PCC Bars Citizen Journalist from Meeting

The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC), a group that trumpets openness and transparency, refused entry to their advertised meeting to your reporter, a very concerned citizen of Portsmouth. Larry and another guy were standing at the door to the Anthony House, clipboard in hand.

"Is this meeting open to the public, or do I have to join to get in?"

"You have to join," said PCC President Larry Fitzmorris.

Check for PCC"Okay," I said, and pulled out my completed membership form and check for $20.

"But you can't join tonight. We've already made up the list." He started fumbling with his wallet. "You have to send me your application, and then the members have to vote on you."

Hm. "Gee. Have you filed by-laws with the State? Because I looked, and I couldn't find anything."

"I wouldn't say we haven't filed anything with the State," said Larry.

"But you haven't filed by-laws?"

"No." He gave me his card.

Now this is interesting on a couple of levels. I really wonder what's in those by-laws. Since the PCC is a nonprofit corporation, they have to file them with the State eventually. In the meantime, all their newsletters say about membership is a statement of some goals, and then "if you are of the same mind, become a PCC member today!" Since the last goal is "superior public schools," I figured, being like-minded, I could join.

But membership only by secret vote? Isn't this antithetical to the PCC's stated position that "While very few people like to be criticized, the tendency to take hard decisions into the back room is counter to all our interests?"

Now I can understand this in a country club, or an exclusive gated community. Sure, you want to have membership only by the consent of those already "in the club." You wouldn't want any diversity of opinion, or have any sunlight in those dark back rooms.

Hm. Dark back rooms in the Anthony House, too, a residential facility run by the Church Community Housing Corporation that I believe administers Federal housing subsidies. Might be worth looking into...

So while I'm still sending Larry my check, I'm not very hopeful. And if there are any attorneys out there who have a sense of RI corporate law, any off-the-record advice would be welcome. I'm sure they are within their rights as an organization, but by gum, I want to be sure that they're crossing their gosh-darned t's and dotting their blessed i's, in terms of what they need to be filing.

But more than the letter of the law, these folks, if anyone, should be ashamed at not hewing to the spirit of their own propaganda. From their most recent newsletter: "What we do not know, we are unable to challenge. Given the opportunity, the ethically challenged will cho[o]se the closet for decisions that hazard the public good."


Thanks for shedding some light on a very dark place. I guess the PCC isn't for just any "taxpayer" anymore. It's only for those in tune with Big Brother - or The Mind Of Larry. I would try to join myself, but I don't have a brown shirt.


This is totally outrageous and yet completely unexpected. I hope a lawyer-lurker to your blog can offer some read advice. What hypocrisy!


whoops! I meant to say "completely expected"!

that someone such as yourself who has openly bashed the PCC since day one, and rediculed(constanly) Larry,in many nasty,and distasteful ways...would be at the door, asking to sign up for a membership to the"organization", I mean it is very apparent your reasons for wanting to sign up, they are not for support, well intention,or consideration for the truely "concerned citizens of portsmouth". Rather to nose around, in order to put your extremely bias spin to everything that they all stand for, which is, open, honest, town government. Anyone who has read your blog from start to finish knows where you stand,you are ALL for extravagant,and way to much(over-spending) of the school commitee. I don't see any mention to the FACT that Karen Gleason mentioned how they spent money on a new movie theater during a budget crises, being another"luxury" example! while they beg for money now for the most important things, such as new text books??? where is the rational thinking, and priority here?! Yet YOU screamed (rightfully so)about the closing of the PI school. How much more do the citizens of portsmouth have to pay for these luxuries?!They have a new state of the art, monster,gym, a new movie theater(during a budget crises) YET...have no money for text books? I'am VERY happy that President Canario was upset and told Mr. Carpenter as such.
Are you trying to join the PCC so that you will have more fuel to feed your fire in the interest of your blog only? It is very sad that you would stoop that low, and this is why Portsmouth will stay divided forever, because of people like you who promote this kind of childish behavior, in order to get attention. These are all very serious issues that our town is facing...I suggest you leave it to the grown ups to come up with rational,and smart solutions.
Shame on you.

Hi, Delilah...
Welcome to the blog, and thank you for your post. I can understand the suspicion and hostility, but if the PCC is truly interested in openness and transparency, what do they have to hide? Why can't any citizen of Portsmouth join?

BTW -- I did, in point of fact, mention Ms. Gleason's comment. You are factually incorrect about it being a "movie theater," however; it was a TV studio, and was completed last year, before the current budget cycle, so has no relevance. Also, I would argue that the choice should not be between books and technology, that's a false dichotomy. To be competitive, our kids need both.

Thank you for your comments, and I hope you'll continue to post here and keep me honest.


Ah, the power of the press. I'm not quite so welcome in certain places any longer either. I'm "Out of Order" Eileen.

Various places have "community" rooms which they generously open up to groups seeking a meeting place. I don't think that they would be happy to hear that someone was denied access; esp. as this group advertises as being open to "guests". One might bring it to their attention.

Have they raised funds? Well, obviously as I see your check. Not registering with the state/federal authorities is a big no-no. One could complain to the Sec. of State.

Ironic, isn't it? A group which uses the words of Thomas Jefferson - "information is the currency of democray," is resentful & afraid of your spreading information.

I always wonder when readers write to me & complain about my point-of-view, why they don't just start their own blog?

Not only is it a TV studio, not a movie theater. McDaid is correct, it was built last year. AND it was built with a grant they applied for and won. The money is therefore restricted and could only be used to create the studio. There was no building required either, also a misstatement, since it is equipment housed in existing space.

Other than that, does the write have evidence of the so-called "extravangance"? Keeping students current with technology is not extravagance, it's the type of teaching our schools are required to do - to graduate students who are ready for the work force and/or higher education.

