Conway meeting silenced community

Monday, November 13, 2017

At the Conway town meeting of Oct. 30, the article designating Conway a Safe Community was shamelessly railroaded by town officials — first by the town’s Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke, and then by Ken Ouimette, the chief of police. The Selectboard chairman’s speech was fueled by fear-words — suggestions that the Safe Community designation would attract to Conway “criminals, gang members, drug dealers, terrorists,” — and then debate was stifled altogether by the police chief’s immediate motion at the end of his extended oration against the bylaw to table the proposal, preventing discussion of any kind.

That the vote on tabling passed by the thin margin of 59-56 suggests a great deal of conversation could, and should have, ensued. Robert’s rules of order state clearly that the motion to table is “properly used only when it is necessary to suspend consideration of the main motion in order to deal with another matter that has come up unexpectedly or which must be dealt with before the main motion.” In addition, Robert’s rules insist: “It is never in order to use the motion to lay on the table to kill a motion or delay its consideration. If the motion based on the maker’s intent.”

It was clearly the intent of Chief Ouimette to kill the bylaw designating Conway a Safe Community, and it was the obligation of the presiding officer, moderator Nick Filler, to point this out and disallow the motion.

We are appalled at how Conway’s leading officials have taken it upon themselves to decide unilaterally what is best for our community.

Paul Jenkins and Lynne Hanley