Better government

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Dateline Northfield: Adding seats to the Selectboard or hiring a full-time town manager are ideas that an unofficial committee of residents has been examining as the town wrestles with how to make town government function better in a modern world. The good news is that Northfield isn’t alone in trying to find the right answer to meet not just an ever-changing situation but also the speed at which it operates. Let’s also add finding residents who have the time, interest and an ability to multi-task. The not-so-good news is that there is no specific answer that will solve everything. But, perhaps, the town can come up with changes that will move it toward a better approach, and we applaud the effort.

Dateline Mohawk Trail Regional School District: It’s a good move that the School Committee is taking in putting together a policy regarding the electronic world and the social network. And we’re glad to see that at least one member of the board wants to get students involved in crafting regulations. That kind of involvement, we think, will lead to producing a better policy, one that students will buy into since they will be stakeholders. It’s something we would like to see more of when it comes to rules and student behavior in the region.

Dateline Montague: The Recorder story that gave a snapshot of whether the town should modernize its voting methods was an interesting read. In this very nonscientific and limited sampling, residents expressed the opinion that they’re happy with the status quo. We agree that counting ballots by hand shouldn’t have to go the way of beating one’s clothes on a rock. But getting some kind of automated voting system does not necessarily translate into putting our trust in a computer and software that can be hacked. Most local towns use paper ballots that are then scanned ... providing both fast results and a solid backup. As to whether getting the results in a quicker manner is important, that, too, is a matter for residents to decide. But there is a difference when the vote involves only Montague, as compared to a county-wide political race or other public policy issue. We don’t think it would be unreasonable to make arrangements so the results are available earlier.

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