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Old-school politics and new threats

One of the oldest and proudest traditions of New England is Town Meeting. In many of the small towns, once a year the citizens get together and vote on the budget and other issues of import. It's democracy in its purest.

When I was younger, I lived in a small town, and every year I'd make my parents take me to Town Meeting. I'd follow the agenda along in our copy of the Town Report, noting which measures passed and which failed. And I'd always enjoy the arguments and debates that would take place, especially from the drunk farmers in the back of the high school gym who'd heckle the town clerk.

Some towns have moved away from the Town Meeting form of government, and I think that's a shame. It lets the people take a measure of control in their own governance, debate the issues and actually decide them -- not leave them up to an elected board or a hired manager.

Other towns are looking for new ways to keep the tradition alive, and to make this ancient, cumbersome method adapt to changing times.

One such town is Middleboro, Massachusetts. There they've decided to use the annual Town Report to put out the names, addresses, and pictures of the most dangerous sex offenders in the Town.

So, alongside the budget figures, the plans, the proposed new ordinances, and the reports of the various town agencies (I always like the Police Department section), now every single household in Middleboro will also have a detailed listing of potential sexual predators in their midst.

Way to go, Middleboro. It's not often I sing the praises of a political movement that starts in Massachusetts, but this strikes me as a great idea. Now that Massachusetts courts have given this idea the green light, I'd like to see more towns try it out.


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Comments (5)

Now for some reason the fir... (Below threshold)
yepgot one:

Now for some reason the first image I had was seeing 9 year old JT, with his parents. With the father saying "Now son, if you get all your homework done, I will take you to the movies tonight to see Zorro" and JT saying "Aww Dad PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE, Can we go to the town meeting instead.. PLEASE?!?!?!?!?!?!"

And because of the indulgence of a Father, the world would not have a dark knight avenger protecting the little towns of northern New England. ( which is good because any vigilante in New England has a good chance of having his Ass blown off by a drunk farmer with a shot gun saying GET THE HELL OFF MY LAND after saving that same farmer from being attacked by the crazed town clerk who just snapped under the pressure and drove out to beat up the farmer.

And we see how fate is decided by the simplest of choices

The cops in my town have pu... (Below threshold)
plum:

The cops in my town have published photos and addresses of all the sex offenders on their website for years - even when threatened w/ lawsuits by the aclu types.

Personally, I would take it... (Below threshold)

Personally, I would take it a step further and publicize the names of all those with felony convictions.

It's freaky to come over he... (Below threshold)
Jay:

It's freaky to come over here and see you reporting on my town.

My opinion on sex offenders hasn't changed. Sentence them to the time you want them to serve and when they're done, release them. If you mean for them to be off the streets for life, give them life sentences. Making them advertise their locations in perpetuity is at best unconstitutional. Especially if it was not a part of the initial sentence handed down by the court.

Nobody likes sex offenders. Starting this crap with them is an excellent way to get us used to it so we take it when they start the same crap with people we can relate to better.

Apart from the fact that the entire thing is heinous, putting them in the town report is a great idea! If it's going to be the way of the world to defecate on the Constitution and be wishy-washy about sentencing then try to make up for it on the flip side, then may as well be efficient and creative about it.

Jay,Nobod... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Jay,

Nobody likes sex offenders. Starting this crap with them is an excellent way to get us used to it so we take it when they start the same crap with people we can relate to better.

Good point. It seems the justification for perpetual notification of the community as to the identity and location of sex offenders is that 1) they have a high recidivism rate and 2) they present a danger to kids they may come in contact with. Well there's another type of offence that meets that criteria; drug users. The only problems is that the shear numbers would make the notifications less extraordinary, and thus, else effective.




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