aliens local voting rights, subject to the legislature's approval; and passed a resolution asking local grocers and restaurants not to serve crated veal.
I was at Town Meeting last night in my role as a Town Meeting Member, and I expect to be there tonight as well. (And I hope we conclude our business in two nights.)

For those interested in what we accomplished last night, here are links to two articles:

Brookline TAB/Wicked Local Brookline: "Town Meeting backs some expanded powers for town administrator, naming selectmen as police and fire commissioners" by John Hilliard

Brookline Patch: "Brookline Town Meeting in 60 Seconds" by Neal Simpson

The really short version: the Town Administrator gets a little more power, the Selectmen are officially our Police and Fire Commissioners, and parking questions will be referred to a Moderator's Committee for further study.
Last night, I attended the first session of Brookline's Special Town Meeting in my role as a Town Meeting Member from precinct 12. The Brookline TAB was live-blogging Town Meeting, and I decided to do so as well. I plan to do so again tonight, so if you're interested, you can follow on my Twitter feed (@mabfan) or watch my posts on Facebook, as they'll port over there automatically.

I was fascinated by the fact that I was not the only one live-blogging. Selectman Jesse Mermell also tends to report from Town Meeting on her own Twitter feed (@jessemermell), and apparently there were a few journalism students in attendance who also blogged it (I'm looking at you, @taliabethralph) . If anyone out there reading it wants to blog tonight, use the hashtag #btm. At least, that's what I'm trying to use. Apparently, it stands for other things as well. (I mistyped it a few times, making me wish that Twitter offered the option of editing one's tweets.)

For those of you who didn't follow along last night, we got through Articles 1-6 and Article 10. We try to adjourn after whatever article we're in the middle of at 10:30 pm, and Sandy Gadbsy, the Moderator, wisely took a motion to let us skip the three articles about the Fisher Hill reservoir and instead deal with a shorter article before we adjourned.

The two most controversial issues we voted on last night were the Runkle School bond appropriation and the restoration of the Carlton Street Foorbridge. Runkle School is the K-8 public school in my neighborhood, so I have a strong interest in seeing the renovation move forward. The school right now is overcrowded, with classes meeting in the lobby and staff members using closets as offices. Everyone agrees that the renovation has to happen, and in the end the $29 million appropriation carried unanimously. The only problem is, there are a few abutters (including one of my fellow TMMs) who are concerned with the process as it has currently played out. The town will need a special permit to make Runkle large enough to accommodate the students they are expecting over the next decade, and it's going to affect the feel of the neighborhood. I'm hoping that those with concerns about the project will have their concerns addressed, but last night we needed to approve the money if we wanted to have the project move forward.

As for the footbridge... ah. There's a lot of history about that footbridge; the precinct 1 delegation to Town Meeting has turned over twice due to voters in that precinct either favoring or opposing restoration. Last night, we had the pleasure of hearing former governor Mike Dukakis address Town Meeting in support of the bridge. Dukakis's first elected office was as a Town Meeting Member, a position he won exactly 50 years ago this past March. Town Meeting gave him a standing ovation after he spoke. In the end, restoration passed by a vote of 192-25.

(As a side note, two proponents of the footbridge gave a list of objections to the bridge that they claimed were false, including the notion that the footbridge was placed there by aliens in 1894. I'm starting to get story ideas...)

Article 6 would have been controversial had the petitioners moved it, as it dealt with amending the town budget to remove the funding for the police security cameras. Although no motion was offered, Sandy allowed Frank Farlow to address us on the issue and Selectman Betsy DeWitt to give a response. Frankly, I'm not sure how much we really needed to hear about the issue given that there was no motion being offered. I'd much rather have waited to hear these arguments once a motion is actually on the table, which will probably be in the spring.

