This year Duxbury's Town Meeting warning includes commentary about one of the articles. It is a violation of Vermont statute for a town to include any commentary or advice on any warning.
The article in question calls for the select board to record their meetings and make the recordings available for the public to review. And while there is no statutory requirement that any select board in Vermont create recordings of their public meetings, it is absolutely a common practice.
Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown make audio recordings of their public meetings. Mad River Valley Television tapes Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren meetings and posts them online as well as broadcasts them to Waitsfield Cable subscribers.
The fact that Duxbury residents had to petition their select board to keep accurate accounts of public hearings is troublesome. What possible objections can the select board members have to having the actions they take at public hearings in their official capacity as public officials recorded?
What can possibly be objectionable about letting the light of public scrutiny be shown on the workings of local government?
Also troublesome is the fact that the Duxbury Select Board violated state statute by appending commentary to the article calling for the board's meeting to be recorded. That commentary notes that the board does not have to bring forward petitioned articles if the action called for in the article is not something voters have the authority to request.
So by including the article in the warning and by appending its own commentary, the board is making the case that it could refuse the petitioned article and also arguing that there's no statutory requirement that select boards record their meetings.
No, there is not a statutory requirement, but why is the board resistant to recording their meetings? A simple digital voice recorder costs less than $100 and the audio files can be easily transferred to the town's website.
So, why not, Duxbury? Regardless of whether it is a statutory requirement, why not join the rest of the towns in The Valley and err on the side of full transparency?
Why not take your actions publicly?