DeVincentis recall effort falls short

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Petition results

Petition numbers provided by the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office:

Total Number of Sections Submitted - 79

Total Number of Signatures Submitted for Review - 2,249

Total Number of Signatures Required by Statute - 1,933

Total number of Statutorily Acceptable Signatures - 1,779

Total Number of Invalid Signatures - 470

Address Questionable - 6

Address Rejected - 161

Canceled Record - 42

Signatures on Disallowed Sections - 117

Not Registered - 77

Signature Rejected - 3

Unused Line - 4

n Valid Duplicate Signature - 29

n Wrong District - 29

n Signatures Withdrawn - 2

The DeVincentis e-mails

— An attempt to recall Steamboat Springs School Board member John DeVincentis fell 154 signatures short.

The Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office announced late Thursday that 470 of the 2,249 signatures collected by members of Save Our Schools RE-2 were invalid. The group needed to collect 1,933 valid voter signatures for the recall effort to proceed to the ballot this fall.

Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said about 21 percent of the signatures were tossed out, which falls within the 20- to 30-percent range typically seen in recall petition processes.

Vicki Weber, Routt County elections supervisor, said the biggest mistake petition signers made was using post office boxes rather than physical addresses. Other mistakes included addresses that did not match voter registration records, duplicate signatures and petitions submitted by unregistered voters.

Two people who signed the petitions withdrew their signatures during the validation process.

DeVincentis said Thursday night that he was glad to put the issue behind him, and he thanked his fellow School Board members for supporting him through the process.

"They have taken on an extraordinary amount of extra time and effort because of this ordeal," DeVincentis said in a statement posted on www.steamboatpilot.com. He later confirmed by telephone that the statement was his.

"I hope that the former board members will allow this new board to now move on in its new direction to create the best possible school district for our community and children," DeVincentis wrote.

The Save Our Schools RE-2 group, which was spearheaded by former School Board member Pat Gleason and former School Board president Paula Stephenson, waged the recall petition campaign.

The group collected signatures starting in early May, following the public release of e-mails DeVincentis wrote about former superintendent Cyndy Simms during 2004-05, his final year as principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

Gleason resigned from the School Board after releasing the e-mails to the Pilot & Today in March. At the time, Gleason said he did something he felt was right, but that his actions conflicted with board ethics.

The School Board subsequently launched an investigation into the release of the e-mails. An investigation report and transcripts from interviews taken during the course of the investigation were released during the past two weeks.

The investigation revealed Superintendent Donna Howell ordered a district employee to download documents from DeVincentis' work computer and that she shared those documents with Stephenson, who was board president at the time. Howell said a variety of concerns about DeVincentis motivated her to retrieve the data from his school laptop. Howell told the investigator she later destroyed her copies of the e-mails and that she did not give them to Gleason. The investigator, Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes, determined Howell had the legal right to access DeVincentis' work computer.

Stephenson refused to cooperate with the investigation.

After Thursday's announcement by the Clerk and Recorder's Office, Gleason said he would use his right to review the disallowed signatures during the 15-day protest period, but he acknowledged defeat in forcing the recall.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed. A lot of work went into it," he said. "I'm going down (today) to go over it with Kay (Weinland). That is a lot to make up. If we were looking at 10 or 20 signatures, then maybe we'd have a chance, but we have the right to look at the denied ones."

Stephenson is out of town and was unavailable for comment.

Jim Swiggart, who also helped lead the recall effort, said he also was disappointed in the failure to recall DeVincentis.

"I think that I'll probably sit with the thought that it's disappointing - there's not much else to say," he said.

Board member Jerry Kozatch said he was anxious to put the recall behind him and focus on future board projects, such as welcoming a new director of curriculum and instruction and a new Strawberry Park Elementary School principal.

"The recall election, for me, it's part of the democratic process," he said. "I wasn't taking sides from the beginning of this, but the end result is I don't know what is going to happen. All of us are trying very hard to do the best we can."

Board President Denise Connelly echoed Kozatch's statement that the board can now focus on the future, and she added she was hopeful the negativity surrounding the recall effort may now subside.

"We just do have a lot of goals and building projects and I hope we can get back to the business of education and working together," she said. "There has been just so much negativity, and I don't think that, as a town, it's good for us."

Comments

Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

No kingsride- explain it to all of us why we should listen to you? How did it go? "Who appointed you room mother, anyway?"

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bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

fasten your seatbelts,we're in for a bumpy ride!!!!!!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

MPolucci- Whether you believe him or not, Dr. D has apologized publicly for those emails.