Neal Simpson of the Brookline TAB and I have a gentlemen's bet going as to whether or not Town Meeting will finish up tonight (my guess) or continue to Thursday (his guess). There's only 18 articles total on the warrant, and most of them seem relatively uncontroversial to me. Tonight we'll start with the Fisher Hill issues, which may take a while to explain but I doubt they'll take a while to debate. The child care zoning amendment will go through easily, I'm sure, and then we'll probably have a lot of discussion about the zoning for car-sharing organizations (e.g. Zipcar, which had a strong showing of supporters last night whom I expect to see there again tonight). My guess is that we'll get far enough into the warrant that people will want to stick around to see it through, even if it takes us to midnight.

We'll see. Check my Twitter feed tonight and follow along.

Special Election Sign in Brookline Special Election Sign in Brookline



Today is Election Day across much of the country, but not in Brookline, Massachusetts, where our next election isn't until December 8 – the primary for the special election to fill the vacant senate seat. So while our friends in Boston and Newton choose a mayor today, those of us in Brookline get to relax and watch.

However, just because we don't have an election today doesn't mean that there's no politicking going on. Brookline's representative Town Meeting, of which I am a Member, meets the week before Thanksgiving, and this year the big issue seems to be the zoning of Zipcars in the town. Articles 12 and 13 on the warrant deal with changes to the zoning bylaws that would make the Zipcars currently in Brookline legal. If Town Meeting doesn't pass these bylaws, it could conceivably mean the end of Zipcars in Brookline.

Although it's extremely unlikely that Town Meeting will not pass these articles, there's been a lot of debate in town regarding exactly how Car Sharing Organizations, or CSOs, should be zoned. Not surprisingly, Zipcar has emailed their Brookline customers to ask them to contact their Town Meeting Members in support of the articles. In his letter, Dan Curtin, the General Manager of Zipcar, has explained rather well the best way to approach your elected representatives. His point is a simple one: find out what precinct you live in and contact the Town Meeting Members for your precinct. He's also encouraging people to attend the Selectmen's hearing tonight to show their support; again, quite appropriate.

However, in the wake of his email to supporters, I (and I presume other TMMs) are getting emails from people who are obviously new to this sort of things. In one email, a constituent referred to Town Meeting as Town Council. In another, I was asked to vote in favor at tonight's meeting, which is not the actual Town Meeting at which I can vote but the Selectmen's hearing. So in the interest of helping out the Brookline voters, I thought I'd offer a quick and easy guide on what to do when emailing your Town Meeting Members on an issue. (Disclaimer: I am speaking here for myself, not for all Town Meeting Members.)

1. Be polite.

This should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how often it doesn't.

2. Make sure you know what precinct you live in, and write to your own Town Meeting Members, not all of Town Meeting.

Many is the time a Brookline resident will send an email to every member of Town Meeting, and all 240 email addresses are on the list. While I appreciate the enthusiasm and passion that these residents have, the fact is that sending such an email can and does dilute the message you're trying to get across.

The reality is that I have to be responsive first and foremost to my own constituents. What might be the right way to vote for a Town Meeting Member representing Coolidge Corner may not be the right way to vote for a TMM representing Washington Square. I'm far more likely to appreciate your concerns if I know that you're writing to me because I'm one of your own representatives.

Corollary: If you do decide to write to all of Town Meeting, please use the blind carbon copy function, and make it clear from the outset what precinct you are actually residing in.

3. Do some minimal research on the issue.

At the very least, please let me know what article number you're writing to me about.

4. If you vote in local elections, tell us so; if you don't, start doing so.

Whether or not a citizen voted is a matter of public record, and I have to admit that here's an issue on which I get kind of, well, strict. On the one hand, as a Town Meeting Member from my precinct I feel an obligation to represent the interests of all my constituents. But on the other hand, if you want me to take a stand on an issue on your behalf, I'd kind of like to think that you might have voted for me and might do so again in the future.

if you don't bother to show up at elections, and I hear from some other constituent on the opposite side of the issues, whose opinion do you think I might pay more attention to?

