PCC does not represent this town
In case you haven't read this week's Sakonnet Times yet...
To the editor:
The PCC should practice what they preach.
In a letter last week, PCC, Inc. President Larry Fitzmorris blasted a stakeholder's meeting held to explore potential Island-wide opportunities for addressing wastewater. Leaving aside the factual errors — the most egregious of which was the implication that "principal design decisions" on any sewer system were being made outside of Portsmouth — Mr. Fitzmorris expressed concerns that the meeting was not "a public forum." It was, in fact, public; I know, because I was there, and so was Mr. Fitzmorris. You can read about the meeting on my blog at harddeadlines.com.
But do you know what genuinely isn't public? Meetings of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, Inc. In order to attend a meeting of the PCC, you have to join, and this requires, according to Mr. Fitzmorris, "You have to send me your application, and then the members have to vote on you." I know this because I tried to join in June, and I'm still waiting to hear the results of the secret ballot. (No, they haven't cashed my check.)
It is perfectly legal for a nonprofit corporation like the PCC to restrict membership and to hold private meetings. But I find it ironic that an entity whose corporate mission is "to provide a community association through which member-citizens can act collectively to promote the common good and social welfare of the Town of Portsmouth" routinely conducts the kind of secret meetings they constantly rail against.
If the PCC is not open to all the citizens of Portsmouth, then you do not truly speak for our town, Mr. Fitzmorris.
FYI: If issues of this sort are of interest to you, you might emjoy this event, happening tomorrow at RWU:
9th Annual Open Government Summit
Friday, August 03, 2007
School of Law Appellate Court Room 283
Ten Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI
Bristol, R.I. (July 3, 2007): The 9th Annual Open Government Summit will be held at the School of Law Appellate Court Room 283, Ten Metacom Avenue, Bristol, R.I., on Friday August 3, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch will host the state-wide Open Government Summit. The Roger Williams University Law Alumni Association co-sponsors the event.
Special Assistant Attorney General Christy Hetherington, a 2002 graduate of the School of Law, will present on the Access to Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act. The Access to Public Records Act presentation will highlight how to determine whether a document is a public record and how to respond to a citizen's request. A 2006 - 2007 case law/legislative update will also be presented.
The Open Meetings Act presentation will discuss how to determine when the Open Meetings Act applies and when an executive session is appropriate. Other statutory requirements, such as posting notice, amending school committee and non-school committee agendas, and maintaining minutes will be discussed.
The Rhode Island Bar Association has approved the program for 3.5 Continuing Legal Education credits, including one ethics credit, available free of charge for attending the summit. The public is welcome to attend. To reserve seating, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact (401) 274-4400, Ext. 2101. Seating in the main lecture hall may be limited.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 5:38pm
"people of this town"
If the people of this town don't represent this town than who does?PCC members are ALL people of this town. You may not like what they have to say, their ideas, or how they represent themselves, but they are entitled, just as you are, to be heard,and respected.
The members,and Mr. Fitzmorris have every right to hold meetings,and screen applications for reasons I have previously stated in regards to someones charactor,and motives,such as your own Mr. McDaid. If there are any shady,questionable dealings, going on here it is on your part. You cannot,belittle,slam,constantly redicule a large group of citizens, then expect to be welcomed...have you ever stopped to think that maybe everyone else has had NO problems with joining up except you? If you can find me another person as to date that has...I will be happy to listen. I have not heard anyone else(to my knowledge) in this town who has had a problem with signing up,and joining in. Clue?
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 6:22pm
The part is not the whole
When I say "the PCC," I'm using a figure of speech called metonymy, by which I mean to refer to the leaders of the PCC (Mr. Fitzmorris and his coterie) who put out press releases on behalf of the organization. When we say "The White House is upset," we don't mean the building; saying "The PCC" in the context of the letter is pretty clearly directed at Mr. Fitzmorris.
To be clear: I'm not saying that the members of the PCC are not entitled to speak for themselves, or to advocate their point of view. What I am saying is that an organization which purports to speak for the citizens of Portsmouth but only permits some citizens to join cannot, logically, represent everyone.
You are, of course, welcome to your opinions, but please remember that you are a guest here — and, I might add, a guest hiding behind the mask of anonymity. Questioning the fitness of my "character," and accusing me of "shady, questionable dealings," (while a falsifiable statement) is the kind of tolerance I show you, but Mr. Fitzmorris denies those who disagree with him.
(That was another metonymy — or, more properly, a synechdoche — using "Mr. Fitzmorris" to stand for the leadership of PCC, Inc.)
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 6:39pm
Oh I see
So your clearly directing all the negatives at Mr. Fitzmorris? and his"coterie"? Are these people not citizens,tax payers, of this town?
Back to square one ...I see.
My question stands...Why is it that you are the only person in this town denied access to join the PCC? I think the answer is very obvious,and very understandable.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 6:54pm
Going in circles
Being a citizen does not allow you to speak for all the citizens of the town. Creating a private club and claiming to speak for Portsmouth is absurd.
