The other shoe dropped tonight as the Town Council described a letter from the PCC threatening to sue them -- collectively and personally -- if they took any action on the School Committee's request for additional funding. Without a Town Council response, there would be no recourse to a Carulo action (as specified in RIGL 16-2-21.4(a)(1).)
The Council ignored the threat, and voted unanimously to reject the School Committee request for additional funding. "Let me be clear," said Council member Leonard Katzman, "I'm voting no to free the school committee to take further action. He went on to describe the letter as being full of "misdirection" and containing arguments "not warranted by existing law, and a frivolous extension of existing law." He pointedly said, "I am an attorney," and urged the council to consider taking legal action against the PCC and their attorney for bringing a frivolous lawsuit, should they proceed.
The Town Solicitor, Kevin Gavin, was equally straightforward. "The PCC legal position has no merit whatsoever. [It is] outrageous and irresponsible." He also recommended seeking court sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit, should it be attempted.
The Council also voted to request that the School Committee conduct a full program audit (which they acknowledged they would have to fund.) Since a program audit is technically required as a normal component of the Carulo process, this seemed more of a symbolic vote (except the part about where they were going to get the money -- probably by raiding funds already allocated to the Portsmouth wastewater management district study, which is not good news for the northern end of the town.
Asked Gavin if the PCC letter was public, given that it dealt with potential litigation, and he assured me that it was. I'll pop by Town Hall tomorrow to get a copy and post the best parts here.