One resident of precinct 9 used to email me about issues, but never bothered to vote in town elections. After a few years I called him on it, pointing out that if he really did care about what happened on a local level (which we all should), he should make an effort to vote. Even if there are only five candidates running for the five Town Meeting slots in a particular year, voters can show up at the polls and write in anyone they want. In fact, one year, two voters got into Town Meeting through a write-in campaign that they conducted that very day at the polls.

As a politician trying to make my community a better place, if I'm going to remain in office, I need your votes. And nothing gets my attention more than an email that begins, "Dear Mr. Burstein, I am a resident of your precinct, and I vote in every local election."
Probably the most controversial pair of articles to come in front of Brookline Town Meeting at the session just past were the ones devoted to the security cameras.

In brief, a few months back the town received money from the Department of Homeland Security to set up a few security cameras in some of the more high-traffic areas of the town. The police department planned to use these cameras to help fight crime. They had some reasonable arguments in favor of the use of these cameras, pointing out that they were only in public spaces and that the footage would be useful in reconstructing events.

Despite these assurances, though, and despite the respect and trust that the town has in our police chief and our police department, there was a grass-roots movement to fight the cameras. People opposed to them were concerned about a variety of things, including the storage of the footage, access to the footage, and a general unease having to do with anything coming from the Department of Homeland Security.

Although I myself would tend to side with the folks opposed to the cameras, I wasn't active in the fight, because I didn't really see the harm. In fact, despite my standard liberal progressive voting record in Town Meeting, I wasn't sure where I would end up voting on the cameras. I listened closely to the very reasoned arguments of two of my fellow Town Meeting Members from precinct 12 as we discussed the cameras in a discussion meeting before Town Meeting. Casey Hatchett, who is also a police officer, supported the cameras and pointed out all their usefulness to the department in keeping the town safe. David Klafter, who is firmly in the progressive camp, opposed the cameras and warned about the encroachment on our liberties. (I was pleased when both of my fellow TMMs brought their arguments to the floor of Town Meeting, one right after the other.)

The cameras have been in place in a pilot program now for a few months, the idea being that the town can evaluate how effective they are and whether or not they are a good idea. Although it is the decision of the Board of Selectmen to keep the program going, Town Meeting chose to weigh in on the issue. Article 24, if passed, would have encouraged the Selectmen to keep the program going; article 25, on the other hand, would have urged the Selectmen to end the program immediately. (Some of us were amused by the possibility that both articles might pass, but Town Moderator Sandy Gadsby reminded us before considering the articles that Town Meeting is usually consistent on our votes.)

Before Town Meeting, I took the pulse of my constituents to see where they stood on the cameras. I called two friends of ours who are married to each other and I asked my wife. Feedback was mixed, so once again I found myself having to listen to my own conscience on the issue.

And in the end, for me the tipping point was an editorial in the Brookline TAB: Editorial: Camera pilot program too risky. I urge you to go read it in full, but for me the money quote was this:


"Even if the study committee were to give the program high grades based on its mandate — and it might — it will never satisfy what we feel is the fundamental question: If a free society is monitored from a remote location, is it still free?"


I can still see the point of supporting the cameras, I have to admit; with the recent economic downturn, we seem to be experiencing more crime in Brookline. (If not, it just feels that way.) But the TAB got me thinking about the definition of a free society. And in the end, I have to say that I do worry about the tiny bits of freedom that are eroding in the wake of our new technologies. (The convenience of Google Maps, for example, has to be weighed against the knowledge that anyone on this planet can now easily see the plants I choose to put in my windows.) Stopping the cameras now is incumbent on us, because even if we trust the watchmen of today, we have no idea who will take on the role of the watchmen of tomorrow.

Afternote:

As usual, the Brookline TAB's reporting of the events of Town Meeting is comprehensive. Here are some good articles I recommend.

How did Town Meeting vote?

