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Letter: Lenox Democratic Town Committee concerned with contours of local democracy

To the editor: Lenox citizens have reached out to the Lenox Democratic Town Committee for help regarding a lack of transparency in the cell tower issue.

This revealed a systemic erosion of democratic access to town decision-making in issues such as:

Lack of transparency: Meeting agendas are not readily open to the public to add items. Meeting minutes are often not posted in time to review prior to the next meeting and aren’t always entirely accurate, as key information is sometimes omitted. Open meeting laws are not always adhered to and appointed committee openings are not posted via the town mailing list — elected ones are.

Ineffective communication: Written communication with town officials is impeded by the adoption of electronic communication, which has made it more difficult for some citizens to reach individual town officials.

Misuse of authority: Differing viewpoints are often marginalized by town officials. Opportunities for give and take on important issues are denied.

Inaccessible meetings: The Dec. 8, 2022, Special Town Meeting in Lenox started with many citizens still waiting outside to be registered due to a bottleneck at the registration table. Many missed the opportunity to vote on important issues. (If you were still outside about 20 minutes after the meeting start time, you missed voting on the first six articles.)

In response to some of these concerns, the Lenox Democratic Town Committee is suggesting the following warrant articles for consideration:

• To make permanent authorization that requires both in-person and remote participation in public meetings

• To codify two scheduled annual town meetings — or, biannual town meeting.

While these won’t resolve all issues, they would be a step in the right direction. Voters are asked to support these articles, attend meetings and run for office.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Sonya S. Bykofsky, Lenox

The writer is the chairwoman of the Lenox Democratic Town Committee.

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