Now- will you also admonish the past BOE members for withholding this evidence and holding onto it for 2 years when Howell asked for the copies Stephenson had to be returned?

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RoxyDad 7 years, 2 months ago

DeVncentis should resign even if the recall failed. I don't have any favor for either side in this issue, but I do know that change is not bad. Do not be afraid of any change, it can be for the better. If the situation of him staying causes so much division he should be a real man and resign to find some other way to benefit Steamboat. Even if you think he is the greatest person in the world you should not be afraid of him resigning this positon. The next person in his positon will also benefit the community and DeVncentis can do something else.

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bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

roxyDad-well said ,especially the "Being a real man"part.We need a change from all the negativity and conflict.

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kingsride 7 years, 2 months ago

"To those friends who turned their back on me, I forgive you. To those who I understand made vicious comments and attacks on me through the Pilot and the blogs, I forgive you."

You still "just dont get it" do you?

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JohnD 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad to receive this news. I am very appreciative of those who supported me through all of this. I am especially thankful to all of our friends who supported us throughout and to the people who formed a committee to fight the unfair politics that took place to create this recall. I truly appreciate all of those who came up to me to express their heartfelt support throughout the past three months. I am a different person than I was two years ago when my brother was dying and I was going through another difficult year in the school district. My wife was supportive throughout this entire ordeal, and we have become even closer while dealing with this. To those friends who turned their back on me, I forgive you. To those who I understand made vicious comments and attacks on me through the Pilot and the blogs, I forgive you. Although it will be very difficult to forget, I will try. I will continue to work toward the goals for which I ran - small class size, Spanish in the elementary school, better salaries and benefits for the teachers and staff, and reduction in administrative costs, to having our building projects fulfilled successfully, and to the renewal of the 1/2• sales tax.

I want to thank the current board members who supported me throughout this process and apologize for the stress this has created for them. They have taken on an extraordinary amount of extra time and effort because of this ordeal. I hope that the former board members will allow this new board now to move on in its new direction to create the best possible school district for our community and children. The Steamboat Springs School District is one of the best in the state. It is unfortunate that such a good school district has again been cast in a dark shadow.

I continued to believe throughout this incident that this is the best community in the state. There are many great people in our town, and I continued to believe that throughout this crisis. Allyson and I have loved living here and working with the parents and children in the school district, and we will continue to support your children. We will celebrate our good fortune at Johnny B. Good's (our favorite restaurant, thank you Mike and Kathy) sometime soon.

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Mencken 7 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Dr. D.-You were a great principal when I was in school with you, and you're a great example of forgiveness and graciousness through this response. Godspeed.

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Mencken 7 years, 2 months ago

Oops--I obviously meant to write, "you're now a great example of forgiveness and graciousness." Thanks.

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Mencken 7 years, 2 months ago

Oops again-I didn't mean any backhanded compliment with my now correction. Instead, I had written a draft of my first comment in Word which read: "You were a great principal when I was in school with you, and you're not a great example of forgiveness and graciousness through this response. Godspeed." That was what I was trying to correct. In any event, thanks again, and keep up the good work.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations John and Allyson!!!!!!! As always, thank you for your service to our children.

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JohnD 7 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, Mencken and stillinsteamboat. Mencken no need to worry about the "now" I understood!

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mom 7 years, 2 months ago

I am also happy to hear the news! Thanks for all that you do John!

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Michael_T 7 years, 2 months ago

Politics as usual. I hope the people that put so much effort in getting this guy out of office get behind a candidate and do this the right way. You used the avenue open to you don't complain about the result... or ask this man to "be a man" and resign.... Grow up! I think the whole ordeal was an insult to the political process. All this personal stuff that never should have seen the light of day and was made public only to bring this man down through slander

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

Now that the voters have spoken, or rather, decided it wasn't worth speaking about, the sour grapes have become sour whine. As with the emails, I'm not surprised. Waiting to hear the "The voters didn't get the chance to speak," part. Yes, they did. They had the option to sign the recall properly and didn't/couldn't. It's over. Go home. Change the channel to "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?"

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exteacher 7 years, 2 months ago

You go John.... Congrats!! Now - will you apply for the soon to be vacant superintendents position??!!?!?!?!?! We can can only hope. Do well for this school district - they will need your strong leadership and integrity.....

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 2 months ago

The next two years of his term will tell us the real story. Wait and see. I hope he makes his supporters proud.This should be interesting.