I'am sorry for my error in calling it a movie theater. But my opinion on this subject stays the same.
I do believe that anyone should be able to join the PCC, Yes...even you!after ALL of your bashing of Larry, whom by the way is always a gentleman! Actually after having time to think a little more, I REALLY hope that you DO become a member, this way maybe you will understand what the PCC is all about, that it is only made up, and represented by just what the initials(PCC) implies. We are the tax paying citizens of portsmouth who are very concerned about how,when,where,and why...our hard earned money(s) are spent in OUR town. Nothing more, and nothing less. To say that there is anything shady about this is total nonsense. What do you, or anyone else have against this concept? An organization of town citizens who are asking all the right questions of our town (elected by us) officials? If, and I for one believe it will...the PCC grows into a HUGE amount of members, what will you say then? Will you argue against the majority of portsmouth citizens? or will you simply jump on the band wagon? It will be interesting in any case to see what happens in the not so distant future.
I'am ALL for the children,and getting the best education possible,they are after-all the future of this country, which means,first ,and foremost, great teachers, and new text BOOKS!
I'am however against spending millions of dollars for show, in other words, having the Biggest, and the best of ...gyms/buildings...etc..etc...Tho' important to have sports,and extra activities also important, it doesn't mean putting us in a hole, and spending beyond our budget. We should be able to live within' the budget we have. There are too many burdens on the tax payers! I don't mind my tax dollars going to education, but
Are we all supposed to keep paying for the people who have 4-5 children, even tho' we have none, to play sports, or musical instruments,and all the rest of the things the kids have today? The parents of these children have the obligation to see that through,and they have a CHOICE, and a say in the matter,if they want to allow their children to be in any kind of (special) programs, that is more than the tax payer with NO children has!We have no choice, but to just foot the bill!
John - Good luck in your plan, or should I say plot, in becoming a PCC member.

Hi, Delilah...
What do I, or anyone, have against the concept of the PCC?

They do not just "ask questions." They forced a Tent Meeting that cut the school budget to an illegal level and forced the Caruolo action and the closure of Prudence Island. They cut $600K from the Town budget, the end result being massive reductions in support to needed programs like DARE and safety nets for the needy. (And, I might add, the Anthony House bus trip.) They organize letter-writing campaigns in the local media which present as single-sided and biased view as anything you accuse me of running in the pages of my blog. They produce, and I use this term in its descriptive, not perjorative sense, propaganda: material designed to sway public opinion and action.

What would I say if the PCC had a huge amount of members? Will I argue against the majority? Yes, I will, if I believe that the rights of the minority are being trampled; the essence of representative democracy is precisely that it offers this protection. That the rights of people who have children, even if they are a minority, are protected from people who say, "Are we all supposed to keep paying for the people who have 4-5 children, even tho' we have none." Shared responsibility for education is one of the burdens of American society, yes, but it has been one of the great engines of economic progress and social equality, and should a majority rise up to threaten that, then hell, yes, I would argue to my last breath.

Fortunately, Portsmouth already has such a collective organization to defend those rights. We call them our registered voters. And unlike those who seek to hold closed meetings, I have no fear of what these rational people will do when they have all the facts.

Kind Regards.

p.s. I hope I can count on your vote, then, when Larry brings my application before the membership. Thanks in advance.

They"forced a tent meeting"??? how do you figure that over 1,000 citizens were forced to a tent meeting? I didn't see any ball and chains! You are 100% wrong, The town councel forced the citizens of portsmouth to have a LEGAL(our charter) tent meeting, by not listening to reason when we complained of the unbelievable tax hike, that they tried to pull! The only reason you and others like you are so upset, and can't get over the tent meeting is because of the results,admit it! and get over it, it was legal, it was people of this town who wanted it, for good reason. For far too long this town was not asking the important questions as to where all the their tax dollars were going, and few were attending meetings, NOW that is a thing of the past, like it or lump it!
"No safety net for the needy"??? the problem was that the people were, and are, being taxed right out of their homes, they made us the needy, without a safety net! You have it all backwards...these are the facts, and the reason behind the tent meeting!
I'll say it one more time...the ONLY thing you care about is the schools, gee..can't imagine why that is...hmmm..you are too obvious! I wrote that I was for education, you read it...so now the spin begins...you have avoided the real problems that i stated by trying to make it appear as tho' the PCC started the problems, or is at the root of the problems, when in FACT they, and the tent meeting were acting in direct response to the problems, and that they were not being listened to,or heard... as you are doing now. I was referring to the other burdens such as extra activities, and other things besides the education of the children.
This is pointless, because we could go around in circles all day, you will NEVER see it as it is, and you will always blame the PCC, and the tent meeting, what a cop out! So..before I leave this blog for good( it is a waste of my time) ...just one more question...Why would someone like you who is always right, and oh so brilliant with all the facts (as YOU know them) want to be a member of such a horrible group as the PCC? I stated why,and you have just proven me right by your reply.
I would truely enjoy a one on one,man to man, debate of all the FACTS and issues between you and Larry, he would make minced meat out of you, very quickly,and easily...Now that! I would pay money to see!!! You would make one heck of a pie!

Hi, Delilah...
I am genuinely sorry to see you leave, and I will try to answer your question before you go. Why would I want to be a member of the PCC? Because I need to be a member to attend the meetings. And I need to attend the meetings because, as you said about the Town Council, if people aren't attending the meetings, they don't know what's going on. Should concerned citizens of a town not have the right to join an organization which is ostensibly acting in their name?

I have no doubt that in a "man to man" debate in the context of a PCC meeting, Larry would have no trouble convincing his audience that he had reduced me to one of the pies you speak of. As Al Gore has said, quoting Thomas Pynchon, "If you get them asking the wrong questions, you don't have to worry about the answers." But here on the Internet, where facts are no more than a mouseclick away, I rather think not.

I regret that you found the discourse here so unconvivial, and I am sorry that you feel the need to leave.

Kind Regards.

John-I think I have come up with a way for you to get into, and join the PCC...just grow your hair a tad longer,put on some lipstick,and borrow one of your wifes bra's...just sign Johnna on the line...its perfect!!!

Dear Delilah,

I offer my thoughts on these matters. Please understand that I'm not arguing with you or trying to sway your opinion one way or the other. In this wonderful republic of ours it is our freedom of speech that preserves us, not whether we agree with each other.

So, in the spirit of offering my opinion on the topics you've raised, and in no particular order, here goes!