And the answer to your question, from Mr. Fitzmorris himself:
"While very few people like to be criticized, the tendency to take hard decisions into the back room is counter to all of our interests." — PCC Newsletter, Vol. III, Ed. 2, p. 4.
Very obvious, and very understandable indeed.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 7:43pm
"And the answer to your question, from Mr. Fitzmorris himself:"
Sorry but I did not ask Mr. Fitzmoriss the question, I'm asking you...and my question was/is...why is it that YOU are the only person having a problem with joining the PCC, when nobody else that I know of to date has had any problem at all joining? That was my question to you,not once but twice now. And the reason for your "unpronouncables" is that you use them to skirt around the issues and the question that I have put to you. Not very much unlike a lawyer would.
Being a citizen in a large number of citizens DOES allow you to speak for many(it speaks volumes). And everyone knows there is power in numbers.
I'm not going to hang around to see if you answer my original question, because I know you will just use your big fancy words again to avoid it,and confuse.
No more circles pleeeease! I'm outta here.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 9:11pm
Too bad you won't see this post. I did answer the question you asked, which is why (allegedly) I am the only person having a problem with joining the PCC. I thought Mr. Fitzmorris put it eloquently: "Few people like to be criticized," and there is a "tendency to take hard decisions into the back room."
I reiterate my call to the PCC to practice what they preach.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 6:40pm
Representatives and unpronounceableses
John: "metonymy — a synechdoche" -- please stop using words I can't pronounce! I'm sure you're accurate, but it's not helping.
Stormie: "If the people of this town don't represent this town than who does?" This town is represented by our ELECTED representatives. No one else has the right to say they "represent" the town. Individuals may proudly "be heard,and respected" as you say, but as citizens. I like it that way. If I don't like my elected representatives I try to vote em out of office. There's pretty much nothing I can do about my fellow citizens except continue to be civil or walk away.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 6:49pm
Sorry, my bad
Apologies for the unnecessary big words. I'm just saying that things I say about "the PCC" should be taken as they are meant — directed at the people who set policy for the organization. The leadership of the organization stands in for that organization in public, which is all those fancy terms mean. Sorry for any confusion.
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 10:07pm
When Mr. Fitzmorris said the meeting was "not a public forum" he was LYING. Lying, lying, lying. Not "misconstruing" not "taken out of contect" - LYING. When he said "deals were made outside of Portsmouth" he was fearmongering, being demogogic, and LYING. Note to stormie: don't bother responding to me. I've tried several times to interact with you calmly and rationally and you always respond by changing the subject or saying something totally off point. I don't expect this time to be any different.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 6:59am
Pants on Fire
While I hope Stormie does respond, the pattern seems to be that she or he swoops into this site to attack a certain entry, attempts to overwhelm with multiple posts (half a dozen in an afternoon), falls back to a position attacking responses to his/her postings as unsatisfactory, declares victory, and leaves in a huff, promising never to return. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Shrug. I can understand Stormie's frustration. If I were trying to defend Larry Fitzmorris's claim that the meeting was not public, I would have to deny the evidence of my own eyes: at the far right of the picture, there is Mr. Fitzmorris, sitting at the meeting. He appears to be sticking out of Karen Gleason's head.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:05am
"He appears to be sticking out of Karen Gleason's head."
It's like some kind of weird nightmare where Athena/Fitzmorris rises out of Zeus'/Gleason's head. Ahhhh! Wake me up quickly!
Wow! I was joking yesterday when I said I missed all the flames and posted my corny corn post. Who knew?
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:25am
Man Up(if you know how)
"attempts to overwhelm with multiple posts (half a dozen in an afternoon), falls back to a position attacking responses to his/her postings as unsatisfactory, declares victory, and leaves in a huff, promising never to return. Rinse, lather, repeat."
I never attack, but I do respond(here) when I feel the need to ,and can NO longer contain myself, because it is such nonsense. I have never declared victory, that is your game...Mr. Right About Everything McDaid. The only reason I wrote in this time is because you poked fun and made a joke about Mr. golden falling down...And I knew that you made NO mention of Mr. Katzman,when he fell(exact same thing). That is my only reason, I thought only fair to make mention of that FACT. But when I'am "attacked" for telling the truth by your VERY narrow minded,extremely limited (small), fans...I feel the need to respond,and defend my statements once again. This is where I have made a mistake, obviously a waste of time,and energy, to try and discuss anything on this blog, you will never rationally listen to reason to anyone who doesn't agree with you on any matter.
Like Viking you hide behind a blog, and call others names,making all kinds of accusations about a man you don't even have the guts to confront in person, other than to try and join the PCC...and now whinning over it like a 2 year old having a tantrum.
I have been quietly coming to this blog to read other things in here that I find informative,and interesting, and trying not to read your unbelievably,bias,comments, I guess that is just not possible anymore. I will not be personally attacked for responding with what I believe to be the truth.
