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Updated About Town: Government 101

Navigating through meetings and committees.

This morning I promised more information about the Boards and Committee Training Program held on June 7 and last night in the meeting room. 

Selectman Chair Hank Manz attended the first on June 7 and was at the beginning and end of last night's meeting.

Hank said he got a lot out of the meetings and it dovetailed into his ideas of a chairman.

One lesson: "Sometimes participation has to take a back seat to your role as facilitator," Hank said.

"If you contemplate a hughe participatory role you may want to turn the chair over to someone else and do the facilitation part," Hank said of Wendy Rundle's message.

Hank was impressed with Town Council Kevin Batt's lessons on Open Meeting laws. 

"That's the stuff you can't mess up," Hank said.

Yup, as journalists we learn that one early ...

And another item ...

Lexington's 300th Anniversary Celebration Committee meets today in 4 p.m. in the Ellen Stone room at Cary Memorial Hall. The 300th is a subcommittee of Town Celebrations and is chaired by Susan Rockwell.

The committee is organizing a celebration to commemorate the founding of Lexington in 1713 and its 300th birthday in 2013.

Posted at 5:45 a.m. this morning ...

Ever wonder how board and committee members know exactly how to run meetings? Perhaps they’ve studied Roberts Rules of Order on Parliamentary Procedure, interned with a politician or studied past elected officials.

Nope. They actually take town-run classes to learn the laws, motions, seconded motions, points of order, open meeting laws and a host of other items most of us wouldn’t even understand.

So, while you, I and everyone else watched the Bruins fight Vancouver in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, our elected officials were at Boards and Committee Training last night in the hearing room.

This annual event – now in its sixth year – is sponsored by the Town Manager’s Office, the Board of Selectmen and our Town Clerk. But Deputy Town Manager Linda Crew Vine and Town Clerk Donna Hooper make sure it gets done.

Every year, the women offer at least two or three classes. One is held early in the morning while another is held at night. The first was held June 7 at 8:30 a.m. and last night’s was the second.

If that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs they hold a third, Linda said.

Belmont Organizational Consultant Wendy Rundle led the first of the two-part meeting, which covered chairing a meeting.

“If you’re a chair, you think about your role as a facilitator and how to manager the process of a meeting,” Linda explained.

The second part of the meeting dealt with Open Meeting law and updated everyone on the latest changes and additions to the law.

“We highlight areas to help board and committee chair persons and their members to be knowledgeable and informed about public records, opening meeting laws, ethic requirements and general operations,” Donna Hooper said.

The second half of the meeting was run by town council Kevin Batt and Bill Leahy, both from Boston’s Anderson Krieger Law Offices.

“Last year they revamped the Open Meeting law,” Linda said. “There were major changes, and they focused only on that subject.”

“When everything is done we will have trained about 60 people,” Linda said.

They don’t have to twist anyone’s arm either.

“They give so much time volunteering as a member of a board of committee,” she said. When the classes become available, “they don’t even hesitate signing up.

“It just speaks to our volunteers in this community,” Linda said. “I’m just amazed at how dedicated they are.”

This morning, I’ll get comments from committee and board members who attended for today's update.

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