6.1 Town Meeting — Limits of Government

Town Meeting, Continued…

“I think we’ve reached a consensus here,” the moderator, Historian said, “and one, I might add, that I am most pleased with. Henceforth, we declare to the heavens and to all who come here in the future — invited or uninvited — that the founding fathers have declared this town to be the City of Liberty!”

There was a round of grateful applause and cheering from almost everyone in the Town Hall.

“Now…” he continued, “Comes the interesting part!” — some laughter — “Article Two considers the form our government might take. I know that Captain Travis worked several hours with The Reporter to come up with the agenda for this meeting and I tip my cap — if I was wearing one — to them.”

“Uh-oh,” Travis was heard to say, “I suspect a big ‘but’ coming up.”

“Well,” Historian said, “It’s a little like putting the cart before the horse. I believe something has been left out.”

Travis smiled and said, “Probably a lot has been left out…”

“Yes,” Historian said, “With all due respect, Captain, you are a starship commander. There, your authority is absolute. You make the rules and you enforce them. Here on our new world, in our town called Liberty, things won’t be all that black-and-white. Before we can decide on a government and who will be that government, we need to decide upon what we want that government to do for us. Or not.”

There was general murmering amongst the colonists and even Travis was nodding in agreement.

Historian paused until it was quiet again and then said, “What do we as a people expect from our new leader or leaders? What are they responsible for and what are they not responsible for? What is their purpose? Their job description? What are to be the limits of the powers of our new government? When do we want them to stay the hell out of the way?”

There were some titters and discussion between the colonists, especially from the group where the Reyes, Buchanan, and Jack the Blade were holding court.

Historian continued, “Perhaps, before we hand over the keys to the ignition of our town, we’d better hand them a well-marked map so they don’t stray off the road. I think a simple constitution or bill of rights is in order!”

Buchanan rose and said, “Listen, Mr. Moderator, maybe you have all the time in the world to chat about this stuff but some of us have work to do!” There were nods and scattered applause from his crowd.

Ash said, “Really, Buchanan? You’ve actually decided to do some work?” Much laughter followed.

Historian rapped the makeshift gavel and said, “If you need to be somewhere, Mr. Buchanan, don’t let us keep you. As for the rest of us, for as long as it takes, I open the floor to discussion.”

34 Responses to “6.1 Town Meeting — Limits of Government”

  1. Mark Tilley Says:

    Do we really need to nail this down right now? If we choose a select board, or something similar, then we can figure it out as we need to. Those interested would attend the board meetings and give feedback as needed. Then we wouldn’t need to determine everything ahead of time, as we all may change our minds as time goes on. What we need now won’t necessarily be the same as what we’ll need a year from now. That’s just my 2 cents.

  2. The Historian Says:

    And it’s quite a valid opinion. Perhaps we just need a set of, er, restraints on any government for now.

  3. Andrew Stuart Says:

    What we need for the moment is a clear and consice list of what the interim government MAY NOT DO!

    At this point we have no real hint what we may need a goverment structure to DO.

    We need a short period for this society to evolve. We are not and hopefully never will be Earth. What we are going to be is yet unseen!

  4. Connor Benjamin Says:

    Mark and Andy are right. We cannot fully answer the question of the powers that our permanent government should or should not have without a better understanding of what is and is not needed here on Alchibah, and attempting to do so would be, I believe, a mistake. What we need is some sort of interim council that, while governed by strict rules and colonist oversight to ensure we do not so much as inch towards any restriction of our rights and liberties, has sufficient power and authority to make the decisions, many of them as yet unforeseen, that need to be made to secure our, and Liberty’s, survival.

  5. Mark Tilley Says:

    But do we really need to list out everything they cannot do? Won’t that be just as time-consuming, especially considering we may want this government to be limited?

    Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be right now. We are still trying to get settled and we don’t have other things to discuss. We don’t have the luxury (time nor people) to make a perfect government.

    Set up a group of people to oversee things, in an open manner. We can maybe, if people feel strongly about it, have a different group, in same the same open fashion, determine what this future government will be like.

    Frankly, I’m not sure even that is needed. I think a council or select board is enough. It can evolve as needed, but really people, we’re less than 200 here. Let’s not go overboard.

  6. The Historian Says:

    Alright then, I am only the moderator so I shall bow to the wishes of the majority. What kind of council shall we have? How many members? What will they be responsible for?

  7. Janie Cantarubias Says:

    I go along with much of what Mark and Connor say. The idea for a colony board is a very good one but and so is Andy’s about telling the government what it can’t do. I couldn’t make just a short list but the principal is so very important. How about a short list saying what the government can do, with explicit wording that if it’s not on the list the government can’t touch it at all?

