Steven Voltz, Guest Blogger, takes over again:
A few hours after The Clam posted my guest blog on Wednesday morning, I got an email from Kathryn Goodick, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner and promising a substantive response soon. Shortly before midnight, it arrrived.
Since that first piece on Wednesday there’s been a lot of sometimes quite energetic discussion about it online, here, at Cape Ann Online, and elsewhere.
And among other things, there’s been a demand from Ms. Goodick that I apologize and from the Cape Ann GOP that I retract my piece.
I will not be doing either.
Here’s the latest on what’s been happening.
How It All Started
On Friday evening, October 16th I attended a coffee at a friend’s home at which Kathryn Goodick was campaigning. The next day, Saturday, October 17th I sent Ms. Goodick a private email, with a courtesy copy to the couple who had hosted the coffee on the previous night. In that private email I mentioned three things, each of which I explained in some detail, that had left me feeling mislead, once I got home and was able to to a little fact checking. I asked her for clarification and to correct any errors I might have made in my fact checking.
On Sunday morning, in response to my email, our host emailed us both, saying in part “I’ll look forward to what Kathryn has to say about the budget.”
But by Sunday night I had no response to either of those emails.
By Monday night, Ms. Goodick still had not responded.
I then sent her a third email, in case you had somehow missed the first two. I wrote:
Hi again Kathryn,
Haven’t heard from you re my email from Saturday.
I’m hoping you’ll let me know if I’m mistaken in my understanding of things or if there’s anything important you’d like to add that you feel I may be missing.
Thanks in advance,
Still no answer.
Finally, after three days and three unanswered emails, I concluded that she did not intend to respond.
At that point I forwarded my original email on to the Clam together with a few pargraphs of background on how it had come to be written and on my unsuccessful efforts to get her to correct anything I had gotten wrong or to let me know of anything else you thought was relevant.
The Clam Posts and Lo and Behold . . .
At 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning The Clam published my letter (and to my surprise, the few paragraphs of background I had hastily written) as part of this blog post In Which We Do Some Math in Ward 4.
Coincidentally — or I suppose possibly not coincidentally — at 7:49 that morning Ms. Goodick emailed me with this:
Sorry Stephen for it [sic] responding to you earlier.
I will get back to you shortly.
I’m traveling at this moment. I do apologize that with several email accounts to check on, I missed yours.
Odd, I thought that she’d be traveling out of town at the height of campaign season, and odder still that, while travelling at such a critical time she would not check, or have someone else check, the email coming in to the address she had listed on her campaign literature.
Regardless, I immediately wrote to the folks at The Clam and told them she was preparing a response, and that if as a result we learned that anything in my piece was inaccurate we would have to correct it promptly.
And next I wrote her back:
Glad to see you’re on this now. I’m looking forward to your response.
In the mean time, I should tell you that after waiting three days and sending you two emails all without a response, I concluded that you were yet another politician who wasn’t going to respond. So yesterday afternoon I passed my letters, along with some background of how they came about to the folks at the excellent local blog, The Gloucester Clam. You might know them from the top notch work they did covering the Market Basket situation a year or so ago. Often it was their coverage that was picked up and repeated by the local and national news outlets covering the story.
They published my letters this morning.
I have already written to them to tell them that I have now heard from you and that they need to give you an opportunity to respond in some way at the Clam as well as to me, now that my concerns are more public.
Here’s a link to the post that went up this morning
If I have gotten any relevant facts wrong I will work with you to make absolutely certain that the Clam corrects them prominently and immediately.
She responded an hour or so later:
Again [sic] I am not a politician and am very sorry you felt the need to do so [sic] on a social media website. I was alerted to this fact this morning by others who read it.
Since items that people have written on these sites and particularly about me directly have been a [sic] character assassination I do not read these any longer.
Again I apologize for not responding sooner. I am at work this morning but will get back to you when I take my lunch break.
Thank you for understanding
Lunch time came and went.
I got nothing from her.
Dinner time came and went.
A Substantive Response
I finally got ready to go to bed at about 11:45 and checked by email one last time to discover that at 11:15 Ms. Goodick had emailed me a 1500+ word response along with two xls file attachments.
