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Thread: Kent George's reprehensible attack on ... well ... just about everyone

  1. #1
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    Default Kent George's reprehensible attack on ... well ... just about everyone

    In a July 20 letter to the Wayland Town Crier, Kent George uses the relatively innocuous sounding word "conjecture" to describe his mean-spirited and wholly unfounded attack on a host of people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent George
    WAYLAND — TO THE EDITOR:

    I have been wondering for a while why the state auditor’s office would refuse to do an audit of Wayland’s School Department. It doesn’t seem logical especially when the auditors’ website proclaims an “important function of the division is to serve as a resource for cities and towns. Communities, by vote of the governing body, can request an audit of any local municipal program, contract or vendor.”

    Article 28 on the warrant for annual Town Meeting was passed on April 23 of this year and subsequently the Board of Selectmen followed up on that vote by formally requesting an audit of the School Department. Almost immediately a letter to the Board of Selectmen from the auditor denied the request.

    However I recently learned that a key political figure in Wayland is now the chief of staff for the state auditor, Suzanne Bump. Jonathan Saxton, Democratic Town Committee president and campaign manager for State Rep. and former U.S. Senate candidate Tom Conroy, D-Wayland, was recently appointed to the position.

    Just wondering if some current or former School Committee members used some clout with Tom and/or Jonathan to derail the audit request? Or was someone just embarrassed to be part of the string of school and town finance operation problems and wants it all kept under the rug? Pure conjecture on my part, of course.

    No answers yet … stay tuned. – Kent E. George, Indian Dawn
    I responded with the following comment:

    According to a press release issued by Wayland Police Chief Irving on June 18 and posted by WaylandeNews.com (http://waylandenews.com/wordpress/20...car-break-ins/), Wayland suffered a rash of car break-ins. Kent George has a car.

    Just wondering if Mr. George might have been the perpetrator? Pure conjecture on my part, of course.

    Kidding aside, baseless accusations of the sort Mr. George fabricates here are reprehensible. If I'm not mistaken, this was the state auditor's SECOND refusal to perform the requested audit, the first such request having come well BEFORE Town Meeting. Perhaps the promptness of the second response was made possible by their already having made a first response?

    And for the record, not only did I (a former School Committee member) NOT use any alleged 'clout' with anyone, I don't know of any current or former School Committee members who did. Mr. George should be ashamed of his wholly unfounded attack on Shawn Kinney and other School Committee members both past and present. The same goes for Mr. George's smears of Suzanne Bump, Tom Conroy, and Jonathan Saxton.

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    After re-reading Mr. George's letter several times just to be sure, I would say that he has not "accused", "attacked" or "smeared" anyone.
    He has asked questions - something that more and more Waylanders are doing on the heals of a number of unsettling revelations about the way Wayland has been managed in recent years.

    Indeed, if we'd had more people asking questions in the past, we might not be in the position we're in today.

    Like the bumper sticker says:
    Name:  question-authority-300x157.jpg
Views: 588
Size:  16.2 KB ......even in our small town where said authority might be a neighbor, a friend, your kids' soccer coach or someone you see at church. It is our responsibility to be involved and to question.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Had Mr. George been interested in simply asking questions, he might have limited his letter to the first two paragraphs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent George
    I have been wondering for a while why the state auditor’s office would refuse to do an audit of Wayland’s School Department. It doesn’t seem logical especially when the auditors’ website proclaims an “important function of the division is to serve as a resource for cities and towns. Communities, by vote of the governing body, can request an audit of any local municipal program, contract or vendor.”

    Article 28 on the warrant for annual Town Meeting was passed on April 23 of this year and subsequently the Board of Selectmen followed up on that vote by formally requesting an audit of the School Department. Almost immediately a letter to the Board of Selectmen from the auditor denied the request.
    Instead, he questioned (that is, attacked/smeared) the integrity of the Wayland School Committee, State Representative Tom Conroy, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, and Wayland resident Jon Saxton.


    Had Mr. George been interested in an honest answer to his question, he might have checked with the Auditor of the Commonwealth's office, or with even less effort, the Wayland. Board of Selectman's office.

    Instead, he chose what might at best be described as the lazy option. A quick inquiry on his part would have found the attached two letters from the Auditor to be readily available. The first of the two is particularly enlightening, as it was written by that office back in February, to my knowledge BEFORE the School Committee or any of the other falsely accused even knew of the inquiry.


    So, the explanation for the Auditor's quick response to Wayland's SECOND request for an audit is that the Auditor had already responded to Wayland's FIRST request almost half a year earlier.

    Mr. George was wrong to write his despicable letter. The Town Crier was wrong to publish it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Instead, he questioned (that is, attacked/smeared) ....
    And therein lies my point.
    Questioning ≠ attacking/smearing.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John, you are indeed the master of the careful snip to change context. What I wrote was the following:


    Instead, he questioned (that is, attacked/smeared) the integrity of ... [emphasis added]


    Clearly, my elaboration with "attacked/smeared" was to leave no doubt as to the meaning of my use of "questioned."

