Save the Date: June 10th Topic Meeting on Constructive Disagreement

Please join us for our next Topic Meeting:

Constructive Disagreement:  How to better manage public conflict
Wed, June 10, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
NewTV, 23 Needham St., Newton

Brown-bag lunches welcome

All across Massachusetts, municipal officials, volunteers, and neighborhood organizations are on the frontline working to solve complex problems related to budgets, education, land use, the environment, economic development, public works, public safety, public health, and more. It requires the active participation of multiple parties and stakeholders to achieve comprehensive solutions to problems and to ensure that the solutions are consistent with a community’s stated visions and goals.

In addressing these complex problems, it is often necessary to confront and tackle serious public conflicts. Those conflicts can be sensitive, are often contentious, and sometimes persist over a long period of time, restricting the ability to move forward or leading to impasses. In order to better manage public conflict, it may be crucial for municipalities to engage officials at all levels of government, including state and federal officials, along with individual citizens, and the entire gamut of local groups and organizations, in needs assessment studies, in-depth public discussions and conflict resolution workshops.

The Massachusetts League of Women Voters and the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration have both been working hard to actively intervene in such conflicts and also provide training in best practices to restore healthy civic discourse. Our speakers this month will be:

  • Madhawa (“Mads”) Palihapitiya – Associate Director of the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration
  • Marilyn Peterson – Co-President, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

Each speaker will speak for 15 minutes on work that other communities have done and the results achieved to date. This will be followed by open discussion among all attendees.

League members are also encouraged to read the MOPC report “Legislative study: Massachusetts municipal conflict resolution needs assessment”, which may be found at http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=mopc_pubs

Topic Meeting on Constructive Disagreement: How to better manage public conflict

Please join us
Wed, June 10, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
NewTV, 23 Needham St., Newton

Brown-bag lunches welcome

All across Massachusetts, municipal officials, volunteers, and neighborhood organizations are on the frontline working to solve complex problems related to budgets, education, land use, the environment, economic development, public works, public safety, public health, and more. It requires the active participation of multiple parties and stakeholders to achieve comprehensive solutions to problems and to ensure that the solutions are consistent with a community’s stated visions and goals.

In addressing these complex problems, it is often necessary to confront and tackle serious public conflicts. Those conflicts can be sensitive, are often contentious, and sometimes persist over a long period of time, restricting the ability to move forward or leading to impasses. In order to better manage public conflict, it may be crucial for municipalities to engage officials at all levels of government, including state and federal officials, along with individual citizens, and the entire gamut of local groups and organizations, in needs assessment studies, in-depth public discussions and conflict resolution workshops.

The Massachusetts League of Women Voters and the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration have both been working hard to actively intervene in such conflicts and also provide training in best practices to restore healthy civic discourse. Our speakers this month will be:

  • Madhawa (“Mads”) Palihapitiya – Associate Director of the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration
  • Marilyn Peterson – Co-President, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

Each speaker will speak for 15 minutes on work that other communities have done and the results achieved to date. This will be followed by open discussion among all attendees.

League members are also encouraged to read the MOPC report “Legislative study: Massachusetts municipal conflict resolution needs assessment”, which may be found at http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=mopc_pubs

 

Zoning Reform: Defining the Future Newton – Topic Meeting

Please join us
Wed, May 13, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
NewTV, 23 Needham St., Newton

Brown-bag lunches welcome

Zoning is the means by which the City controls the use of land and defines the rights that landowners have to develop their properties.  Zoning describes the uses, density, coverage, and other aspects of what we can put on our residential and commercial land.

Newton’s current zoning ordinance dates back to the early 1950’s and has been updated several times since that time.  However, the ordinance has never been comprehensively updated to reflect the City’s comprehensive plan or to address other prospective city goals.

The City’s Planning Department and Aldermen are in the process of completing Phase I of Zoning Reform – in which the current ordinance has been made more legible, better organized, and where known contradictions have been removed or addressed.  The City is now on the verge of beginning Phase II, which will update the policies and zones themselves.

Our speaker will be James Freas, Acting Director of Planning and Development.  James will provide an overview of the process to date and the issues to be addressed in the coming phases.  He will speak for 15 minutes, followed by open discussion among all attendees.

Funding Newton’s Post-Retirement Benefits – The “OPEB” Issue: Topic Meeting

Please join us on Wed, April 8, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm at NewTV, 23 Needham St., Newton

Brown-bag lunches welcome

Employees of the City of Newton earn both current (salary) and deferred compensation. Newton’s employees receive their deferred compensation – pensions, post-retirement healthcare, and similar benefits – once certain age service thresholds are met and the employee retires.

While Newton is required to set money aside to cover future employee pension liabilities, there are currently no such requirements for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) such as healthcare. As a result, OPEB are paid against current year budgets as needed, and future needs show up as an unfunded liability on the City’s balance sheet.

This month’s topic meeting will explain the OPEB issue, provide an understanding of what risks the OPEB problem poses for the City’s financial health, and discuss strategies that other municipalities have used to address such future funding needs.

Our speakers will be:

  • Tony Logalbo – Finance Director, Town of Concord
    • An explanation of the OPEB problem and Newton’s current situation
    • Discussion of other municipalities’ strategies
  • Maureen LemieuxCFO, City of Newton
    • Discussion of Newton’s plans to fund OPEB in the near- and long-term

Each speaker will have the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes, followed by open discussion among all attendees.

LWVN Meeting on Austin Street Project

On January 14th, LWVN welcomed Scott Oran to present the current proposal for the Austin Street parcel (currently where the parking lot is now.)  Click on the link for notes on the Q & A session after the presentation.  There were still many unanswered questions (listed at the end of the notes) which have been submitted to the Austin Street Partners.  As soon as we had answers, we will post them.

Special thanks to the West Suburban YMCA for the use of their meeting space for the event.

January Topic Meeting-Austin Street

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