1. Congratulations to the school department for seeking out and winning a grant to fund the establishment of a TV production studio so it didn't have to be funded by Portsmouth property taxes.

2. Wood shop, automotive classes and all the other "industrial arts" classes and facilities are not "luxuries." They are necesary skills training opportunities for those who choose to pursue a career in those fields. The TV production studio is also not a "luxury." It is technical skills education. In this day of 500 cable channels there are many good jobs in the field. You don't think so? Raise your hand if you watched TV at all today. Where do you think those TV shows come from? They come from the people working good jobs in a TV production studio.

3. Larry Fitzmorris always comports himself in a civil manner and in that sense you are right, he is always a "gentleman." I dislike his political views and his demagoguery. That he advances his propaganda in even-mannered tones makes no difference to me, I still disagree with most of his political philosophies. I'd rather be in the company of an honest jester than a deceitful gentleman.

4. John McDaid in his blog is often foul-mouthed and takes unfair shots at people that are clearly below the belt. But, so do plenty of late-night political commentators, comedians, pundits and so on. This is "new media" in a new age. If you want civil, nice and bland? Read the Newport Daily Snooze. As for me, I like the whole blog package. And, even with his bias which I acknowledge he has, most of John's reporting of town meetings is in more detail than any of the three newspapers that cover Portsmouth. Keep up the good work, Mr. McDaid.

5. The gym. It is not the "biggest, and the best of" facilities as you seem to think. I don't know why this notion persists in town, but bigger/better gym proposals were defeated. So, we are not "spending beyond our budget" for this gym. What we are spending is exactly what the voters of Portsmouth approved, which was 3.5 million dollars. That bears repeating -- the VOTERS APPROVED spending the money. Any more money than the 3.5 million came from private donations and not from Portsmouth property tax revenues.

6. You ask a reasonable question, "Are we all supposed to keep paying for the people who have 4-5 children, even tho' we have none?" I'll answer that question with a few questions of my own. Are we all supposed to keep paying for the people who receive social security, even tho' no one in my family is eligible for it? Are we all supposed to keep paying for the elderly on Medicare, even tho' I have to pay for my own private health insurance? Are we all supposed to keep paying for bridges used by people who live on Aquidneck Island, even tho' most folks live on the mainland? The answer to all of these is, of course, yes. These "special programs", as you called certain essential school programs, were instituted for the benefit of society as a whole. We too have no choice, but to just foot the bill for Medicare, social security, etc. Personally, I'm happy to do so.

Well, that's enough for now. I, too, am a concerned citizen, but I have the right to be concerned about the things I value, and you have a right to be concerned about the things you value. We may never agree on what those things should be. But talking about them is as old as the republic. Best regard to you.

John, you would indeed make one heck of a pie!! Do I get a scoop of vanilla with that? Classic!

This meme of people getting forced out of their homes because of their crushing tax burden is something that just has never made much sense to me. Has anyone really ever heard of a property-owning neighbor packing up their stuff, selling their house, and moving away from Portsmouth because they could not afford their taxes. Really, has this actually ever happened? Is it happening today? And furthermore, is it happening in such numbers so as to create some sort of economic social trend that can be validated and used as an argument for tax fairness? Granted, if it happens to just one family, it is a tragedy, but I just don't get it. I welcome correction on this, show me some case studies. Document this somehow for me. Seems like a barely useful urban myth and not much else to me. I just don't buy the whole notion. And if I am not mistaken, the Town has tax assistance programs for the truely desperate.
My portion of the supplemental tax bill to pay for the Caruolo decision was $84. I'm sitting here as a tax-paying property owner looking out of the window at an astonishingly beautiful late afternoon wondering what sort of desperate financial straights I would have to be in to contemplate leaving Portsmouth because I could not somehow scrape together $84 for the pleasure and priviledge of living here. I simplify, I know, but come on. If we are going to engage in honest civil discourse, let's at least base our arguments on verifyable facts, not urban (or suburban!) myth.
b. banzai

Just what did Mr. Matais, and by extension the PCC, mean in his May 31, 2007 letter to the editor of the Newport Daily News when he used the phrase “presumptively attending classes” to describe Portsmouth’s school-age children? Did he (they) mean to imply that parents in Portsmouth are not keeping tabs on their children's class attendance and the precious taxpayers of Portsmouth are somehow being ripped off by paying to educate empty seats? I hope it was only a careless use of language and not the preposterous accusation it appeared to be.
b. banzai

Howdy, Buckaroo...
I was imagining myself more as a sort of "Sweeney Todd" confection, somewhere between a pastie and a Hot Pocket, á la Stephen Sondheim:

Todd: "The history of the world my sweet..."
Lovett: "Oh, Mister Todd, Ooh Mister Todd what does it tell..."
Todd: "Is who gets eaten and who gets to eat..."
Lovett: "And Mister Todd, too Mister Todd, who gets to sell..."
Todd: "But fortunately it's also clear..."
Both: "That everybody does down well with beer!"

— ahem —

Levity aside, I do take Delilah's point about taxes seriously, and while nobody has documented an individual forced to leave, there is genuine concern about some valuations in Common Fence Point. One of these is a matter of public record, and the owner has personally appeared at the Town Council, claiming that a $600K valuation on a 900-sq-ft cottage is unsupportable, and I have a great deal of sympathy for that position, living as I do in a 900-sq-ft cottage.

But as you say, the rational strategy is to deal with outlier cases through tax relief policy, not adjust the tax rate for the entire town. But this seems to be the PCC's approach to wastewater as well: worried about overdevelopment? Instead of preventing overgrowth through zoning, they want to restrict it through the brute-force approach of opposing sewers. They're all about the blunt instrument.


Whether a 900 sq.ft. lot is worth $1 or $1,000,000 is entirely up to the free market, meaning, what would a willing buyer pay to acquire the property from a wiling seller. Neither you nor I nor the town council nor anybody else can control that. It's those sale transactions that set the valuation price for tax purposes of the surrounding properties.

