Thursday, June 5, 2014

Very Proud Of My Son Jon

Jon, as you prepare to graduate on Sunday from Walpole High School, Class of 2014, I just wanted to say for all the world to know how proud I am of you and your many accomplishments, and for the fine person you are.

Here's your most recent: At the Division 2 Emass Championships last Sunday,  as one of the Captains of Walpole Track & Field, you scored the only team points with your 5th place finish in javelin. It was also a new PR for you at 158'1", which is #4 all-time in school history.  I know how hard you worked the past two years to reach this goal. To top it off, you will be awarded the James Erker Scholarship Award at graduation for your accomplishments and leadership in track. 




Your hard work in the off-season earned you a chance to excel in football as well. You were the Rebels' Secret Weapon:




From early on, you developed a great group of friends, and we can't wait to see what successes you all will become. It's amazing how you little goofballs:

Photo: Tbt

Did in fact matured a little bit..........




And now you all have grown into such fine young men. Cherish these close friends, because you will never have a group of friends like your High School buddies!




I am also so proud of how kind you are to all of your friends:

Photo: Congratulations to MVP Ryan Cisternelli!! Way to go and so proud of you!!!

I love what a close relationship you have with your sisters:

Photo

Christy Howard Rockwood

And of course, here is the person who loves you the most!



Now, you leave the friendly confines of WHS, and you move on to Stonehill and ROTC, your future looks very bright indeed! Again, I could not be more proud of who you have become.



While this post may not have been specifically about Town Meeting, it does show that Walpole is an unbelievable place to raise a family. Kids can accomplish whatever they want here. That is one of the many reasons why I so enjoy being the Moderator - it allows me to play an important role in the government of the town where I was raised, where my wife Christy and I chose to raise our family, and maybe the town where some of our kids will choose to do the same. Town Meeting is one of the many reasons why living in Walpole is to live in the best place in the world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

10 Years? Just an Arbitrary Number...

An issue in the race for Walpole Town Moderator has been that I have been in office for 10 years and that is too long. A ten-year Moderator is still considered a pup for Massachusetts Moderators.

John Walsh of Pembroke recently stepped down after 59 years as being the Town Moderator. See the article HERE.

In this article from the Worcester Telegram, we learn about Richard Nickless of Petersham who served for 48 years as Town Moderator, and Kevin Byrne of Shrewsbury who served for 35 years.

My feeling is that it's not how long ones serves as Moderator, but rather how the person performs as Moderator. I am still bringing in new ideas, I listen to people and implement suggestions that may not be my own, (i.e., this year's second and third night of Town Meeting seating arrangement), and I bring enthusiasm and pride to the position. When any of those things change, I know it will be time to go. However, that time has not arrived yet. As I said in the Times, "Is 10 years too long to serve as Moderator? Not for me."


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Here is my letter printed in the May 29, 2014 Walpole Time:

To the Editor:
            The people of Walpole have elected me to the important office of Town Moderator ten times since 2004, and this is the second year I have had an opponent. I think it is a good thing for voters to have a choice, and I am the better choice to serve as your Moderator for another year because I am as enthusiastic about being your Moderator as I have ever been.   
            I have presided over approximately 25 Town Meetings since October 2004. Considering that the average town meeting entails two nights, that is more than 50 separate nights I have led Town Meeting. I love being an integral part of the team of people involved in Town Meeting, and I strive to improve my performance each time out. Other experience I have that adds to my qualifications to be your Moderator include serving in the role of Town Counsel for the town meetings of other towns and before becoming Moderator, I was an elected Town Meeting representative from Precinct 6 for four years.  
            What role will I play in the future of Walpole Town meeting? Some towns in Massachusetts are moving away from a town meeting form of government. That mustn’t happen in Walpole, so I will always work to preserve our representative town meeting form of government. It works well here because of the dedicated people in town government, but mostly because of our 150 well-informed and committed elected town meeting representatives. I will continue to implement new ways to streamline town meeting itself without ever sacrificing the opportunity for debate. I will continue to make the best appointments to the Finance Committee, Personnel Board and the Capital Budget Committee that I can – always striving to select people from a cross-section of the Walpole community, whose only interests are the improvement of the Town of Walpole.
            I am a member of the Massachusetts Moderators Association which is an organization of moderators from other towns who discuss best practices, various issues that other towns face and how to make town meeting more meaningful for the towns that have retained this form of government. As a member of this organization I am always learning new things that I bring to the Walpole Town Meeting to make it better.
            Is ten years too long too long for one person to serve as Moderator in Walpole? Not for me. As recently as this Spring Town Meeting, I made some changes which I think will improve the experience for our Town Meeting representatives. In recent years, I began an effort to collect email addresses for all RTM members to facilitate the exchange of information about Walpole Town Meeting. I utilize social media in appropriate ways to make Town Meeting more interesting and modern: I created a blog about Walpole Town Meeting which is at www.walpoletownmeeting.blogspot.com; I have created a Walpole Town Meeting group on LinkedIn. Ten years would be too long if I stopped trying to make Town Meeting better and more meaningful for everyone or if I became set in my ways and let Town Meeting become stale and lifeless, but that clearly is not the case. Much of what makes Walpole Town Meeting so special are also its traditions. I believe I have maintained the traditions developed and implemented by my predecessors, but have made improvements in many ways that have allowed Walpole Town Meeting to keep up with the times. I begin each Town Meeting by saying that it is an honor for me to serve as your Moderator and it becomes truer with every passing year. I will never take for granted being the Moderator in this town I love so much.  
            During these past ten years, I have distilled the essence of being an effective Moderator into five characteristics: (1) preparation and organization, (2) communication, (3) patience, (4) a sense of humor, and (5) being able to make tough decisions that may not be popular, but are made with the best interests of the town at heart. It has only been through my experience in these ten years that I have developed these characteristics and I believe I have exercised them honestly and honorably in my tenure as your moderator.
            Walpole Town Meeting is a vibrant form of government and one of the many wonderful things that Walpole has to offer. With your vote on June 7, 2014 I will continue to serve as your Moderator to the very best of my ability. Thank you.