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    Here's what Mr. George wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent George
    However I recently learned that a key political figure in Wayland is now the chief of staff for the state auditor, Suzanne Bump. Jonathan Saxton, Democratic Town Committee president and campaign manager for State Rep. and former U.S. Senate candidate Tom Conroy, D-Wayland, was recently appointed to the position.

    Just wondering if some current or former School Committee members used some clout with Tom and/or Jonathan to derail the audit request? Or was someone just embarrassed to be part of the string of school and town finance operation problems and wants it all kept under the rug? Pure conjecture on my part, of course.
    We are all familiar with the "have you stopped beating your wife?" sort of insinuation, and I think most of us dislike this sort of letter. There are LOTS of things we could question, but it is not right to publicly insinuate improper ethics without any sort of justification (particularly when it would be so easy to get the documentation necessary to get the necessary facts - see attachments in Jeff Dieffenbach's earlier post).

    I can only imagine the sort of flak I would get had I written a letter like this... Would these be OK? "Joe Schmo just spent a lot of money on his house. Just wondering if he might be cheating on his taxes..." or "I saw Tim at lunch with some woman I didn't know. Just wondering if he might be having an affair." These aren't accusing, just questioning.

    So merely questioning by itself can be smearing (as in "have you stopped beating your wife?"). An interesting discussion on the topic (slandering by innuendo) is here: http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...-truth4wayland, with some real parallels.

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    There is no comparison between "have you stopped beating your wife?", and "wondering if some current or former School Committee members used some clout..."

    The first points the finger at the person and essentially states that they have done something illegal and immoral in the past and asks if they've stopped doing it.
    The second ponders whether they've done something (that is not necessarily either illegal or immoral) and it does not accuse them of having done so in the past.

    This is not a smear. It's a legitimate question.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    No, Mr. George's questions are a smear. There's a strong implication of wrong-doing with his use of "clout" and "derail." And he offers the false "either/or" choice of that or embarrassment. He doesn't even acknowledge the option of "none of the above."

    And Mr. George is lazy to boot (although it would surprise me if laziness were the reason for his transgression, given his history of being a frequent vocal Republican mouthpiece and his targets for the most part being of the opposite party). If he really wanted answers, he could have gotten them without the smears. If the answers had provided evidence of wrong-doing, then he could have gone public without crossing the smear line.

    Kim nails it with her example of "Joe Schmo just spent a lot of money on his house. Just wondering if he might be cheating on his taxes..." or "I saw Tim at lunch with some woman I didn't know. Just wondering if he might be having an affair." These aren't accusing, just questioning. Of course, she's tongue-in-cheek with this last bit, because these indirect accusations (NOT innocent questions) plant undeserved seeds in the minds of others.

    How about this? Mr. George is CEO of a company. A number of companies have been in the news of late regarding the employment of undocumented workers. Does Mr. George employ undocumented workers, or does he just take advantage of vulnerable workers with their papers in order?

    Is that fair game? I say no. But I have a hard time distinguishing it from his despicable letter that started this conversation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    No, Mr. George's questions are a smear. There's a strong implication of wrong-doing with his use of "clout" and "derail." And he offers the false "either/or" choice of that or embarrassment. He doesn't even acknowledge the option of "none of the above."
    "clout" and "derail" do not strongly imply wrong-doing.
    And if he had "none of the above", he'd have no letter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    And Mr. George is lazy to boot
    Now who's smearing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    How about this? Mr. George is CEO of a company. A number of companies have been in the news of late regarding the employment of undocumented workers. Does Mr. George employ undocumented workers, or does he just take advantage of vulnerable workers with their papers in order?

    Is that fair game? I say no. But I have a hard time distinguishing it from his despicable letter that started this conversation.
    You say that's NOT fair game. Yet you fly it out there anyway.

    Mr. George's letter is anything but despicable.
    It has the audacity to ask questions that some people feel shouldn't be asked. I have much admiration for those who are willing to challenge us with such questions and challenge the status quo.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Given that Mr. George himself admitted that he had zero evidence and was purely speculating, it's quite clear that he had "no letter" as it was.

    Calling Mr. George lazy is hardly a smear--the answer to his question was readily available yet he apparently elected not to ask. Or perhaps he did get it but chose not to use it. If the latter case, well, then, I'll apologetically retract my observation of laziness. And then I'll replace that observation with another.

    I didn't "fly anything." Rather, I asked if using Mr. George's own tactic to "question" HIM would be okay. I answered the question--it would not be okay. I'll be interested to hear if you and others (besides Kim) agree with me. I fully expect to be deafened by the silence.