I feel bad for the elderly retired person living on a postage stamp sized lot in a paid-for house that just happens to be on the waterfront. It's not my fault or your fault or the town council's fault that some willing buyer would pay a million dollars for the waterfront postage stamp sized property. On the other hand, I would gladly sell my house to anyone willing to give me a million bucks for it, so I'm not all that broken up by the "plight" of those in common fence point.

Althouth it took me several readings to actually understand what her point was, I too take Delilah's point seriously. It's just that throwing out myth as argument gets me going every time. We need to be precise about these things.
I can speak of this tax issue with some authority. I live in a 900 sq. ft. shack that is valued at $425K because it overlooks the water. No garage, and neighbors less than thirty away. We are a two income family and struggle, like everyone else of modest means to make ends meet. But the very last thing I would think of doing is crying "poor me, the Town is forcing me to move from my beautiful home by taxing me disproportionately high because my property is near the water." I live in a wonderful place, I know it, and I am willing to figure out a way pay for it. I rarely vacation (much to my wife's displeasure) because I cannot think of anywhere I would go that is not as good as staying home.
As I understand it, assessed value is based roughly on market value (maybe within 10-15% or so), so most of who we are probably talking about here have equity up the ying-yang and appear to not be willing to give an inch (or a penny) to actually be part of a community and be willing to contribute their fair financial share to it. I got mine, everyone else be damned!
I do more than my share of paying attention to how my municipality spends my hard earned tax money and have yet to find the serious flaws in the system that the PCC'ers would have us think are there. I firmly believe our elected official are acting in good faith on behalf of all of us as a community, unlike the duplicitous actions of the PCC, which you have so elegantly exposed.
While we are on the subject of sewers, there is evidence out there that the septic systems of some of the CFP waterfront homes you speak of consist of a 55 gallon drum punched with holes in it and flushed twice a day with the tide. These property owners have been internalizing the benefits of having a toilet to flush and externalizing the cost of environmental cleanup of their mess on all of the rest of us taxpayers for far too long. It's time they start paying their own costs, and if it means paying higher taxes because they are close to the water, so be it. I have to calm down or I will hit the caps lock!
Those who feel their evaluation is too high have a mechanism for appealing such a decision and each appeal is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But let's please not confuse property value with tax rate or the cost of providing services to citizens. The two are very separate beasts.
I still think you would look better as a baked alaska!

b. banzai

1) You are not a citizen journalist. There's no such thing.

You are a blogger.

A Michael Moore-wannabe blogger at that.

2) I can only imagine your outrage if Larry Fitzmorris had tried to join SOS in order to attend their meetings. So please spare us your "righteous indignation."

3) Speaking of righteous indignation, please spare your pretense of concern for quality education.

a) Your household has a vested interest in making sure that the Portsmouth teachers contract is as "rich" as possible, for it will become one of the bases of comparison when Tiverton's contract is renegotiated.

b) Your household has a vested interest in making sure that the flow of potential tax revenues to available for tapping in the in the upcoming round of "negotiations" for the Portsmouth teachers contract remains unrestricted.

c) Teachers unions are opposed to high quality education. The NEA nationally and locally vehemently opposes things such as merit pay, performance and teacher accountability. Conversely, they vehemently defend inherently practices that are inherently adverse to quality education, such as tenure and seniority based compensation and promotion.

So if you really cared about quality education you'd be opposing the teachers unions - your silence regarding them speaks volumes.

When it comes to your "expressed" opinions and supposed concern "for the children" and "education" in Portsmouth we merely need to "follow the money" into your household in order to reveal your true motivations and true agenda.

4) Any thinking human being in Portsmouth recognizes that the teachers union is "behind the curtain" directing Lusi (who, like all Superintendents, for her own career purposes wants to avoid being blackballed by the union, lest her advancement opportunities into bigger districts or to RIDOE be imperiled) - and directing the School Committee - and that this perennial "budget crisis" is all about insulating the teachers union from "cuts" and keeping the gravy train going - particularly as spiraling "pension contributions" are added to the already spiraling annual increases in their gold-plated health care package.

That is why we're witnessing the symbolic, sure to anger the public "unavoidable" cuts in textbook purchases and closing schools. Such are the typical and predictable responses of bureaucracies when confronted with an awakening public beginning to demand fiscal sanity and budgetary reality.

5) You never seem to have a problem with the pervasive practice of the Portsmouth School Committee to meet in "executive session" based upon every flimsy excuse for an "exception" to the Open Meetings Act that they can concoct. So to return to where we started, please spare us your righteous indignation regarding PCC's reluctance to admit you as a "member" so that "attend" the meetings.

You have hit the nail on the head! This is what I have been trying to put into words since I saw this blog a while ago, then did not come back for some time in frustration, I was tired of John asking me for "facts". I have facts, we all(or most) of us have the "facts", we are NOT ignorant people here! Nor are we gullible!
Thank you onlineboy!
Sorry John but you really are VERY transparent!

Hi, onlineboy...
Welcome, and thank you for your contributions. It's great to see such a rich discussion happening (though I would ever-so-gently like to steer the conversation back toward why the PCC, an organization which advertises open membership in their newsletter, has a secret, restrictive policy on admittance.)

But I do feel obligated to respond to a couple of points, as a matter of personal credibility.

1) You are not a citizen journalist. There's no such thing. You are a blogger. A Michael Moore-wannabe blogger at that.
I'm delighted to be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Moore. I was, however, writing and publishing gonzo journalism years before the Web existed. And if you don't believe citizen-journalists exist, go visit Jay Rosen's PressThink blog and learn about the future of reportage.

2) I can only imagine your outrage if Larry Fitzmorris had tried to join SOS in order to attend their meetings. So please spare us your "righteous indignation."
Bad analogy. SOS was an advocacy organization driven largely by PCC-led assaults on school funding. The PCC, in the mission statement in their newsletter, identifies four goals: limited property tax increases; open, efficient and responsive town government; access to decision makers and the deliberative process; and superior public schools. I happen to support all of those goals and am a citizen of the town the PCC has on their masthead. Why should I not be allowed to join?