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CommonSense 7 years, 2 months ago

ExTeacher: That's quite a long list of school personnel to blame. Sometimes we need to admit our own role in a situation. Were there times when extracurricular activities interferred with next-day performance? Could you have done better with some students? Nonetheless...good luck in M*.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

CommonSense: You are correct. I was understanding the timeline that they kept mentioning non-retrieval as attempts by Howell. After reading her interviews on PDF more closely, she does say in the 2nd interview that she never contacted Stephenson about retrieving the emails, although her testimony at that point in the interview talks about her already answering that question. She's seems to go back and forth quite a bit about whether or not she did stuff, so I was confused. My mistake.

Still, it's unethical (if not illegal- I won't go into that since I'm not sure) to take anything in this manner from a job home after leaving that job for good. If you create worksheets for the company on the company computer, on company time (just as an example), it belongs to the company. Since she wasn't informed of the Arapahoe County ruling by Howell, she can only be faulted for willfully taking School property home after her term of service.

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Mencken 7 years, 2 months ago

That's odd. Why was my last post removed? All I said (and I definitely did not say it any inflammatory way) was that a previous poster's comments (which have also been removed) were strong, opinionated, and impassioned, just like Dr. D.'s emails, and so it was ironic that this previous poster would be attacking Dr. D.. I also stood up for fair process in politics (also in an entirely non-inflammatory way), contrasting it with the anarchy that can result when we don't follow rules. The Pilot is usually pretty good about leaving comments up, (even those that are critical of the paper), so I'm literally dumbfounded as to why my comment was removed, although I don't feel strongly either way since my comment was probably amongst the most innocuous of the 20 or so comments that I have posted). Is there a policy of removing responses to posts that have been themselves removed (regardless of tone and content of those responses)? I'm confused.

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mpolucci 7 years, 2 months ago

If a person does something that is not so nice (which the original emails were, I don't see how that can be questioned or cast aside), should that person have to answer for it? In a perfect world, I would think, we would like to see people who say or do mean things, to have to answer for themselves. Now if this person does these "not so nice" things in private or in public, does one forum makes this person less guilty? Dr. D said some bad things. Did he not? Answer that for me first. When that has been answered, we can move on to the fact that the information was collected and made public in a very questionable way. Shame on the people and the system for conducting yourselves in such a shifty manner. After that, can we get back to those nasty emails and Dr. D's intent? Dr. D, you should be ashamed of yourself for emailing such things and for using your influence in such a manner. You have to live with yourself and what you have created, an ugly division in what is supposed to be a laid back wonderful place to live. But you know what, I forgive you. Publicly or privately, we should all act in a manner that we can be proud of, in a manner we set as an example for others. Sure, none of us are perfect, but hopefully we all try to be good people. Dr. D, I hope you make an extraordinary effort to be a good person in private and in public. Because, right or wrong, this is a very ugly thing the people of our town have been subjected to. Again, I forgive you, so please do all you can to earn that forgiveness. And that goes for all the people involved in this mess. All in all, what have the students of Steamboat learned from all this?

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suckerfreeforlife 7 years, 2 months ago

Mpolucci - Well stated.

JDVC - Your really not in a position to be dolling out forgiveness. You have only yourself to blame or forgive. If thats lost on you, then this has been a total waste of time. Fronting magnanimity when contrition is in order reaks of vanity. Step up.

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mpolucci 7 years, 2 months ago

Hi Matthew I do believe Dr. D is sorry. How could he not be? How embarrasing this must be. You reap what you sow and hopefully you learn. I very much hear you on the past BOE members as well. It is all so very dissapointing. I apologive for not making them more of a focus. There is some dirty pool being played in this town. Dr. D was obviously just one of those players. Play that dirty game and this is what happens.

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Mencken 7 years, 2 months ago

mpolucci: One minor point: Despite your argument (which is generally valid), it is not possible to distinguish: (1) the impact of Dr. D.'s e-mails on the community; from (2) the manner in which these emails were disseminated.

Even if, as you state, "Dr. D. said some bad things," this is all that he apparently did wrong (at least with respect to the e-mail scandal), and something which none of us may plausible claim to be innocent of. Beyond that, any of the effects of Dr. D.'s e-mails (such as the "ugly division" in the community that you cite) cannot logically be ascribed to his actions, since Dr. D.'s e-mails were private, and would never have seen the light of day had they never been published.

So, if we're going to fault Dr. D., it must be for having some less-than-perfect thoughts about a person, and for expressing these thoughts privately. That's not a crime, and it's not even particularly unusual or blameworthy. Unless we're going to judge people on their personal thoughts (and use an unrealistically high standard which none of us would meet) we can't blame Dr. D. for the effects of these e-mails, since none of these effects would have eventuated without the intervention of Mr. Gleason, Ms. Stephenson, and the Pilot.

