L-Podcast Episode 003 – Tom Murphy, Moderator of the Town of Ipswich Massachusetts talking about the Town Meeting

Welcome to the continuing series of discussions with thought leaders who are bringing new and innovative solutions to the challenges government faces in delivering services to the citizen.

I am your host Guy Clinch and my guest in this episode is Thomas R. Murphy, the current Moderator of the Town of Ipswich Massachusetts.

Mr. Murphy was elected to the position of Town Moderator in May of 2011 replacing James Grimes who retired as the Town Moderator after serving in the role for 30 years.

In addition to his responsibilities to the town Tom is an active trial lawyer in the greater Boston area since 1985 and in the last five years has focused on appellate work.

He has briefed and argued matters at every level of state and federal courts except the United States Supreme Court. Tom is a former Peace Corps volunteer and currently serves as the Chair of the Amicus Committee for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.

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Tom and Guy discuss the Town Meeting and Tom’s role as moderator. According to Massachusetts state law the moderator’s primary responsibility is to preside and regulate the proceedings during town meeting, to decide all questions of order and to make public declaration of all votes. The Town Moderator is also responsible for appointing members to a number of key town committees.

The citizens of the Town of Ipswich have held town meetings since at least 1635. By state law and governed by the town charter the town is required to hold at least one town meeting per year. The annual town meeting takes place in the spring. On October 15, 2013 the town will hold a special town meeting to deal with a number of pending decisions.

Tom has a great sense of the history of the position of moderator and the importance of the “pure democracy” of the town meeting. He is working to keep the tradition of the town meeting relevant to contemporary times. Tom expresses that the town meeting as a form of governance is threatened because people find it increasingly difficult to balance the requirement of daily life with the responsibilities of participation.

Tom tells of the processes that lead up to the town meeting, what happens during the meeting and of resources that are available to citizens who wish to participate. Some of those resources are available at the links provided below.



Thank you for listening to this episode of the “L” channel. Please stay tuned for future editions. You may follow us on Twitter @LyceumPodcast and subscribe to our episodes on iTunes and through my Feed.

Warmest regards,

Guy Clinch


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