3) Speaking of righteous indignation, please spare your pretense of concern for quality education.
a) Your household has a vested interest in making sure that the Portsmouth teachers contract is as "rich" as possible, for it will become one of the bases of comparison when Tiverton's contract is renegotiated.
b) Your household has a vested interest in making sure that the flow of potential tax revenues to available for tapping in the in the upcoming round of "negotiations" for the Portsmouth teachers contract remains unrestricted.[...]
When it comes to your "expressed" opinions and supposed concern "for the children" and "education" in Portsmouth we merely need to "follow the money" into your household in order to reveal your true motivations and true agenda.

While it's none of your business, yes, my wife happens to be a teacher. And while it's also none of your business, she asked me to mention that she is a Wharton MBA, who spent years as a marketing consultant before going back to school for another degree, because she wanted to help kids. I can tell you that this was not, in point of fact, a salary or benefits move in the positive direction, so your sleazy insinuation that my positions are driven by economic interest are laughably off base.

4) Any thinking human being in Portsmouth recognizes that the teachers union is "behind the curtain" directing Lusi
Bwaaa--haaaah---haaah. Yes, yes, yes, it's a CONSPIRACY, it's the teacher's fault, yes, you ever notice that you run out of paper towels and tissue paper at the same time? You know it's true. Oswald acted alone? I think NOT my friend. The NEA! They killed Kennedy.

5) You never seem to have a problem with the pervasive practice of the Portsmouth School Committee to meet in "executive session" based upon every flimsy excuse for an "exception" to the Open Meetings Act that they can concoct. So to return to where we started, please spare us your righteous indignation regarding PCC's reluctance to admit you as a "member" so that "attend" the meetings.
I obviously respect the PCC's right, as a nonprofit corporation, to conduct their business in in membership meetings with restricted access. What I would expect is a recognition of the peculiar strain this places on their credibility in attacking the School Committee, as you do here, for their alleged "secrecy" when discussing sensitive business matters.

Thanks again for your input. Look forward to chatting more.

Kind Regards.

Yes, I'm placing a comment here - buried deep in a months old thread. But, the comment is directed to onlineboy's entry, so here goes.

There is another person who has a vested interest in teacher's contracts and negotiations. An interest identical to that which you cite Mr. McDaid has. That is, Larry Fitzmorris also has a wife who is a teacher in a neighboring community. I've heard about this for some time, but just today I had it confirmed that Mrs. Fitzmorris works as a teacher in the Middletown ALP (stands for "Alternative Learning Program" which I believe is some sort of special education facility).

So there you have it. Simply stating that a household contains a teacher does not automatically mean that every other member of the household must be saying things they don't believe just to fatten their wallet.

And, just for the record, Larry Fitzmorris was quoted in the Providence Journal at the time of the last Portsmouth teacher's contract negotiations. He said it was a good contract. I have the article to prove it. Was he speaking honestly or speaking in his wife's best interests?

If you think he was speaking in his wife's best interests, fine. Then think whatever you want about John McDaid. But, if you think he was speaking honestly, you have to grant John McDaid the same benefit of the doubt. Anything else is an intellectually dishonest position.

with Delilah 100%! What are you people talking about anyway? John has already given you 1 example of someone being taxed out of their home in common fence point, and I happen to know this person, Been there almost 40 years and now cannot afford the unbelievable tax hike due to the very rediculous assessment value put on her 800' lot. This person and many more in that area, I counted 11 homes up for sale right in the general area alone, the problem is, and it is a HUGE problem...they cannot sell! In one case they put it to Auction as a last resort and NO bites! The assessed value is too high and you cannot sell it for that, so bringing the price way down, or up for auction and still NO bites! Now what do you propose these people should do? Can't afford the taxes, can't sell, can't auction off...As far as wanting names, and addresses as proof, I have said on here before, I don't think people want me to advertise such private information on the internet, and I have to respect that!
Perfect example is the woman at the town meetings, she is not of senior citizen age yet, 57 years old I believe, disabled, lived in her home for almost 40 years, always payed her taxes before this, now she cannot afford them, cannot sell for anywhere close to what it has been assessed at. Do you see something wrong with this picture??!
If any of you want facts all you have to do is drive around common fence point, also...read the property transactions (or lack of) in the paper for Portsmouth, the homes are NOT moving at all. Does anyone have to wonder why??? Reality check people! Its all right in front of your eyes.
Thank YOU Delilah for the TRUTH!

No one got all hot and bothered and yelled at me for my comments above. Must be because they are so well-reasoned.

More of my random thoughts raised by matters written by others here:

1. Yes, there is such a thing as a citizen journalist. Citizen journalism is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," according to the seminal report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information, by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. And, in any event, bloggers are journalists. Many courts accros the country have said so in determining if they qualify for protection under those state's source shield laws.

2. This blog's index shows 2588 "reads" of the article about the tragic accident on East Main Road involving a teenager in critical condition. That blog entry with all those reads merited just 9 comments. The current blog entry critical of the PCC shows only 288 "reads" yet now has 20 comments. Really -- I worry what that has to say about all of us.

3. If you think the Portsmouth town council or school committee are doing a bad job, whether it's about meeting in executive sessions or crafting budgets or whatever, run for office. If you're not going to run for office, then at least go to the meeting and offer specific concrete suggestions. Remember, the council can't just "lower taxes". That is not a valid suggestion. Ranting and raving about unions is not a valid suggestion. A valid suggestion is "lower taxes by cutting municipal support to social service agencies." A valid suggestion is "make the union teachers pay a higher copay when the contract comes up next." If you don't run for office and you don't offer specific suggestions on how to fix things, then you are not part of the solution. Need it bear reiterating -- if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Whining about things is not enough.

4. I will listen, really listen, to anyone. But if you are going to spout conspiracy theories, like, "the teachers union is "behind the curtain" directing Lusi", then you have lost all credibility with me. I'm certain you think you KNOW THAT WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE. Sorry, but I'm a scientist. I see no proof whatsoever, only inuendo.

5. Finally, we are a town divided. Take the November election as proof. All three of the Democrats who supported preserving the budget at the Tent Meeting were returned to office. At the same time, Mr. McIntyre who supported cutting the budget at the Tent Meeting was also returned to office. Likewise, two incumbent Democrats on the school committee who championed the 2006 budget were returned to office, while at the same time two PCC endorsed newcomers to the school committee also won. I guess that means that we have to learn to live with each other, hmmm?