"there is Mr. Fitzmorris, sitting at the meeting. He appears to be sticking out of Karen Gleason's head."
Anyone who has seen you at the meetings will agree that it appears that your head is attached to your ass, with nothing inbetween...
I will give you credit for one thing you have said to me, that is the honest truth...You have "tolerated" me... that is fair.
"leaves in a huff, promising never to return."
I must admit I'm ashamed of this behavior,because I always keep a promise...with that said..............................bye (for the last time)I Promise.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:40am
Requiem for a Contributor
While I certainly didn't agree with everything Stormie said, and rebutted most of what s/he posted strenuously, I respect him/her very much for the time and effort spent here, and extend my thanks and best wishes.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 8:51am
Before you call anyone a liar Viking, you'd better have your FACTS in order to prove it. So far I have yet to see any facts from you, to base your accusations on. I have seen you just copying,and backing up whatever John says, time, after time. It is very easy to say that someone is whatever you want him to be,without FACTS to back it up. You are doing/saying exactly what you claim that the PCC does.
How well do you know Mr. Fitzmorris?I have a feeling that you are not man enough to call him a liar to his face,you only hide behind a blog,and a blogger, believing(foolishly) that everything that John says as the gospel truth, I mean if John says Mr. fitzmorris is a liar, it must be true!...SAD!
So...there is no point in having a discussion here with you. Why don't you man up, and face Mr. Fitzmorris in person with your accusations.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:04am
I thought you had left?
I won't speak for Viking, but did you bother to look at the picture right above your post? Viking said Larry was lying about it not being a public forum; a picture of Mr. Fitzmorris at the forum is what I think most reasonable people would consider to be proof.
About deals with developers. Since this is an accusation by Mr. Fitzmorris, the burden of proof rests with him.
Why doesn't Larry "man up," and present his "facts" here? Unless of course, you ARE Larry.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:38am
you are really one messed up person
To even think,or imagine that Larry would take the time to read this shit, is such an insult to him. I once mentioned your blog to him and he just about fell over laughing! He is too busy with important issues to be any part of this mess. He is a real man who faces things,and asks hard questions, face to face, eye to eye, with everyone, unlike you.
I assure you that I'am 100% female, and that this is my last time responding...save your type now...I will be gone............FACT,and Promise.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:54am
Extending the courtesy
I read the PCC's newsletter cover to cover. I'm sorry Mr. Fitzmorris is too busy to show the same respect to people of differing opinions.
And as for falling over laughing, gee, that's an useful insight into his mind. It could be an expression of perceived superiority, or it could be from nervousness. Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.
Did you know that Chairman Mao used to laugh hysterically every time someone said "machine gun?"
Thu, 08/02/2007 - 10:17pm
Noble mon, you are a serious glutton for punishment, I don't know how you do it!
Bring sunshine to darkness, elevate the discourse, muck out the stalls, clarify the butter!
Laugh while you can monkey boy!
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 7:12am
Punishment I can take or leave...
As Humphrey Bogart said, "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble."
You know what is really funny to me? In what I must assume is a response to my attempt to attend their meeting, the PCC made one of the few updates to their sorry-ass web site. On the Meetings page where it used to say, "All members are encouraged to attend and guests are always welcome" it now reads "All members are encouraged to attend. Guests of members are always welcome." [emphasis added]
I took the precaution of downloading a copy of their site to read all their materials before my attempted attendance, so I can prove that up until June 3, "guests" were welcome. Now, not so much.
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 4:59pm
Maestro McDaid, this thread is unquestionably your finest symphony to date, Bravo!!
Such tension/release, such nuance, such a battle of harmony & discord!!
Strong underlying score yet improvisational in the same movement!! Visionary work indeed!!
Just when you think the melody is gone forever, it returns anew! You coax it back with such a delicate touch.
A work of genius!
Fri, 08/03/2007 - 9:13pm
More Larry Lies
With the risk of being redundant, I must point out that when Mr. Fitzmorris said the meeting was "not a public forum" he was lying. Not "misconstruing" and not "taken out of context". When he said "deals were made outside of Portsmouth" he was fearmongering, being demogogic, and lying.
Note to anyone who might dispute this: Fine. Dispute me - please. Explain to me facts that you believe support the notion that the meeting was NOT a public forum. Show me evidence that "deals have been made." I welcome civic and civil debate. However, if you don't have any such evidence, and all you want to do is huff and puff and be offended (or offensive) and not address the issue of whether or not Larry was lying/the meeting was open to the public, then we have nothing to talk about, and I'm not interested in your comments.