(Finally, everyone on both sides of the debate has taken it for granted that what Dr. D. wrote was "inappropriate," or "unprofessional," or "blameworthy." I'm not so sure. Sure, some of the comments were things we wouldn't want a public figure to say in public, but none of these comments were made in public; instead, they were all private. Everyone is human, and Dr. D. was just venting to a friend about frustrations he had. Even for a private conversation, Dr. D. seemed to me to have used considerable restraint, blocking out any profanities, and consciously avoiding the articulation of his even more strident (personal) thoughts. Again, many of these e-mails would have been inappropriate for public discourse, but we must all remember that they were private. Let's not lose the forest for the trees.)

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Sunnydays 7 years, 2 months ago

John,

You have said you have changed. I know you and I know you are capable of that. You need to prove it now to those who obviously don't know you.

I never believed this should have come out. Particularly in the manner it did. The former board members, Paula Stephenson and Pat Gleason, in my view acted far worse than anything you did.

I understand your anger two years ago. I can understand why you would be angry now. I just hope that you can put this behind you and move forward, and I believe, knowing you, you can, but if you cannot and the anger mounts and festers, then I hope you can leave the board and move on.

You are a fine person, and have done wonderful things for this district. Be that person and let this all fall of your shoulders. I accept your apologies and I hope you can except mine. I apologize for any comments I may have made regarding you. Please move forward and make our school district as great as you made Strawberry Park.

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dogd 7 years, 2 months ago

Good has been served. The whining exponents of style at all costs and substance be damned have influenced this town lately in so many ways.

The previous superintendent did unbelievable damage to some people who were and are important to this community. Given those transgressions and D's personal situation at the time... those e-mails are not only possible to ignore, but should be ignored. The failure of the recall is the failure of dirty pool.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

MPolucci- thanks for the post. I'm just tired of the hypocrisy of people willing to overlook the past BOE member's transgressions (and Howell's lying about her reasons to bother to check the computer) along with the content of the emails or vice versa.

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BigOil 7 years, 2 months ago

John didn't win, the recall failed on technicalities. What John fails to appreciate in his "victory" letter is that the recall group still got 2300+ signatures. What he fails to appreciate is that just because someone's signature was invalidated because of a PO box it doesn't mean their INTENT was invalidated. Yes, legally, the recall will not go through but the intent of a significant percentage of our community is still valid. In John's victory letter he states "It is unfortunate that such a good school district has again been cast in a dark shadow." As if he was an innocent victim and had no part in this. His very letter on this page shows he has no remorse and has not changed. "I want to thank..." "I always believed..." "To those who turned their back on me..." John would do well to realize he has a LONG way to go before he's back in good graces with the community.

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bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

well put Bigoil,John's letter says "I forgive you"I do not feel that my supporting the recall warrants any forgiveness from John.I honestly don't care what he thinks of me or my views .He has once again shown his arrogance by assuming that we should all rally behind him.I can appreciate the difficulties that John has been through,I've been there too.As have most people in their adult lives.Most of us become humbled by these tragedies.time will tell.

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unimpededviews 7 years, 2 months ago

Pity the kids. Now, if all this fire and brimstone from both sides could be funnelled towards educating the kids.................

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lgnafp 7 years, 2 months ago

This board won't worry about educating the kids. As long as Dr. D is involved there will only be problems. Will Donna Howell survive? No. Then there will be the issue with getting rid of the next super. As long as he is involved there will be problems. I think if people have the right to remove their names from the petition, they should also have the right to confirm their address, and what line they signed on. Enough residents have expressed they want Dr.D gone. If SOS accepts defeat, the problems will only continue. Dr. D is nothing but trouble. If you doubt that, access the reports in the paper over the last 18 months. I believe this effort to remove him and the other lame board members needs to stay in the focus. It's the least we can do for our kids in school. I have kids in this school system, and I am not happy with this situation. If the board continually has to consult their attorney then time, money, and intent is being wasted.

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beentheredonethat 7 years, 2 months ago

every single member of the current board, and especially little devincentis, will be removed by the voters the next time around.

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Sunspot 7 years, 2 months ago

lgnafp - "If you doubt that, access the reports in the paper over the last 18 months."

That's the problem, who have been getting your information from a newspaper that slants all of the stories about Dr. D.

Try reading the interview transcripts from the e-mail investigation.

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lgnafp 7 years, 2 months ago

sunspot- after reading numerous stories in the paper, we asked employed people we knew what was going on. So much for the watered down version from the paper! The things employees of the school district know! Everybody who has been employed for years knows what a sicko he is. And very vindictive. His wife even threatens people who don't agree with his sickness!!! We want to see him gone!

