King denies copying part of letter to McIntyre

Portsmouth School Committee member Marilyn King was one of the authors of a letter to Town Council President Peter McIntyre last week criticizing the school committee for "misleading the public." The letter to McIntyre marked the second time in a month that King and Angela Volpicelli voted one way at a school committee meeting and subsequently expressed radically different positions to the Town Council.

After Tuesday night's school committee meeting, King denied copying portions of her document from an e-mail committee member Cynthia Perrotti said she sent to only two people: PCC, Inc. President Larry Fitzmorris and Town Councilor Karen Gleason.

The McIntyre letter includes a list of putative cost-saving measures which appears identical, character for character, to the list in Perrotti's e-mail. According to Ms. Perrotti, she sent these e-mails the morning of June 2; King's letter is dated June third. Here is the relevant section of the e-mail, which was forwarded to me (Ms. Perotti said she sent it to Larry thinking he knew my e-mail address):

perotti_email_detail.jpg

Here are the contents of the actual Microsoft Word document sent to McIntyre by King and Volpicelli. I obtained this file from School Committee Chair Dick Carpender with the permission of Council President McIntyre. You can click on the image for a larger view.

peter_letter_detail.jpg

The text is displayed with markup turned on to make the carriage returns visible. You can see that there is black text, and then a sudden change to blue. In the document, this is also a change in font, from 10 point Arial to 11 point Calibri. And instead of going out to the right margin (what is called in MS Word a 'soft wrap') the first three bullets, which track Perotti's memo, show the same 'hard" returns. The fourth bullet, which is not present in Perotti's memo does not have a hard return — you can clearly see a dot, rather than an arrow, after the word "job." (Note also the capitalization and misspelling of "Prinicipal [sic]," inconsistent with the other bullets.)

Admittedly, there have been changes to the text: Addition of bullet numbers, deletion of the last sentence of bullet one, and the insertion of the phrase "savings X dollars" at the end of each item. But notice that the number formatting is different: at the beginning of each sentence which matches the Perrotti memo, the number is represented "Excel-style" with a leading dollar sign and no comma, yet the additional numbers at the end use the dollar sign-comma format, an obvious inconsistency.

Asked on Tuesday night about the origin of this text, Ms. King said, "It was notes I had down also." Shown a copy of the two documents side-by-side and asked to explain the similarities, Ms. King said, "I don't know, maybe my margins are set the same." Shown the discrepancy in the formatting she said, "I just typed it. If it returned, it returned, I didn't control that. I just typed in information and when it got to the end, it returned. I mean, I didn't have control over that." Asked directly if she had gotten a copy of Perotti's e-mail, King responded, "No."

If we take Ms. King at her word, this means that she reached a point in her Word document (attached, below), decided to switch fonts, sizes, and margins, and then replicated, character for character, an e-mail which she says she did not get.

No inference of impropriety should be drawn here, even if you believe the excerpts above raise questions. Both Mr. Fitzmorris and Ms. Gleason are citizens, and any citizen is free to communicate with their elected representatives, indeed, citizens should be happy if their representatives find their words compelling enough to quote. Ms. Perrotti, as a member of the school committee, can send whatever non-confidential information she wishes to anyone, and if she wants to communicate with the PCC President and Councilor Gleason, that's perfectly okay.

However, in this particular case, a document was created by two school committee members accusing other members of "misleading the public." The document was sent directly to Peter McIntyre, with no copies to other members of the Town Council or School Committee. Not only did King and Volpicelli not express their concerns at the school committee meeting, they did not even attend the Town Council session, so there was no opportunity for meaningful dialogue.

If Ms. King is telling the truth about how she wrote her letter, the text, in my opinion, represents a remarkable coincidence. And really, if someone had copied a memo, why would they hide that?

Resources:
King and Volpicelli's June 3 letter to McIntyre (right-click to download)

Cynthia Perrotti's June 2 e-mail (Non-official e-mail addresses have been redacted)

Comments

John:

As anyone with little kids will tell you, little kids tell a fib when they think they have done something wrong. sometimes what they have done isn't anything wrong, but they think they might get in trouble just because you are asking them about it so they tell a fib.