Incidentally, not that I buy into all that "manly" crap (I am proudly as sensitive as I am intellectual, tenacious, and possessing of fully functional male equipment as anyone) but I have, in fact, spoken directly to Larry Himself on several occasions. One time I told him I felt it was a bit deceptive for him to go around repeatedly saying "Rhode Island has one of nation's the highest education costs per student" without ever mentioning the fact that we spend less per student than any other community in Rhode Island with the exception of Exeter, "Chariho" and Richmond. His response: "I have no comment. Have a nice day." I guess his not being intimidated by me is a sign of "manliness" but it is not evidence of a person willing to speak the truth or debate the facts.
As far as my being accused of just echoing you, John, I would have to say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Sat, 08/04/2007 - 12:14am
You know (and pardon me for going meta on you), examining the above discourse, it seems to me it's like trying to communicate with dolphins. Both sides equally safe and secure in their intellect, but just not making the contact. I'm just astonished at the lack of understanding. A reasoned and perfectly understandable point (in fact a fuckng photograph, for christ sake) gets responded to with off-point, in-your-face total giberish. Then there is a rebuttal, and a further incomprehensible response that gets totally off the rails while making the transparent attempt to reference the original point?! Then we are suddenly talking about male fortitude?! The silverback gets his choice of the females, right? We're really not that far from the African veldt, are we? I'm trying to put my finger on it. I just don't get it. It's like responding to the fact that it's raining by going out and changing the oil in your car! Even a chimp will eventually compose a sonnet if you give him/her enough time at the keyboard. It has something to do with the medium, I'm sure, but it's just totally mistifying.
John, it still make for a beautiful tapestry, but my god it is maddening, I don't know why you bother. Is "Stormie's" idol worship really worth the effort? You are a saint for providing the forum, carry on noble mon.
Sat, 08/04/2007 - 9:31am
There are people whose beliefs are so far removed from what I understand reality to be that there is really no hope of us ever coming to any agreement, understanding - or even just agreeing to respecting our rights to own our beliefs. For example, there are actually people in this country who still call George W. Bush a "great president." For some of these people, there is no amount of discussion, reasoning, power point presentation or prayer that could breach the gap between our views. We could never be friends. At best we could refrain from being publically or gratuitously rude to each other.
Nevertheless, I can't seem to stop trying to bridge the gap between all I encounter, no doubt spurred on by irrational optimisim and hope for mankind.
Seriously, though, there is room for optimisim here in Portsmouth. The recent "Target" experience has been noticed by the main stream media as a classic example of local-level democracy at its best. There has been tremendous and passionate disagreement - and yet with few expections there has been very little (public) rancor. Hopefully, this experience will show us that we can disagree publically without SHOUTING, lying or getting nasty.
But, probably not. All I can do personally is advocate strongly for what I believe in, and I plan to continue to do so. The fact that I know I am far from alone in my convictions helps me persevere. Thanks!
Leonard B. Katzman
Sat, 08/04/2007 - 5:43pm
Larry Fitzmorris Claims to represent the Town of Portsmouth
I am an avid reader of this blog. I find the coverage of council and School Committee meetings rivals and usually exceeds that of the main stream media, though to be fair to the MSM they have limits this blog does not have such as, primarily, space.
As any reader of this blog knows, I don't post comments here. The only exception to date was when one commenter said I support LNG and I felt I had to respond to that untruth.
So it is yet another break with my convention to post a comment. I do so to inform the citizens of Portsmouth that Larry Fitzmorris has actually claimed that he "represents Portsmouth" in an official capacity.
Here are the facts as I know them. I attended the meeting called by the DEM regarding Portsmouth sewer issues. The meeting was hosted and moderated by the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, whose executive director is Keith Stokes. After that meeting, Mr. Stokes and I were engaged in a conversation during which Mr. Stokes related to me that Larry Fitzmorris called him before the meeting. According to Mr. Stokes, Larry Fitzmorris demanded to attend the meeting and said that he "represents Portsmouth". Apparently, Larry Fitzmorris explained that he is responsible for the video taping of all town council meetings and by virtue of that activity he officially "represents Portsmouth".
First, for those who do not know Mr. Stokes, he is a man of impeccable and unimpeachable character.
Now let me be blunt. The only ones who should be allowed to say, in an official capacity, that they "represent Portsmouth" are (1) President Canario and (2) the entirety of the body of the Town Council. Even me, as merely a single member of the Town Council, cannot claim to represent Portsmouth. No other individual or body has earned that right though a vote of the citizens of Portsmouth.
That Larry Fitzmorris would have the hubris to claim he represents Portsmouth in an official capacity should be offensive to every democracy-minded citizen of Portsmouth and I fully intend to personally confront him on this matter. I respect that there is the possibility that Mr. Stokes misunderstood or misconstrued what Larry said, but that will be for Larry to clarify to me. I'll keep you posted.
Very truly yours,
Sat, 08/04/2007 - 10:01pm
In all due respect, Mr. Fitzmoriss may not represent ALL of the town of Portsmouth , but he does represent a large number of Portsmouth citizens(as a group), and that fact cannot be denied, or discounted as if these people do not exist. I believe that he is a speaker for these people,and doing most, if not all of the work for this large group of Portsmouth concerned citizens, his hard work, dedication,and many hours spent at meetings, and such, should not be disrespected.