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mom 7 years, 2 months ago

lgnafp, I am sorry, but that is ridiculous! YOU are getting way out of line. And yes, this is coming from a REAL employee of the district. Threatens...sickness.....are you looking in the mirror or did you have too much too drink?

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beagle 7 years, 2 months ago

comments like ignafp's are why the Pilot is considering not allowing anonymous posting. Repugnant, really, to get on and post such vicious stuff to someone who writes in a good honest letter and signs their name. Ignorant comments like this do not deserve a reply but it is well known, and well-shown in letters and comments how many employees have the very highest respect for John D. Hey igna, you're dragging down the level of decency on this site. Clean up your act or get lost.

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CommonSense 7 years, 2 months ago

Kielbasa: I saw that you mentioned a couple of times that the superintendent tried to retrieve the emails from Stephenson. After rereading the transcripts, I think you are mistaken. She did not try.

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JustAsking 7 years, 2 months ago

Dr. D writes, "It is unfortunate that such a good school district has again been cast in a dark shadow."

Looks to me like ole D STILL blames others for the results of his vile actions. WHAT AN EGO! Why is this guy so adamat about staying in a position of control?

Can it be that he has a real problem with anyone with authority over him? ESPECIALLY women? Sure looks like it from here. Isn't his track record clearly is one of "my way or the highway?"

Did his therapist tell him to "forgive everybody" or is this just a manifestation of a god complex?

Does he actually believe that he is the ONLY one with the ideas and solutions? Can anyone get this guy under control?

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mom 7 years, 2 months ago

The recall failed and we have an awsome current BOE. Time to move on.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

"Come forth, and IDENTIFY YOURSELVES if you have the courage. Or can you only feel comfortable with your true hateful character under a different name? Are YOU afraid public humiliation?"..... I'm sorry, is that Mr. or Ms. Rascal?

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JustAsking 7 years, 2 months ago

cyborgdreams,

You seem to be really tuned to dr. D.

How about answering the questions instead of just putting up another smoke screen.

Doesn't it bother you that D has NEVER taken responsibility for what he did and only CONTINUES to express remorse for his getting "caught" at it?

Did he do a good job as principal? Yes, according to some and No according to others. Is he a disruptive influence on the board. ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION.

Again, C, answer the previous post questions since you have gone to such lenghts to defend him.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

It's not me SCREAMING for people to identify themselves, I just sarcastically pointed out your hypocrisy. I really don't care who or what you are.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

JustAsking- show where D has expressed remorse "just for getting caught." Show me in print where D specifically says that. Show us all, since you won't let go. Then, people might think you actually have a point. If C has to answer your questions, all I ask if just the one: where did he express remorse for just "getting caught?"

Also, D took responsibility for those emails by admitting he wrote them. Pretty simple to see that. You want him to take resposibility for your hatred, not the emails. Those are two different things. Then again, people with blinders only see what they are told to see. Yes, that goes to all holding up D on his pedestal, also.

So, JustAsking: can you answer that one, simple question while asking others to do the same for your question?

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JustAsking 7 years, 2 months ago

Matt,

Better go back and read D's "apology" and other comments on his exposure. Admitting what was already established as FACT--that he wrote the e-mails--is a FAR cry from offering any remorse for his vile behavior.

NOtice how carefully he selects his words to distance his behavior from the results of his writing the e-mails.

D considers himself much smarter than you and me. In one case he may be right, but I would hope that you could see through the smoke screen. Did he EVER say, "I'm SORRY for the hurt I've caused the individuals I attacked? I'm SORRY for causing so much time and money being spent on finding the messengers? " Did he say, "I WAS WRONG" ?

NO! He said he was "sorry the e-mails came out." Period.

My hatred??? Where do you get that? I'm JustAsking the obvious questions? I do admit to having a low tolerance for a guy who has yet to admit what he did was wrong.

Kind of sounds like another politician who proclaimed, "I did not have S** with that woman." Apparently, D thinks HE can be the one to define what is right and wrong and the rest of us should just shut up and swallow. I'll pass. Thank you very much.

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mom 7 years, 2 months ago

are you kidding or are you really that sick

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

JustAsking- So you can't provide what I asked, correct? Fine. Any politician or anyone speaking publicly should always choose their words. He owned up to the emails and is moving on. As you said, some think he's been doing a good job and some don't. He's done good by the children before being on the Board and I'm content to let him finish out this term. It's over. Now you and others, are still coming here berating the man. Will this last for 2 years as the emails did? That's what this is now beginning to sound like. You just don't get held accountable for what you say here, unlike D.

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