Last night's capsule Town Meeting

Brookline Town Meeting rejects surveillance cameras
I always feel that there's too much going on in my life to adequately note it here. For example, this past weekend we had [livejournal.com profile] sdelmonte and [livejournal.com profile] batyatoon visiting, and next weekend is Shavuot, and the weekend after we're doing something, and...

You get the idea.

Also, for everyone who keeps asking me, [livejournal.com profile] gnomi is continuing to do fine.

So, anyway, tonight is the first night of Brookline's Town Meeting. Having just been elected from my new precinct, I feel an obligation to show up, even though there are many other political choices tonight (do I go to a rally in support of Sotomayer or against Proposition 8?). Tonight may very well be the longest Town Meeting session of the year, as we're going to approve the town budget for Fiscal Year 2010, which starts on July 1.

Unfortunately, the state has warned all the municipalities that the amount of local aid promised may end up dropping, even though many municipalities are determining their budgets over the next few weeks. So we may end up approving a budget, only to have to reconvene to adjust it when we find that we're not getting as much money as we had expected from the state.

It'll be an interesting discussion tonight and tomorrow. Just don't expect me to get much sleep. :-)
Last night, as a newly elected Town Meeting Member from precinct 12, I attend the Neighbors Building Brookline Warrant Review Meeting. Although I've been a Town Meeting Member from precinct 9 since 2001, I’ve never participated in an advance discussion other than by email or phone. I found this gathering of my new precinct delegation most useful, as it gave me a chance to hear different perspectives on the issues in a more intimate setting.

I've written up a report on the discussion at the Neighbors Building Brookline website. The report can be found at this link: Warrant Review Meeting Report. I considered reposting the report here, but decided that if anyone's interested, you can just click through from my blog to the report. Feel free to comment here, though.
For the first time, I decided to take the day off from work to campaign during the day for Town Meeting. Nomi and I arrived at our new polling place, the Runkle School, at around 7 am, and already there were many other candidates waiting in front to meet voters. Nomi went inside to vote while I handed out campaign flyers, and then she took over for me while I went inside to vote.

At this point, I'm really not sure what kind of turnout we'll get. Last year, precinct 12 had a turnout of more than 700 people, but the weather was beautiful and there was an override on the ballot. This year, the only contested town-wide race is for School Committee, so unless you've got a horse in your Town Meeting race, there might not be much incentive to come out and vote. (Also, it's cold and drizzly, and supposed to rain more steadily later.)

We had a number of voters come this morning, but there were also a lot of parents dropping off their kids for school, and not all of the parents were planning to vote. Still, those of us there running for Town Meeting or supporting other candidates are maintaining a nice level of enthusiasm.

I'm handing out palm cards for my slate, Neighbors Building Brookline, but I also prepared a small flyer about myself. I wanted to let people know that I've never missed a night of Town Meeting ever since I was elected in 2001, and that I've been one of their Library Trustees since 2004. I'm hoping precinct 12 voters will see my dedication to representing them, and choose to elect me to represent them as I represented precinct 9 for nine years.

I'll be back out campaigning from 11 am to 1 pm and then from 3 pm to 5 pm. Members of my slate will be around during the vital evening hours, which is good because I have a press screening to attend. But if you're a voter and you're around in the middle of the day, please stop by and say hello.
As many of you already know, in my campaign to be re-elected to Brookline Town Meeting I've been endorsed by Neighbors Building Brookline, an association devoted to improving our community based in precinct 12 of the town. Yesterday we gathered to prepare the campaign mailing that goes out on Thursday morning. The flyer includes information on the five endorsed candidates, but of course on any flyer space is limited.

So in my own role as a member of the group, and with the help of fellow member Mike Oates, I've taken steps to start working more on our group's website, which is located at http://www.neighborsbuildingbrookline.org. In the future, we hope to make the website a resource for Brookline residents, but for the moment, we're mostly focused on the upcoming election. To that end, as we note in our blog post Candidate Statements Start Today, we've decided to post candidate statements this week from the five candidates we've endorsed for Town Meeting, one each from Monday to Friday. The idea here is that any precinct 12 voter who wants more information can come to the website and find out more about the candidates we've endorsed in the election.