As for President Canario,and the rest of the town council members such as yourself, lets not forget that you were elected by the citizens( many of which are now PCC members), but just as Mr. Fitzmoriss, not EVERY person in this town voted for you, and agree's with you,on all issues,and ideas , and that applies to ALL of the town council members. So...You are correct in saying that he doesn't represent Portsmouth, only if you add in "ALL" of Portsmouth. Isn't it fair to say that no one person, president ,or town council member, can represent ALL of the town of Portsmouth(even with the exception of thier position)? Larry represents whatever the numbers are of PCC members, and they are all, taxpaying, Portsmouth citizens,who have by their own choice joined up,and are part of the PCC. I don't see,or understand the problem you, or anyone else has with this, or with Mr. Fitzmoriss.
We all know that just because we vote in a person( to the position) ...believing that he /she will do everything that is promised during election time,then turn around and not do as promised, we are entitled to then disagree with their representations,idea's, etc...For you ,and any member of the council MAY represent Portsmouth,but not carry through ,and represent what ALL of the citizens want. Its simply politics.
Example: I'm sure that John will agree that Karen Gleason does not represent his thoughts,beliefs,or ideas. Why should it be any different for Mr. Fitzmorris, or the PCC, as a whole?
I do have respect for President Canario, You,and the other council members, who are all doing a service to this town(good,bad,or indifferent), however...I do not have to agree with any one of you,100% of the time. Hence-Discussions, and debates,at open town meetings.
Thank you for listening.
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 8:16am
The PCC is a nonprofit corporation, of which Mr. Fitzmorris is an officer. Assuming their by-laws permit, he may freely speak for them. Portsmouth is a town which has no relationship with the PCC, other than geography. The issue is with Mr. Fitzmorris claiming to represent the town.
Mr. Fitzmorris represents, according to the only public statement of his on record, 415 members of the PCC. In a town with over 12,000 voters, and where the Town Council member elected with the fewest votes got 3,468, I'm not sure I'd characterize the PCC as a "large" group, electorally speaking. Be that as it may.
Of course Mr. Fitzmorris, as the elected leader of the PCC, Inc. may speak for the corporation. Officers of a corporation are entitled to speak for their company, just as elected officials are entitled to speak for their town, subject to the constraints of the Town Charter. But it sounds as if Mr. Fitzmorris may be confusing these two things.
St. Anthony's has more parishoners than the PCC has members, but I don't think you would hear Father Gray claim to represent Portsmouth.
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 9:01am
good morning John
Thank you for your quick response.
"Portsmouth is a town which has no relationship with the PCC, other than geography."
I disagree with this statement, because it implies that (at least) 415 citizens,and their opinions,just do not matter to you.
I do agree that Mr. Fitzmorris does not represent the whole town, but does represent the PCC, which is made up of town people. You may choose to call these people"corporation", fact remains that they are, good citizens(taxpayers) of this town,just as you,and I.
Mr. Fitzmorris needs to,and should, clarify that he represents 450(or whatever the number may be now),and continue to do so as the number(if it does) rises. Maybe include the number of PCC members in his news letter,as such.
As far as "large group" goes...I do know they seemed very large when the "tent meeting" went their way!Which leads me to believe that 450 may be "members" but a much larger amount of citizens (non-members) agreed,and turned out for it. Going uncounted as "members" of the PCC.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 10:26am
Thank YOU for your quick and engaged response. I'm glad to see we agree on the fundamental issue of Mr. Fitzmorris not representing Portsmouth.
And I while I disagree with the PCC, I do not mean to imply that the opinions of its members do not matter. They clearly do, they are my fellow citizens. I'm interested in hearing what everyone has to say, that's why this is an open forum. What I am *not* okay with is Mr. Fitzmorris portraying himself as a spokesman for the Town.
About the tent meeting: the final tally was 1,284. Not enough to elect a Town Councilor, and nowhere near a majority of voters. Is this percentage of the voters a large group? Large enough, by definition, since they are empowered to enact changes to the budget. But even on that day, Mr. Fitzmorris was not empowered to say he represented the town (certainly not the 1,250 of us who walked out).
About the question of connection between Portsmouth and the PCC. Is the PCC a nonprofit corporation or a political advocacy group?
Hope you're having a wonderful weekend too!
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 5:48pm
PCC (from the online(site) newsletter
A statement on whom and what we are is in order.
We are all volunteers and do not accept funds from outside organizations. 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. That is why for the last four years we have manned the camera to record town meetings for broadcast on Cox Cable.
