Marion Board of Selectmen aims to increase transparency

May 7, 2019

MARION — Marc LeBlanc, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, appeared before the Board of Selectmen May 7 to ask about a request that his board begin televising meetings.

“We discussed this as a board, and we wanted to know what has changed? What has prompted this request?” LeBlanc asked.

Selectman John Waterman said that  he ran on a platform of better transparency and communication with the public, so in short “I’m the one who changed it,” he said.

Though Waterman said he tries to attend as many meetings as possible, he can’t get to all of them.

“When you have a hearing on something like the Tabor lighting I can’t be there, but I would like to be able to watch it,” Waterman explained.

LeBlanc asked if Zoning Board meetings had ever been televised. In a quick discussion with Selectmen, he determined that they had been when his board addressed the Sippican Woods project, but that those recordings were situational.

“I don’t know what the downside is to the recordings. It’s a free service,” Waterman said, adding that, not recording meetings “assumes that people who live here have the time to show up at these meetings and know what is going on. They don’t.

The Selectmen emphasized that they were not trying to pick on the Zoning Board at all.

Waterman explained that the move was part of a greater transparency effort. “We’re trying to do more on Facebook, so we’re trying to evolve and make it as easy as we can,” for townspeople.

Chair of the Selectmen, Norm Hills  added that recordings help people understand “The facts of what is going on, not the hearsay. When we get to town meetings may make it easier,” Hills said.