Click on any of the following questions/comments to jump to the response:
A: Right now there’s no mechanism for people to independently comment on this website on any posting. To the extent that it does not violate the Freedom of Information Act, I will gladly post comments from other RTM members that are emailed to me - even and especially if that RTM member has another viewpoint! I also encourage guest posts.
With respect to comments from all residents, other internet forum moderators warned me about the massive time and emotional drain involved in managing public comments. Let's see how the blog goes as is; I could always add comment functionality in the future.
In the meantime, there are still ways for you to start or join a dialogue:
A: There’s information about me on the About and RTM Members pages of the website. In short, I’m an RTM member for district 2. I’m also an attorney, arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, mother of 4 young children, water polo enthusiast, and the president of a local non-profit.
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A: In 2018, the meetings will take place on January 9, February 6, March 6, April 3, May 7, May 8, May 9, June 5, July 10, August 7, September 4, October 2, November 13, and December 4. At the discretion of the moderator, there might also be supplemental meetings on January 23, February 20, March 20, April 17, May 22, June 19, July 24, August 21, September 11, October 16, November 27, and December 18.
A calendar with all town meetings can be found here, and it can be filtered to show only RTM Meetings or RTM Committee Meetings.
The public is welcome to attend any RTM meeting or watch live meetings from home on Cablevision channel 79, Frontier channel 99, or through the Town of Westport website.
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A: I hope the website will help more residents stay informed and get involved in town government. Numerous residents have told me that, to them, what the town has in place isn't enough. Some dislike the town meeting notification system. Others are frustrated about the options for finding out what happened at the meetings. The RTM meeting videos can be hours long and the RTM meeting minutes are practically a transcript of what occurred at the meeting. On the other hand, coverage in other local news sources can be short or, in some circumstances, non-existent. As a community, we're left with no realistic way to stay informed.
This blog is not an official news source. It is necessarily influenced by my judgement calls on what to write about. But I am hoping to provide general information about the issues being considered by the RTM - with more detail and subjective commentary where I think that would be helpful or interesting - and in a form that a resident is more likely to read or watch.
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A: It matters to the extent that it is informative to you.
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A: The RTM is a non-partisan body charged with representing the interests of all Westport residents. Members can register with a party, but this affiliation shouldn’t influence RTM business. At best, a political party affiliation could signal that an RTM member might run for another position someday as part of that party's ticket.
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A: I ran for the RTM because I wanted to do something positive for our community, and communicating with both my constituents and other fellow residents is an important part of that. Democracy doesn't work well without an informed electorate. Right now - and especially with respect to what happens at RTM meetings - the town's means of communication (2+ hour videos and verbatim transcripts) are unduly burdensome and outdated. And official, local news sources have shrunk in the past decades by no fault of their own. The gap that's left is keeping our town from reaching its full potential.
A: Yes. With respect to "fairness," anyone can make a blog or website. It isn't expensive or difficult once you get started. I hope more RTM members will make their own websites or forums! I also welcome any RTM members to write guest posts or email me comments to add to the end of blog posts on this website (to the extent these actions don't violate FOIA) instead of or in addition to anything they are doing on their own. The more people that share information and viewpoints - especially viewpoints different from my own - the better!
For those that are worried that the short videos are necessarily misleading because they are 3-10 minutes as opposed to the entire 2-5 hour RTM meeting: With any video I make, I will also post a link to the town's footage of the entire meeting once the town makes this footage available on its website.
In a perfect world, everyone would have time to watch the entirety of every public meeting or event that's pertinent to one's life. But that's impossible. So the average person watches parts of events that have been edited/curated by sources of his or her choosing. To many, watching or reading these sources seems better than watching or reading nothing at all. And even for hard news media - not entertainment news or reality television - a 24 second video is considered short and a two minute video is considered long. Because most videos here will exceed two minutes, viewers might not even watch them in their entirety. But residents are more likely to watch part of these shorter videos than part of an entire RTM meeting. With all the smart people in our town, even this small increase in awareness and engagement could be beneficial.
For those RTM members that don't want to be in any meeting footage on this website: We are elected representatives and it is important for our constituents to have a less burdensome way to see what we have said at public meetings on their behalf. In addition, what a public representative says at a public, televised meeting is within the public domain, whether or not the entire meeting is included along with it (here, the link to the entire video footage will always be included in any post with a video). I will be using the official town meeting footage, and I don't have the ability to make it appear as though an RTM member said or did something that never happened. Even if I did, there's no incentive for me to do that because it would diminish my credibility.