The PCC was founded in 1998 by a group of citizens who believed that property taxes in Portsmouth had reached a level of harm for some of our citizens and had become an excessive burden to all. It is our fundamental and passionate belief that property taxes have risen to levels that hurt our citizens, and that the cost of town government is the reason for high property taxes - not high property values. It is our view that the idea that the scope of government should naturally grow year after year is false. As a consequence, we have established a specific budgetary goal for our town government: the yearly growth in the cost of government should not exceed the rate of inflation of the previous year. This is because the rate of inflation has closely matched the growth in our incomes for some time. Because the tax burden has risen so fast in the last fifteen years, we believe that revenue derived from the taxes paid on new homes and businesses should be used to reduce taxes, not fuel the dreams of those who desire ever larger government in Portsmouth . We also have consistently opposed the practice of managing town government through budget increases. Anyone can do more with more.
We believe that an individual voice is rarely heard in our government, and that to be effective we must speak as a group. Together we can effect change; individually we will be ignored.
We believe, as did Thomas Jefferson, that “Information is the currency of Democracy.” Accordingly, we do our homework. The PCC membership includes individuals who have become experts on specific topics, such as the gym design and construction process and the school budget. Our experience has left us with the absolute belief that the Portsmouth budget of $45 million a year, and the government it supports, is so complex that the average citizen does not have the time to understand the details of its management and finances. That is why we review and research town budgets and publish our views in a newsletter four times a year. Through the PCC newsletter we aim to provide an alternative voice and an independent evaluation of budgetary and other important issues affecting the citizens of Portsmouth .
Why are we disparaged in letters to the editor? Simple, we are effective. Our work opens up town government to the light of day. We are challenging the old way of doing business in Portsmouth . On a number of critical points of policy we are challenging the establishment that has run our town for decades; the individuals and groups that have a vested interest in the growth of our town’s government and its operation. The local Democratic Party Chairman, speaking for his faction in the Democratic Party in Portsmouth , is the voice of the status quo. His is the voice of ever-larger government and relentless tax increases.
What part of this don't you understand?
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 8:08pm
Now that you ask....
Here's the part I don't understand-
You talk about municipal government as if it uses a profit-making business model whose sole motivation is to "grow or die." You use phrases like "fuel the dreams of those who desire ever larger government," and "the individuals and groups that have a vested interest in the growth or our town's government and its operations," as thought you are speaking of corporate raiders beholden only to their shareholder. I don't get the impression from anyone in town government that they believe "the scope of government should naturally grow year after year." That is a straw man argument, if you ask me. The sole purpose of municipal government is to provide services to support the general health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Period. It is a zero-sum game. The municipal government takes in precisely the amount of money necessary to pay the costs of providing those services. Not a penny more. If additional services are desired by the citizenry, or if the out-of-pocket costs of providing current services grows, or if growth in the community requires the provision of services to our new neighbors, the municipal government raises taxes the precise amount necessary to pay for those additional costs. Seems pretty simple to me. What possible reason would a municipal government want to grow beyond that point?
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 9:55pm
The remarks by Realman we very well put. I disagree with very little of what he said, but my real problem his not with what he said, or what the PCC leadership says they stand for, my proplem is with the half truths, deceptive comments, conspiracy mongering, and outright lies one finds in both the PCC newletters and news releases, and coming out of the mouth of it most visible leaders, people like Larry and Mr. McIntyre. If these gentlemen would stick to the truth, then I would respect their points of view even if I disagreed with them.
Similarly, I would be very happy to hear Realman (or anyone else) provide some sort of defense for Larry's remark that the meeting was "not open to the public". I don't care how laudible "what they stand for" may be on paper, if what they say is only worth is the cost of the paper on which these words are written.
This will never happen, however - How can anyone, especially someone who was there, claim the meeting was not open to the public? Why must everything be attributed to conspiracy? Perhaps only Larry Himself could provide an explanation, but this won't happen either because as we well know Larry is way to busy to care about the views of hundreds of Portsmouth Citizens who view this blog.
Sun, 08/05/2007 - 10:50pm
Well put, buckaroo, Viking...
I understand the post that Realman copied from the PCC web site, and like buckaroo, my main problem is with the strawman argument. For me, it boils down to this:
[T]the cost of town government is the reason for high property taxes - not high property values. It is our view that the idea that the scope of government should naturally grow year after year is false.
If you begin an argument with a false premise -- that the expanding scope of Town government is the cause of higher taxes -- then every inference you draw is suspect. Look at this year's budget as an example. You can go look at the budget on the Town web site (and, unlike the PCC, I personally believe that the average citizen of Portsmouth is capable of looking at a row of numbers. I mean, we all balance check books.) Look at the things that we had to cut to fit under the cap. It was not items that represented growth in the scope of government, unless you think of two additional police cars to be a Democratic Party plan for wasteful spending.
Also, if "the Portsmouth budget...is so complex that the average citizen does not have the time to understand the details," is it ethically defensible for the PCC to cut $600,000 from the Town budget at a Tent Meeting, when their official position is that the people cannot understand the ramifications of what they are voting for? Is that not inconsistent? Are the PCC's followers just supposed to take the word of the PCC leadership? Hardly a stellar example of information being the currency of democracy.
