"Hat trick," a term used most commonly in hockey, means the achievement of a feat three times or more during one game. That is what the Williamstown Selectboard just achieved in their meeting on Monday night, when they voted 4-1 to hold a Special Town Meeting on April 24, in addition to the already scheduled Special Town Meeting on April 24 and the regular Town Meeting on May 21. The game they are playing is to defeat the Article (now called Article 3) being presented for a vote at the first Special Town Meeting, by a citizens' petition of over 300 certified signatures, to designate the Lowry and Burbank properties as permanent conservation land.
To add to the confusion, for the first Special Town Meeting, the Selectboard, two-weeks ago, placed two more articles on the agenda, preceding the citizens' petition article, one of which (now called Article 2) is directly opposed to the citizens' article because it proposes that town-owned conservation land (the Lowry and Burbank properties) be converted to land for building affordable housing. Also at the Selectboard meeting two weeks ago, they voted down another Article that would have granted the passage of Article 2 by a simple majority, rather than a two-thirds majority.
Then, the Selectboard changed its mind and approved (by a 4-1 vote) an article that accomplished what they had voted down two weeks before - that Article 2 required only a simple majority vote, which article in itself, needed only a simple majority vote to pass.
Confused yet? This has to be what the town management and Selectboard hope for in this game they are playing - hoping that people who want to vote on Article 3 can be hornswoggled, will get mixed up and tired, and discouraged from having to attend all these Town Meetings. What a travesty this makes of our democratic town meeting system, of which New England is so proud, and what a disservice the Selectboard and town management are doing to us town citizens by creating a polarized, train-wreck situation instead of promoting town meetings as they are supposed to be: open, unhurried, honest discussion of the issues we face, as citizens and taxpayers.