Regarding the November election: voting at an all-day town eleciton is about as fair as you can get by anyone's definition. Did the PCC sweep the council offices? No. Was McIntyre the last one to scrape into office, by just a handful of votes? Yes.

Obviously, the town is very divided, with both sides being well represented, but if you are going to emphasize that "the people spoke" at the tent meeting, then you could equally (and more deservedly) say that they also spoke during election time.

As for Larry Fitzmorris always being a gentleman? I had the opportunity to personally witness him drive by repeatedly, honking his horn and thumbing his nose at parents, grandparents, schoolchildren and others who were peacefully demonstrating in front of Newport Bank. I have also seen him calm and collected at public meetings. You decide.

>>I will listen, really listen, to anyone. But if you are going to spout conspiracy theories, like, "the teachers union is "behind the curtain" directing Lusi", then you have lost all credibility with me. I'm certain you think you KNOW THAT WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE. Sorry, but I'm a scientist. I see no proof whatsoever, only inuendo.

It is not a secret among those who follow public education in the U.S. that behind the scenes the teachers unions coop management. The ways they do so are myriad, and space nor time permits that here. I commend your attention to "The Education Intelligence Agency" (online) or one of the books about the teachers unions ("The Worm In The Apple" being one example that discusses this in some detail). There are also numerous reports from think tanks, such as the Manhattan Institute, Hoover Institute, etc. regarding the deleterious impact of teachers unions.

If you had read carefully you would have realized that I didn't single out Lusi as being better or worse than other Superintendents. Think about it. Those folks get into the status quo public education system, and it's all they know. The golden handcuff (as with virtually all public sector employees is the pension). To get it, they have to survive within the system for 20-30 years. To maximize their pension they need to maximize their final three years pay, which generally is done by "capping" your career at one of the larger systems and/or parking your behind at the RIDOE (think the Portsmouth School Department's last finance head).

As Superintendent jobs openings are not an everyday occurrence, nor merit based, the selection process is inherently political.

If you don't believe that the teachers unions have a lot of input in this, you're naive. Ditto if you don't believe that Superintendents are well aware of this. Ditto if you don't believe that teacher unions don't use that leverage to "encourage" every Superintendent to "play ball" with the union, lest the union make it difficult - if not impossible - for them to get hired at their next desired destination.


Sure, both sides can point to their "facts" about unions and can list books by think tanks with clear agenda. But both sides will cherry pick the "facts" that support whatever point of view they would like to justify. Perhaps its human nature. For me, the "facts" are that even though I know the union has its flaws, yes, there are worms in the apple in every group; and I am not always the union's biggest supporter (for example, I hate it when my union reps try to tell me how to vote or get paternalistic on me), but right now I am grateful that my salary and benefits (including the co-pay I pay willingly) are protected by a contract. I know from chatting with various PCC members last year, clipboards in hand next to signs with lies on them, that they think I am vastly overpaid, underworked and am, as Lennie and George would say, "Livin' off the fatta the lan'". But I assure you that, to paraphrase another literary giant, Donna Summer, "I work hard for my money". In fact, I am a veritable bargain for Portsmouth taxpayers of any ilk and am not ashamed to admit that I am a teacher. It seems to me that on the PCC side, even those who claim to want quality education, do not really want to pay for it, especially teacher salaries and benefits. Merit pay? I would likely qualify for merit pay but that group would still want it to be less than my current salary since I'm one of those cash-cow top-steppers.

and a darn fine teacher too. I know my kid would not have flourished nearly as well if not for landing in your mentorship at the high school.

Thank you.

COPs are Citizens of Portsmouth. Unlike citizens of most communities, most members of Citizens Of Portsmouth understand that most other Citizens Of Portsmouth are honest, hardworking, family oriented, well informed individuals. People who are not from around here can't understand what it is means to grow up in a community were most people are basically good. For example, most kids don't litter. Most teachers love teaching. Most parents love their kids. Most people appreciate the virtues of preserving historic stone walls. I could go on and on.

Some "PCC" supporters appear to believe that "all politcians are crooks." Some may not really be from around here, or perhaps life has just turned them so sour that they cannot accept that we acually have good and competent individuals who are willing to dedicate a considerable portion of their time for the benefit of the community, serving, for example, on the Design Review Board.

I appreciate English's outrage, passion, and well-informed remarks. It isn't easy to speaking the truth about those in our community who will lie - calmly and in a gentlemanly manner - whenever it serves their purpose. Pointing this out publically or privately is bound to bring out the outrage and ill-informed blather of so-called "PCC supporters." I say "so-called" because I wonder - who are these people?

1) They are not simply any taxpayer. They are a private corporation free to elect to admit or not admit to membership anyone they want. They may even be able to do this without being legally compelled to make public their "bylaws" (if such a thing even exists) that would describe their criteria for membership.

I am a devout Democrat, and I'm extremely, passionately, outraged at the change in direction our country has taken under the current Republican Federal Administration, a group also well known for fiddling with the facts. Nonetheless, if I choose to do so, I could register as a member of the Republican party. I'm not so sure the PCC would accept me as graciously. What are their criteria? Never speak ill of Larry? Never express dismay at a comment by Peter McInyre? Never waver from supporting their campaign of relentless negativism?

2) The PCC has received considerable financial support by a current group formerly known as the "R.I. Shore Line Cooalition", a group based in Watch Hill, R.I. Most Aquidneck Island residents are unfamilar with Watch Hill. It is a very wealth shore-line section of Westerly, RI. To say someone lives in "Watch Hill" is equivalent to saying someone lives "on Belview Avenue" or "Ocean Drive."

So why would a group of folks from Watch Hill want to support the PCC? I have no evidence to support any answer to this question. It would be reasonable, I think, to guess that Watch Hill folks include a lot of the "Tax-Cut-For-The-Wealthy" crowd. These are also folks known to lie with ease and a smile. Some even harbor hatred for what they consider to be "minority" members of their communities.

