Prior to Submission
See Brookline Resolution submitted September 2, 2004
Between Submission and Town Meeting
- Contact your local Town Hall and request the date of the next Town Meeting and the deadline to submit a resolution.
- Check your Town bylaws (could be available on the Town website) for the process to submit a resolution (called an "Article") on the agenda (called a "Warrant"). You can also call your Town Counsel and ask. Ask Town Hall officials how the entire process works, who you meet with, etc.
- Give yourself plenty of time (a few months before Town Meeting) to petition and seek support from influential citizens, activists, local experts, and others.
- Ask the Town Health Department which groups would be interested in the resolution.
- Write the resolution text. See Brookline resolution for example. Include a detailed explanation in support of the resolution using high credibility sources. This is your opportunity to educate Town Meeting Members at no cost to you. The Town will publish what you write in its report to all Town Meeting Members. This information can also be used for your oral explanations and speech at Town Meeting.
- Check with the local Town Clerk or Town Counsel for proper format and wording of text and petition form. Be sensitive to how Town officials respond to the subject of the petition and respond accordingly.
- Collect signatures of registered voters in the town. If ten are required, collect at least 15 because some may not be valid.
- Submit the petition and article to the Town Clerk or Selectmen's Office before the deadline.
Town Meeting and After
- Prepare for meetings with Town officials where you will be asked to explain the reasons for the resolution.
- Contact the Town Clerk for a list of Town Meeting Members and email addresses/telephone numbers.
- After the Town issues its report on the Warrant, contact as many Town Meeting Members as you can about the resolution. Ask who would be interested in this resolution. Give priority to professionals in related fields and others who have high credibility at Town Meeting. Arrange for some of them (about five) to speak. After your meetings with Town officials, ask the Town Clerk or Selectmen's office to send you a copy of the report on the Warrant that deals with your resolution. This report tells you how Town officials respond to the resolution and how they will speak on it at Town Meeting. Respond to any opposing arguments in your speech to Town Meeting.
- Contact children's welfare agencies and ask them to send a message of support.
- Inform the Town newspaper of your resolution and suggest that it is a newsworthy story. Many Town Meeting Members may read the Town newspaper.
- Write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper shortly before the Town Meeting. Urge others to do the same.
- Write and practice your speech.
- Ask the Moderator which source of parliamentary rules is followed for the meeting, and become familiar with the rules. Ask a supporter who knows the rules to help you with tracking the progress of the debate for compliance with the rules. Pay particular attention to the voting procedure and applicable rules. If the vote is in doubt, arrange for someone to ask for a standing vote.
- A few days before the Town Meeting, contact the local radio, newspaper, and television news stations about the resolution. Keep their contact information handy.
- Confirm that your speakers are ready.
Media Interview Suggestion
- Stay in contact with someone who can keep you updated on the progress of the meeting so that you can be there at the appropriate time. The resolution will probably come at the end.
- Try to arrange to be in contact with your supporters during the Meeting.
- Anticipate and listen to the opponents' arguments. Ask supporters to respond to them when they have their chance to speak.
- Find a way to record the names of as many people who vote for the resolution as possible. If passage fails, you can contact these people to help with another attempt.
- Obtain a copy of the debate (I had a videotape from the Town cable station) and write a letter to the editor to the Town newspaper as applicable. Ask others to write letters.
Prepare three short, simple, strong statements about your resolution (e.g., mention the research on harm, local/national suppporting organizations, international activity, ethical considerations). No matter what they ask you, work your prepared statements into your answers.
Let me know how you are doing and how I can help. Ron.Goldman@verizon.net
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