Speaking of which, neither is conducting your meetings as a secret society.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 9:08am
There is no "secret society"
Just ask anyone in Portsmouth, who has very easily signed up, and joined the PCC(without problem). I would like you to tell me of anyone(besides yourself) who has been rejected/ignored(whatever you call it) by the PCC. You are such a stickler for FACTS,where are your facts on this matter?I'm all ears if you have any.
Funny how...I didn't see anyone here asking for facts , or picking apart EVERY word spoken by the "SOS",and their "leadership".
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 9:18am
Does not constitute proof
Since the people who have wanted to join the PCC are a self-selecting subset of Portsmouth, it would not be surprising (if true) that none would have been rejected. Yet.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 8:55am
July 24, 2007
The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens has serious concerns with what has been described as a "Stakeholders Meeting” between various groups this Thursday in Middletown in order to assess tying into a future Portsmouth Sewer System.
This meeting, sponsored by the RI Department of Environmental Management and the RI Economic Development Corporation, is being conducted without a firm Portsmouth sewer design and it is in the wrong town. It is our belief that discussions surrounding the placement of a Wastewater Treatment Plant, the offshore pumping of treated wastewater into the area’s recreational waters and the associated costs of the various design approaches are topics that should be conducted in a public Forum in Portsmouth by the Portsmouth Town Council.
It is the citizens of Portsmouth who will pay the enormous costs associated with this proposal and we expect that the principal design decisions should be decided in Portsmouth.
In addition, there are questions surrounding the polling of developers interested in tying into such a system. It is becoming more and more apparent that there is an ongoing drumbeat being orchestrated to over-dramatize the need for public sewers in order to accommodate the future needs of developers. Our Town's Comprehensive Plan describes our character as semi-rural, but it appears that there are those in Town Government - motivated by the big taxes that developers pour into the town’s coffers - who are overly sympathetic to these developers. Their concerns are resulting in a demand to water down the protection of that character by the Town Council. We absolutely agree that there areas in Town which should be monitored and corrected where needed, but town sewers are not a magic bullet and without more definitive information, may not correct existing problems. We have only to look to the South to see that sewers could not compensate for the problems that over-development can bring.
These issues should be aired in an atmosphere of total concern for real stakeholders of Portsmouth; its citizens.
Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
Viking - I believe this is what Mr. Fitmorris meant by"public forum"...I don't believe he ever said "was NOT open to the public"
This statement being key: "It is our belief that discussions surrounding the placement of a Wastewater Treatment Plant, the offshore pumping of treated wastewater into the area’s recreational waters and the associated costs of the various design approaches are topics that should be conducted in a public Forum in Portsmouth by the Portsmouth Town Council."
This statement by Mr. Fitmorris taken fom his newsletter explains that he has a problem with ,where it was held,by whom,and why...when it should have been held in "Portmouth public forum,in Portsmouth by the Portsmouth Town Council"
I believe that his words have been twisted by John, to say that it was NOT public, period. John says he was there right? So How would Mr. Fitzmorris benifit from lieing about such a thing? I do not accept,or believe, that Mr. Fitzmorris is lieing about anything. But you can make your own assumption,and desicion.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 9:24am
Depends on what the definition of "is" is, eh?
So now Mr. Fitzmorris admits this was an open meeting?
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 2:20pm
the definition is clear
just the way he defined in his newsletter. Open meeting should have been held IN Portsmouth,by the Portsmouth Town Council,before the citizens of Portsmouth. You are putting your spin on his words(and your good at it,as usual) . Is this the best you can come up with to use against Mr. Fitzmorris? Playing up on his every word, picking,and choosing, a word ,or phrase ,and picking it apart to have any excuse to call him a liar? Are we back in the 3rd grade?You are really reaching now.
Mr. Fitzmorris is not a liar. Why do you continue slamming ,and questioning his character?...its because you are upset that you have not been welcomed in with open arms(sour grapes), and why haven't you been? because it is your character, intent, and motives,Mr. McDaid, that is questionable at this point.
Another point I would like to make ,before I'm through with this subject). You talk about the numbers of citizens that live in this town, and how many voted for council members(in comparison to PCC members)...etc...because we all know you are into the facts, However...you fail to mention that even tho' the PCC has 450 (some where around there) members...Mr. Fitzmorris, and the PCC collected over 2,000 signatures(in what? a 2 week time period, to move forward), from citizens who agreed with him to hold the tent meeting, and they were successful! Obviously there are MANY more citizens of this town who agree with Mr. Fitzmorris, but who are not "members" of the PCC...I for one, and many of my friends are not PCC members(we don't all have to be), to agree with him. Some people like to keep quiet(their right, and privilege, to do so), about their own personal, thoughts,beliefs, and business. No different than people who will NEVER tell anyone, who they have voted for in elections. Its just a matter of ones own(privacy),and preference.