Jon W. Rockwood, Sr.

15 Pelican Drive

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Has Sprung (finally)!

Well, with Town Meeting less than one month away, I figured it would be a good time to get active on the Walpole Town Meeting Blog again after a long absence. Town Meeting is on Monday May 5, 2014, and the warrant contains 32 articles. You can  take a look at the warrant HERE. Many of the articles repeat from spring to spring, and we will be taking a look at some of those over the coming weeks. For now, I want to thank the many people who work very hard to prepare for Town Meeting, including the various town boards and committees and Walpole Town Hall staff, without whose efforts and commitment, Town Meeting would never come to pass.

So for now, have a nice weekend, Go Sox - beat the Yankees, and check back for more discussions about Walpole Town Meeting!

JWR

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Amen!

This article appeared in Sunday's Boston Herald, and was written by Robert Saquet, the president of the Massachusetts Moderators Association. I heartily agree with what Mr. Saquet writes here:



‘Relic’ is democracy at its best
Sunday, May 12, 2013

While many relics of our Puritan past have withered into obsolescence there is one that stands tall in the eyes and hearts of New Englanders — our venerable Town Meeting, the garden of government where the seeds of democracy are planted.

Urbanites seem so numbed by government bureaucracies that they have lost the ability to rub elbows with the individuals who still speak their minds and vote their hearts. Our towns still allow it. Town Meeting is not a form of government — it is a legislative body. It is an open and transparent place to conduct municipal business. Town Meetings are efficient and will have passed balanced budgets and finished their business by the end of June. If only our state and national legislatures could be so open.

“Tyranny of the minority” may better describe Congress than it does the Town Meeting. What good is being “elected” if you are representing special interests and lobbyists rather than your electorate?

Every eligible voter should attend a Town Meeting this year. In colonial days Town Meeting attendance was mandatory, but only if you were a church-going male landowner. Today we usually see a limited proportion of a town’s voters attend — but they can be any registered voter — man, woman or atheist. Failure to attend is the choice of citizens who have confidence in those who do attend. Keep in mind, that small fraction that does attend is far more representative than any city or town council of a dozen or so politicians.

Accessibility is a virtue of the Town Meeting. A state law dating back to 1715 allows 10 people to put an issue on the agenda for the meeting. This is their democratic right, whether the topic deals with water bottles, plastic bags, zoning changes or barking dogs. True, some Town Meetings get bogged down in apparently trivial matters. But these are issues that people are passionate about, and the Town Meeting gives them a forum to convince their neighbors to follow.

I never cease to be amazed at the quality of discussion from our townspeople. Elected officials must be prepared to listen. There is always someone in the hall who has expertise on the subject at hand and asks probing questions. Avid voters listen. They may arrive uninformed, but when a vote is called they know to make the right choice. Yes, there are some who come for a single issue and leave when their vote is taken, but dozens, if not hundreds, more stay to the end. There are some who do love to pontificate, but a gentle suggestion from the moderator can let them know they are repeating themselves and they will yield the microphone.

Town Meetings are embracing technology. Power Point presentations are easier to understand, cable TV broadcasts the meetings, and several towns have adopted electronic voting to speed things along.
As I stated, Town Meeting is not a form of government — it is the most democratic legislative body.
Replacing the Town Meeting with a town or city council will not solve any of a town’s political problems. Anyone who thinks the Town Meeting with its openness can be swapped for a ballot box is living in serious denial.

Robert H. Saquet is town moderator in Mansfield and president of the Massachusetts Moderators Association. “As You Were Saying” is a regular Herald feature. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Moderator's Creed


"Iustum et tenacem propositi virum non civium ardor prava iubentium,non vultus instantis tyranni mente quatit solida."

"The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from his firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant's threatening countenance."

- Roman Poet Horace (and a modern thanks to the US Army 101st Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade )

Hope to see you at Town Meeting Monday night May 6, 2013, WHS Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.