The Windham Town Council is looking to support a new and expanded use of Internet communications. Councilor Blaine Davis has taken the lead on this and he is proving to be a strong voice toward this. I would like to compliment him again on this effort. It is great that he understands the value and potential that this holds for the community and as a means of allowing for much greater interaction with our citizens.

The greater the ability for our people to communicate with the town and to share ideas between each other, the more valued they will feel and the stronger our democratic process will be. There are certainly challenges that this might have in implementation and monitoring, as well as expenses, but they are certainly worth the effort and the town’s strong financial support.

I realize there is some council apprehension as to a public online forum. However, it is an easy and expansive means for allowing the public to express their ideas and concerns. Many people are much more comfortable expressing themselves online. As well, this would allow for a new, open and transparent perspective toward public sentiment free from that most human of traits, the tendency to exaggerate. I do not expect that everyone will use this. However, many do not read books but that does not mean we should not have a public library.

I would also say that there is a savings that can be had by placing meetings online. If we invest in putting town meetings online we do not need to spend time (and hence town money) in having meetings transcribed, as some may want, word for word by the town clerk.

Rather, the same ends would be met relative to verification of what has been said in a meeting and also increase public access. This would result in less town expenditures, and higher productivity of the Town Clerk and grater ability to engage in other, better, endeavors. It should also be noted that relative to Roberts Rules of Order all that need be transcribed would be actions and votes taken.

It is regrettable, if not absurd, that in this day and age we cannot embrace a highly effective, readily accessible and interactive way of communicating with the public. Many of our citizens would rather get hit in the head with a brick than call a public official, much less stand before them on TV. Their concerns should not be minimized in preference to a few councilors personal apprehensions over what is now a common technology. I wholly support and applaud the effort of Davis in this regard. I have long felt it is an important step to take. It is forward thinking and achievable.

On another, and related subject, the council is currently considering a very modest funding for Summerfest. I very much encourage the council is to do this. I also hope that they can do on an annual basis so that the Summerfest committee knows they can count on our collective support year after year. While the town, should not, fund the whole endeavor, it is something that the town should find a way to support. It is efforts like these that create a strong and vibrant community. I would like to applaud the tremendous passion and effort that Ron Eby and so many of our citizens have given to this effort. It was a great event and I am sure, with support, it will grow in the future. Many thanks to all that have supported this.

In many regards our town government is a bare bones operation composed of basic services. They work very well on modest if not meager funding. However, we should not undervalue the importance of supporting programs and activities that build our civic and social communities. It is our ability to come together and be aware of each of our common issues, joys, and challenges that make us a strong and vital community. Both of these would contribute to just that. I would encourage the town to look beyond LD-1 embrace new initiatives and innovation, and realize that these are investments worth making.

Michael Shaughnessy lives in Windham and would very much like to hear from you (over the internet!!!) by e-mail at [email protected]

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