All you simply have to do is add up the(total numbers) PCC members, plus the amount of total signatures they received in a very short time frame...it should be a very clear, FACT,(to even a 5th grader)...that there are certainly many more citizens than just PCC "members" that are agreeing with Mr. Fitzmorris.
And by the way, since you mentioned it already, "A PCC member can bring a guest to the meetings", its really a shame that you are not friendly enough with any one of these (450?) members to even be able to ask for an invite?,worse yet, get one!.
Oooh, and how secret they are when they are willing to allow, a member to bring a friend, or a guest, along. No secrets going on Mr. McDaid. Perhaps you have become paranoid?
I don't have anymore to add to this matter, I feel I have stated my case,and point. I refuse to go around in (kiddy) circles with you any further on this subject.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 3:10pm
The meetings are not secret, but the public may not attend unless sponsored. That's an interesting definition. How would Larry like that to apply to the government?
A meeting is either public or it is not.
--The paranoid 3rd grade kiddy sour grapester
p.s. Your suggestion to add the number of PCC members to the 2,200 signatures collected for the tent meeting is methodologically questionable. I would strongly suspect that there is a large overlap. But even being generous and granting your request to add the 415, that still puts the PCC well below any but a rhetorical "majority."
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 5:10pm
Am I missing something?
Portsmouth has a pollution problem which must be solved by either the installation of sewers in the north end of town or the creation of a Wastewater Management District. The town has been diligently working through the problem and has hired a consultant to help refine the costs of various option.
Last week's meeting to discuss regional wastewater strategies for the West Side was called by RIDEM, was hosted by the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, was open to the public, and was designed to open a dialog among West Side property owners and government agencies (of which the Town of Portsmouth is one) to explore regional solutions. The purpose of attendance by those representing Portsmouth's citizens was to see if participation in a regional solution would lower the costs to those Portsmouth north end citizens who will, in all likelyhood, have to participate in the system. It was a simple fact-finding mission. Mr. Fitzmorris was there, I was not, so perhaps he can correct me if I am wrong, but from the reporting I read, no systems were designed, no deals were made, no concensus was reached. Our delegation did not sell the citizens of Portsmouth down the river for the lure of increased tax revenue. And in fact, I believe most came away from the meeting feeling that solutions for the north end and a regional solution for the west side would probably be handled separately. The consultant will continue to work the problem and continue to report to the Town Council as required.
There is not a boogy-man under every rock, you know.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 5:50pm
Well put. Thanks for helping refocus on the facts.
Mon, 08/06/2007 - 8:56pm
Please tell me, Realman, if you were on the council and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management invited you to a talk session with other regional bodies to public discuss pressing waste water management issues, what would you say? No? We have to talk about it here first? Talk about what?
Now I don't automatically trust everything the The DEM says, but I cannot deny that (a) they have the legal authority to inpose huge costs (and fines) upon the town, and (b) other than a system solely composed of indiviual property lot system, is usually is economically savey to regionalize sewer systems.
Larry says its a plot to spur development which is a crock because (a) there is no plot and (b) development is controlled by zoning (a matter the citizens of Portsmouth are about to put a considerable amount of thought into).
Here's the FACTS: I have no idea what the best solution is to the situation in Island & Portsmouth Park, but I do know (1) that the state has the ultimate authority to compell us to sewer that part of town. This is a huge, horribly costly effort, sure to be reviled by whoever has to bear any part of the cost. (2) It would be nicer to have some kind of say in the matter than to just have the state compel us to do something.
But Larry would have us not even talking to the state until we talk all out here first, which would take so long that the state would invoke its authority. We could sue the state, I suppose, and then - like spending the appropriate amount on schools - we could leave the decision up to a judge.
Personally I would like it if our council would get together with the state and hear first hand what they have to say; to have an opportunity to address them directly and publically. To learn what the concerns, questions, and opinions are of our fellow Islanders.
And that was exactly what this meeting was about.
Tue, 08/07/2007 - 8:58am
The Thread Thins
Interesting the way your reply threads thin out over time. In the hope that this reply will be reduced to just one little narrow thread I offer the following, courtesy of Ogden Nash:
Tue, 08/07/2007 - 3:59pm
I've checked into it, and from what I can determine, it appears as if Larry is right on this.
Since Larry is, in fact, the head of the Town's videotaping committee, he does, personally, "represent" Portsmouth not in the sense that a public official does, but in the more limited sense of requesting space at a meeting (like this one) in order to tape it for the town.
I spoke personally to both Larry and to Keith Stokes of the NCCC, and here's where I believe the miscommunication occurred: Mr. Fitzmorris identified himself, at some point in the conversation, as the head of the PCC. However, he says that he made the request in his capacity as chair of the videotaping committee.
"The distinction is pretty narrow," Mr. Fitzmorris said in a phone interview, "But the PCC is not officially doing it for the town; I'm coordinating it for the town."