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.


Justin Katz

Candidate for Tiverton School Committee

Just Another Taxpayer October 06, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Mr. Katz your comments were not taken out of context. You said them. Just like Mitt Romney and his 47% comment. Your statements do not come as a surprise since this is the view that is held by many of your fellow TCCer's. Residents will not forget your comments.
KSilvia October 06, 2012 at 07:21 PM
You say "Anybody can hold me accountable for anything I write. " And that is exactly what Ms. Janick is doing. You can defend it however you like but a resident was offended by you comment and quite frankly, so am I. Believe me, is is nothing personal. Kathy
JustAsking October 06, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Mr. Katz, Could you please describe what the "right" kind of poor people are like and what the "wrong" kind of poor people are like? Is there also a "right" kind of rich and a "wrong" kind of rich, or does having a lot of money always make you "right" and a desirable neighbor?
TIger October 06, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I find it comical that your letter states, "When I’m on the committee, anybody can let me know how they want the schools to operate.", Hey Katzhole, i bet you 3 garbage bags that you don't get elected!!
KSilvia October 06, 2012 at 09:28 PM
By the way your explanation is as offensive as the short version "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." So you think Sandywoods, which is a model for affordable housing, was simple put there by Tiverton because it attracted the "right" kind of poor and so we could say "look we have low-income housing?" I think higher of my community and fellow residents than that Justin - I think we really want affordable housing here in Tiverton for everyone - plain and simple with no ulterior movie behind it.
Justin Katz October 06, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I don't believe there are "right" and "wrong" kinds of low-income households. That's why I characterized that as the "cynical view." In the broader policy debate, some people might see the drive to fill low-income housing with artists as a sort of NIMBYism. Referencing that tendency in no way indicates that I endorse it.
JustAsking October 06, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Thank you for your response. Cynical view: You're trying to backpedal now that you're taking some heat for your remarks.
Justin Katz October 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I can only assert that I am not doing so, but I realize that people who don't know me and/or oppose my campaign for unrelated reasons will doubt my assertions. I think anybody who reads more of the thousands of words that I write online each day (rather than judging from a few dozen words last week on Twitter) would be less cynical.
KSilvia October 06, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Oh, so we shouldn't hold you to your words because well you didn't mean it and if we all KNEW you we would see that you didn't mean to diss poor people and N. Tiverton. You want to be an elected official - this is called taxpayers holding you accountable for your statements.
Just Another Taxpayer October 07, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Readers, Mr. Katz is trying to tell us that we are mere mortals who can't begin to understand his powerful intellect. Don't forget, Mr, Katz has also developed new accounting procedures that he adheres to. Katz Accounting Principles have not caught on in the world of accounting and high finance.
Naome Lixes October 07, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Naome Lixes 7:39 pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012 Perhaps I'm hopelessly thick, but what's so offensive? Sometimes the plain truth isn't pretty. I don't agree with most of what Mr. Katz has to say, as it's unfocused but this seems spot on. Anyone that waxes romantic about Fall Rive and it's influence on surrounding areas is driving by, at a high rate of speed...
Naome Lixes October 07, 2012 at 11:34 AM
This sort of attack on Mr. Katz' character is precisely the sort of thing we decry when it comes from conservative voices. It illustrates that the divide between perception and reality is equally great - whether it be Providence or Nonquit Pond viewing the rest. Anyone actually living next to Sandywoods swamp chiming in, here?
Tivertontaxpayer1 October 07, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Looks like Justin Katz is trying to do some serious damage control, after he got caught making a disparaging remark about certain neighborhoods and classes of people in Tiverton. Sorry Justin, but you can't take back your nasty words, and the voters of Tiverton will hold you accountable for your remarks at the ballot box.
Gloria Crist October 07, 2012 at 03:41 PM
It seems Mr. Katz blames "out of context" on everything: http://www.torvex.com/jmcdaid/node/1930 Foot in mouth indeed.The real problem is his limited view on what is best for the entire community- his limited view on public education and his selfish take on what is good, bad, right or wrong.This trifecta of disaster: Justin Katz, Ruth Hollenbach and Sue Anderson are examples of exactly what we do not want on any committee-especially a school committee. No postcard is going to convince me the interest of our children and our schools is first and foremost for these three.One was fired from teaching, one was arrested,at least once, for behavior less than stellar and one does not believe in a public school education unless it teaches what she believes should be taught and how it should be taught.Their mind set is the worse thing for our children AND not one of them has a child in the Tiverton school system. All share an agenda based on dividing and taking down the infrastructure of our schools.Mr. Katz has been vocal about implementing vouchers-though I think for his own benefit rather than the benefit of the taxpayers-Ruth Hollenbach rarely speaks her mind unless Dave Nelson tells her to do so-and as far as going on about programs in our schools? Perhaps all the TCC/Town Council taxpayer money wasted on legal fees could have been put back into something for the town-for the schools.I challenge all three to name programs that are thriving-ON A LIMITED BUDGET-no less.
Justin Katz October 07, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Gloria, I note that your recent letter to the editor ended with this line: "Gloria said Tiverton First is a true nonpartisan grassroots in nature group dedicated to promoting a postive commnity based vision for Tiverton" Are phrases like "trifecta of disaster" examples of public discourse in a positive community in the view of your group, Tiverton First? (Let alone your apparent desire to dig down into the mud and engage in the sort of personal attacks more common in state and federal campaigns.) Or do you divide this community into people who count and people who don't?
DSilva October 07, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Really just don't see how these comments are out of context. And they certainly aren't an attack on anyone's character. Here is a candidate looking to be elected to a representative office. His political and personal views about the the right kinds of poor or people looking to "control" low income housing or Tiverton (and every town in his view) having sides of the track, as well as the fact that he views himself as being on the wrong side of those tracks are entirely relevant. Those views, along with others that have been pointed out (vouchers and supporting a rather large school cut) will influence the polices that are made, the budgets that are set and the direction the schools go in. And that is the point of having choices. And that is what all residetns should be thinking about when stepping into the voting both in November - who's views represent you and your idea of Tiverton or RI or the country.
Gloria Crist October 08, 2012 at 01:34 PM
"Education is the proper way to promote compassion and tolerance in society. Compassion and peace of mind bring a sense of confidence that reduce stress and anxiety, whereas anger and hatred come from frustration and undermine our sense of trust. Because of ignorance, many of our problems are our own creation. Education, however, is the instrument that increases our ability to employ our own intelligence"...... a wise and wonderful man stated this in a recent address. Perhaps- Justin, Ruth and Sue-need to better understand the role of education for an entire community-and not just a community they want to control-perhaps all of the Dave Nelson TCC gang would be better off without so much anger and ignorance. Perhaps they will come to realize their limited view on the essence of community and education has done nothing to promote trust-nothing to promote growth-nothing to promote the greater good. It is time for a brand new group of leadership-it is time to move forward.
Mark Wyman October 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM
The entire tweet was posted so by definition it could not be taken out of context. For once I would like to see someone runnig for office to just own up to what they said. If that was your opinion own up to it but stop trying to play the victim when you get caught with your pants down. We all make mistakes just say so and move on don't try to lie your way out after the fact it just makes you look worse.


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