The PCC has no trouble speculating about anyone else's motivations without the slightest bit of evidence. At least I am gentlemanly, honest, and manly enough to say that I'm speculating, or, more accurately making an educated guess.

If you would like to be a COP too, but you don't have much time to spare, the best thing you can do go would be to Go To The Booth and Vote, and encourage as many of your neighbors and friends to do so as well.

Hi, Viking...
Thanks for your post -- what you say makes much sense. The COPs of Portsmouth are the true conservatives -- the ones who respect the tradition and culture of our town, appreciate and trust their neighbors, and give a damn about the future of our Town, rather than just their wallets.

As you say, all our volunteer boards and commissions are COPs. Our teachers are COPs. Yes, even our politicians are COPs, and I say that about members of both parties, because I respect the process, and the commitment to service they show.

For the other end of the continuum, maybe we need another acronym: PERPs: People Entirely Resistant to Paying. COPs recognize that they "pay" for things in their community — sometimes with taxes, sometimes with donations of time and effort. PERPs want the benefits of living in our town (or else, they would leave, right?) but they will fight all the way to RI Superior Court not to pay their fair share.


[duplicate post removed]

Up-thread I got off topic by throwing out the "taxed-out-of-their-homes" meme and really put things off in the wrong direction, and I apologize. I've been reading this entire thread over a couple of times and it reminds me of an audio recording I heard recently of a geomagnetic storm coming from the Sun. There is this lovely rolling sine-way sort of incoming surf sound that is punctuated by a series of rude, sharp, crackling dissonant spikes, and then it calms down again. And then spikes off the charts (with personal attack) again! And then calms down...... I am continually amazed about how this blog / comments thing works. Its like John Conway's game of life, where you set the cells up and just let it go. It may fizzle out in a few cycles or go on for hours.
Anyway, I think I was so taken aback by the astonishing hypocracy of the PCC'er and your great adventure at trying to attend one of their "guests welcome" meetings, that I went somewhere else.
b. banzai

I've been thinking alot about the pie thing and it finally came to me what kind of pie you would be, a big ol' double slice of all-American apple pie!

Howdy, buckaroo...
Never any need to 'pologize for taking conversation here in odd directions. I love the Conway analogy -- think of this blog like an asymptotically optimal quadratic growth rate engine, spitting out glider guns.

BTW -- is it too late for me to use an overdetermined architect of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame joke?


As with Lije’s comments, no one got all hot and bothered and yelled at this COP for my comments above. As with Lije, it must be because my comments are so well-reasoned. Or perhaps we’ve just gotten too far down string for even Delilah to bother with. Incidently, this is what you get if you Google "Definitions Delilah":

Definitions of Delilah on the Web:
(Old Testament) the Philistine mistress of Samson who betrayed him by cutting off his hair and so deprived him of his strength
enchantress: a woman who is considered to be dangerously seductive 

Delilah or Dlila (דְּלִילָה, Standard Hebrew meaning "[One who] weakened or uprooted or impoverished" from the root dal meaning "weak or poor". Also: Dəlila, Tiberian Hebrew Dəlîlāh; Arabic Dalilah), was the "woman in the valley of Sorek" whom Samson loved, and was his downfall, in the Hebrew Bible Book of Judges (Chapter 16). 

(languishing) a woman who dwelt in the valley Of Sorek, beloved by Samson. (Judges 16:4-18) There seems to be little doubt that she was a Philistine courtesan. [SAMS0N] (BC 1141.)

Viking- You really must get a life...I feel sorry for,and worry about anyone who has to google a person's name just for kicks. Maybe you should invest in a crossword puzzle book,or perhaps re-read the dictionary.

By the way Viking...were you born with those horns? or is that just a cheap hat?

Shalom, Delilah...
"Get a life?" To the contrary, to people of the book, names are inherently interesting. But more to the point, as Pynchon sez, "Names may mean nothing, but the act of naming..."

Choosing a name, even a mundane thing like a screen name on a blog you hate, speaks volumes. And gives away perhaps more than the namer intends, because there is no such thing as a free association. Are you here to give me a haircut? To present yourself as Delilah and raise questions about Viking's horns? Hmm...

Buiding on Viking's excellent post:

Delilah deserves her own intriguing commentary. Her name seems to be a literary construct, a contrived feminized amalgam of several possible paronomasic Hebrew word plays with multiple connotations, possibly a fourfold word play so typical in Hebrew literature, although not directly applicable to Mantegna's painting. First, the verb dalah (דלה) can mean both “to hang down” and “to draw water”. In the painting, Samson’s hair no longer hangs down but the pendant grapes probably alluding Delilah and long oak branches probably alluding Samson certainly hang downward. Second, dalach (דלח) can mean “to stir up trouble”. The only phonetic difference here between the Hebrew verbs (dalah / dalach) is the voiced glottal "ch" sound in the heth (ח) instead of the nearly identical but softer aspirated "h" in he (ה). Third, dallah (דלּה) can mean both “hair” and “thrum” as an omen “of premature death”. Finally, dalal (דלל) usually also means “to be coquettish” and “to look amorously at a man.” Thus all four connected Hebrew homophones - here feminized for the persona of this woman - densely sum up the likely biblical intent of casting Delilah as a stereotype femme fatale embodying great danger,(11) especially significant for misogynist clergy.
— via Philolog, in an analysis of the Mantegna grisaille referrered to in the Wikipedia entry

And of course, in the Kabbalah, DLYLH converts into the Gematria system as the number 79, Chokmah-Chesed-Netzach, with linkages to the Pillars of the Temple (Boaz and Joachim), suggestive of the High Priestess in the Tarot.

And, proving nothing, and yet suggesting much, unix hackers will recall that port 79 is reserved for the Finger Protocol...


maybe it is just because my mother loved the name?
ok, so now I'am convinced...you people really do need to get a life...also I'am smart enough to realize when I'am being used to keep the bloggers from falling asleep here. Trying to anger me, or rev me up to keep the ball rolling, sorry ...not into the head games.

p.s. not that it matters, but I'am not jewish.