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    Jeff, I'm not sure what compelled you to point out that Kent George is a Republican, but I'm glad you did, because this gives me the opportunity to address a misconception that some may hold - that the citizens asking questions are Republicans whose only concern is taxes. This goes WAY beyond that, as citizens from both sides of the aisle are concerned about mismanagement and lack of accountability. The issues facing Wayland are completely bipartisan - Democrats and Republicans alike are asking questions.

    Mr. George's questions would be valid in any town. But in THIS town, the last few years have provided many good reasons to ask lots of questions:

    • $6,000,000 put into an irrevocable trust, the transfer of which FinCom didn't know about and can't explain.
    • the former SC Chair insisting at TM that we don't need an audit, when the timespan to be audited includes the time he was Chair.
    • the insistence by officials for years that there was "not an ounce of fat in the budget", while millions of dollars of free cash grew far beyond our own FinCom's recommended guidelines.

    In light of these and many more examples of mismanagement in Wayland, "derailing" an audit would certainly be in the best interest of anyone who might be embarrassed by the results that it would produce.

    Mr. George and ALL Wayland residents have very good reason to ask a LOT of questions of our elected and appointed officials. What is reprehensible is the efforts by some to downplay the significance and magnitude of what has gone on, while throwing under the bus brave, selfless citizens like Mr. George, and muddying their valuable efforts with threads like this.

    Oh, and this just in:
    • $500,000, which only came to light through a public records request, has been maintained by the Finance Director for years, unbeknownst to voters, town officials and the independent audit firm.
    (from Donna Bouchard letter in today's Crier)
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Default Kent George, bus driver

    John, those are all interesting points. Off-topic, but interesting. Perhaps the Moderator might move them to their own thread?

    I have NOTHING against people asking questions. In fact, I'm all for it. A fair question in this case would have been, "Why did the Auditor of the Commonwealth so quickly deny Wayland's request for an audit?" As we know, the Auditor answered this question TWICE, once back in February and then again this past June.

    But Mr. George didn't stop at asking that already answered question. No, he stooped to impugning the integrity of a number of people for whom he admittedly had ZERO evidence to attack. But attack he did.

    Why? Well, the BEST answer that I can come up with (pure speculation, of course) is that he was lazy and careless. Alternatively, it may have been his intent to slight these people. Either way, shame on him, and shame on the Town Crier for printing his despicable waste of ink.

    Mr. George's unwarranted letter contributed NOTHING to the valid questions that some have raised. If there's a bus, John, Mr. George wasn't thrown under it, he was driving it, and went out of his way to intentionally drive it into a crowd.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 08-05-2012 at 03:56 PM. Reason: Omitted word

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    The points I've made are not at all off topic. His letter concerns the audit and George's concern that someone may have used clout to derail the audit request. My points are about the audit, why we need it and why some may prefer to derail it. Very much on point (except, of course, the Republican tangent, which you took us on and I addressed).

    he admittedly had ZERO evidence to attack. But attack he did.
    Where did he attack? Attack is a strong word. For someone who has claimed on these pages in the past to have thick skin, I having a hard time understanding how you could call anything in Mr. George's letter an attack.

    Here is his letter again:

    Originally Posted by Kent George
    WAYLAND — TO THE EDITOR:

    I have been wondering for a while why the state auditor’s office would refuse to do an audit of Wayland’s School Department. It doesn’t seem logical especially when the auditors’ website proclaims an “important function of the division is to serve as a resource for cities and towns. Communities, by vote of the governing body, can request an audit of any local municipal program, contract or vendor.”

    Article 28 on the warrant for annual Town Meeting was passed on April 23 of this year and subsequently the Board of Selectmen followed up on that vote by formally requesting an audit of the School Department. Almost immediately a letter to the Board of Selectmen from the auditor denied the request.

    However I recently learned that a key political figure in Wayland is now the chief of staff for the state auditor, Suzanne Bump. Jonathan Saxton, Democratic Town Committee president and campaign manager for State Rep. and former U.S. Senate candidate Tom Conroy, D-Wayland, was recently appointed to the position.

    Just wondering if some current or former School Committee members used some clout with Tom and/or Jonathan to derail the audit request? Or was someone just embarrassed to be part of the string of school and town finance operation problems and wants it all kept under the rug? Pure conjecture on my part, of course.

    No answers yet … stay tuned. – Kent E. George, Indian Dawn
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John, your points were for the most part about municipal (non-school) finance. The audit in question is solely about school finance. Off topic.

    My observation about party affiliation was not directed at town politics, nor have I heard anyone allege that Rs and Ds have anything to do with finances in town.

    Here's what isn't clear to me--do you (or does anyone) think that it would be appropriate for a person or persons to use "clout" (or anything but merit) to "derail" an audit?

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    No.

    Do you (or does anyone) think that using clout to save one's butt and avoid embarrassment is something that doesn't happen every day in local and national governments, in companies, in churches, in political campaigns, in organizations of all types, in relationships around the world?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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