  8. Frank Turner Says:

    Keep it small. An odd number to avoid ties, say 5 or 7.

  9. Joe Fortson Says:

    And they sure as hell don’t have to be meeting all the time from here on in. They’ll need to work just like the rest of us. Maybe we keep going as we are for one more week and see what the Board comes up with from the suggestions we make today. I know one thing that has to be decided. What does each of us owe to the colony in return for what we get back.

  10. Connor Benjamin Says:

    Stepping back a couple comments, Janie, I have to respectfully disagree. I think that it would be a mistake to spell out exactly what they can do and put everything else off limits. Perhaps that would be a good strategy for the final government (perhaps), but for now we need to allow the government discretion in what it does. Not too much - some things absolutely should be off limits - but enough that it can respond to unforeseen (and possibly unforeseeable) circumstances. So I suppose I’m saying I’m with Andy - we need to clearly define what the interim government can’t touch. Perhaps the old American Bill of Rights would be a good place to start.

    As far as structure, I’d say that Frank, you hit the nail on the head. Seven strikes me as a good number, and certainly no more than nine. Elected. And the meetings would be public, of course - perhaps they should be held only in the evening, so that anyone who wants to can attend without generally interfering with their work (and so that the members don’t miss work either). One other thing that I feel is very important, especially because I am advocating relatively undefined powers, is that public oversight be easy and thorough. Something like 20% of the population to call for a override vote, 50%+1 to override, and perhaps a super majority to impeach a member of the board.

  11. Les Reye Says:

    I know now, and should have known earlier, that many of you thought I was not doing enough to help the colony in it’s early days. But I assure you my time was not wasted but was spent planning for a meeting just such as this. I have a list of proposals already drawn which I shall place into the public record as soon as we adjourn this session. That list should convince all of my genuine efforts and confirm my desire to serve.

    And one thing I would also like to see is a means provided so that any rule passed by the Colony Board can be set aside in a timely fashion by a vote of the Colonists.

  12. Aya Benjamina Says:

    Oh please! All that does is help you put forward your own agenda and you know it!

  13. Burt Buchanan Says:

    What!? Now we’re letting children whine when we’re supposed to be deliberating on our new government? That child has no place here!

  14. Arra Benjamin Says:

    Oh shut up Buchanan! A minute ago you wanted nothing to do with “deliberating on our new government” and now you’re deciding the age of majority before we even get to the article? And don’t yell at my sister!

  15. Kaiya Yamasak Says:

    Burt, like the young lady said, shut up. We haven’t decided the age of majority yet and no one here has a right to tell someone they can’t participate until we do. And I’m not sure about the rules here, it being a New England thing and all, but I think minors will still be allowed to participate, just not vote.

    And Aya and Arra, I know you’re bright enough to participate. Don’t prove me wrong here.

  16. The Historian Says:

    HOLD IT, EVERYBODY — I will not tolerate anybody saying “shut-up” to anyone else. Everyone on this planet left something behind, made sacrifices to come here. EVERYBODY has the right to be heard, whether their opinion is in the majority or not. We have all intentionally set this day aside to be heard and I insist that all are. I might add that that includes those of all ages since the decisions we reach affect them, too.

    {Pausing}

    Now, I think we’ve settled on having a Town Council form of government for the time being. How large? I would prefer to say, “How small?” The last thing we need is a bloated government. I suggest one comprised of five people where a simple 3-2 majority can decide an issue. That group of five will select amongst themselves a manager, as it were, to coordinate their efforts and to act as spokesperson for them.

    Their meetings should certainly be limited to an as-needed basis and must be open to the public, and for public comment.

    Can we all agree to that? Both the number of and the requirement for complete openess?

    If so, then we can move on to the term of this office, their responsibilities and limits, and then on to Article 3; how we shall select them.

  17. Captain Travis Says:

    I can go along with five people although I would like at least one of them to be from my crew, representing the interests of and speaking for the Mayflower.

  18. The Historian Says:

    An intriguing point. Anyone else? Who wants to speak next?

  19. Burt Buchanan Says:

    {angrily} And just what are your interests, spaceboy?

  20. Captain Travis Says:

    {smiling and softly…} Saving your sorry ass, if it comes to that.

  21. The Historian Says:

    Gentlemen, please. Okay, who’s next?

  22. William Bartlett Says:

    I can see why you want someone on the Council Captain, but what next? The medical people get together and insist on a board member? The Farmers? Electron pushers? If you or Larry or Glenda or anyone you nominate runs you’ll get my vote and a lot of others I’m sure. But it will need to be by election same as everyone else.

    As for the age of majority I will get the ball rolling and say 16 Earth years. We can figure it out in Alchibah time later. And time spent in deep freeze doesn’t count. I can go with a 200 day initial term for the first Council as others have suggested. We can extend that or make it permanent or even abolish it when we get a Constitution voted in.

