#1 2010-10-27 01:17:40

Marathon Town Meeting reaches charter package
By DAN McDONALD
dmcdonald@s-t.com
October 27, 2010 12:00 AM

WAREHAM Town Meeting started to delve into the bundle of so-called charter amendments featured in the warrant Wednesday night, but the 200-plus people inside the Wareham High School auditorium did not get far.

Town Meeting had hit a snag on Article 39, a proposal that would allow owners of residential property located in town to be appointed to non-elected committees.

Much of the debate, however, focused on whether the raft of 31 proposals that would change the home-rule charter should be heard at all after a motion was made to combine all charter amendments and indefinitely postpone them.

The motion failed.

Article 39 failed and Town Meeting was adjourned shortly thereafter.

The body still needs to tackle the vast majority of charter proposals. Town Meeting rolls on at 7 p.m. tonight.

In other business, Town Meeting shot down a proposal that would have helped fund $100,000 worth of exterior rehabilitation on the historic Webster Hall, which was built in 1859.

Town Meeting also voted down a proposal that would have helped established two affordable housing units on Linden Street through an $80,000 appropriation.

Opponents said the measure was nonsensical because taxpayer money was being leveraged to help make a private company more money.

Proponents said the funding would help rehabilitate a building that could lead the downtown revitalization.

The proposal was shot down by a 118-101 margin.

Selectmen recommended the proposal by a 3-1 margin. The Finance Committee opposed the initiative by a 9-0 measure.

Town Meeting also finished some financial housekeeping, effectively ratifying a handful of collective bargaining agreements.

The deliberations hiccupped after resident Bill Whitehouse began snapping photographs inside the auditorium.

One resident rose to say she found Whitehouse's photography to be intimidating and she asked anyone who agreed to stand.

Dozens rose from their seats.

Town Moderator Claire Smith said she found Whitehouse to be intrusive and instructed him not to snap photos, saying that if he did, she would instruct the police to get involved.

"If you're being intentionally disruptive, test me and I will ask the officer to remove you. " We're not going to play these games," she said.

It's not the first time Whitehouse's photography has been an issue at a Wareham public meeting.

In April 2009, there was a showdown at a selectmen's meeting after Whitehouse began snapping photos that ended with the police showing up and Whitehouse leaving the meeting.

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