Tax watchdogs bounce an Eagle Scout

The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC) ejected a Portsmouth Eagle Scout from their monthly meeting last week, according to a published report in today's Newport Daily News. Portsmouth High School senior Andrew Kelly, in a letter to the editor of the Daily News (reprinted below), questioned the PCC's non-partisan stance: "Shouldn't [they] welcome an open-minded citizen interested in bipartisan solutions?"

According to the Daily News, the group's president, Larry Fitzmorris (who is also listed as executive vice-president of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition on their web site) claimed it was a "philosophical issue, not a party issue," but elsewhere in the article says that Kelly "is associated with what looks like the core of the Democratic Party." Sounds pretty non-partisan to me.

What can I say? Hey, Andrew, welcome to the club. I tried to join the PCC three years ago, but I didn't even make it inside the door. (See here, here, and here.) I guess their big tent (get it — tent?) can't accommodate quite so much diversity as one would expect.

As Larry told the Providence Journal back when they still covered Portsmouth, "I don’t recall us ever claiming to represent all the taxpayers of the town."

Here's Kelly's letter to the editor:

On Tuesday, March 2, I was kicked out of a meeting of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens and I wanted to share my concerns.

I was invited to attend by one of the leaders of the PCC because of my interest in town affairs, but when I arrived at the meeting at the Anthony House on Middle Road, I was asked to leave because, it was said, I am a Democrat and running for office. Which I informed them is wrong. I am a Democrat, but while I am considering running for the Portsmouth School Committee, I have not declared my candidacy.

I am a lifetime resident of Portsmouth, have attended Portsmouth public schools, and will graduate from PHS in June. I am an Eagle Scout, an assistant Scout master for a local Boy Scout Troop, a Cub Scout Den Leader, the National Art Honors Society Historian at PHS and a parishioner at St. Anthony’s Church. I am the youth representative on the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee and I serve on the leadership board of a local non-profit organization. I have attended numerous School Committee meetings since my sophomore year when I successfully convinced the committee to revisit a proposed bus pass policy. I am, by any definition, a concerned citizen of Portsmouth.

And according to the PCC’s website “We are bipartisan and do not represent the views of any political party. We work to improve openness, efficiency and honesty of our town government.” I thought for sure that I fit all of those, given the amount of time I volunteer to community organizations.

As an Eagle Scout, I am deeply dedicated to honesty, openness, and efficiency. If they truly are a bipartisan organization, why would someone be excluded because they are a Democrat or might be a candidate for office? Shouldn't an organization with their stated goals welcome an open-minded citizen interested in bipartisan solutions?

Is the PCC really what they say they are? Form your own opinion.

Andrew Kelly

Full disclosure: I am most likely one of those folks thought of as the "core of the Democratic Party." Whatever the heck that means.