If you're a precinct 12 voter, I welcome you to come check out the statements this week from our endorsed candidates for Town Meeting (Lee Cooke Childs, David J. Cotney, Jonathan Grand, Michael A. Burstein, and Casey Hatchett). It'll give you a chance to find out a little more about the five of us, and why Neighbors Building Brookline feels that we'd be valuable members of Town Meeting. (Actually, four of us already are members of Town Meeting.) If you live outside of Brookline, consider visiting the site anyway, as an example of local politics and community organizing in action.

And if you're a precinct 12 voter, I hope you'll vote for me next Tuesday for Town Meeting.
As many of you know, I'm very involved in local politics in my adopted hometown of Brookline. Since 2001 I've served as a Town Meeting Member from precinct 9, and since 2004 I've also served as a Trustee of the Public Library of Brookline. Both of these are elected positions, and so I face re-election to each office every three years.

As a Library Trustee, I'm in the second year of my second term, so I don't have to worry about re-election until 2010. But as a Town Meeting Member, this year is an interesting one for me. My current term expires this year, and so I would normally be running for re-election...except that in December Nomi and I bought a condominium in precinct 12, so I now have to run as a new candidate in our new precinct.

Conveniently enough, though, we happened to buy the condominium of a Town Meeting Member whose term also expired in 2009 and who was moving out of the town, thus leaving an open seat from our new precinct. I breathed a sigh of relief at this turn of events, because to be perfectly honest I don't like challenging incumbents unless I feel very strongly that they're not the folks for the job. This way, I could file papers as a candidate and not feel like I was challenging anyone already present.

(Brief explanation: each precinct has 15 TMMs representing it, in staggered three-year terms. So this year, there are five TMM seats to be filled from each precinct.)

As it turned out, one of the other incumbents chose not to run, meaning that only three incumbents were running for re-election. But then beside me, three other residents of the precinct decided to run, meaning that there would now be a challenged election, seven people running for five positions.

In a race like this one, it's always good if you can get endorsements, and I'm pleased to be able to announce two endorsements for my candidacy.

The first endorsement has come from Neighbors Building Brookline, a coalition of precinct 12 residents who first came together in 1994 to support an override. I already knew some members of the coalition through my work in town politics, and I was hoping for their endorsement. The simple fact of this year, though, is that all seven candidates from precinct 12 are excellent candidates. So when I met with NBB earlier this week, I knew that I couldn't take their endorsement for granted. I very much appreciate the difficult job they must have had in picking their candidates, and I am delighted that they saw fit to endorse me. Assuming I am elected, I plan to be an active member of the coalition, meeting with them to dissect the warrant as they do in the weeks before every Town Meeting.

One notable thing about NBB is that they don't actually take positions on the warrant. The people in the group span the political spectrum, but they're all dedicated to doing as good a job as possible understanding the articles that come before Town Meeting, so they can cast educated votes on the issues. As someone who always wants to hear the opposition's point of view on an issue before casting my own vote, I'm looking forward to these discussions.

(As an aside, although the Town Meeting Members of precinct 9 all knew each other, we generally didn't get together to discuss the warrant beforehand. But we did often email each other.)

My second endorsement was not entirely unexpected, but one that still pleases me nevertheless. Once again Brookline PAX, a local political action group, has chosen to endorse me for Town Meeting. Brookline PAX has actually endorsed me in every local race I've been in, and I hope they've been satisfied with my work as I've fought for better library services and good development for the town.

Election day is May 5; for the next month or so, other than observing Passover, I'll be working toward convincing my new neighbors that I would be as good a Town Meeting Member for them as I was for my previous neighbors from precinct 9. If you're reading this and you're a registered voter from precinct 12, please consider casting your vote for me on May 5.

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