YANL (Yet Another Numbered List)

1. I must interject, as I am a close friend of Viking. Yes, Delilah, it's a cheap hat. Frankly, I'm embarrassed to go out in public with him when he wears it.

2. I appreciate, Delilah, that you would retaliate against Viking for the personal attack on your name. That's fair and it was a cheap shot. But his substantive comments (aside from the dictionary/name jab) and my comments still have yet to be criticized. Again, it must be because they are so eminently reasonable.

3. Here's my own dictionary lookup for those who care: My pseudonym "Lije" is short for "Elijah" and is taken from the lead character in the Robot series by Isaac Asimov -- Lije Baley. As Mr. McDaid, the principle of this blog, is among other things a noted science fiction author, it is a tip of the hat to him.

4. John, I propose the pie you should be is a Boston Cream Pie because (1) it's not really a pie it only pretends to be one, (2) "Boston" is the great liberal bastion of the North East -- only fitting and (3) it has the perfect consistency for in-the-face three-stooges uses.

5. Don't I have something else to do besides leave comments on this blog? Maybe I should watch TV or something?

6. Each individual cell in the Conway game of life has no cognizance of its sibling cells when at rest in any given state. Thus, the cell cannot know if it is part of a vast evolving life or just about to fizzle. Kinda like real life.

Blissfully unaware until it gets runover by a a "glider" in the form of a Target coming to Town.
Kinda like real life, indeed.

I have had a change of heart! I do believe that you should be able to become a member of the PCC. It makes perfect sense to me now(thinking clearly), that you should be able to see how Mr. Fitzmorris works, all of his hard work, dedication,time,energy, spent on trying to do what is right for our town and its good citizens should truly be witnessed by all. I feel that if you were allowed into the PCC meetings you would get a better(inside) look at just how significant,and important, this work is. I also feel that you would learn a lot,and benefit from it.

I feel that your big mistake was in, publicly bashing,and belittling, Mr. Fitzmorris,and the PCC, without enough knowledge,and facts, as to what they stand for,and who these people really are...good,taxpaying,law abiding, citizens of this town, many of them for over 30 years. They have formed for the betterment of the town. Anyone who doubts that is wrongly mistaken, and there for should be allowed to become a member, be at the meetings ,and be enlightened.

You John(of all people) SHOULD be allowed to join!

Hi, Stormie...
I'm always willing to be convinced by facts. If the PCC really has them, and they are willing to share them with me, that would be appreciated.

I do take exception to the characterization of bashing the PCC without knowledge or facts. They instigated the Tent Meeting and cut the budget in a way that forced us into the Caruolo Action, and their rhetoric about the school and town were as harsh and inflammatory as anything I said. You can go download all their newsletters from their web site. Please, if you haven't read them, go do that.

I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to attack the PCC. I was reacting to an incessant drumbeat of negative crap from them in the local media.


"I was reacting to an incessant drumbeat of negative crap from them in the local media."

There was,and is a lot of negative crap happening(unfortunately), hence the "drumbeat"...how do you expect anything to get done in this town without making some noise? It has to be brought out,and into the public, negative ,or not...in order to be discussed, and come to reasonable solutions.

You still hold the tent meeting against them(PCC), when in fact it was the people of this town who gave them enough signatures to hold the (legal,our charter),tent meeting,and make it work. Mr. Fitzmorriss,and PCC members did not act alone, or it wouldn't have been possible...enough people WANTED the tent meeting to happen...Sorry John, but remember, the truth of the matter may hurt you...but it is still the truth.

Dear Stormie and John:

The PCC website still says that "Guests of members are always welcome." I don't know if you are a member of the PCC, Stormie, but if you are I suggest you invite John as your guest to the next meeting. That way he can see what you are talking about.

Just my 2 cents.

But...I'm not a PCC member, I have close friends who are. If I were I would gladly invite him as my guest. I honestly believe that John would be interested in what they have to say, understanding,and open to listening to both sides. I don't feel that the PCC has anything to hide from anyone,therefore anyone should be allowed. even those who openly disagree with most, if not all of what they represent.
I have even mentioned this to my PCC friends, but they do not agree that it would be of any good to allow someone who would want to sit it on the meetings in order to take (negative, out of context) notes ,and put his own spin on things to use on his blog. Also they feel that he cannot get beyond the tent meeting,and is only out for vengeance,by saying whatever he can to discredit the PC,and Mr. Fitzmorriss.
In saying this...it doesn't mean that I agree with it.

Thank you for your 2 cents.

Hi, Stormie...
Very much appreciate your willingness to ask friends to invite me to a meeting. I know how difficult that probably was, and am very grateful to you for making that effort.

"enough people WANTED the tent meeting to happen...Sorry John, but remember, the truth of the matter may hurt you...but it is still the truth."

Let's just remember, as the PCC trumpets the "illegal budget" from the past year, that the only factually illegal budget was created by the Tent Meeting. You say repeatedly that I criticize the PCC without facts, but it is a fact that the Tent Meeting produced a budget that was in violation of State law and had to be corrected by court action.

Why do I hold this against the PCC? If enough people decide together that they want to break the law, does that make it okay?


"Why do I hold this against the PCC? If enough people decide together that they want to break the law, does that make it okay?"

Perhaps you should ask a Tiverton school teacher.

I thought you would have learned that this argument makes no sense based on my post here: http://torvex.com/jmcdaid/node/436#comment-2469 -- it is the comment titled "False logic, my friend". Please read that if you haven't yet.

It doesn't matter to the topic at hand whether Tiverton teachers break the law, whether George Bush breaks the law or whether folks cheat on their taxes. Any reference to those things is just trying to change the subject.

Hi, Lije...
It finally dawned on me that Stormie may keep bringing this up because my wife taught in Tiverton for a year. But no longer does; she works in Massachusetts now. So even the attempted smear is irrelevant.

No, Stormie, the issue here is the actions of the PCC. Was the Tent Meeting process legal? Yes. But did the deliberate act of the PCC at the Tent Meeting produce an illegal budget? A court found this to be a deficit budget, a violation of Rhode Island law. See RIGL 16-2-9 25 (d).