    And I’ll say that one thing the Town Council needs to do is set up the Township size and an initial plan for land distribution we all can vote on.

  23. Rajnar Singe Says:

    I think we should decide and vote today on how much time each of us will spend working for the Colony initially. The Council can work on the monetary system and we can vote on that later. But now I propose each of us owe 3 hrs of our time daily or 30 hours every 10 Alchibah days to be spent as the Council or a committee appointed by it so directs. And I think our robots should be assigned to the Colony or General Pool 50% of the time and any other times when we are not using them.

  24. Andrew Stuart Says:

    As I hear what’s being said, that we are considering appointing a small Planning and Proposals group who will have no real power until each point is voted upon. I have no real objections to that and would immediately vote on that based on a 5 person board.

    As this board has no real power I would have no objection to one member being from our Space contingent. But, once we start electing a body with real power I would have to insist on proof that any representative from Space have proof that they were actually elected. I have no problems dealing with an elected representative but I will not deal with a person who is involved as a Command Duty Appointment.

    No offense, Travis, but I will be damned if I will participate in anything that has the chance of ever putting Military and Political power without checks in the same hands again, EVER!

    As for the age of majority, remember folks that somewhere down the road we will need a military structure. At what age are you going to ask a young person to start becoming a warrior? For the minute you ask that of them, they have a vote!

  25. Captain Travis Says:

    Well now, Andy, that’s an interesting way of putting things. I, and the others on board the Mayflower don’t consider ourselves to be “The Military” per say. We are simply colonists who prefer to live in orbit. And we happen to have some space ships at our disposal. I suppose we could almost be considered a seperate colony here on the planet, one that happens to orbit it. I’ll have to take this up with the others. You’ll be your town and we’ll be ours!

    In point of fact though, most of us are actually employees of Stelco which as a corporation no longer exists or controls us, here, but an argument could be made that we represent their interests and property and are a commercial entity. We’ve done what we were “contracted” to do, deliver you all to Alchibah and to give you such supplies as Hamilton could arrange before the Goonies forced us to make an early departure.

    I think I prefer the first argument and we’ll negotiate for what services we supply to the colony–

  26. The Historian Says:

    {interupting} Gentlemen, gentlemen, this is neither the time or the place to quibble over such things.

    Let us say that we will have a temporary one year council. Five members, all to be voted on — sorry Travis — so that all have an equal chance.

    Are we all in agreement, The council shall last just until next year’s Town Meeting, at which time we’ll revisit the issue of what form of government to have?

    Are we in agreement that said council will be comprised of five colonists?

  27. Andrew Stuart Says:

    Histy, A moment please. Travis, you are right that the military aspect should be discussed over a couple of drinks. Put up your candidate and I’ll vote for him.

    Mr. Moderator I call the question!

  28. JJ Parker Says:

    The Parkers agree to a temporary one year council of five colonists, and that they operate with complete openness.

    Sir, a question: when will we discuss the urgent matters of water, food, shelter. And defense. We need viable food sources, to begin cultivating, and planning for defense. We didn’t all arrive as farmers or sharp-shooters, but if we don’t each do what’s needed quickly… we won’t survive for very long.

  29. Connor Benjamin Says:

    One moment. I heard a suggestion of 200 Alchibahn days, but now we’re voting on a full 1118 day Alchibahn year. Those two are more than a little different, it seems. I suggest a 200 day initial period that can be extended in 100 day periods (up to a full year) as the colony deems necessary, by a majority vote of the colonists.

  30. Hanna Parker Says:

    Two hundred days fine by us.

  31. Aya and Arra Benjamin Says:

    Arra: Mr. Moderator, I’d like to apologize for earlier.

    Aya: Me too. I’m sorry I snapped at you Mr. Reye.

    Arra: We just don’t like people assuming we’re stupid and useless just because of our age. But I’ll leave the age thing to later.

    Aya: We’re curious about something. Why do we have to meet only once a year? I mean, that’s a long time

    Arra: Like three years, really.

    Aya: It seems like having meetings more like every couple hundred days would make more sense. At least right now.

  32. JJ Parker Says:

    Histy, would you please re-state the proposal.

  33. The Historian Says:

    I stand corrected, still mixed up with Earth years. By the way, JJ, I believe your issues will be addressed by the council regarding food production, and the rest.

    The proposal is for a five person Town Council to serve for a term of 200 Alchiban days, with the council choosing one of themselves as manager.

    Any objections so far?

  34. The Historian Says:

    Now, Article 3: How shall we select that council? By nominations and a vote? By lottery? The floor is open to discussion.



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