Now Ms. Goodick hasn’t yet asked The Clam to print her full email to me, although I believe it is willing to do so (omitting some potentially libelous material).
[Editor’s Note: The Clam has this morning offered Kathryn Goodick an opportunity to post the portions of this her email that are relevant to the issues raised in our original piece. -Ed.]
Suffice to say for now however that the gist of her email as it related to The Clam piece were her claims that:
Contrary to what I have written, she never claimed when she spoke at the coffee on Friday night that her taxes had gone up 17% in one year. What she said was only that they had gone up 17% over the past few years.
Her children could not, in fact, afford to live in her house even if she gave it to them because, although as she put it: “as you accurately stated my taxes are $1,600 per quarter . . . [nonetheless] . . . they [still] couldn’t afford it” because they would also have other bills to pay such as food, utilities and student loans.
Her claim that the city budget isn’t available to the public was correct because the full proposed budget isn’t made available to the public until the day it is voted on, at which point it is too late for any meaningful review.
After I read her email yesterday morning, I saw that she had also sent a second follow up email several hours later in which she offered to “help me with the math.”
“Me [one] more fact for you. My quarterly property bill for 2014 in August 2014 was $1,460.80 compared to my tax bill due on February 2015 was $1,712.93. Again this was due in part to the city’s decision to put the entire water debt shift on two quarters vs spread out over four quarters.
Let me help you with the math: it is a difference of $252.13…or 17%!!!”
Again [sic] as an attorney, you understand that [false and potentially libelous material redacted] is not looked upon very kindly. So with that, I would ask you to take down your harsh and [false and potentially libelous material redacted] comments; and I will await your apology.
At 9:56 yesteday morning she posted this to her campaign’s Facebook page:
For those who have questioned my claims regarding my tax situation during this campaign, this should answer your questions. My quarterly property bill for 2014 in August 2014 was $1,460.80 compared to my tax bill due on February 2015 was $1,712.93. Again this was due in part to the city’s decision to put the entire water debt shift on two quarters vs spread out over four quarters.
It is a difference of $252.13…or 17%!!!
And The GOP Wants A Retraction
A few hours later, (in a post time-stamped 1:02 yesterday afternoon), Amanda Kesterson, head of the Cape Ann GOP and one of Ms. Goodick’s early supporters, posted this at the Cape Ann Online Home Forum:
The author of this misleading article from The Clam offered to retract it once Kathryn provided evidence he was wrong. She sent the evidence to him yesterday, and here it is. We’re still waiting for the retraction, though.
Wow. Don’t quite know where to begin here. This is quite an impressive post because although it’s so short, it gets so many different things wrong.
1) my “article” was not misleading, it was accurate.
2) I never offered to retract it (I offered to correct it if anything in it was incorrect), and
3) The spreadsheet Ms. Kesterson’s post links to was in no way “evidence” that anything I had written was incorrect.
Oh and also, “We’re still waiting for the retraction?”
At 1:00 yesteday afternoon the electrons on Ms. Goodick’s 6:00 a.m. email were barely dry.
I had given Kathryn Goodick three days — and she had been sent and failed to respond to three separate emails — before I finally concluded that she didn’t intend to answer me and I moved on.
I, on the other hand, got a six page midnight email with two spreadsheet attachments along with a crack-of-dawn follow up email with entirely new numbers and a new and contradictory story, and yet a few short hours later the Cape Ann GOP was publically outraged that I hadn’t yet responded.
Apparently they have different rules for themselves than for the rest of us.
So, that’s where we are.
But stay tuned.
In my upcoming posts over the next few days, I’ll be addressing Ms. Goodick’s puzzlingly conflicting claims that:
she never said her taxes had gone up 17% in one year, only that they had gone up by 17% over the past few years, and
she was totally right to say that her taxes went up 17% in one year,
as well as her claims that:
her children really could not afford to pay $530 a month for housing, and
the Gloucester budget process is so hopelessly opaque that no ordinary citizen can meaningfully participate.
There will not however be an apology.