Last year Free Staters boasted about cutting the police budget in Weare, blocking school spending in Keene, and cutting the budget in Grafton by 10%.
This year things seem to be taking a different turn.
Not only were the Free Keeners unable to slash school spending - they were mocked by their community.
Grafton had rather a colorful deliberative session. The better part of two hours were spent debating the rules of decorum that were handed out by the moderator, and a voter registration issue. The Constitutional "experts" of the FSP don't seem to understand the rules that govern town meeting.
The rules prohibit cursing, name calling and personal attacks against people or their motives, and give the moderator the authority to ask the police officer in attendance to remove from the building any person conducting himself or herself in a disorderly manner.
That's how town meeting works everywhere I've ever been, yet there was much moaning and wailing about First Amendment rights.
The meeting, which started at 9 a.m., lasted about 11 hours, but all the warrant articles “survived” and none were thrown out or changed dramatically, said Selectboard Chairman Steve Darrow.
Grafton residents have always been reluctant to spend money, Darrow said, but the Free Stater’s role last year in cutting the budget arbitrarily caused a larger turnout this year. The Free Staters were vocal, but they couldn’t control key votes.
“People wanted to show up to make sure what happened last year didn’t happen again,” Darrow said late Saturday night. “There was strong support from people who didn’t want the budget cut arbitrarily.”
Let's summarize, shall we? Last year the Free Staters boasted about their success in cutting the budget. This year, the townspeople decided that wasn't going to happen again this year, even if it meant sitting through 11 hours of meeting.
Once again, town meeting works exactly the way it is supposed to. The way it has for hundreds of years.