Portsmouth charter review begins amid (PCC) partisan rancor

The first meeting of the Portsmouth Charter Review Committee last night was marked by partisan accusations and suggestions for culling the membership from the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC).

It was purely an organizational meeting, with the only actions being the setting of the first working meeting for Wednesday, Jan 19, and the selection of a temporary moderator, George Easley. But that didn't keep the PCC faction from objecting.

Kathy Melvin, who was a director of the PCC in 2009, according to corporate records at the RI Secretary of State, complained, early in the meeting, about so many "Democrats" on the committee.

Current PCC director Joe Lorenz asked the interim moderator, Town Administrator Bob Driscoll, about Tiverton's charter review committee. When told it only had nine members, he questioned the possible effectiveness of the size of Portsmouth's group. "When the world is telling us something..." he said, referring to Tiverton's committee.

Questions were also raised by PCC members about the remit of the committee. While it is possible to construe these as good-faith questions, the context might lead one to infer that they will attempt to steer the group in the direction of the five proposed charter changes their president, Larry Fitzmorris, brought to the council.

For a organization which yells so loudly about the will of the people, such distrust of the good intentions of a group of volunteers was, to this observer, offensive, if not entirely surprising.

Anyway, it was helpful to discover that the PCC considers Tiverton to be "the world." Now we know just how far they cast their nets for information.

Full disclosure: I am an appointed member of the Charter Review Committee and a Democrat.


Based on Ms. Melvin's remarks, it would seem that her entire intention is to obfuscate, delay, restrict or otherwise subvert the smooth functioning of the committee. This is to be expected of the "Citizens Against Virtually Everything" faction. I cannot be 100% sure that I am correct in my assumption about Ms. Melvin's intentions - but at this point, for me, the burden is on Ms. Melvin to prove me wrong.

Incidentally, I am told the last Charter Review Committee was equally "large" but that this worked out fine - several subcommittees were formed with each subcommittee looking at a specific section or sections of the charter, then reporting their findings/recommendations to the whole committee.