The Pressure to Give and Give
There’s something very Rhode Island about a financial town meeting that admits non-resident outside guests and then adds half a million dollars to the school budget:
The non-resident ban the Lincoln Town Council approved 4-1 last week stems in part from controversy over last May’s rollicking Town Meeting that increased this year’s school budget by $517,248. In the aftermath, the meeting moderator questioned whether non-residents had voted for the increase and intimidated voters from opposing it. But the Budget Board reluctantly certified the budget on legal advice.
Councilman Keith Macksoud, who said he brought the proposal to the council after talking with the Budget Board and moderator, said in an interview that some people indicated they felt intimidated to vote when teachers turned out at the meeting to support adding to the budget.
The ordinance says meeting attendees can vote by majority to allow the media, non-resident town officials/department heads, the town solicitor and “others” to attend.
I can see time’s being an issue if every vote must be balloted, but it would seem feasible to have secret votes on substantive matters such as the school budget.