LETTER: Comments Taken Out Of Context
Justin Katz defends comments he made recently on his Twitter account.
To the Editor:
Deborah Scanlon Janick’s letter, attacking me (if you can believe it) for a conversation with a long-time acquaintance on Twitter, is an example of what divides Tiverton. Our elective offices may be non-partisan, but anybody hoping to serve their community apparently must expect big-time-politics personal attacks.
Twitter is a Web site that allows users to post very short comments. The first sentence of this letter would be too long. People use it to share interesting articles and to have quick, light conversations.
In this case, I was responding to the man who started the liberal RI Web site opposing my conservative one; he now works in the Providence mayor’s office. When he asked me about projects like Sandywoods, I replied: “Interesting idea, and some real potential. Cynical view: good way to subsidize the ‘right’ kind of poor people.”
This is part of a larger debate. Faced with the requirement to have a certain percentage of low-income housing, many areas are looking for ways to control what sort of people they attract. I thought that might be an interesting angle for my very progressive friend.
He then complimented Tiverton, but Ms. Janick cuts up my response unfairly. Here it is: “Agree [about] Tiverton, but for clarification, I live on the Fall River side of town.” I’ve found that some folks from the Providence area think that we’re all farmers and rich people in Tiverton. (You better believe that’s one reason they think nothing of placing a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge.) I was correcting that notion.
What’s weird is that Janick implies I hid something. I currently have 341 “followers” on Twitter, many in the news media and many who disagree with me. Anybody can hold me accountable for anything I write. When I’m on the committee, anybody can let me know how they want the schools to operate.
People who read with fairness will see that my comments were not an insult. In fact, I’m currently planning construction to move my father into my North Tiverton home. Does that show ”disrespect” for my neighborhood?
Fair readers will also wonder what this has to do with the schools. I absolutely will represent all of Tiverton and its students. Among my top priorities, for instance, is to find out why Fort Barton is the state’s number 1 elementary school, but Ranger’s test scores have been getting worse for years. They’ve switched places. Why?
As a school committee member, I will be completely open, and I will be eager to hear disagreement. As Twitter proves, I believe in friendly conversations even with my polar opposites. That’s how a community unites and moves forward.
Candidate for Tiverton School Committee