It sure looks to me like a cut and paste job on the paragraphs, but so what? she could just say so. I wonder what she thinks she did wrong that makes her first instinct to deny the source of the memo.

- MC

I regret to say that I have lost all patience with Ms. King and Ms. Volpicelli, and lost all hope that they could become rational, pragmatic, and/or helpful members of the school committee. They are perfectly within their rights to carry water for Karen or Larry. However, if they decide to run for re-election, they should run as independents or republicans. For them to do otherwise is dishonest.

Hi viking. I don't mean to try to convince you of anything, but your comment makes me want to respond.

I think that some people agree with each other or think alike. Take the democrats on the school committee for example. or even Michael Buddemeyer on the school committee is a better example. He voted for the majority budget too, but I wouldn't say he's "carrying water" for Dick Carpender. they just happen to agree.

Now, I don't get where Karen Gleason is coming from most of the time, and I don't think she's very effective on the council for whatever it is she's trying to do. But that doesn't mea3n that there arn't other people who think like her or agree with her or whatever. Heck a lot of people voted for her so there is obviously some people in Portsmouth who like her too. They aren't all "carrying water" for her. If Ms. King likes her too isn't that her right?

I guess all I'm saying is that, you say you have lost all patiance with the two new school committee members and just because you see them sort of on the same side as Gleason you think they shouldn't run as democrats, and what I'm saying is that not all democrats think alike and that's ok too. Isn't it?

I believe that the reason that many people vote for Karen is that they are misinformed, or uninformed. She is a “recognizable name” and for some that is enough. Of course, she is entitled to her opinions, as are Angela and Marilyn.

However, if you are a member of a party, and have actively sought the endorsement of that party, I think that there are certain reasonable assumptions that members of that party can make. As a Democrat myself, I do not expect democrats to always agree. [In fact I prefer their disagreements to the some-times lock-step “agreement” seen among Republicans]. However, I do NOT expect Democratic officials to begin their terms in office by actively working behind the scenes to seek to thwart the goals and reputations of other democrats.

Of course Angela and Marilyn have the “right” to consort with anyone they want. I am just saying that it would be more honest of them to run as independents, or perhaps as members of a “PCC Party.” I do not make this judgment lightly, nor did I make it quickly. I have had concerns about them ever since they threw their hats into the ring. I have tried to give them the “benefit of the doubt” and give them time to acclimate themselves so that we could learn where they are coming from. I think everyone deserves this. For example, I was concerned about what positions Mr. Buddemeyer would take – but after waiting and watching I would describe him as a pragmatist, meaning he appears to make reasoned, practical decisions, and not decisions based on his party affiliation or on how the PCC might feel about his decisions.

Viking,

What the heck do you base this claim on? "As a Democrat myself, I do not expect democrats to always agree. [In fact I prefer their disagreements to the some-times lock-step “agreement” seen among Republicans]." I have not seen one of the democrats other than King and Vopecelli vote against the Chairman, same goes for the previous Town Council, talk about "lock step". Good god, in knew this was a front for the Democratic party in Portsmouth but really!!!

IO

Hi, interested observer...
Not quite sure what you mean here, and just want to be clear that this site is not a "front" for anything, and I take exception to that characterization. If that's not what you meant to imply, no worries.

Best,
-j

J,

Not implying anything. In the past you have stated that you are a Democrat, and I believe "a card carrying member of the ACLU". So I am just making the transition to the fact that maybe your site might be carrying the water for the local dems as well. If not I apologize but most postings on this site seem to lean that way. Although, most recently you have looked more favorably on Republicans Hamilton and Plumb than say Karen "Tailgunner" Gleason.

Thanks,

IO

Hi, interested observer...
That's a bit of an odd leap to make. To go from being a member of an organization to automatically assuming that equals "carrying water." I was thinking of joining AARP. Shall I now expect to be accused of shilling for them?

Best Regards.
-j

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